So you want to make games?
April 20, 2013, written by Simon Uncategorized

In my opinion, making games is great. But it can be pretty tough to get started. I know there are a lot of people out there who want to make games but don’t know where to begin. From what I’ve heard people like Tommy Refenes get this question about fifteen times a day. With this post I’m trying to show, what in my opinion are good places to start and won’t cost you a dime.

When I first started making games it was because I’d ran into a great game making tool. I played around with it for a while with a friend. This might not be the case for you. So below I have listed a set of tools and resources you can use to start devoping games. I have ordered them from easy to hard so you can easily see where to begin according to your own experience and skill. By the way, all things listed below are free to use! =D (yet if you want to use them for commercial games I would consult their website and documentation first)


First off: Game Maker

If you have no experience in programming or making games whatsoever, start here. Seriously. This is what I started with ten years ago. It’s easy to use via a drag-and-drop programming system, yet it allows actual scripting. It also has an easy to use level and sprite editor, neat documentation and a lively community to help you out.


If you want to go further: Flash

Or in this case Flashpunk or Flashdevelop since these are free to use. The advantages of Flash over Game Maker are first of all the portability. Almost every platform supports Flash, and if it doesn’t you can most likely export you Flash game for this specific platform separately. Besides that, Flash is more powerful and therefor allows more complex stuff. A disadvantage though is that you really have to program in order to make games. Flash uses a language called actionscript which is fairly easy to learn. I prefer Flash over Game Maker because it is more powerful and gives me more control over my program. But it is better to start with Game Maker if you have no programming experience.


3D games: Unity

If 2D games just don’t float your boat and you want to make awesome first person shooters, Unity is the way to go. Unity features an easy to use editor and built-in physics and shaders. You can use multiple different programming languages to make scripts you can attach to your objects to create additional behavior and functionality. Unity also has it’s own asset store where you can get a lot of free assets to use in your game.


2D art: paint.NET

This one is Windows only though. If MS Paint and Photoshop had a baby, that baby would be paint.NET. With the simple toolset and clean layout you see in MS Paint, it also has a nice layer system and filters like you see in Photoshop. I mainly use paint.NET for pixelart, but it can also be used for more advanced graphics.


Audio: sfxr

Sfxr is a program made by drPetter for the 10th Ludum Dare. It allows you to easy make game sounds from scratch. It’s very easy to use and you can make new sounds very fast.


Finally these two pages:

Gamedevtuts+ is full of tutorials about game programming. Go here if you don’t know how to do more advanced stuff in programming.

PixelProspector’s indie resources, basically a big list of stuff you can use in games or make games with.


If you are already experienced in the above development tools and you want to make games in, let’s say, c++. Fear not, this post is to be continued with more advanced stuff.

Also, if you feel like this list needs to be longer or have any questions about the things I discussed, feel free to ask.