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Everyone fantasizes about creating their very own epic video games at some point, but as soon as they see the amount of coding knowledge required and the staggering amount of work that goes into even the simplest game, most turn tail and run away – but not anymore.
In true mad scientist, left-field Nintendo fashion, they recently announced their latest creation: Game Builder Garage.
While games about making games are nothing new with the likes of LABO VR, Mario Maker 2, Dreams, Crayta already on the market, Game Builder Garage looks like a wholly unique experience.
Nintendo is known for creating compelling and fun video games like no other in the industry, and this latest effort aims to teach some of Nintendo’s fundamental rules of game design.
Create all kinds of crazy games then share them with friends
The game leans heavily into the whacky, creative style and look that we saw with Super Mario Maker 2 and Nintendo LABO. At first glance it appears to look and function a little like the LABO Toy-Con Garage, but with much more depth and complexity.
The Game features 7 interactive lessons that will teach you the fundamentals of game design, and the systems required to make a basic game. Each lesson builds on the last and is designed to easy to learn and simple to use even if you have absolutely no experience.
Once you have completed a lesson you unlock a quiz on what you have just learned in order to help you remember what was covered; once completed, you can continue on to the next lesson.
Through connecting Nodon you can determine there action
During these lessons a blue dot called bob will act as your guide, teaching you what you'll need for that particular lesson and explaining how everything works. You can also jump from the programming screen into your creation any time to test what you've built so far.
These completed games are just the starting point as you are encouraged to tweak and personalise each game to make you your own.
Using the lessons, you can go on to create 2D platformers, 2D shooter, 3D racers, and a third person escape room-style puzzle game. But creating even simple games requires a lot of complex actions and that is where little things called Nodon come in.
These quirky, colourful characters represent many functions and tools that you’ll be using to create your masterpieces through their placement and connecting Nodon to one another.
Aside from their unique looks, each has their own quirks and personality that relates to their function, and through connecting them together they interact with each other by talking and joking with one another.
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For example, The A button is hyperactive and excitable, always ready to go, while the Game-Screen Nodon looks like a camera but acts like a grandiose film director.
You can tie your A button Nodon to an on-screen persons jump ability, then they will jump when that button is pressed. That is one of the most basic interactions but throughout the lessons then become increasingly elaborate.
There are over 80 Nodon for you to try and they are a remarkable tool to help you learn and remember the functions of game design, and it's their individual personalities that drive Game Builder and make it stand out.
You can share your games with friends and view each other's creations
You can edit the functions of some Nodon, such as the shape and size of platforms if they are solid, or destructible, or movable, which will come in handy in your creations.
Once you've completed the lessons the sky is the limit, you'll then have access to free programming mode to create whatever you want.
You will be able to play on the TV or in docked mode so you can continue tinkering with your creations while on the go.
Better yet you can share your creations with friends and play their games too by sending a unique game code. You can even upload your game codes to Facebook and Twitter.
If you’ve been a very prolific creator you could also share your personal programmer ID, this allows anyone who has it to see all your creations.
While it looks overwhelming at first the Nodons will take you through step by step to build a masterpiece
You cannot browse created games like the levels previously in Super Mario Maker 2, you have to actively choose to download someone's game so you are unlikely to see anything you shouldn't.
There is some personalisation to the games you create, as you can change the colour scheme or world theme. Unfortunately, you have to use in-built objects and can’t design your own, but you can re-skin existing models to some degree.
It has the potential to be an incredible educational tool, especially to get young people interesting in programming their own games and thinking about game design.
Game Builder Garage will also retail for less than a typical full price Switch game, which is great as it helps lower the entry point for those interested in creative game design.
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Despite how clever it is Game Builder has some obvious limitations, and some games look a little basic, but Nintendos creative tools in the past have thrived despite such limits, with great games like Mario Paint and The Game Boy Camera these I'm positive Game Builder Garage constraints will lead to even more creativity.
I’m very excited to see how fans will experiment and push those limits to create weird and wonderful works as well as games far more complex and crazy than thought possible.
It remains to be seen how Nintendo will balance useful gaming tools that aren’t too complex but still remain fun, but it's a very promising idea that I'm looking forward to seeing.
Game Builder Garage is due for release on 11 June 2021 for the Nintendo Switch for £26.99 .