Game Studio Review

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Nintendo Gamestudio offers players a relatively easy-to-understand visual programming language that can be used to make some really nice creations. The built-in lesson package ensures that beginners who start at absolute zero will quickly succeed in making fun games. A more important consequence is that those players also learn to understand how the systems that control a game work, albeit at a basic level. Those who pass that basic level can still get along reasonably well with Gamestudio, but will quickly run into limitations, both in terms of the functions of the buttons and in the possibilities to adjust the design. This ultimately leads to even the best put-together games have a very simple appearance. It is also a pity that exchanging created games is incredibly cumbersome: that really needs to be improved in 2021. That certainly doesn’t have to be a deal breaker for gamers with a budding interest in game programming, but it does indicate that Gamestudio, despite showing very nice things and succeeding in its aim to allow beginners to program in a playful way, is even better and could have been more complete.

At a time when gamers regularly lament that the ‘AAA’ games segment is dominated by game number so much in long-running series X or Y, Nintendo often provides positive news. The Japanese developer has shown over the years that it is not afraid to try and release new concepts, where the boundaries of what games normally mean are crossed with playful ease. Consider, for example, Nintendo Labo, which had players make all kinds of cardboard attachments that could then be used during gameplay. Nintendo is also taking a different approach with Gamestudio but in a different way. Once again gamers make their own attachments, only now these are pieces of games that you have to program yourself based on the wide range of options that the game offers you. Sound difficult? Don’t worry: Gamestudio is primarily aimed at children and other people who start at absolute zero when it comes to programming games.

More than many other games, a game like Gamestudio is a game that everyone will experience differently. The amount of prior knowledge you have about how games work behind the scenes largely determines your perception of this game.

The beginning is the same for everyone and that is perhaps a bit of bad news. Gamestudio is divided into a teaching package and a department in which you can work on your creations freely. The lessons explain step-by-step how everything works and you learn what kind of games you can make in Gamestudio. Your hand is held and you have to do what the game asks of you. In the part in which you can work freely, this is of course not the case and you can experiment with the different building blocks to your heart’s content. Only… that part of the game is initially closed. Everyone has to go through the first lesson and that will take you about an hour. That in itself is not so bad, but the level is certainly so low in that first lesson that more experienced players will probably mainly build up frustration.

A limiting element is the visual side of the whole. Gamestudio is very focused on how the game works. The focus is therefore on learning how systems communicate with each other and how that translates into a game. Once you have mastered this or you have already understood it, the degree of adaptability of the visuals becomes a limiting factor. Standard objects such as cars can only be modified in color and players can only shape objects through an extremely simple pixel editor. This leads to the fact that even the best creations keep a very simple appearance.

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