Are you a keen gamer who’s been sitting on a great game idea? Or perhaps you don’t game, because you feel that games are mostly lame in comparison to the world in your head, but you’ve never thought about building it? If like most people you have zero coding skills, and so the whole project seems like a fantasy, you need to know that some of the best games have come from people just like you!
And, before you shut yourself down by imagining your results are going to be amateurish, you should also know that the arena where wannabe game builders mock up their first attempts is probably the most dynamic coalface for the gaming fraternity. DIY game building resources are almost unrecognisable from even a few years back. The current apps are extremely professional in rendering. Much like many other DIY tech pursuits have improved vastly since the 1980s, so too are game building apps today intuitive, comprehensive, and sleek.
The resources listed here are all tools or tool kits that allow those who have zip in the way of coding skills to create great games. From the 80s Graphic Adventure Creator, then the 90s Shoot’Em-Up Construction Kit (SEUCK), those past tile-based builds have given way to a vastly more professional ability and finish in DIY game building. It’s true that a very complex game that you want rendered exactly as you want it might make coding demands on you, and then it’s best to get a coding course under the belt. That said, it certainly doesn’t imply that those kinds of games are the top level. Online life has given rise to the simplest yet often most popular apps and platforms over the last 30 years, and the “best” games can come from anywhere.
GameSalad’s Amazing Behavior Library
GameSalad is akin to GameMaker (listed below), as it boasts simple drag-and-drop elegance, and it’s intuitive for newbies. The platform has to rank as one of the most “codey-like” renditions, but without the coding required!. GameSalad allows for game building of complex behaviors that were formerly only the province of coders. The site has a massive library, which makes selecting behaviours to incorporate extremely easy.
GameSalad is behind several thousand popular games available in the App Store or on Google Play. In spite of its high-end buildability, using GameSalad demands but a mild learning curve, and the portal attracts complete newcomers and seasoned gamers alike. If you build here and employ the GameSalad Creator behaviours available, as a free user you’ll only be able to publish to the GameSalad Arcade. The pro version allows you to publish anywhere, and will cost you around $25/month.
The Deep End: ClickTeam Fusion
This is a wonderful option if you’re the kind of person who wants everything available upfront. ClickTeam will let you build to your heart’s content, without charging you the earth. If you want to get rid of the “Created with Fusion” branding, however, you’ll ultimately buy a developer’s package that costs around $400.
Although newbies might find the price tag hefty, the nice part about this site is that you can build freely from the outset, feeling your way through the entire toolkit. You’ll upgrade to publish, and upgrade further to escape their branding, but the structure pleases many as it’s not an upfront bite for an unknown adventure. You can see what you’re paying for. There is a great supportive community and although you’ll write in HTML5, there are various exporters available to build for play on Android, Linux and iOS.
GameMaker Drag & Drop
YOYO Games is behind the GameMaker toolkit, and the platform allows even new users to drag and drop to create a comprehensive mobile game. GameMaker anticipated users having zero coding skills from the outset, and it’s a great choice for anyone who wants to build cross-platform game apps without miles of code.
The free version should please anyone publishing on Windows. GameMaker: Studio comes branded with flash, however, but spending $150 for the pro version opens up even more features and dumps the branding. Be aware that If you plan to publish on iOS, Linux, Android, or for an HTML export, you’ll need to pay around $800 for the “Master license.”
Stencyl enjoys a most loyal following, and it’s something of a widely shared “secret” with game builders. Many rate it as the best option, and its pedigree is borne out by ranking App Store games like BLP and Zuki’s Quest. Noticeably different, Stencyl boasts a sleek interface and supports mobile leaderboards, third-party plugins, and ads. There is loads of flash with the free version, but one step up at $99 lets you publish on Windows, Mac and Linux. iOS and Android publishers will have to pay the GM Studio License of $199 per annum.
With Stencyl, you can publish simply and easily to the Play and App stores, and also Steam. Rated as a modest learning curve, users can fairly easily build something of real value by using the platform’s extensive assets.
This is often the preference of pro developers in their game building, although Unity lacks the inbuilt visual scripting that other sites like Unreal offers, for example. That said, there is a huge range of assets and snippets of usable code available in a very dynamic and supportive community. Apart from the coding pros there, many find it a singular joy to utilise Unity’s editor to drag scripts onto their in-game objects. Don’t feel intimidated here, as the tech-savvy gamers you’ll find here share easily and make for a happy and enabling community build.
If you feel like you’re getting stuck or game building below par, you can always use the visual scripting plugin PlayMaker to customise things nicely. Options here are free, one step up at $35/month, and then a pro version for $125/month.
Remember,game building should be fun, and building the game you want is today remarkably easy, with a bit of technical support on your side. From the word go, get a professional analysis of your hardware, coding requirements (or how to avoid them!) and objectives, and soon you’ll be able to not only enjoy playing your game, but also thrill to the uptake from online stores, as other gamers latch onto it too.