Clowns Away!

I'm currently taking the pilot (i.e. not public) presentation of Digital worlds: designing games, creating alternative realities, a new 10-week distance learning course about computer games, their history, their economic and cultural impact and their design. As a practical taster of the issues surrounding the design of games, we get to create our own games using GameMaker.

I'm quite impressed with GameMaker: it has a very easy and intuitive non-programmatic interface for creating games. Part of the ease comes from a wide set of built-in features (lives, health, random movement, collision among object, high score tables, etc.). It's just week 2 of the course, and we already can create a simple action game. Each of us is extending Catch the Clown, the first game tutorial available for GameMaker.  The game is very simple: a clown moves randomly around a room surrounded by a wall, bouncing off the wall. The player tries to catch the clown by clicking on it. When the clown is caught, the player gets 10 more points, and the clown jumps to a random place and starts to move faster, making it harder and harder to catch. The game ends whenever the player wants to quit.

I was not very happy about this open-ending of the game, so for my version there are various clowns at the start and each one disappears as they are caught. If the score for each one were fixed, it would be no fun. To put some pressure on, the scoring is now indirectly based on time: the faster the clowns are caught, the more they are worth. As part of the course's suggested extensions, I also added a start screen, a high score table, and a second kind of clown with a different scoring. Here is a screenshot of a game nearing its end (the progress bar in the middle is disappearing) but without any clown caught yet...

Clowns Away! game in

You can download the Windows executable generated by GameMaker and give it a try! Comments are most welcome...


  1. by Kerensa, on May 18 2009 @ 5:15 pm
    Really good game, played it a couple of times and think the concept you have for it is very good, and thank you for your help.


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