Pathfinders Intern: How I designed my first game at Nulab

Hi, my name is Andrew and I like to code.

Andrew at NulabHi my name is Andrew McIntyre. I am a 15-year-old student at Ralph R. McKee Career & Technical Education High School and I love coding video games. My fascination with video games started when I was a kid. My brother and I used to take turns playing The Legend of Zelda, but I was always reluctant to hand over the controller. I loved games so much that I wanted to learn how they worked, and how to make one of my own. I didn’t know about coding when I was young, but as I got older I slowly found out more and more about it.

Once I reached high school, I found out that one of my classes was Software Engineering. I didn’t know what software engineering was at the time, but when I started the class I was pleasantly surprised. I loved the class and was good at it, which excited me. As I got better at coding, my teacher recommended me to the PATHFinders Mentorship Program. During this summer internship at Nulab Inc., I learned many things about how to act in a workplace and what to expect from future jobs.

Not only have I gained the knowledge necessary to work in an environment with other people, but I have realized how important it is to get assignments done when they need to get done. This gives me a head start in the workforce that no other teenager my age has, so this has been a very knowledgeable experience for me.

Learning by Doing: Using Cacoo to move my ideas forward

Storyboarding and Layouts

While I was here at Nulab, I made a storyboard and layout for my game in Cacoo. Cacoo helped me plan out my game and make it more organized, instead of starting the game without any idea what it would be like. My games in the past were very sloppy and I often had to go back and rewrite a lot of my code because I wanted to add something new, or fix something broken. Now that I have my ideas laid out in front of me, it will be much easier to develop my game because I have a something to work off of. The game I am making is called Space Rescue.

storyboard on CacooStoryboard I created on Cacoo

 

Planning my game

  • Figure out the setting, controls, characters and what platform it would be on
  • I made a diagram showing the basics of the story, character details and the general plot.
  • Finally, I worked on designing the stages, their order, and how they link to each other 

The way I did all this was by making the tools in Cacoo to make sure all my ideas were connecting. Once I had my ideas laid out, I started narrowing down the specifics of the game, and cleaned up my diagrams. Once I made the specifics of the game, I made the order of which everything would fit together.

Interactive Prototyping

All of this was easy to put together using Cacoo so everything flowed nicely. I also used a program called InVision to make a basic interactive layout for the game menus using the screens I created in Cacoo. Most of these ideas were in my head before, and I had no idea how to execute them. Once I made the layout for my game in Cacoo it made things so much easier because I was able to organize and visualize my ideas.

Developing the Story Plot, Layout and Characters 

You and your team are sent into deep space to investigate a transmission from an unknown source, which seemed non-human. Once you and your team get there, strange things start happening and your team gets separated. You have to save all five members of your team without losing all of your lives.

There are boss battles, rescue stages and shooting stages, all of which are connected. You collect ammo and special weapons in the rescue stages, and can use them by customizing your ship and equipping the weapons in the customization screen. As you advance, you can choose whatever weapon you want, even from previous stages. 

I made another diagram describing the characters’ personalities and appearances. As I did this I made each character have their own specific trait or characteristic to make them all unique. Once I finished making the characters, I worked on their relationships and how they interacted with each other, such as dialogue between two characters, or common jokes between them. Finally I made the order of which you save each team member to finish the characters.

Final Thoughts

My experience in the workplace with my coworkers was great. I had no problems working by myself, or asking for help. I felt completely comfortable while working, which helps me work  more efficiently. Since I was comfortable in my workplace, I could get work done faster, and having fun while doing it.

I would like to thank Nulab, Inc. and the PATHFinders Program for giving me this opportunity, because it was an amazing experience. Games are something that I am passionate about so since I get to develop my own game, it doesn’t feel like work because I am having fun while doing it. Developing games would be way more stressful if I didn’t have the tools and environment that I had. Overall, this was a great experience and I learned a lot from this experience. 

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