Your Own Virtual World Play God – Be God (Even If It’s Only Electronically)

Part of the appeal of video games is the visual eye-candy that splashes across the television screen. But even the addictive imagery is only half of the equation. The remaining half is the magic bestowed upon our eyes when this imagery comes to life. Animation that’s controlled by a gamer is all it takes to escape into a different time and place – a time and place brought to you by virtual reality.

As you can imagine, virtual reality is a hypothetical three-dimensional visual world created by a computer. Players can enter and move about in this world and interact with objects as if inside it.1 Some of the games that are already on the market give a pretty good idea of what virtual reality is and can do. Video games like Zelda, Halo, or Harry Potter allow players to enter into an environment and interact with objects, but they don’t allow the player to create an environment and that’s what virtual worlds are all about.

Without a single ounce of programming experience, anyone can create a virtual world and have loads of fun doing so. All one needs is an idea.

To begin, you’ll want to construct a plan that maps your idea of the perfect world, the craziest world, or the oddest world that you can imagine. Some virtual world software will give you a template of sorts (a “starter” world) that lets you make additions and ultimately build a world that you’ve always dreamed of. A good example of template use is inside Maxis’ SimCity or SimTown games. Both games provide pre-designed environments that provide plenty of space and opportunity to shape them into one that you prefer.

Of course, you could always start from scratch. The only problem with starting with scratch is that it takes more time and knowledge to add some of the features that virtual worlds provide. Either way (from scratch or from a template), most users build a world by adding objects and scenarios – even deleting some until they’ve reached the perfect balance.

A good place to find examples of what you could build in virtual world gaming is online. Every virtual world program available offers sample environments that players can download and install into their own system. Some manufacturers of these games even hold contests and award winners with free upgrades. Other suitable places to find ideas are from fiction books: -historical, -fantasy, -futuristic, you name it. Science fiction movies are a good resource for ideas as well.

Just understand that virtual gaming takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your virtual world. There’s no rush and this is a relaxing hobby. Take your time and have fun. Don’t fret over not knowing how to build an object or lay down a map – you can learn how to do these kinds of things in due time. Your goal is to create a world of enjoyment and it won’t help if you find yourself frustrated all the time.

When ready, you can add characters with their own unique histories, habits, strengths and weaknesses. You can even give them goals or small tasks to perform throughout the game. Giving your characters goals and tasks will help you give the game a plot.

To get started, look for RAD (Rapid Application Development) Tools. RAD tools will help you bang a virtual reality game together in no time and with little difficulty.

What Makes A Great Game

A Gentle Reminder for Programmers
It’s easy to get lost in all the details of building a great video or computer game – so easy in fact, that we can forget the parts of a game that make them fun to play. The following serves as a gentle reminder of what prompts players to play games in the first place. Refer to this reminder in the event that you get bogged down or distracted with confusing C++ syntax, or lines and lines of Visual Basic statements and DLL structures.


1. Remember the player is the main character. Here’s a secret between you and me: People play games to gain a sense of control. If you can manage to program your game in a way that puts the player in control, then you’ve already won half the battle. This doesn’t mean to suggest that the game should be easy. It simply means that when a gamer runs home from school or drives home from work to play a video game, she wants to feel the control that she didn’t have during the hours between nine and five. The outcome of a game – whether it’s a win or a loss – should never be random, but the result of a good, controlled game play instead.

2. KISS. Remember that acronym? It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. We all know that programming a game is hard business, but believe us when we say we don’t want to be reminded of it. The difficulty of programming a game should never be part of the game play so when possible, make the game easy to start, easy to navigate, and of course, easy to play. We’re not asking for pre-school strategy here, but on the other hand, we don’t want to feel as dumb as a pre-schooler either. Forget the hundred page manual. Nobody except the truly obsessed is going to read it anyway. Build your game for the average Joe and everyone will be your fan.

3. Add plenty of action. And add lots of it too. The more action you add to your game, the more attention players will pay attention to it. And the more that players pay attention to your game, the more addictive your game gets. For every action that a player’s character makes, have the game react and then prompt the player for more.

4. Make the story a good one. Nothing is worse than playing a game only to wonder what you’re doing and why. Purpose is and always has been a human obsession. But without it, we’re left wandering… in the darkness… wondering bizarre things like how the house would look in a coat of bright pink paint. Don’t give your players the opportunity to waste time like that. Give them a mission and make sure your game reminds them what the mission is at opportune times and why they must complete it.

5. Give us eye candy. But make it relevant. The graphics in a game shouldn’t be distracting, they should make our eyeballs glaze over with satisfaction upon seeing them, and then salivate for more. Graphics should contain clues and entice us further and further into the game until we’ve beaten the thing.

6. Make it real. Fantasy games are okay, but what makes them cool is the fact that they’re realistic. It’s hard to get into something that isn’t familiar or that there’s no way we could ever experience. But if you can implement some reality into your games, players will appreciate it and relate to it on a whole new respectable level.