Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My review of "Construct 2 Game Development by Example"

                “Construct 2 Game Development by Example” by John Bura, published by Packt Publishing, is a book about the Construct 2 game engine published by Scirra Ltd. The book is available on their website at http://bit.ly/1pDF6C4.  The Construct 2 game engine is available in 3 different versions at https://www.scirra.com/construct2.  Construct 2 has a free version, which this review is based on.  There is also a Personal edition for $129.99 and a Business edition for $429.99. In addition there is a terrific user community at Scirra’s website providing a lot of tutorials and hosting very busy forums. Now onto the book.
                “Construct 2 Game Development by Example” is a wonderful book for beginners. The first chapter is all about downloading and installing Construct 2. Once you’ve done that the author gives a brief overview of Construct 2’s visual programming interface. One thing to note, no assets were provided to download for the book.  Fortunately, it is easy to create simple objects inside Construct 2 that you can use to follow along with this book.
                The second chapter is all about setting up the controls and inputs for your game.  The keyboard and mouse set-ups are discussed as well as “touch” input for mobile devices.  This was very informative as all games require some kind interaction with controls to tell the game what you want to do.
                The next chapter provides a clear purview of arrays and variables. Examples demonstrating how to create and use arrays and how they are used in games are available and the same is done for variables.  What are game mechanics and how to use them is covered in chapter 4.  This is where the Construct 2 game engine really shines.  It is extremely easy to program your game character to run, jump and use power-ups.
                Over the next three chapters of “Construct 2 Game Development by Example”, three different games are created.  Chapter 5 creates a shooter, complete with background, player, enemy and a projectile.  These are all created on the layout sheet and then events are created on the Event sheet.  Since Construct 2 is an HTML 5 engine it is very easy to test your game.  I liked this chapter because it was a simple game to set-up and fun to play when you were done.
                The next chapter has you create a tower defense game and it is definitely more difficult.  The book requires you to remember how to add functionality to objects through Construct 2’s ‘behaviors.’ This is not a problem; but I forgot to give the bullet its bullet behavior and had trouble figuring out why my turrets in the tower defense game would only spawn one bullet and then stop shooting.  Not setting a behavior for the bullets turned out to be the reason why and had been shown in the previous chapter for the shooting game.  By the time you finish your tower defense game you’ll really feel like you have accomplished something.
                Chapter 7 is all about physics games like “Angry Birds.”  Physics rules are very easy to set-up in Construct 2; all you need to do is add the ‘physics behavior’ to an object and then tweak the properties such as force or gravity. Information on setting up a HUD and using it to keep track of the players score are also demonstrated. 
                The final chapter is all about getting your game to the various publishers on the web.  Construct 2 lets you publish your game to Amazon, Android, the web, and many more.  Different platforms require slightly different builds of your game and this information is handy to have.
                “Construct 2 Game Development by Example” is a great book.  Construct 2’s great strength is that it lets anyone who wants to create a game do so.  This book is the perfect guide to help you program with the engine.  I hope you enjoy creating many games with Construct 2.

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