To Build a World - Introductions / by Andreas Kopriva

My Experiences and What I Would Like To Do

I think my first experience with video games was 27 years ago at the beautiful age of 3. I obviously don't actually remember the experience itself but I do remember that, by the age of 5 I was pretty much obsessed with playing video games, whether those were on the old 8086 (not 100% but it was definitely pre-286) or at the local arcades. Favourites were gems like Wonderboy in Monster Land (link to fabulous Master System trailer) , Barbarian (replete with early decapitation physics) and Karate Champ (with it's beautiful double joystick control system). 

Phenomenal decapitation physics!

Phenomenal decapitation physics!

I played a lot of games. A potentially unhealthy amount. Whenever we would go anywhere with my parents which may have had an arcade cabinet, I would rush off and attach myself to it until it was time to go. When at home I would be glued to that computer monitor until I was pried off because apparently sustenance and hygiene are required. 

I was (and still am - albeit somewhat jaded) completely in love with video games. They took me places, enabled me to live out fantastical scenarios and developed my imagination. Naturally, I began creating my own games through pretty much any way my brain could at that point. 

Favourite game 'designs' included drawing a bunch of characters on a lined piece of A4 paper and sticking them on a large B&W CRT TV which was situated in a corner of the hallway at our first house. I would turn the TV, tune in to a channel with static and just look at the noise patterns backlighting my scene. Hours were spent staring at that piece of attached paper, imagining - almost wishing - a story unfolding between heroes and villains, castles and dragons, battles and celebrations. 

Another was using a magnetic backgammon set as the main designer for a variety of games. Using the magnetic stones, I would create rudimentary characters and would move them using my fingers. The 'frame rate' was appalling but it kept me occupied for years. Mortal Kombat, Ninja Gaiden, Rygar and a hell of lot of other arcade games were emulated using my magnetic backgammon set :) 

I wanted to create a game so much but I never seem to have found the way or the time to get involved. So years passed, (unrelated) studies were undertaken, jobs were acquired, and ageing occurred until I find myself now, at the age of 30, trying to figure out how to create something that would satisfy not only myself, but others as well. And my god, it's a terrifying concept!

The glorious Alley Cat! 

The glorious Alley Cat! 

I witnessed gaming turn from this niche, 'nerdy' past-time to the billion dollar industry it is now. I've seen the transition from CGA (I had this!)  to the colossi built by hundreds of talented and highly skilled individuals. How what was once painstakingly pre-rendered is now outmatched by in-game engines. I can barely see what the bar has been raised to at this point. 

So where does one start? This is the question which has spurred this series of posts. Despite being absolutely terrified of building my first game, I will definitely give it a shot, regardless of the final quality attained. I will attempt to cover both the cognitive aspect (contemplating game mechanics, storyline building, how to approach character design etc)  of this endeavour alongside the technical aspects (how to make the previously described items into something that can be interacted with) required.

In the next post of the series I will be discussing the methodology I will be following in this series of articles along with briefly outlining the steps I will be considering as I embark on this journey of creativity, discovery and world-building.