Developing PC and video games is a crapshoot at best. My own self-published Heavyweight Thunder took a year to build, cost a small fortune, and ultimately tanked with critics. But if Microsoft has its way, literally anyone, regardless of technical know-how, will soon have the opportunity to create jaw-dropping digital diversions.
Meet Kodu, a user-friendly approach to programming games that's so simple even adults can comprehend it. Recently unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show, the system's icon-driven interface lets you quickly build entire 3D universes from scratch. Starting with an empty world, players can resculpt terrain or add objects, characters, and buildings of varying size, shape, and color just by pressing a button. Commands are represented by pictures of each item or individual, easing newcomers into the process. Once populated, everything inhabiting your universe can then be assigned simple behaviors.
Actions such as movement and combat are represented as virtual flash cards. By stringing them together into primitive sentences, such as "when see fruit, move towards and eat," or "if enemy approaches, shoot it," you define how in-game characters and objects behave in different situations. As such, it's easy to construct simple mini-games or deeper arcade experiences in minutes.
Xbox Live users can download Kodu straight to home consoles later this spring, and even share creations online via a "Community Games" channel.
Unlike previous efforts such as XNA Game Studio ($99/year), no prior programming experience is required. Consider it a major step forward, as even free alternatives such as PlayFirst's Playground SDK, aimed at the casual game market, require the ability to code in C++. Kodu is the first software utility to let fans of all ages, even grade-schoolers, jump right in and whip up completely new games from scratch.
Of course, drag-and-drop toolkits like The 3D Gamemaker ($35), which allow users to design quests with a click of the mouse, are nothing new on desktop computers. (On PCs, enthusiasts commonly tinker with existing games like Fallout 3 and Half-Life 2 by constructing "mods," or homebrew modifications, using play-altering utilities.) But at least some degree of design foreknowledge is needed to make the most of these suites.
Granted, tools like the Torque Game Engine Advanced ($295) and Adventure Game Studio better cater to passionate hobbyists by offering a broader feature set. Online services such as Sploder are also available to a wider audience, boosting accessibility by compromising the complexity of what you can create. However, Kodu wisely splits the difference, offering beginner- and intermediate-level users a ready outlet for their creativity, regardless of computer expertise.
Next time I decide to publish a game, who knows? Maybe I'll outsource to my wife and daughter.
Get Rich Playing Games (getrichgaming.com) author and TV/radio host Scott Steinberg has covered technology for 300+ outlets from CNN to Rolling Stone. For more of his insights, visit scottsteinberg.com.
Gamemaker by Mark Overmars has been around for years. many, many years. It has a fully gooey (haha) interface that allows things to be done without the user inputting the first line of code. it ALSO supports code for more advanced users. "Kodu is the first software utility to let fans of all ages, even grade-schoolers, jump right in and whip up completely new games from scratch." Really? I'm sorry, but I've made many a game in my day, just for the fun of it, and I've encountered fully gui-based interfaces (free, i might add, with optional purchase for full functionality) that worked very well. Albeit that GameMaker requires a full membership for the 3D functions, but it's a one-time purchase of, if I remember correctly, around $20US.
Tom2Die, you need to take a look at the Kudo, go to the
I will be discussing Kodu on my blog at:
What about Blender?
it is a full featured 3d program with a built in game engine... and it is free...
with a huge fan base and users group, it maybe a little less user friendly then a drag and drop from microsquish but you get the hang of it.
What's wrong with expecting someone to know what they're doing to make a game? Don't we have enough crappy homebrew gamecode on the web to sift through? And why not teach those elementary school kids proper coding? It'd do them good to teach them SOMETHING for a change. I started learning BASIC in first grade. They can too.
Firstly, might I point out that XNA gamestudio only requires a fee when creating games for XBOX360. I myself have been coding for a few years now and I find it hightens my thinking and problemsolving capability's. So why not teach some coding instead of those easy to use stuff :)
how do i get this.
I am a Fallout 3 moder and I wonder if it is possible to import models and animations into this? If not than its functionality is decreased a lot. I have used several programs like this and if there is no code or import option than its just a simple toy program. I agree with KaylaKaze.
How am I supposed to get Kodu? How much does it cost? Is it even out yet?
That was a fantastic commercial. These are the kind of articles that drive a guy to physorg. You hit all the talking points.
*You can make games with no experience.
*It doesn't take any experience to make games.
*There's no experience required.
This isn't the kind of information I want when I come here. I'm actually scowling because this article was such a sham. Hold yourself to a higher standard, Scott. This was an ad, thinly veiled as a technology article, for a product of menial interest. At least you could have made it a "Top 5" list or something, instead of just reading Microsoft's bullet-points and pretending the information is PopSci worthy.
Criminey, I'm really upset right now.