I’m Dan, founder of Noobles Studio, and I’ve recently released my first game, The Taller I Grow. Currently, it’s available for free on PC and Mac. It was in development for around six months, and I spent a good portion of my free time between high school and other stuff working on it.
The Taller I Grow is a puzzle-platformer game that is stylized to look and sound like it’s being played on an old DOS-like computer from the 80s. The main game mechanic is your ability to connect to objects in the environment, which makes your character taller in the process. This mechanic is used in a number of ways to solve puzzles and get through 30 levels.
Today, I’d like to give you all a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the game — its inner workings, the motivations for it, and some of the tools used to create it.
First things first, the most important tool of game development, the game engine and programming. The Taller I Grow was made in the Unity engine, and was coded in the C# coding language. I highly recommend Unity to anyone who wants to create games, as it’s very powerful, not too hard to learn, and free! If you’re just starting out with Unity, they have great tutorials for you to get going and familiarize yourself with the editor.
For Windows, Unity comes with Visual Studio, a code editor by Microsoft. It has a very good user interface, and it automatically highlights where you’ve mistyped your code. You can also sync it to GitHub for easy source control. Overall, it gets the job done well.
Before downloading Unity, I used the Pygame library for Python. It’s okay for smaller, simpler games, but it doesn’t run more complex projects very well. When Pygame wasn’t cutting it anymore, I considered switching to Unreal Engine, but I ultimately decided to go to Unity because it’s easier to get into.
The Taller I Grow has a pixel art style, and it was accomplished using GIMP. Like Unity, GIMP is free, and you get many features without having to pay for anything. One of the things I love about GIMP, and any software to be honest, is how easy it is to pick up. To make pixel art with GIMP, you must set your image’s resolution as something relatively low (The Taller I Grow mostly uses 24×24 sprites). Then, you can use the pencil tool to make some great art!
After creating a sprite with GIMP, I would export it to Unity as a PNG, and all the animation would be taken care of inside Unity. Here’s a great video about animation in Unity if you’re interested.
A small thing I’d like to share is that the player character, Bip, has gone through a few iterations as well. The image below showcases the main three versions of him. The one on the left is the original sprite from June 2019, the middle was used throughout the majority of development, and the one on the right was created in October-November 2019.
Sounds and Music
Without sounds and music, the game would be far too quiet. The sound effects in The Taller I Grow were created using an online chiptune creator, BeepBox. It’s somewhat limited in what it can do, but it works well for creating the beeps and boops of an old-school game.
The music was composed by Mike Eramo. He used FL Studio to create the soundtrack, and while it’s not free, it can create some high quality music. You can give the game’s soundtrack a listen here if you’re interested.
I’ve been into game development for a few years now, thanks to Mike Eramo. He was the head of our school’s Technology Club, and that year we had begun to make simple video games using Pygame. I became very interested in game development, so I began to make small projects outside of school, and Mr. Eramo supported me all the way through it. Eventually, my games had become too complex for Pygame, and, as I mentioned earlier, I switched to Unity.
I learned how to use Unity for a while, and I started work on some prototypes and starts of games that were never finished. I’d go on like this for a while, until early June of 2019.
That’s when The Taller I Grow started development. It originally started as an entry in the Extra Credits Game Jam #4, where developers had 100 hours to create a small game based around the theme of “connect”.
The idea for the “connecting” game mechanic popped into my head pretty soon after the jam started, and I got to work. After some time, I got a small prototype working smoothly, and the time came to add visuals. The game jam had “Extra Challenges”, small optional things you could add to your game if you wanted to make development more interesting. One of these optional challenges was to make the game monochromatic (only using shades of one color). That’s where the black-and-white color scheme came from.
After the game jam ended, I decided that the game mechanic was too interesting to not use. So, I continued to work on it. Over the next few months, I would add more features and expand on the connection game mechanic. I also added to the game’s visuals. I remade all the art, and I added the 80s computer aesthetic, since the monochromatic color scheme reminded me of one.
After many, many hours of coding, beta testing, and creating sound and visuals, the game was complete. I uploaded it to itch.io on January 10, 2020, and the rest is history. The game’s received lots of positive feedback since its launch, and even a couple of videos have been made about it!
For Fellow Developers
I’m in no way an expert in game development, but I’ll share some advice from my personal experiences as an indie developer:
- It’s never too early or too late to start! If you want to get into game development but are hesitant, or if you have an idea you want to create, go ahead and do it! Go after that idea – it might turn into something great when it becomes a reality, and the process can be a lot of fun.
- Make something you can finish. I’ve killed many projects because they were simply too big for me to handle at the time, and I became burned out. So, if you really want to make a game, create something that you know you’ll be able to finish, and commit to it. No matter how large or small of a game you end up making, finishing something is always incredibly rewarding.
- Participate in game jams. If you have a free weekend, sign up for one! They’re fun to be a part of, and the limitation of having a theme encourages you to come up with creative ideas. You can also see how fellow developers interpreted the theme, and who knows? Maybe you’ll like your game jam project so much that it’ll become a fully-fledged game.
- Stay organized. This one might seem obvious, but having everything neat and tidy becomes increasingly important as your game grows in size. That means adding comments to your code, giving everything a descriptive name, and grouping things like textures, scripts, and audio in separate folders.
- Do it because you enjoy it. If you’re burned out on a project, take a break from it and work on something else. Sometimes game development can be a drag, especially if you encounter an issue you’re having trouble fixing, but if it feels like that all the time, do something else for a bit and come back when you’re refreshed. Also, I wouldn’t recommend making games just for the money – the best games are made when a developer cares about their project.
That’s just about everything I have to say about The Taller I Grow and game development as a whole. I hope I helped a fellow developer, and if you haven’t played The Taller I Grow and are interested, try it out! It’s free to play, and I would appreciate any feedback you have to give about it. I also post updates and other things on my Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, so follow those if you’re interested in what I’m up to.
Thanks for reading, and take care everyone!
You can read more about creating chip-tune music here, and as mentioned by Dan, starting a game you know you can finish and planning it out are vital in getting your cool project finished – Ed.