Wordpress used to create game publishing platform

Wellington-based Instinct launching HTML5 game creator tomorrow

You would be forgiven for thinking Wordpress was just a tool for bloggers. For many this is as far as their use of the open source platform would go, but Dan Milward has taken the highly popular CMS and built a gaming system on top of it.

Milward is the founder of Wellington-based Instinct Entertainment, best known for creating the popular WP e-Commerce plugin, which has had more than 1.7 million downloads.

Tomorrow Milward's team at Instinct are launching their latest creation called Gamefroot, an HTML5 game creator built using Wordpress' database management system.

Milward demoed Gamefroot at Wordcamp NZ on Saturday for a crowd of Wordpress users and developers. The platform lets users create 8-bit style games using predefined sprite sheets, or by uploading their own graphics. You can give objects qualities like health or damage, add animations, and even add background music by uploading your own or choosing from music composed by Instinct.

The game's information is stored as custom posts in the database, which when looked at from the back end would be very familiar to Wordpress users.

The Gamefroot project has been more than five years in the making, and is based on a previous product from Instinct called Game Creator.

Game Creator used Flash Lite to create platform games using pre-constructed tiles and sprites. Milward says within a few days of launching Game Creator users had created 350 Flash Lite games, more Flash Lite games than there were all together previously.

"This really proved to us the concept could work," says Milward.

Since then Instinct has received funding from a Japanese investor to develop Gamefroot. Although initially reluctant to talk about opportunities to monetize the platform, Milward says if games are popular enough Instinct will team with the creator to take the game data and publish it for the Apple App Store, splitting any revenue made.

Milward says game mechanics can be controlled using the SCRATCH programming language, which is taught in many New Zealand secondary and intermediate schools. ICT teachers will be able to create simple games for their classes using the platform, which Milward says will help teach students how to create games and give them a basic understanding of programming.

"I'm not a gaming programmer myself, so me being able to create a game using it was the ultimate test," says Milward.

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