So You Want to Make a Computer Game: Deploying
January 8, 2016
We’ve designed our game. We’ve taken and modified pictures for artwork. We’ve built a virtual world and added spots of interactivity. We’ve filled out the world with sound and music. Our game is done.
Now to let people play it.
Right now our game is a collection of a whole bunch of different files located on our local computer. Our goal is to bundle up all these files so that we can easily give them to other people. In case you don’t have the completed project—with all its separate files—you can download my completed project here.
Adventure Maker makes bundling our files fairly straightforward. On the main Project Menu in Adventure Maker is an option called “Create package for distribution…”. When you click this option, you will be given a standard Windows save dialog, which you can use to save everything that makes up your game into a single file. By default this file will have the same name as the project and will be saved to your computer’s desktop. For my purposes, this is exactly what I want.
Once you hit the Save button on the save dialog, Adventure Maker will save the final compiled project. This will take a few seconds to a few minutes depending on the size of your project and how powerful your computer is. A message will display once the compilation is completed.
After your games has compiled, if you go out to the folder where you saved it to—in my case the desktop—you should see an icon ready and waiting to run your game when double-clicked. If you take a close look at the icon, you’ll probably see that it ends with “.am1”. In a similar vein to how “.jpg” indicates a JPEG image (like you’d get off you camera), “.am1” indicates an Adventure Maker compiled project.
This “.am1” is important to recognize and highlights one of the limits of Adventure Maker. If you double-click this icon then you’ll find the game runs perfectly fine…on your computer. The problem comes when you move to a computer that [does not] have Adventure Maker itself installed. When you create a game with the free version of Adventure Maker then anyone who wants to play that game must also have Adventure Maker. Do note that if you get the paid version of Adventure Maker, this limitation goes away.
Unless you intend to continue to use Adventure Maker for future game development, the $70 cost is probably too steep to pay for just this starting project. As such, the alternative is to make sure that potential players know they’ll need to have Adventure Maker installed before being able to play your game. Sticking to our mantra of keeping things simple, we’ll do this with the time honored method of including a reame.txt file.
There’s nothing fancy about a readme.txt file. It’s a simple text file that can be created with Windows Notepad. These files are good to use as the software to be able to read them—the aforementioned Notepad—is available on all installs of Windows (as opposed to the software needed to view Word or even PDF documents).
When you create a readme file, it also gives you the opportunity to introduce the game, describe the controls, and maybe even include some credits. Here’s what I drafted for my game.
Treasure of the Prairies
In the time of the buccaneers, one pirate took to the prairies rather than the high seas: the infamous Captain Rotgut. Upon his death, he was buried with a marvelous a treasure. A treasure that your friend has now discovered secret clues to. Can you follow the pirate path and be rewarded with riches? Or will you find the same fate that Captain Rotgut did.
Treasure of the Prairies requires the Adventure Maker application in order to run. You can download Adventure Maker for from:
Install Adventure Maker and then double-click the Treasure of the Prairies icon to begin your journey.
When playing Treasure of the Prairies, you will find yourself in a pastoral area. As you move your mouse around the screen it will change shape. Arrows indicate that you can move in a given direction. Hands indicate that you can interact with something in the environment.
At several points you can pick up items to take a long with you. You can use these items in other places by moving your mouse to the top of the scene to open your inventory. From there, you can click and drag any items you have collected into the scene to attempt to use them.
At any time you can right-click to open the game's menu. From here you can save your game or reload a previously saved game. You can also quit out of the game, but you probably won't want to use this option.
Developed by Richard Hoover
Music courtesy of Musopen and the Creative Commons
4 Ballades Op.10 - No.1. Andante D Minor
Composed by Johannes Brahms
Performed by Luis Sarro
Fantaisie Romantique sur Deux Melodies Suisses S 157
Composed by Franz Liszt
Performed by Christoph Zbinden
Sonata for Cello and Piano - I. Prologue - Lent
Composed by Claude Debussy
Performed by Paul Pitman
Once you’ve typed up your readme file, save it as readme.txt to the same location as your “.am1” file. In my case this is the desktop. Now we’ll just bundle our readme file and our “.am1” file together. Go to the location where both files are saved.
Hold down the control key on the keyboard and then click both files. This will cause both of them to be selected at the same time. Right-click either file to open a small menu. Somewhere in this menu should be a “Send To” option. When you click on that, another menu will open. Select “Compressed (zipped) folder” from this small menu.
Windows will compress together both of your files into one file and give you the chance to rename the final file. In my case, I went with a name of “Treasure of the Prairies.zip”. You now have a single file that you can pass along to other people that contains both your game and the instructions needed to run it.
There are many ways you can make your final file available to other people. The process of doing so in detail is beyond the scope of this series but I do have a few suggestions to help get you started. If you have a website, as I do, you can simply make your file available on that, like the above link does. Or you could look into an online service like Dropbox, which allows you to control who can download your file. Or you could slap your file onto a flash drive and simply carry it to a friend’s computer.
In theory, you could also send your game via email. However, I would throw in a caution on this. Some email systems have limits on the size of attachments you can send. Even if they don’t, your friends may not appreciate receiving large files via email. My final file is about 21 megabytes, which is a bit big to send in email.
Whatever method you ultimately use, be proud in the fact that you’ve completed your first game and gotten it out there for other people to play. Congratulations!
Now that you’ve finished your first game, you may be wondering what comes next. Well, that’s entirely up to you and what you want your next game to be. Two weeks from now I’ll finish off this series with a final wrap up that will also provide a few suggestions on avenues you may want to consider in the future. Until then, have fun showing your game to others.
Read up on the whole “So You Want to Make a Computer Game” series:
- Part 1: The First Step
- Part 2: The Artwork
- Part 3: The Virtual World
- Part 4: Interactivity
- Part 5: Inventory Items
- Part 6: Custom Artwork
- Part 7: The Critical Path
- Part 8: Sound and Music
- Part 9: Deploying
- Part 10: The Path Leads On