So you want to make games, hey? I hear you – and me too.
Thankfully, there are an INCREDIBLE array of tools available for free, or very low cost to help you get started.
Not only are they highly affordable (or free!) but a lot of them have a huge number of tutorials, broad knowledgebases and active & engaged forums. Even if you don’t have a programming background, you can still give it a red hot go and have the support of others wisdom.
And let me just cut to the chase here – I am no game developer – but somehow I’ve managed to get through a few tutorials and make some stuff. You can check out my first attempts at game dev on my website. Warning: they are really not very fancy at all, but we all start somewhere. I have grand plans to create something a little more complex in the upcoming Global Game Jam. Please join me!
In the meantime, here are some tools you can use now to start practising your new jam.
GamerMaker Studio – Free standard edition
“GameMaker: Studio caters to entry-level novices and seasoned game development professionals equally, allowing them to create cross-platform games in record time and at a fraction of the cost of conventional tools! In addition to making game development 80 percent faster than coding for native languages, developers can create fully functional prototypes in just a few hours, and a full game in just a matter of weeks.”
Unity 5 – Free personal edition
“Unity is a flexible and powerful development platform for creating multiplatform 3D and 2D games and interactive experiences. It’s a complete ecosystem for anyone who aims to build a business on creating high-end content and connecting to their most loyal and enthusiastic players and customers.”
Unreal Engine 4 – Free full-featured edition
“Unreal Engine 4 is a complete suite of game development tools made by game developers, for game developers. From 2D mobile games to console blockbusters and VR, Unreal Engine 4 gives you everything you need to start, ship, grow and stand out from the crowd.”
Twine – Free to use web / download
Inform – Free full-featured edition
“Inform is a design system for interactive fiction based on natural language. It is a radical reinvention of the way interactive fiction is designed, guided by contemporary work in semantics and by the practical experience of some of the world’s best-known writers of IF.”
Adventure Game Studio – Free full-featured edition
“Adventure Game Studio provides the tools to make your own adventure, for free! Bring your story and artwork and slot it in, and let AGS do the rest. AGS provides everything you need from within one easy-to-use application. Create, test and debug your game, all in one place. Why wait? Get cracking on your first game now!”
Codea – $14.99 for the iPad app
“Codea for iPad lets you create games and simulations — or just about any visual idea you have. Turn your thoughts into interactive creations that make use of iPad features like Multi-Touch and the accelerometer. We think Codea is the most beautiful code editor you’ll use, and it’s easy. Codea is designed to let you touch your code. Want to change a number? Just tap and drag it. How about a color, or an image? Tapping will bring up visual editors that let you choose exactly what you want. Codea is built on the Lua programming language. A simple, elegant language that doesn’t rely too much on symbols — a perfect match for iPad.”
Scratch – Free web-based engine
“With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community. Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century. Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It is provided free of charge.”
Now for the CHALLENGE!
If you have never made a game before, why not give it a go? Maybe start with either Scratch, or Twine. Once you have completed your game, please tell us what you learned, and share with us what you have made! Both of these platforms are embeddable, so we would love you to share your game here on PlayWrite!
Ready, Set, GO!
Image credit: TorinoGT