Though most PAX East 2017 attendees visit the convention to play video games, there are a number of individuals who are equally as interested in learning how to make them. With NJ Makers Day — an annual tradition celebrating innovation and creativity, particularly within the STEM community — set to be celebrated on March 24-25 this year, one booth in particular had the tools any budding NJ maker will need to succeed: Mercury Learning.
Mercury Learning and Information was created specifically to publish “print and digital content in the areas of science and medicine, technology and computing, engineering, and mathematics (STEM disciplines) designed for the professional/reference, trade, library, higher education, career school, and online training markets.” In short, they provide comprehensive books and courses concerning a variety of STEM topics, ranging from Pre-Algebra Essentials to Photograph Restoration. Most relevant to budding game creators, however, are their books related to topics such as Video Game Writing and Classic Game Design.
According to the official description, the latest edition of Video Game Writing “explores the challenging and evolving world of the games writer.” It is authored by Marek Walton and Maurice Suckling, two writers with more than a decade of experience writing for over 40 games, including titles such as Stuntman, Driver and XCOM. The book is broken into four parts spread across 24 chapters, beginning with a history of game stories before transitioning into details about what to expect from NDAs and contracts, how to collaborate with a team of developers and, of course, offers advice about narrative design, plot structure and the future of games writing. Though game writing doesn’t actually require any STEM knowledge, NJ Makers Day is also about fostering collaboration; since most programmers and 3D modellers won’t specialize in game writing, they’ll need to collaborate with someone who does.
Gamers with an interest in game development who pine for the nostalgia-inducing arcade games of yesteryear will find Classic Game Design right up their alley. This comprehensive guide details how to design the essential components of classic arcade games such as Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Breakout. Everything from coloring graphics and manipulating the scoring system to creating sound effects and coding the AI is included. As a bonus, the book includes a companion DVD filled with source code as well as art and sound sources. (Those who purchase the digital edition will have access to these resources via the book’s website.) Classic Game Design is written by Franz Lanzinger, the president and owner of Actual Entertainment Inc. and veteran programmer responsible for designing Crystal Castles, an arcade game released by Atari, Inc. in 1983.
If you’d like to participate in NJ Makers Day, you can find the full list of participating locations on the official website, which also includes a number of other useful resources. You can also keep tabs on what fellow NJ makers are working on via social media by visiting NJ Makers Day on Facebook and Twitter.