Brad Wardell's site for talking about the customization of Windows.

Have you ever been playing a game and wished you could just hit a button and start changing it right in the middle of the game? Then you're going to love The Video Game Machine (VGM).

This is a game we've been working on for over four years.  Hopefully you'll be able to see why.

VGM isn't a development tool.  It's been designed so that anyone can make games with it.  Easily. Here's how it works:

First, you pick a genre.  We've started with popular genres from the 8-bit era (1980s and 1990s). 

Picking the genre eliminates most of the complexity right off the bat.  If you pick a side-scroller, you already have most of the basics down right there.  It's...a...side...scroller.  You can configure it further with the rule-book but the genre sets the stage for how the game is going to play.

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Pick your genre

And since it's a side-scroller you have a hero right?

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Pick your character

Eventually, you'll be able to import your own character, graphics, etc.  But for now, we supply the basics for you.

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Once you name your game you're ready to go!

 

You then start with a clean slate:

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You can also just load an existing game and start editing that, we include an ever increasing set of games

 

You can also pick your look.  Does the game look like it's being played on a CRT (television) or a modern monitor? What graphics set do you want to use?

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We already include a ton of different tilesets so you can truly make your own world.

And again, eventually you'll be able to import new tile sets that you create.  But right now, we just want to focus players on the core features.

You can even choose the music you want:

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You can set the pacing of the music which remarkably enough, can really alter the feeling of the game.

 

Not every side scroller is the same of course.  Super Mario Bros is very different from say an Endless Runner or say Commander Keen.  This is where the rule book comes in:

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You can further customize the game with the Rulebook

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Editing my game

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Adding enemies

At any time, if you hit the TAB key you can start playing.  There is no separation from making and playing.   Here's me just hitting TAB:

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Easy to switch from making to playing.

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CRT effect!

This makes it super easy and fun because you can constantly try out your stuff.

 

By this point, you're probably starting to understand where things are going.   There are 3 levels of player for this game:

  • Player A: Just wants to play lots of cool games
  • Player B: Wants to make games but doesn't want to get too technical
  • Player C: Wants to mod games or make really sophisticated games.

For now, we're just focusing on player A and B.  But you can imagine eventually people being able to script up their own rules, their own AI stuff and their own mechanics and sharing them.  They then would show up in the rulebook or in the enemy list or have new tiles and new heroes and so on.

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Once you have made a game, you can share it with the world.

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Games made by others

Since we're just in alpha, you can already see the work we have ahead of us.  For instance, we'll need some sort of rating system on public stuff so people can choose between the good stuff and the stuff I made. 

Other Genres

For the Alpha, we only included two genres. Side-scroller and Adventure.

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Adventure genre

Like with side-scrollers, there are a ton of different graphical choices to choose from.

The path forward

We're starting the alpha with the game only costing $10.  Obviously, it won't stay this way.  But we want to encourage lots of people to come try it out, give feedback, tell us what they like and don't like and of course, make games.

Like I said earlier, The Video Game Machine isn't a development tool.  It's meant to be fun.  It's not intended to compete with Unity or Unreal or even sophisticated game making products.  This is a game that is meant to make it easy and fun for people to create games in well understood genres. 

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We made it very easy for people to tell their own stories through their games as well.

We internally have around 7 genres in various stages of development.  You can probably guess most of them.

Over time, as we advance, modders will be able to create and share their own music, tile-sets, enemies, game rules, gizmos, etc.

Starting today, May 29, 2019, you will be able to start playing it if you join the Founder's program.  Join the adventure at www.TheVGM.com.


Comments
on May 29, 2019

Is there going to be a strategy 4x style of game development like galactic civilizations, and sins of a solar empire,  eventually. If so im in, otherwise I probably won't bother. I would like to make my own 4x game. Besides this I would like something like spore, empire earth, and civilization. Something galactic civilizations doesn't have is a easy way to download mods from mods from steam. I'm not big on modding. It would be nice to download content that other players create. I'm interested. It's just I like strategy games like galactic civilizations civilization, or endless space. It would also be nice to have multiplayer support for this.

on May 29, 2019

Not just picking it would be nice to have a leader creator similar to galactic civilizations.

on May 30, 2019

I would like to see rpg's like Skyrim, bulders gate, and fantasy star 3, and 4. Twisted metal. Fighting like street fighter, mortal combat, and eternal champions. Mutant league football ot mutant football league. Boxing like greatest heavyweights, boxing legends of the ring, and evander hollyfields real deal boxing. I liked call to power and 1603. I liked freelancer, and Tropico. Mights and magic. Monster rancher. Panzer general. Sim city. 

on May 30, 2019

Fatel fury

on May 30, 2019

Minecraft, alpha centaury, age of empires, and shattered sun's. Grand theft auto, distant world's. Borderlands. Civilization colonization. Startrek, galaxies. Sonic. X-Men. Zelda, and contra. Rad racer. I remember a role playing game on the play station where a boy turned into a dragon. Mights and magic. Dungeons and dragons warriors of the sun.

on May 30, 2019

I think once you get into strategy you're entering a very different era.

This is more about the 8bit and later 16bit console era rather than being a Unity like studio tool.

on May 31, 2019

Frogboy

I think once you get into strategy you're entering a very different era.

This is more about the 8bit and later 16bit console era rather than being a Unity like studio tool.

 

Civilization 1 came out in 1991, one year after Super Mario World in 1990. It also had a SNES cart. The NES/Famicom was the start of the Famicom Wars, Fire Emblem, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Nobunaga's Ambition, and Super Robot Wars series just to name a few. Not saying it might be too complex for the scope of this project but there were plenty of Strategy games in this era. Especially when you consider 8-bit and 16-bit computers which by comparison to consoles had lower raw graphical processing power but cheaper storage. (Classic Empire came out in 1977 for crying out loud. Apparently it kept being put on mainframes back then. )

on May 31, 2019

Frogboy

I think once you get into strategy you're entering a very different era.

This is more about the 8bit and later 16bit console era rather than being a Unity like studio tool.

 

Well, that is the challenge for you. Make strategy creator, which is fairly accesible even to those "B" types of players. Which means "code-wise" - everything is pre-made, things like map editor, rules, units, factions, weapons, resources, some run of the mill special abilities, obviously AI... all of it sort of like building blocks players can combine as they see fit via some user-friendy and easy to understand interface. I guess it would be not necessarily as basic as what is to be seen on the pictures in this thread, since clearly strategies are bit more complex than platformer games, but surely it is possible to be done.

Personally, i have literally zero experience with computer game development. I tried to play around with some of those basic visual game development tools like GDevelop, but it was a no go, since i have zero programming background or skills or will to learn that. Later i bought on Steam an app called RTS creator, which tried to offer something i was after, but it turned out to be 60 bucks down the drain, as it was developed by single person and ultimately went nowhere. As far as Unity and Unreal go, did not even try, it is given i wont be able to do anything in them without some basic understanding, which i dont have nor going to have at this point in my life.

So if i want to create something myself, it has to be more like modding. Currently i am trying my luck modding indie RTS called Rusted Warfare. It is fairly simple even for me - the game is 2D-ish, so the units, weapons etc... are pretty much bunch of sprites created with something like Photoshop. The "coding part" is then all about making INI file with wordpad for every unit, following this spreasheet:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1vEku_j8QwgsTzB5oMS_IDUiHfhzZVESeSrkyrS4tndk/edit#gid=855037482

There are premade units which one can copy or use as blueprint for experimenting. 

I guess Sins modding was kind of similar, except one had to deal with 3D instead of 2D, as far as assets go. I never tried, except making one or 2 3D model for B5 mod. One thing though, Sins was apparently fairly hard-coded in some aspects, like you needed to fill the unit roster, otherwise it will break AI - with RW game, there are no such limits...you can make your own factions with your own unit rosters and AI will adapt to that. Which is kind of important feature.

Bottom line, give me something like the above, except 3D-ish, based off Ashes, ideally in some nicer interface, and i will bite your hands off. I am not that much interested in the Video Game Machine currently, even at 10USD, for the RTS maker though, i would easily pay 10x or more with no hesitation. It just needs to be accesible in similar manner like the above, without need to be a coder.

I realize it might not be trivial task, just food for thoughts. Sorry for long post.

on May 31, 2019

3D graphics and a full-on strategy editor are certainly a bridge too far for VGM, but there are several elements from strategy games that we'd like to include.

Timmaigh nailed it, actually -  when there are so many PC Strategy games that give you awesome modding capabilities, I feel like that creativity itch can be scratched there.

The niche we're trying to fill is less about "I have this specific vision" and more "lets have some fun making something". VGM is all about taking different ideas from various genres and putting them together in new ways (ie. How does a Side-Scroller feel with Fog of War, or a Shoot-em-up feel with a hit points system and World Map).

Remember that childhood feeling of dumping out a bucket of Legos and just building? That - in video game form - is VGM

on May 31, 2019

ScottTykoski

3D graphics and a full-on strategy editor are certainly a bridge too far for VGM, but there are several elements from strategy games that we'd like to include.

Timmaigh nailed it, actually -  when there are so many PC Strategy games that give you awesome modding capabilities, I feel like that creativity itch can be scratched there.

The niche we're trying to fill is less about "I have this specific vision" and more "lets have some fun making something". VGM is all about taking different ideas from various genres and putting them together in new ways (ie. How does a Side-Scroller feel with Fog of War, or a Shoot-em-up feel with a hit points system and World Map).

Remember that childhood feeling of dumping out a bucket of Legos and just building? That - in video game form - is VGM

 

Fair enough Unfortunately i am quite the "specific vision" kind of person, hehe.

Anyway, have to say, reading the OP, seeing those pics, it still makes me kind of curious. Is the game on Steam yet or do you plan to put it there in this phase? 

EDIT: I would somewhat disagree with the notion though, there are many strategies to mod, to satisfy oneself need for some creative outlet It really depends on what you have in mind, but if you get bit too specific, you may find there is literally no perfect fit. I made my research, i considered modding StarCraft, i considered TA Spring, i waited for proper Ashes modding tools... the Rusted Warfare came closest to allow me to do what i want and even then, i would for example want to have multi-map in the mould of Sins, with separate battlegrounds, instead of classic single map like StarCraft, SupCom or Ashes....which is not possible.

on May 31, 2019

Timmaigh

It really depends on what you have in mind, but if you get bit too specific, you may find there is literally no perfect fit.


For sure - when you have a specific vision, it can be VERY difficult to find a non-code solution to bring that vision to life.

I guess that's why I wanted to chime in here: VGM isn't so much about building from a specific vision (there are countless tools and engine options for that) but more a fun way to play with gameplay ideas and concepts without the overhead traditional development.

But I can understand the disappointment when we say a certain genre isn't being planned, but we'd rather keep expectations managable than string folks along

Hey, perhaps we WILL figure out an straightforward & fun way to make 4x or RTS a genre, but as of right now it's not in the plans.

on May 31, 2019

Well when you make it a genera I would be interested otherwise I will  hold off buying it. Can you guys make a game that makes strategy go qames and hat would be cool. I disagree about modding filling the creative niche. Mods are confined to a similar ruleset as the game. if it was a game maker then you would need to be able to implement different rulesets in all areas. 

Besides picking the types of games. You also need a selection on how it's implrmented.

on May 31, 2019

"Kirby's Adventure" came out in '93. 

   VGM could do that.

So did "Sam & Max Hit the Road" 

   VGM could probably do that too.  (I REALLY want point and click in VGM)

You know what else came out in '93?

 GalCiv for OS/2 came out in '93. 

on May 31, 2019

I played around with something like VGM in the 80's.   With it I made a bunch of video games like Space Invaders and Galaga.   The problem with it is, you aren't developing anything original:   I was developing little more than mods of Space Invaders.  If your video game is original enough, then that means no one else thought of it, and the only IDE available to you is your trusty Visual Studio (unless you are doing something original with VR, in which case even VS 2019 won't cut it).