Game programming may come to the masses in the most micro of forms with Nintendo's upcoming do-it-yourself mini-game collection WarioWare D.I.Y., one of a handful of new titles we got to go hands-on with this week.
I've been a longtime fan of the WarioWare series of seconds-long games since the original WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! for the Game Boy Advance. But I've never been a fan of creating my own content in titles like LittleBigPlanet or Forza Motorsport, in part due to my limited attention span.
But the addition of a game editor to the next WarioWare game for the Nintendo DS—and the accompanying WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase player for WiiWare—has changed that, turning me into an excited fan eager to start creating by offering a simple micro-game editor on top of the built-in 90 new WarioWare games.
While I didn't get to edit any games myself, I did get a chance to play some of the user generated micro-games already created for a demo version of WarioWare D.I.Y. and had the opportunity to see a game—one as simple and built from scratch.
The creation process is split into digestible chunks.
The first is creating the art for a game, painting backgrounds then dropping sprites (aka "stamps") on top of them to lay out the game's interface. In the creation process demonstrated to us, in which a Nintendo game evaluator constructed a game that involved launching a rocket, the background was built with a grass texture in the bottom half of the screen, a star-filled night sky above the horizon. A pair of moai heads from the game's clip art... sorry, stamps library, and a few trees were deposited on the ground.
Then came the rocket, custom drawn with the game's Mario Paint-like sketching program. It's about as fully featured of a drawing tool as you'd expect from a Nintendo DS game, with a not-too-deep color palette, erasers, copy and paste tools, fill buckets and a mirroring clone tool that made creating a symmetrical rocket (and its accompanying flames) a breeze.
WarioWare D.I.Y. also lets players add a few frames of animation to their sprites or lets them pick from a handful of appropriate classic sprites and patterns from games like Metroid, Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. The drawing tool also offers a grid overlay, should players want to draw and animate more precise sprites.
After sketching out and arranging that rocket and its animated flames on the playfield, the Nintendo rep steering our demo defined the simple rules for the game in the "Assembly" section of WarioWare D.I.Y.'s game editor—tap the rocket, the rocket takes off, the player wins. That's par for the WarioWare course in terms of micro-game complexity, rules which take far more time to set up than to execute during play. But it wasn't daunting, thanks to helpful descriptions and a clean, concise editor for adding objects and triggers to a game's AI, firing off animations and sound effects.
Speaking of sound, WarioWare D.I.Y. also comes with an equally capable sound editor. There is a selection of songs already built in to the game, which players can edit or tweak. Players can also create their own tunes from scratch using one of WarioWare D.I.Y.'s coolest features, which lets song writers hum into the Nintendo DS microphone, leaving the digitizing of notes up to the software.
WarioWare D.I.Y. lets players share, remix and upload their creations to the WiiWare version known as WarioWare D.I.Y. Showcase, which also adds another 70 games designed by Nintendo to the DS version. Nintendo also plans to add new micro-games through the in-game NinSoft store after the two games launch.
Micro-game sharing can be done from DS to DS or from Wii to Wii, provided everyone has the required software and Friend Codes in place.
WarioWare D.I.Y. may be the last game in the series I purchase—at least until Nintendo ships new hardware and a WarioWare game designed around it—due to the near limitless amount of micro-games it will bring the player. That the games are so short and the editor appears to have been so smartly designed—and that WarioWare's distinctive art style(s) is so non-threateningly amateur in appearance—has almost assuredly made me into a future content generator.
Nintendo plans to release WarioWare D.I.Y. in North America on March 28 for the Nintendo DS. Won't you join me in micro-generating then?
Until then, here are some helpful screen shots to go with that description.