The Amazing Tomatoboy!

Published Date
01 - May - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - May - 2006
 
The Amazing Tomatoboy!
Everyone loves a good tomato. They're a wonderful round shape, red, healthy, and look excellent when generously splattered over the faces of bad performers. They've inspired everything from cheesy action movies to Web portals, confirming what we've believed all along-anything with tomatoes is always fun. Disappointingly, though, there is a shortage of tomato-inspired games out in the world.

Imagine our joy, then, when a young reader sent in a little game called Go Tomatoes! to put on this month's CD for our readers (which we have). Apart from being one of a rare breed of tomato-games, this one caught our fascination because it was created by said young reader!

The Man Boy
To the untrained eye, all twelve-year-olds are quite the same-small, a little squeaky, a little annoying, and will probably get off your back if you put them in front of a video game. But every once in a while, when the planets align themselves just right and the sixth moon of Saturn sneakily enters the fifth house of Alpha Centauri, you come across one like Shashank H R. Not content with just playing them, he creates games of his own to satisfy his friends' (and now our) daily requirement of amusing activity.

This sixth-standard student from Bangalore likes playing racing games like the Need For Speed series, and also takes in a healthy dose of real-life games such as table tennis. He's also learning MS Office and Macromedia Flash on his own!

The Growing Fascination
It all started during a computer class at school- Sri Kumaran Children's Home. The teachers introduced the class to making games using a tool called Game Maker (and you thought schools only taught boring stuff like programming), and Shashank was hooked. He started experimenting with the program himself, soon leading to his first game-Burger in The Oven. The game itself is quite basic-just click on the burgers that bounce all over the screen, but even with that simple task, it's horribly addictive. Of course, Shashank knows this. On his Web site (www.shashankhrgames.com), you will find this cautionary note: "Careful while playing my games, they are addictive."

The next game was Man and Monster-a three-level adventure, which was the first step to his latest-Go Tomatoes!, and last month, he finished Go Tomatoes!, a game he'd been working on for the past couple of months.


"I almost never play my games, but my friends enjoy them"
Shashank H R, Student  Bangalore

So why does he keep making these games? "I just do it as a hobby. It's really fun, you know," he says. And his intentions are quite noble too-he does it for a greater good: "I almost never play my games" he says, "but my friends enjoy them."

The Game
Remember the classic platform games like Dangerous Dave? Well, that was the first thing we thought of when we played Go Tomatoes! for the first time. It's a simple 2D game, where you go around the room collecting tomatoes. And here's an interesting element of realism: ripe tomatoes are the best, giving you a juicy score, the overripe ones are worth a little less, and the rotten tomatoes are the worst-not only do they subtract from your score, they also cost you your health, eventually causing you to die if you eat too many.


The one that started it all-Burger in The Oven

Game Maker 
Game Maker (www.gamemaker.nl) is a free game creation tool that doesn't need you to have any programming knowledge-just enough creativity to figure out what your game should be. It's excellent for 2D games like clones of our favourites-Mario, PacMan, Arkanoid, you name it. You can add backgrounds, sound effects, animations, background music, and loads more with the free version. It lets you create your own 3D games as well! It comes packed with a bunch of free images and animations, so you don't even need to make the graphics for your first game. Once you've created a game, you own all the rights to it, so do with it as you will-distribute it among your friends, or send it to us; if it's good, we'll even put it on our CD!
You can find plenty of game tutorials on Game Maker's Web site, as well as games that were created using Game Maker.
We've included Game Maker on this month's CD, and to learn how to create your first Arkanoid clone in thirty minutes, turn to page xx in this issue.


Man and Monster-something's brewing here


And presenting... Go Tomatoes!

There are six levels of tomato-munching fun, and our only complaint with the game is that it's too short!

What Next?
Even as you read this, Shashank has started learning how to create his own 3D game-something we're all waiting eagerly for. So if you've created 3D games of your own and have some useful advice for him, pop over to his Web site and contact him.

Ask him if he wants to become a serious game developer when he grows up, and he mulls, "It's still too early to decide. I like doing this, but it's just a hobby right now". For the good of Indian game development, we sure hope he doesn't stop liking it in the years
to come.
Well, we've had our unofficial "Youngest Reader" competitions, and now Shashank has kicked off the "Youngest Doer-of-something-cool-and-geeky" competition. So if you know someone whose techie activity deserves a mention in Digit, drop us a line-the younger the better!



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