Home Game Development Construct Game Development Beginners Guide

Construct Game Development Beginners Guide

By Daven Eric Bigelow
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  1. Free Chapter
    Our First Look at Construct
About this book
Construct Classic is a free, DirectX 9 game creator for Windows, designed for 2D games. Construct Classic uses an event-based system for defining how the game behaves, in a visual, human-readable way - you don't need to program or script anything at all. It's intuitive for beginners, but powerful enough for advanced users to work without hindrance. You never know when you'll need a helping hand exploring its inner workings, or harnessing its raw power to do your bidding.Construct Game Development Beginner's Guide is the book for you if you have ever felt the urge to make a game of your own. Reading this book will not only teach you to make some popular games using Construct, but you'll also learn the skills necessary to continue on and bring your game ideas to life.Starting as a beginner to Construct Classic, you'll be learning to make platform, puzzle, and shooter games, each styled after popular games of their genre. This guide covers everything from creating animated sprites, to using the built-in physics and shadow engines of Construct Classic. You will learn the skills necessary to make advanced games of your own. Construct Game Development Beginner's Guide will lead you on your journey of making games.
Publication date:
May 2012
Publisher
Packt
Pages
298
ISBN
9781849516600

 

Chapter 1. Our First Look at Construct

In this book, we will be learning to use Construct Classic, a free open source 2D game creator. However, before we start making games, we'll need to know how to use the tool itself.

In this chapter, we shall:

  • Download and install the latest version of Construct Classic

  • Create a new game project

  • Learn to navigate around the interface of Construct Classic

  • Learn to work with objects

So let's get on with it.

The first step: downloading and installing Construct Classic

Before we start using Construct, we need to get it running. In this part of the chapter, we'll be visiting the Scirra website to download a copy of Construct Classic, and then we'll go through the steps for installing it. If you already have Construct Classic installed, you can skip this step.

 

The first step: downloading and installing Construct Classic


Before we start using Construct, we need to get it running. In this part of the chapter, we'll be visiting the Scirra website to download a copy of Construct Classic, and then we'll go through the steps for installing it. If you already have Construct Classic installed, you can skip this step.

 

Time for action — getting Construct Classic up and running


Following these steps will lead to an installation of Construct Classic ready to go. To do this, you'll need access to the Internet and the Microsoft Windows operating system on the computer you're installing Construct on.

  1. 1. First, navigate your web browser to www.scirra.com. This is the home page of Construct Classic and Construct 2.

  2. 2. Click on the Make Games tab, and choose the subtab Construct Classic.

  3. 3. Next, scroll down and click on Download Construct Classic R1.2. This may change to newer versions of Construct Classic in future, but the link position will be the same. Click on the link to start your download.

  4. 4. After downloading the installer, double-click to start the installation process.

  5. 5. Click through the installer pages until finally presented with the option to begin installation.

  6. 6. After the installation, the Visual Studio runtime will be installed along with the latest version of DirectX (downloaded automatically).

  7. 7. The installation should now be complete, and Construct Classic is ready to load!

 

Step two: creating a game project


Now that Construct is installed, we will learn how to make a game (Direct-X) project after we first launch it.

Creating a project is the first step in making any game in Construct, but for now, we will create one to set us up for learning to navigate the interface.

 

Time for action — starting a game project


We are going to make a blank game project to allow us to navigate all areas of Construct.

  1. 1. Open up Construct and click File | New | New Direct-X game. This menu option is shown in the following screenshot:

  2. 2. We now have a project. Click on the Application 1 node in the Project window. The display should now look similar to the following screenshot:

  3. 3. For this chapter, we're just going to change the Creator and the Name boxes. Go ahead and type your name into the Creator box and My Game into the Name box.

  4. 4. Now, we're going to test if the project works. Click on the Project ribbon button (shown in the following screenshot), and then click on the Run All button underneath it to start your game:

  5. 5. We now have the pop-up window, which looks similar to the following screenshot. It doesn't look like much, but this is the starting point we will use to find our way around the interface of Construct Classic. Click the x button to close the window.

What just happened?

We've just learned how to create a blank game project file in Construct, give it a name, and run our entire game. These steps will be used again each time we start a blank game project.

Creating the project

While we were creating the project from the menu, you may have noticed the other two types of projects. We won't be requiring them to make our games, but it is worth knowing a little about them.

The first option is New Application, which creates a program that does not rely on Direct-X, and rather uses the built-in rendering used by Windows. This project type greatly restricts the plugins that can be used, and is not intended for creating games. As such, we will not use this application project type in this book.

The third option, New Template/Example, is a collection of starter projects and tutorials that can make creating games of certain genres easier. The most playable template included is the Ghost Shooter tutorial, which includes a fully-working top-down shooter to start with. In our case, however, we will be creating all of our games from scratch, so we can make all kinds of games from the ground up.

Changing the project details

Although our interaction in this step was basic, we caught a glance of all the options available for defining the project. For now, all we needed to know was how to change the name and the creator of the game, but later on, we'll be revisiting many of the properties shown in that list.

Running the project

In this final step, we learned how to start our game up. This step is fairly straightforward, but it is worth noting that another way to click on Run All is to click the small monitor icon next to the save icon.

Have a go hero — try again from memory

Now that we've learned how to create blank projects, try it again to see if you can remember how to do it.

 

Step three: navigating the interface of Construct Classic


Now that we have Construct Classic and a game project set up, we can explore all the areas of the Construct editor that we need to learn, to make games. For now, we are going to have a glance around the editor.

 

Time for action — clicking our way around Construct Classic


Using the game project from the previous exercise, we are now going to click through and look at various windows we'll be revisiting many times throughout the book.

  1. 1. Start a new blank game project as we learned earlier. We start the project in the Layout editor tab. By clicking the pin button on the Properties and Project boxes, they will minimize to the sides of the screen to provide more viewing area. It is also possible to resize these panels by holding the cursor over the edges of the boxes and clicking to drag their width. The following screenshot shows these buttons with arrows:

  2. 2. Now click on the Event Sheet Editor tab to reach the view shown in the following screenshot. Notice that the ribbon bar automatically switches to the Events tab to provide some quick options.

  3. 3. Now that we've visited both the event editor and layout editor, we can look at the boxes on the right side of the editor. We've already met the Properties box on the left-hand side, so now if the right box is minimized as shown in the previous screenshot, click on the pin button again to display it. You should see the following screenshot:

  4. 4. Clicking on the Animator tab will show the animation box. It will be blank, as shown in the following screenshot, as we do not have an animated object to select yet:

  5. 5. Finally, we can take a look at the Layers tab to see the different layers of our layout. Once again, there isn't much to see as we only have a blank game project right now, as in the following screenshot:

What just happened?

We've now learned to switch between the different views of the editor. Now, we can look more closely at what options are available for them.

The layout editor

This is the area that is used to create and modify the objects that make our games. Most changes made here are directly visible when the game is run.

The properties box

This box is used to modify the settings and values for most selectable items in Construct Classic. We will be using it frequently to make games throughout the book.

The event editor

In this area, we can create the rules for our games through conditions that trigger actions. An example of a condition is when a player touches a harmful substance (such as lava), we can make an event that checks for this condition and then triggers an action that removes a life from the player's lives variable.

The animator box

This box is used to create graphics and animations for our game objects the player will be interacting with.

The layers box

The layers box allows the organization of objects into different layers. This is useful for creating objects that scroll at different speeds to create a parallax effect, as well as a separate foreground and background objects. Layers can be hidden by clicking the eye icon, and locked by clicking the lock icon, as shown in the following screenshot. They can also be named in the Properties box.

The eye and the lock icon are found by default (visible and unlocked) on the left of each layer.

 

The final step: an introduction to objects


To finish the chapter, we are going to look at what objects are and what some of them do. Objects are the most important part of making a game in Construct as they usually interact directly with the player.

 

Time for action — creating some objects


We are now going to place some objects in the layout and modify their properties.

  1. 1. Open your blank game project from last time, or if you feel like getting some more practice, create a new one.

  2. 2. Right-click inside the layout editor, and click the Insert an object option shown in the following screenshot. This can also be done by double-clicking on a blank space of the layout.

  3. 3. We now have the following object creation box where we can see all the types of objects we can insert into the layout. These are pre-programmed objects created in C++. Select the Sprite object and click on Insert. This can also be performed by double-clicking the Sprite object. Now, we can click inside the layout to place the sprite object.

  4. 4. We are then shown an image editor for our sprite. For now, we will make a simple square graphic as shown in the following screenshot. To do this, click the paint bucket, choose a color, and then click an empty space in the graphic space.

  5. 5. Now, click the x button to return to the layout editor. Click on Yes when asked to save, and we will now have a sprite in our layout as shown in the following screenshot:

  6. 6. We can use the white box in the middle to change the angle of our sprite and the boxes on the edge of the sprite to change its size. Try matching the following shape:

  7. 7. Now, open the Properties box on the left side, and scroll down to the option Make 1:1 in the Properties group. Clicking on this will make our sprite return to normal size again, as in the following screenshot:

  8. 8. We now know how to resize and rotate the sprite object. We can also do this by modifying the values in the Common group. Open this group and try changing the X, Y, Width, Height, Angle, and Opacity fields to see what they change. It is worth noting that a lower opacity value makes the sprite object more transparent, and recently changed values will be shown in bold.

  9. 9. We can also give our sprite object a name just by changing the Name box. This is useful, as later we will be using many different sprite objects to create our games. For now, scroll down in the Properties box to view another group called Appearance; toying around with the values Skew X and Skew Y produces distortions, shown in the following screenshot. Notice that the selection box for the sprite does not skew with the sprite itself.

  10. 10. We can also tick the Invisible on start checkbox. This lets the graphic be shown in the editor, but hidden when the game is run. This is good for making invisible walls and other such objects.

What just happened?

We have now just learned to create objects such as sprites, move them around, and modify their appearance using the editor. Let's look at the different subtasks we went through to do this.

Creating an object

We learned how to bring up the object creation box and then insert a sprite into our layout. Every object we put into a layout is available in this dialog box.

Drawing the sprite

Although we only had a quick interaction with the graphic editor, we saw where our graphic files are drawn and modified. If we wanted, we could even copy-and-paste graphics from other drawing programs into the editor. It's worth noting that some painting programs may copy images differently than Construct Classic expects. Should this happen, pasting into Microsoft Paint first and then transferring that image to Construct will avoid these problems, but will not keep alpha levels.

Each drawing tool that we can use in Construct Classic has a brief informative message in the bottom-left corner of the graphic editor to explain its purpose. However, let's take a look at some of the other controls used to draw graphics in Construct:

  • The Rectangle select tool, as shown in the previous screenshot, is used to drag-and-select rectangular chunks of our graphics to move, rotate, scale, cut/delete, copy, paste, change the color of, and flip.

  • The Wand tool, as shown in the previous screenshot, is used to automatically select parts of the graphic that touch and have similar colors. Holding Shift and clicking will select all parts of the graphic with similar colors regardless of whether or not they are touching.

  • The Pen Tool, as shown in the previous screenshot, lets us draw on our graphic as if we were using a pencil.

  • The Brush tool, as shown in the previous screenshot, is similar to the Pen tool, except it has a much larger amount of options that can be changed using the sliders.

  • The Erasor Tool, as shown in the previous screenshot, is used to erase and has the same options as the Brush Tool.

  • The Mirror tool, found at the top of the window, as shown in the previous screenshot, is used to flip an image or selection horizontally.

  • The Flip tool is used to vertically flip the image or selection.

  • The Rotate tool, as shown in the previous screenshot, provides a choice of angles for the image or selection to be rotated.

  • The Crop tool is used to shrink the editable region of the graphic (the canvas) to fit the graphic. Use this if you draw something smaller than the boundaries.

  • The Resize Canvas tool, as shown in the previous screenshot, is used to increase or decrease the size of the canvas by showing a pop-up box that lets you input a new height and width for the canvas. The drawing itself is not resized, however.

Changing the appearance of the sprite

We then learned how to modify our sprite using stretches, skews, and rotations. Changes we made here are shown when we run the game.

Have a go hero — make a picture of sprites

Now that we have gone through the process to create a sprite, try adding some more to form a picture from them. If you are stuck thinking of ideas, then try some of these:

  • A house made up of separate sprites for the roof, base, windows, and door

  • A magician with additional sprites for a staff and a wizard hat

  • A car with sprites for the tires and a body sprite

    Note

    If you wish to draw the images using another paint program that does not support transparent backgrounds, use the RGB color (255,0,255) as your background color. In Microsoft Paint, this color is the brightest shade of pink in the default palette.

 

Summary


This chapter taught us a lot about navigating around Construct Classic as well as creating objects that we'll be using to make games.

Specifically, we went through the steps to install a fresh copy of Construct Classic on our computer that we retrieved from the Scirra website. We then went on to create a new game project and looked around the various interface views of the editor. After that, we learned how to make, position, angle, and size Sprites, a key object in any games we make. To finish the chapter, we took a quick look at some of the tools we will be coming across in making our game.

We also discussed the different tools we'll be using to create images for sprites using Construct's graphic editor.

Now that we've learned about the basics of navigating and using Construct Classic, we're ready to move on to starting our first game!

Construct Game Development Beginners Guide
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