One important step in creating your own computer games is configuring your development environment. Keep reading to learn how. This article is taken from chapter one of Advanced Java Game Programming by David Wallace Croft (Apress, 2004; ISBN 1590591232).
Game development teams are usually composed of programmers, graphic artists, audio engineers, and game designers. If you are creating a game by yourself, you must perform all these roles. This means you need to come up with your own graphics and audio files. Even if you are working with others, you might want to generate the occasional image or audio file just as a temporary placeholder.
If you do not have access to an artist and you do not have the skills or time to create the graphics yourself, a couple options are open to you. The first is to use free graphics (see Figure 1-2). All the graphics files used in the example games are available for download from the book web site. These files are dedicated to the Public Domain, which means you may use them in your own games without paying royalties and without even needing to mention where you got them. If you substantially modify these graphics, you own the copyright to the derivative work.
Figure 1-2.Sprite graphics by Ari Feldman. Artwork copyright 2002,2003 by Ari Feldman.
Ari Feldman, author of the book Designing Arcade Computer Game Graphics, provides a free sprite graphics library, SpriteLib GPL, from his web site.(6) See the License.txt file within the zip archive for usage terms. Note that the acronym GPL in this case does not refer to the GNU General Public License.
James Gholston, president and general partner of the game development company Dimensionality, has released some of his professional graphics to the Public Domain so they could be included in the example games for this book. These graphics are available from the Dimensionality web site and the book web site.(7)
Clip Art collections are another possible source of royalty-free graphics. Additionally, any graphics files distributed with an Open Source game are probably available for reuse under the same licensing terms as the code. When incorporating free graphics into your game, be sure to understand the usage terms or licensing agreement as many sources only permit royalty-free use for limited personal or non-commercial applications.
The second option is to use a digital camera. The images might not be fantastic but it is hard to get more realistic. Simply take a picture of what you want in your game, scale and crop it, and then make the background transparent. An Open Source image-editing tool you might want to use for this purpose is the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). GIMP is available on Unix and Windows.(8)
You can also use GIMP to create new images from scratch if you do decide to do some of your own artwork. I frequently use the MS Paint accessory that comes with Windows to create simple placeholder graphics. I notice that the most recent version that comes with Windows XP can now save to PNG format. The free image drawing tools Project Dogwaffle and Pixia are other possibilities.(9)
All the audio files used in the example games are available for download from the book web site. They are also dedicated to the Public Domain and you can use and modify them without accountability and without attribution.
The sound-effects library “6000 Sound Effects” from Cosmi is another possible source of material for your games.(10) This package is available from Amazon.com for $9.99. The vendor web site states that you can use these sounds royalty-free in your commercial computer games. Keep in mind that there might be licensing complications when distributing these files with an Open Source game.
If you want to record your own audio, all you need is a microphone. I do not have a lot of experience with audio editors but I have successfully used the shareware version of GoldWave in the past.(11) You will often want to use such an editor to crop your audio recordings to the appropriate sample length for your game.
This article is excerpted from MAdvanced Java Game Programming by David Wallace Croft (Apress, 2004; ISBN 1590591232). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today. Buy this book now.