Today we went live with the Popfly Game Creator Alpha!  What’s the Popfly Game Creator?  It’s an online tool for creating web based games similar to the casual games you’ve probably wasted hours playing when you should have been studying/working/eating/sleeping.  Well now you can waste hours making them as well!  You should be able to make any simple 2D game without too much trouble.  The Popfly Game Creator (hereafter referred to as “PGC”) is aimed at anyone who’s advanced enough with computers to write an email, so don’t be scared.  You can start off tweaking existing games or create your very own from a blank slate.  We’ve created lots of “How To’s” and video introductions to get you started. For an overview and links to more help content, click here

While I joke about wasting time, even though pretty much anyone can learn how to use PGC in a couple hours, that doesn’t mean your time is wasted!  One of the great things about Popfly is that you’re secretly learning to program while using it!  Once you get advanced, you’ll probably find there are some things you’d like to do that the built in behaviors don’t allow.  That’s where we get you.  What you haven’t realized is that now you know a whole bunch of concepts that us programmers use to make computers go.  So when you hit this point, just hit the little “Custom Code” button on your behavior screen and your behavior will pop up a little code window with the implementation of the behavior in JavaScript.  You can then tweak the JavaScript or replace it entirely.  Just hit the preview button to see your results.  There are lots of JavaScript tutorials available on the web to help you get started, otherwise you may be able to do what you want just by trial and error using the code you see on screen as a guide.  If you really get going, you might want to check out our API documentation.

The PGC is the latest piece of Popfly to go live.  Already on the Popfly site (www.popfly.com) is the Popfly Mashup Editor – to which many improvements also went live today – and web page editor.  Since it’s Popfly, there are all sorts of ways you can share your games and interact with your friends.  Like mashups, Popfly games can be shared as Facebook applications or embedded just about anywhere so you can post your creations in your blog, on your Facebook profile, pretty much anywhere you can embed things.  Once you share a game, your friends can tweak it, create their own version and share it back. 

We provide you with a gallery of actors, backgrounds effects and sounds to make your games, which you can then tweak, or even create your own.  Everything is Silverlight based and we allow you to tweak the XAML, so you can do all sorts of fun things to modify existing actors or create new ones (including animating them!).  Since it’s XAML, most actors are vector based and can be resized however you want without getting pixel-y.  There are many editors available for working with XAML, including exporters for products like Adobe Illustrator and several free ones.  Check out the Expression Blend 2.5 Preview and Visual C# Express 2008 both of which are free (while the Blend preview lasts anyway) and can give you a nice split view showing the XAML below the graphical editor.  Note that the current version of VS Express only supports WPF XAML, not Silverlight, but it should mostly work if you’re just tweaking existing XAML.

A huge thanks goes out to DanC from lostgarden.com for some great XAML based artwork which is available in the PGC.  Check out his site for a great resource on game design as well as more free game art.  More thanks go out to Adam’s wife, “Princess Linz” for her contributions and the Expression team for their contributions as well. 

This is our “Alpha” release.  What that means is that it’s even earlier than “Beta”!  Basically, there are lots of features that aren’t available yet, and you’ll probably run into some bugs.  Hopefully not too many :).  We’re putting this out for you guys to try to get your feedback, so let us know what you think and what directions you’d like to see us go – that will help us prioritize what to focus on next.  As Adam says on his post, we’ve got a lot of ideas and we’re sure you do too!

Edit:  Fixed youtube embeds.

 

PS: Over the next few days I’ll be posting some advanced PGC tips and tricks, so stay tuned…

[Update 9/01/2009: Removed popfly.com embed]