Developing my very first game

Lari endless runner screenshot
Lari is an endless runner game made with Unity. It’s my first game ever!

Back in 2002, when I got into university, there was no such thing as a Game Dev course. Because of this, it wasn’t uncommon for people in Computer Science to want to learn enough to make their own games — and many chose that path for that reason. I wasn’t one of those people; what got me into Comp. Sci. was, first, economic necessity (IT jobs tend to pay well) and second, a genuine curiosity about computers and technology.

I was never much of a gamer. While I love playing games, I’m not one of those people who get super serious about things. I’m not particularly competitive, I don’t keep up with the latest technologies. Part of it is because I have health problems that make gaming difficult; part because I wasn’t able to afford it anyway. However, being in love with the arts in general (and games are definitely art in my books), I admired the efforts of people who make games come to life.

It wasn’t until 2018, seeing so many indie games come to life and make resounding success (a great example being Undertale), that I got interested in the idea of making my own game, as a way to pass the time. And boy, what a experience it was!

Making Lari

Lari Main Screen
Lari’s main screen.

Lari is a very simple game. It isn’t the most stellar or amazing production, and it’s certainly no Undertale. But I made it. Something I am proud of, because it showed me that I can, in fact, make a game if I want to. It’s a simple endless runner (flier?) where you play a seagull, Lari (the suborder to which seagulls belong to), and dodge magical pillars through an endless sky. Really basic stuff.

Still, it taught me many things. I used the Unity platform to develop it, as I feel more comfortable with it — both because it uses C as a basis for writing scripts (a language I am familiar with), and because it’s, well, free! Unity also has a vast network of support, tutorials, books, and much more that helps to learn about it.

I wanted Lari to have randomly generated obstacles, so that it was always different when you played. This seemed simple, except when it wasn’t. First, there was the matter of generating objects on the fly, then making different-sized, but not so small or so big as to make the game impossible. Then there was the effort of spacing them out so the player wouldn’t find it too easy or too difficult. Unfortunately, I still didn’t figure out the balance, and the game… is way too difficult. Oh well.

In any case, it’s a thing that exists now. I went with a classical music soundtrack, which wasn’t too difficult to find public domain sources for, and a simple, minimalistic aesthetic that, hopefully, still gives the message of tranquility that I wanted.

Lessons learned

First, don’t make your game impossible to play. That isn’t good. Heh.

Second, start small. Like, really small. Make sure it’s something you’ll get through and end making exist — there’s nothing sadder than unfinished projects. If you bite something huge before you even know what you are doing, you’ll likely get discouraged and bored halfway through when you realize making games isn’t as easy as it seems.

Sure, some people make great gems on their first go; but most of us aren’t those people, and it doesn’t mean we can’t get a gem in the future, when the time is right. It’s okay to start small and experimental and it’s okay to take your time and celebrate your small victories. Don’t rush yourself.

Anyway, if you want to check Lari out, you can find it here!

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