Nintendo’s “Game Builder Garage” is a powerful and complex game creation tool

There are dozens of gaming tools out there that promise to teach your kids to code, because after all, they’ll need those valuable STEM skills to survive in today’s workforce. I watched a few and passed on a lot of others because they didn’t seem like much fun. Nintendo’s Next $30 game builder garage for Switch might actually turn the tide, in that it’s not designed to teach your kids to code as much as it teaches actual game design – not just how games work, but how to actually create them. fun.

It wouldn’t be the first game creation tool on a console or even Nintendo’s first – there’s quite a long history to look back, from Sony’s Net Yaroze in the 90s, little big planet and dreams on PS4, various iterations of RPG Maker and, more recently, Labo Toy-Con Garage and Super Mario Maker titles. All have a thriving homebrew scene, but one common element to all of them is that the sheer amount of options can be daunting, and you’re largely on your own to figure that out. game builder garage is also quite deep, but it also takes the time to hold your hand and explain a lot to you.

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And these explanations are not only “use this function to create blocks for your character” and “this is when you can draw your character”. The game walks you through the different tools step by step, not only explaining how to use them, but Why you should use them – it’s meant to show gamers the fundamentals of good game design, which Nintendo is particularly famous for. The company wants you to understand why certain decisions are made in terms of item placement or timing, and use that thinking to move forward with your own designs.

It’s a lot to take in, that’s why game builder garage makes it as cute as possible. Instead of the dry text or even the colorful block aesthetic that so many other coding tools for kids use, Nintendo chose to represent different functions as cartoon creatures called “Nodons”. Each does something different and is perfectly happy to tell you about it. They reminded me a little of the binomials of the To restart cartoon in the 90s, because yes, I am old.

Random Nodon:

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In the tutorial section, the title will guide you through each Nodon and how to use it, dragging them on a grid representing the game screen and connecting different Nodons together to achieve different effects. They all have names describing their functions, such as the Nodon “Button” and the Nodon “Counter”. The example Nintendo presented shows players how to build a side-scrolling space shooter, but there are a total of seven tutorial titles packed using different mechanics and explaining how various genres work.

Beyond these initial lessons, Nintendo takes a rather laissez-faire approach to the homebrew community around game builder garage after its release in June. There will be no central sharing location for the games you create; instead, your creations will receive a unique code that you can send to friends and family. Or probably post places like Reddit, where I imagine people will use subreddits to swap tips and tricks, as well as create their own “tools” to perform specific functions that people can incorporate into their own games . Nintendo is okay with all of this, including posting tutorials and actual gameplay videos on YouTube.

spaceship shooter

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Given Nintendo’s notoriously strict and contentious history, one wonders: what if you decide to use game builder garage remake Super Mario Bros. Where The Legend of Zelda? Well you can, and Nintendo is okay with that because you still had to use their product to do it – no one is buying game builder garage to avoid paying for older NES titles, after all. In fact, you’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online membership to share anything, and NES Online already gives you access to most old titles you’d want to play anyway. Recreate old games in game builder garage is more about understanding how they work, and Nintendo hopes kids have grown up with them. game builder garage will eventually take the lessons learned with them into their future careers in the video game industry.

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