What is the dream of every kid who plays video games? – Become a streamer to play and get rich! And also fly and shoot laser beams with the eyes… Wait, I’ll rephrase. What is the dream of any creative and realistic child who plays video games? – Become a video game developer of course! And that’s good, the dream becomes reality with L’Atelier du Jeu Vidéo (Game Builder Garage), a game developed and published by Nintendo on Nintendo switch, which will teach you how to create video games. I explain how it works, by discovering with Bob and Alice, the video game workshop test .
The Video Game Workshop is the perfect mix between learning and entertainment
First of all, I would like to point out that if I know the Dreams game on PlayStation 4 by reputation, I have never played it and I will therefore not make any comparison between these two games. You want to understand everything about how a video game is programmed, right? But be careful, this will not be done by snapping your fingers, you will have to work on it! But if work is healthy, with Nintendo it is also entertainment!
You will have 7 different lessons that will allow you to learn how to develop games: 2D platform games, 3D games, shoot ’em ups, racing games, puzzle games, skill games, etc. To perform each of its games, you will be guided step by step, in fact, all players will have performed exactly the same games at the end of the training program. Between each lesson, and therefore between each game created, you will have small reflection tests which will allow you to check that you have understood the programming mechanics that you have just developed.
This is indeed a tutorial, very consistent before you jump into the deep end, that is to say, creation ex nihilo, from nothing.
These tutorials are very well done and very useful – if not essential for a normal player like me who has never programmed a game of his life – before you jump into the free programming, the real goal of the game.
The two educators who will accompany you throughout the creative process are called Bob and Alice. The first, almost an NPC, will tell you with mischief and humor the game creation mechanics, stage it in a way that is both nice and understandable. With this in mind, he tends to be very detailed in his explanations and to repeat himself a lot. An adult will have the possibility (and the desire) to quickly pass these phases of dialogue, the young players will be thanks to this process well accompanied to make AND understand all the lessons. Pedagogy is above all repetition.
Alice, on the other hand, will be a kind of cheat sheet, which will work as a very well-made codex to remind you of how to do such and such an action that you have already seen in Bob’s lessons. For example, how do you make an object destroy itself? Or how do we add a timer? Etc.
And this educational work, Nintendo worked in every aspect of the game, starting with the characters of the game, the Nodons.
The Nodons are the programming nodes, they are the ones that you will have to call and then link together to make your games work.
Very concretely how is it going? You will switch by pressing the + key from the ” video game ” view to the ” programming ” view. In the ” video game ” view you will have the game as it is at time T. If you have not programmed anything you will have an empty space. If you just put a man, he will appear, but do nothing. And so on.
In the ” programming», You will have a control screen with at the bottom the different nodons that you will be able to request. For example the OBJECT nodon (man, block, apple, etc.). The ENTRY nodon (button pressed, stick pushed…). When you have put the snowman nodon and the button nodon on the programming screen, you will link them so that, if we press the button, the man jumps (or hits, or moves up … In short, what you want).
Each nodon is a character who personifies its function. The Button nodon is in the shape of a button, the destroying nodon is a hammer, the nodon producing a sound is a musical note… In addition to being a visual aid to understand its function (a bit like in the series It was Une Fois La Vie ), it allows you to find your way around when you start to put a few dozen nodons to build your game.
I will not give you all the inventory, but know that with the 85 nodons available, you will be able to create games of all types!
The construction of its game is a paragon of ergonomics. It was my biggest apprehension, the handling. Everything is done in a tactile way, with the fingers, and everything is intuitive. I never had to ask myself how we did such and such a thing, it’s simple and it answers perfectly .
In the programming part, you will be able to enlarge the screen, rotate it, enlarge or shrink your nodons. All of this is at the same time simple, understandable, and accessible.
But beware, if the game is easy to understand, to master each action, you will have to spend time! But nothing is ever frustrating, because in one click you will go from the programming part to the game part.
For example, if I want the camera to be further away from my character, I click on the camera nodon, I see position with coordinates for X, Y and Z; and offset distance with also X, Y, and Z. Suddenly, I am a little lost. I try to change the value of one, I click to go back to the game, I see that the camera is not where I wanted. I switch back to the programming part, I change another piece of data, I look at what happens, and so on.
This empirical way of learning programming is fun, simple, and rewarding!
I took a look at what the goons have already created, it’s just amazing! FPS, platform games, RPGs … And that makes you want to invest in them thoroughly!
When I was ten years old I remember spending hours and hours playing on the circuit creation mode on Micro Machine on Megadrive to create labyrinths, forts… which allowed us to challenge our friends. I think I would have fallen into PLS if I had had a game like The Video Game Workshop at the time!
Today I no longer want to have my creations tested by my little playmates who are closer to retirement age than playgrounds… On the other hand, creating games for my children, and playing with their creations, it’s fun!
Small complaint, it is not possible to visit the creations of other players directly via the game. For understandable reasons of moderation, given the possibilities offered by the game unlike a Super Mario Maker, it will be possible to come across games that are inappropriate for young players. However, you can share your games as a code. Once ready to be shared, your game will be uploaded as a 10-character code. So, to discover other creations, you have to go to forums, find the other codes to test them from home. Or, share them with relatives.
As I said previously, the game is above all designed for ergonomics. In fact, the Video Game Workshop is above all readable, whether in ” video game ” mode or in ” programming ” mode. The colors, the icons, the funny face of the nodons… Everything is easily differentiated and allows you to penetrate the mechanics of programming. Regarding the purely aesthetic part, there is still room for improvement. First of all, there are few skins available. So the different games all end up looking a bit alike. But what I found most regrettable is that, on a Nintendo game, it is not possible to play with the mascots of the brand! I would have loved to create a card game with a Mario Kart vibe, or a Mario platform game.
Music level, we remain on a similar observation. There is a very correct basis to create any kind of atmosphere, but impossible to import your own music or sound effects, suddenly the creations all have a little air of resemblance.
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