Ahmed Maawy is a Technical Recruiter who's been with X-Team for just under two years. He recently wrote on our Slack channels that he had created and released a game called Game Creator. Naturally, I was curious. In this interview, we discuss how he built the game, what his vision for it is, and what he would recommend to budding game developers.
Your game is called Game Creator. What's it about?
So Game Creator is a fun and engaging digital platform for kids and enthusiasts who want to learn about coding and game development by creating games themselves. The product uses a visual coding environment that consists of a simple Game Object Designer and a Game Design Canvas. In essence, Game Creator helps budding game developers create a game without designing actual game assets.
Very cool! How did you come up with the idea for the game?
I've had a fascination for developing games since I was a child. I graduated high school way back in 2001, when there just wasn't any ready access to gaming tools or content yet. The only way to study game development was to go overseas (at least where I'm from). So, while I wanted to develop games, I couldn't follow up on my passion until recently, when game development content and tools became much more accessible.
To give you some context, I grew up in Mombasa, Kenya's second-largest city. It's famous for its beach resorts and for being one of the largest, most strategic seaports in Africa. When I found success as a software engineer in Nairobi, I decided to address the frustrations I faced while growing up in Mombasa: I started a tech community project called SwahiliBox, which pioneered the concept of decentralized technology hubs in Africa.
It helped me come up with innovative ways to bring advanced digital literacy to towns and cities outside of major African capitals. Fast forward to today and, now that the internet has democratized access to game development knowledge and tools, I've rekindled my passion for game development. While my focus is on Africa, the product's potential is global.
I eventually want Game Creator to generate massive community awareness about game development. I want it to teach users the major programming principles behind a game that don't require them to write actual code. I want the game to help set the foundations for future game developers. No longer should kids have to study overseas to learn how to create a game.
An inspiring vision. What's the game built with?
It's built entirely with Godot Engine. I began the project in Godot 3 and then migrated it to Godot 4 once the beta became stable. Currently, Godot 4 is at release candidate 5. It should hit a stable release soon.
I made use of Godot's sophisticated GUI components and node systems to give the game the feel that it currently has. The engine is surprisingly capable of delivering really hard concepts in simplified ways, because of how the node system works and because of the power of GDScript.
What was the hardest thing about building Game Creator?
To optimize the application's design, I had to do things I hadn't done before with Godot. I had to learn how to link visual scripting elements to real code execution. The visual coding environment doesn't work like an interpreter. It abstracts a lot of code that's implemented on a node level, while making sure that everything comes together for a harmonious experience.
I had a lot of impostor syndrome trying to figure that out, but self-confidence won in the end.
Do you want to expand the game? What would you like to add?
Yes, so Game Creator is currently in Alpha (I see it as an MVP right now). I'll continue developing the game while also seeking feedback from its initial users on the directions to take. That's mostly what's leading the thought process right now. But there's potential for the product to be cloud-enabled at some point, and even have some premium features and add-ons for users and businesses alike.
Exciting! What about creating other games? Is that on your mind?
Yes, it is. I decided a while ago that I want to develop games that are both intellectually rewarding but also fun and exciting. I like to call such games Digital Toys, and Game Creator is along those lines. Digital toys are meant to develop the thought process of their users.
For someone who wants to begin in game development, what would be your most important tip?
In general, I'd advise anyone to understand the mechanics of established games within the genre they want to develop for. Follow people on YouTube who are authorities, such as AskGameDev.
There is a lot of self-doubt that comes with developing games. You'll feel like an impostor. That's normal. The trick is to keep going, iterate over time, and you'll eventually begin pushing out better-quality games.
Game Creator has been quite a pleasant experience for me. Everyone who's seen it has been impressed so far, and it has the potential to be adopted for real changes. But it took a great deal of resilience to get it this far.
Do you want to join a company full of game developers like Ahmed? You can! X-Team is always looking for experienced software engineers. Send through your application today.