Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Interview: Construct 2 and giving aspiring developers a shot at making games

Construct 2 is a software package that is rapidly earning a reputation for being a wonderful entrant point for aspiring game developers. It's still in its early stages, but by all accounts it is very easy to work with and the fact it uses HTML5 means that people can produce games for a wide range of platforms - including the iPhone and iPad.

What else could a young developer hope for than the ability to get people playing their games on the iPhone?

We sat down with one of the founders behind Construct 2, Tom Gullen, to talk though the software package, and what the (very small) team hopes to achieve with the project. With software like this, RPG Maker and Game Maker, it is easier now than ever before for people to get involved in this industry, and that's a good thing for everyone.

Digitally Downloaded (DD): What are your priorities for the next 12-18 months?
Tom Gullen (TG): We're currently a small three man startup. We've been running for about two years now and our current interest is in expanding by making our first on-location hire!

Apart from that, we have a lot of exciting updates planned for Construct 2 and the website which we are constantly rolling out. In the broader future we're hoping to address the demand for Mac/Linux versions of our software (it's currently Windows only).

DD: What inspired you to develop Construct?
TG: Ashley (my brother) is the programmer behind Construct 2. He originally worked on Construct Classic, an open source games editor. However it did suffer stability issues which inspired him to re-write it from the ground up.

I think the biggest underlying inspiration has been the goal of allowing everyone to make their own computer games regardless of age or ability.

DD: Construct 2 allows people to publish games on multiple platforms, including iOS. How viable do you think Construct 2 is for commercial projects, and why?
TG: HTML5 is a fairly new technology and has been under fire frequently for not being as commercially viable as other technologies. There is some truth in that statement, obviously more matured technology will have more options for publishing. However, this in our opinion is only a temporary shortcoming. As HTML5 becomes more popular (which it inevitably will be) more services and options will open their doors.

Currently we support a variety of online publishing options. To our arcade, to Chrome Webstore, to Facebook, Firefox Marketplace, Windows 8 store and many more. In partnership with other technologies you can also publish to mobile platforms, iOS and Android. We also support exporting to desktop EXE's which means you can submit them to Steam. We're always working to support as many publishing options as we can.

DD: Software like this relies on its community to keep it strong. How do you look after your community?
TG: Our community is one of our most valuable assets and we both feel extremely fortunate to have them all. It is a great pleasure to see that every new release of Construct 2 is met with a swathe of compliments, well wishes and thanks. It's a huge motivator for us, and makes working for them all enjoyable.

We always try and keep good contact with our community as well, anyone can contact me or Ashley directly. We also try and remain transparent and honest. This is the best way to run a small business.

As our community is not huge at the moment, it's fairly easy to keep it good quality and under control. As we grow, these qualities will become harder to keep hold of but we will try our best not to lose what we currently have.

DD: How will you build on Construct going forward?
TG: Ashley loves to release updates to Construct 2 'early and often'. There have been 125 releases of Construct 2 to date over a comparatively short span of time. It's a formula that's working and we have no plans to change it! Users can look forward to lots more updates.

Mobile performance is an area we hope to improve on. We're also hoping to research and look into networking features in the future so that users can make multiplayer games.

DD: What are your long-term goals for Scirra?
TG: We want Construct 2 to become the go-to tool for someone looking to make games. We're also hoping to see more adoption of Construct 2 in educational institutes around the world for teaching students how to make games and learn to program in a more engaging and relevant way.

These are ambitious goals, but I know we're on the right path at the moment to achieve this.

DD: What are some of the best ideas or games you've seen built on Construct 2?
TG: Too many to mention! Airscape was one of the best games we've seen so far: http://www.scirra.com/arcade/addicting-rotary-games/848/airscape

It has some awesome features such as gravity reversal. It's an amazing puzzle game! In our arcade alone it has been played over 100,000 times. The author of the game was 16 years old when he published it.

DD What advice would you offer for anyone looking to get into game development?
TG: Just start! There's no better way to learn to do what you want than just by starting. Grab a pen and paper and draw your ideas. You could then try downloading the free version of Construct 2 to bring your ideas into reality. Our 'Beginner's Guide' is a great place to start: https://www.scirra.com/tutorials/37/beginners-guide-to-construct-2

DD Finally, what games are you playing at the moment?
TG: We don't find much time to play games nowadays! However in the office we do sometimes play Call of Duty zombies over LAN which is good fun. A lot of evenings we have a few friends over and like to play a lot of classic N64 games. Mario Party 3 is a big hit and still a great game to play with your friends!
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