Questions and Comments on Making Games

Here are some questions and comments from people who want to know more about making games...

You can send questions and comments through our Contact Us page. Please note that all comments are read by a human before being added to the site.

FAQ's


How should I get started in making games?

If I were starting again now, I would be looking at either Marc Overmars' Game Maker, or Games Garage. I haven't tried either myself, but they both look very promising and easy to get into. Any feed back about them would be very much appreciated.

What do you use to make your games?

I use Macromedia Shockwave Director MX. However, I can't recommend it to beginners because it's expensive and it's relatively difficult to learn.


On 10th Mar 2012, Winston Chow wrote,

Hi,

I'm currently taking an undergraduate course on Computer Security at UC Berkeley and my group is assigned a project to authenticate users based on mouse and keyboard actions as a biometric. We are looking around for games to collect this data with. I remember playing Merlin's Revenge in the past and it would be a game well suited for us. That said, to do this we would need your permission to add code that allows us to record a user's actions. In addition, we would add a disclaimer letting players know that this is completely separate from the game and ask for their permission. Let me know if the developer's behind the game would be willingly to do this. I look forward to your reply!

Sincerely,
Winston Chow


steve replied,

Hi Winston,

Sounds like an interesting project. If all you are looking for is permission to modify the code, you already have it - Merlin Open is released under the GPL you can download it from the site and start work on it.

Please note, you will need a copy of Director MX or later to modify the .dir file.

If you want to publish the changed version of the game, you'll need to make the source code of your changes available to comply with the terms of the GPL.

Good luck, and let us know how you get on!

On 19th Oct 2011, noodle0117 wrote,

Dear, Steve Riddett,

I remember playing Merlin's Revenge 1 over half a decade ago and how much fun I had blasting apart goblins, golems, and even that giant bearded baby. Recently I've been learning a bit about computer programming and I was wondering what sort of programming language you have used to create the mechanics of Merlin's Revenge and its series. I've heard that C++, C#, and Java are common languages for games so I'm currently looking into those.

I'm also somewhat interested in learning about game programming, so I'm curious as to how you started out and how you managed to create all those games during these years.

Finally, because you've released these games for free (which is awesome for all of us Merlin fans), I kind of wonder how you manage to make money off of this.

Many thanks for the wonderful game you've created!

Hope you can reply.

Sincerely,
noodle0117


steve replied,

Hi noodle0117,
Glad you remember the games from all those years ago!

MR is made in Macromedia Director MX. Macromedia was since bought by Adobe. The programming language used is called Lingo. I wouldn't really recommend learning it at this stage, as it's pretty much a dead end technology.

Java, C#, C++ are all good options to learn, especially if you want to get a job doing it. I also like PHP, Py-thon, and Javascript.

I started out with a Commodore64 when I was 11, I made a few very simple games like text adventures and a 'football' game, which didn't really work. (Only in BASIC)

Then I got into SEUCK, (Shoot Em Up Construction Kit) which allowed you to make shoot em up games without doing any programming.

Later I got an Amiga with AMOS, Deluxe Paint, Master Sound and Sound Tracker. I was 15-17 at this time and started many games with my friends and finished 0. Good fun though.

Later still I was given a pirate copy of Director 6.5. By this time I was 23 and was just about mature enough to do programming without throwing the computer out of the window. "What can you do with it?" I asked, "Anything you like" came the reply. So I got a book called "Lingo Sorcery" by Peter Small, which was absolutely brilliant. And for the first time in my life I actually finished a game. It was called "Breakout".

I made Merlin's Revenge for my brother's web design company (called Merlin Web Design), and decided to join him making websites and also making online games. At this time I went out and bought Director MX, which was very expensive - over 700 punts (I was in Ireland by then). And that's another reason not to get into it!

There was always more money in the websites than the games, but I did manage to sell a few games for licence fees to websites including the three Merlin's Revenge games to Bonus.com. I kept the money from MR1 and 2 and shared the money from MR3 amongst the people on themetalbox.com who had helped make it.

So the unfortunate answer is that I've never made anything close to a living from the games, which is a shame because I would far prefer to be doing that every day than doing stuff other people want me to do! Today I work full time as a php programmer. The stuff I learned with the metal box certainly helped me to get the job.

If you want to make money from games today, your best bet is probably the iPhone/Android. There are also options for micro-payments on websites like flatr and bitcoin.

Glad you enjoy the games, I am still endeavouring to work on the site in my spare time.

Good luck with your game making career - my advice (if you want it) is to do stuff you love doing, and make games that you want to play yourself.

All the best,
Steve


On 27th Jun 2011, Silversnake6 wrote,

Not a Sug, to start with.

Been watching the series sense I was young, and I'd like to say that this really is an amazing game being made. The series has always been one of my favourites, and the fact that everyone has been willing to work on this project on their off time is quite inspirational.
Thanks, TMB people.

Oh, and a sug that hit me as I was typing this, Have you thought of uploading the finished project onto Steam? I'm confident it would do quite well, even if it costed. Heck, I know I'd buy it.


steve replied,

Thanks man!

Yeah, it's pretty cool the way this comunnity has sprung up around this game. Inspirational is the right word for it.

Hmmm, steam eh? Interesting idea - can independants actually upload to it? I've only just put steam on my computer as I've been using linux for the last 5 years. Finally caved and bought a Windows 7 laptop and put steam on last weekend to try out civ5.

On 11th Mar 2011, isaboss wrote,

Hey it would be really cool if you could make the Merlin series into a ipod touch game, you could make alot of money doing that! thats only because its a great game of course :D


steve replied,

Thanks! Yeah that would be cool. Some of the TMB community are learning Android because it's easier to get into than iPhone. I would certainly be interested in targetting this platform with a game from the MR world at some point. Though i do think that MR itself wouldn't be suitable because it really requires a mouse and keyboard.

On 21st Jan 2011, Swormzo0 wrote,

I want to make an ending scene similar to the one in MR2 (with all the characters). The problem is, I can't seem to get all of their text colors, so it would be great if you could provide me with the html color.


steve replied,

The easiest way to do this is to take a screenshot of the screen when the wizards are talking (press Print Screen).

Then, open GIMP and select Edit > Paste.

Use the dropper tool to select the colour from the text, and then double click on the colour square and it will show you the html code and the rgb values.

Hope that helps!

On 5th Dec 2010, Bedrin wrote,

I was wanting to make one of my own little flash games, and i was wondering....how do i do that?


steve replied,

You can do it two ways - Get Flash cs4 or whatever the latest one is called from Adobe - this is expensive but makes it a bit easier.

The other way is to look into something called Flex and Air. This way you don't have to buy anything and is probably better in the long run.

Either way, you'll need to learn Actionscript.

Alternatively, if the game you want to make is similar to Merlin's Revenge, you could download mr open from this site and use it as a starting point.

However, MR is not a Flash game - it's shockwave.

Hope that helps, good luck!

On 9th Jun 2010, Erik Rodriguez wrote,

Hi,I'm not that good at tile sets so i want to see if I can make a good tile,i looked in the fan game kit and found the tile thing,but it wouldnt work.All i need is the size of the tile.
Thanks for Support,
Erik Rod.


steve replied,

it's 32x32 pixels

On 31st May 2010, Erik Rodriguez wrote,

Aww...if only i knew how to animate T.T


steve replied,

Have a look in the downloads section. I think I did some tutorials.

On 27th May 2010, Super_merlin wrote,

Useless message in order to get steve's email address.


steve replied,

Useless reply in order to give it to you.

On 22nd May 2010, Bedrin wrote,

Hi. My name is Bedrin, and, I love these games, and, I was wondering. How did you create them, because, i was wanting to make one. I wont copy your at all, but, I would like to make my own. Im into that sort of thing.


steve replied,

Hi Bedrin, Thanks, I'm glad you like them.

I make them on a program called Director MX, which is unfortunately quite expensive to buy. However you can download a trial version for free from Adobes website.

The source code and graphics for Merlin's Revenge 3 is available on this site in the downloads section. You are welcome to download it and play with it all you like. As it is open source you can make any changes you want and redistribute it as your own game. I don't mind :)

There is a map editor that comes along with it, which you can use to make your own maps, you can also play maps that other members of TMB have made. Some of them are very good!

Or you can just study it and see how the code is put together. For the complete picture you will need Director, but you can view most of the code without it - the only thing you can't see are the screen layouts.

Good luck, have fun!


On 30th Apr 2010, Gnorthan, king of the nylon green pig people wrote,

hey, steve, could you get gnorthan the bearded baby sprite?


steve replied,

I've uploaded all the MR1 graphics for you at this link

http://www.themetalbox.com/downloads/mr1_gfx.zip

you can also get them from the downloads page.

On 5th Jan 2010, JewishJammer wrote,

how did you get game maker files on a web site???



steve replied,

I uploaded them. If you would like me to put your files up on themetalbox.com, just reply to this email with the files attached.

On 14th Dec 2009, Kazhang wrote,

Hi, I'm a young grade 12 student who is very interested in programming and hope to make games like yours. If you have the time, i'd love some tips on how you made merlins or any programming tips. I'm a huge fan and thank you for your time

-Kazhang


steve replied,

My programming tips would be:
Choose a platform which is likely to be around for as long as possible. Right now the best bets are:
C#
php (not really suitable for games)
Java
Py-thon
Flash

When programming, aim to never repeat yourself.
If you find yourself copy and pasting lines of code ask yourself if you could make a loop instead?
If you have several functions which all do similar things, combine them into one function and pass in parameters to alter its behaviour.

Make objects that solve small problems in general ways. Once you've learned how to extract data from a database, or display a graphic on the screen, make an object to do it for you. Don't keep re-implementing the same code.

Use inheritance to aid code re-use. Objects can inherit from each other. When one object inherits from another, it takes on all the abilities of that object.

Use the Model View Controller template for your games. This will help you separate the input logic, display logic and game engine logic. The idea is that if you wish to display the game in a different way, or allow the player to use a different input method later you can do so easily without messing around with the core programming.

Most of all, create programming you are proud of and that you would let others read. It is ALWAYS worth taking the time to do it right. You will never regret spending extra time on code as the better code will save you lots of time very quickly afterwards. Fixing bugs is very time consuming (and demoralising) you will have far less of them if you aim to produce elegant, beautiful, non-repetitive code.

If you're not happy with a piece of code, re-write it.

Lastly, if you're not having fun, stop for a bit.

Ok that's enough for now!
Hope you enjoy programming, I think of it as a creative activity, more similar to authoring than engineering. I use it as a way of expressing myself and I notice that I get unhappy if I don't do any for a while.

Good luck, if you have anything to show the tmb community later, write in and I'll post it up.

On 23rd Sep 2009, hubix wrote,

Hello, I have a short, yet a very important question. I'd like to know whether the program used by You to make your outstanding games would be suitable enough to make a pool/snooker game. Thanks in advance.


steve replied,

It is.

I know this because I have made one!

It was about 5 years ago, for a client who is not using it any more. I will write to them and see if it is ok to give you the code.


On 22nd Sep 2009, Super_merlin wrote,

Hey steve, congrats on the job. Anyway, can p-ython be played on the website? I've decided to learn it.


steve replied,

Thanks dude, erm no p-ython can't be used to make web plugin type of stuff. But it can run on nearly any platform.

On 16th Jul 2009, alty_ wrote,

Greeting,
It has been a while since I have visited here so I thought I might tell you guys about this.
I have been playing around with flixel its some sort of object oriented framework,and its really neat. It is my first step out of the flash ide and as2 but I managed to learn my way through and make this:
http://spamtheweb.com/ul/upload/160709/61513_mrp.php
I made it while waiting for artwork on my project so sadly it is kind of one of my half assed projects.
Itís a sort of buggy Merlin's revenge type game but thereís a twist itís a performer :).
it is a tad buggy and messy but it was fun to make/learn.

I might possibly finish it or unlag it later
But for now do what ever you want with it
Refresh the page if it doesnít load properly

And Steve through out my ventures i met a guy who has the same hand problem as you and he suggested
Regular exercise and this key board
http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/productdetails.aspx?pid=043


.



steve replied,

The game looks really cool. I am on my eeepc at the moment and it seems be too much for it (way too laggy to play) but I'll have a look at it on some slightly more powerful machines later and see if it's better.

Thanks for the RSI advice, regular exercise definitely helps. And you're right I should probably get one of those keyboards too. Other things that seem to help are: bananas, cutting out caffeine and using a program called 'workrave' which makes you take regular breaks.

I've given up on a complete cure, but I do seem to be able to still use a computer, so long as I don't go too mad with it. :)

Anyway, very well done on making the game. I might have to check out this flixel thing - sounds intriguing!

On 23rd Jun 2009, Roxblaster wrote,

Hey Steve-

I know this is a bit of an odd question for this site, as it has next to nothing to do with any of the games, but I have the system known as Adobe Photoshop Elements. I would like to use it, but it runs so slow that I find myself using GIMP anyway. It's the same with the Premiere Elements, except I have to use it when making videos because Moviemaker conveniently stopped working once I installed it. Also, both systems randomly freeze up and stop working, and I lose whatever I was doing. Basically, I'm asking how to make this work better. I went to their help page, and all I saw were tutorials of how to use it. You seem to be knowledgeable about a lot of systems I have only heard of, (and some I haven't!) so I thought you might be able to help. If you can't, that's fine. But last time I got help from a company, my internet died for a month. (Supposedly, we were fixing the signal so it wouldn't sign off so frequently.)



steve replied,

Ok well I'm not really sure as I'm running Ubuntu and those programs aren't supported. I have Photoshop 7 running on here on WINE and it runs ok but I don't use it because I prefer GIMP.

I asked my girlfriend who is a photographer and she said that photoshop elements has a setting under preferences called "scratch memory" you could try turning it up and see if it makes any difference.

I assume you're running Windows. If you're on Vista and you have a way of testing it on XP you might find it runs quicker on that. Some things do apparantly.

Other than that my only advice would be to make sure you have plenty of RAM available. If you open up the task manager (CTRL-ALT-DELETE) you'll be able to get an idea of how much RAM your system is using. I would guess that 2GB should be plenty for this sort of thing but more never hurts.

Sorry it's all a bit vague. Hope some of it helps

On 9th Jun 2009, Roxblaster wrote,

Just a question for Steve. Approximately how long did it take you to plan Merlin's Revenge, Level 1? After that, how long did it take you to program it? I'm curious, since I hadn't heard of the site until MR2 was just being finished.


steve replied,

Erm. Good question. As I recall, there really wasn't that much planning. James asked for a game for merlinwebdesign.com with graphics similar to Rebellion. So I drew Merlin and the Goblin Archer and came up with the energy blast as a weapon. The first demo was just a green screen. You could blast the goblins around but they didn't die and they didn't attack you. Because there was so little going on it ran really fast you could have about 30 goblins perfectly smooth. It was obvious straight away that it was fun!

I don't think it took all that long to finish, I think it was around 3 months. Which is pretty quick by my standards :) It wasn't really planned though I just added features as I thought they were needed. That's why I had to do a total re-write for MR2. And then another one for MR3. I think it's finally good enough to not re-write now though :)

On 21st Apr 2009, medelin (DZ6WEB) wrote,

Hi,
do you have a shockwave engine developed?
I am interested in buy it.
Thank you


steve replied,

Hi, Yes we do.

You can download the GPL version for free from the download page on the website or by using this link:

http://themetalbox.com/downloads/merlin_4_027.zip

The GPL (GNU General Public Licence) means that you can use, change, and modify the code for free. However, when you publish your game you must also publish your source code (in this case the director .dir file).

If you wish to publish your game but not the source you can buy a commercial licence from me. Please write back and we can negotiate a price.

You may start development of your game based on the GPL version and then buy a commercial licence later if you wish.

Best of luck with the game and thank you for your interest in our engine.

Steve

On 19th Apr 2009, MR ROX! wrote,

Hey Steve,
It's been a long time (according to my login info, almost 2 years actually!).
I don't know if you remember, but I'm one of the guys who made a song for I think it was MR3. Fun times :)
I've grown up a bit (not too much I guess...) since then, and I'm pursuing composition at a much more serious level (I'm preparing to go to a music school in a year and a bit).
I assume you can see my email here, so send me an email if you want.
I'd really like to send you some of my latest music if you want to hear (orchestral stuff), and I was also wondering if you have any project that needs music or know of anyone that might need music.

I hope your hands are improving. You're a great guy with some great games under the belt!


steve replied,

Thanks man, yeah I'd love to hear your music!

In terms of projects that need music. MR4 will do eventually and Bottom Earth but neither of these will be anytime soon.

Some of the other projects on TMB might like to include music. I think there's been some recent activity on CHEF!

If you email me the files and say which ones you would like people to be able to use, I'll upload them to the site with the appropriate announcement.

Good to hear from you again, I'm glad to hear you are pursuing the music. My hands are pretty bad right now, I have loads of work to do for a course I'm on so I'm not getting much chance to rest them. I'm determined to find time for the games though. :)



Related Actions