Game Making Programs

If you read my last post on how to begin making computer games, you know that you have to understand the basics of programming in order to really be able to make your own games.  If you are absolutely adamant on using pure C++ to make games, go ahead and use DirectX.  I started trying to learn it and found out that while it can be fairly flexible and powerful since it lets you work with graphics hardware at a very low level, it requires a large time commitment and understanding at that low level.  It was difficult to do even the basics without having to memorize many functions with really long names.  Unless you really like low level code and don’t mind memorizing long function names, it can be a really great thing to know.  Knowing DirectX will surely be helpful if you’re looking to get a job in the video game industry.

For those of us who are hobbyists or just want to try out game development without having to spend all that time learning a complicated API, there are some very good game making programs out there.  I will mention the two game making programs that I have used for more than one or two hours.  I would highly recommend these programs for any aspiring game maker because they are

  1. FREE – They are absolutely FREE.  You can even sell the games you make.
  2. Easy to use – They have really good APIs with a lot of intuitive menus and controls.  You won’t be stuck looking at pure code the whole time as they have decent graphical user interfaces.

Game Maker

This nifty program has been around for several years.  Developed by Mark Overmars, Game Maker now has an entire community around at YoYo Games where people can make, play, and share games for free.  Game Maker has a drag-and-drop interface for making games.  If you want better control over your creations, Game Maker has a built-in scripting language called the Game Maker Language (GML).  Trust me, you WILL want to use GML to really be able to make larger, more complex games.  That’s why I highly recommended in my previous post that you learn programming.

While Game Maker was initially intended only to make 2D games, support for 3D graphics was added in later releases.  It’s a really nice program to introduce people to game making.

It is true that the free version of Game Maker has somewhat limited capabilities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make some nice games with it.  The pro version only costs $25, so it is really cheap compared to most other programs out there that do not have extensive drag-and-drop support like Adobe Flash which costs $699.  I have not tried to make flash games myself due to the price of the software, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth the price.  There’s a lot of good flash games out there that show off its capabilities.

You can go download and try out Game Maker at YoYo Games.

Unity

This is my current personal favorite game making program.  Unity allows you to make 3D games easily on several platforms.  Build it once and publish your game on Windows, Linux, Mac, and Android all through one program.  Of course being 100% guaranteed to be cross-platform compatible is really difficult, so you should always test your game on your target platforms.  And if you played any of my games on this website, you’ll notice that Unity can make web browser builds too 😉 .

Oh, and Unity has a FREE version.  Frankly, the free version is really powerful.  Unless you’re going to make commercial games with a real team of programmers and artists, the free version will more than satisfy you.  Not that you couldn’t make commercial quality games with the free version of Unity.  As much as I’d like to say that my games are mega awesome, they only scratched the surface of what Unity can do.  You can go see what Unity is capable of on my previous post, Browser Games are the Future.

But, you must write code via scripts in either JavaScript, C#, or Boo.  Do not be discouraged by this.  Unity is thousands of times easier to use than DirectX.  The API is really comprehensive and easy to use.  Also, Unity is asset-centric as opposed to code-centric, meaning that the game making process focuses on building game levels and placing all game objects in the level in an intuitive, 3D, visual editor as opposed to doing EVERYTHING in code.  Not to mention that Unity’s documentation is extremely thorough, there are several really well made tutorials available, and the Unity community is full of veteran game makers willing to give out advice and assistance.  Just don’t expect them to make the game for you unless you pay them 🙂 .

What are you waiting for?  Go download Unity!

Or watch some tutorial videos on making games with unity!

2 thoughts on “Game Making Programs

  1. Hi!
    You may also consider Game Develop, which is a free game development software. It has a lot of features ( Including physics and particles emitters ) and it is based on an intuitive event system ( Actions executed if conditions are fulfilled ). The software is free but it can easily outperform similar paying software 😉
    It can be downloaded here : http://www.compilgames.net
    ( I my the author so feel free to ask me for more information ).

    Construct is another game development tool ( For web based games ) which is also well designed : http://www.scirra.com

  2. Pingback: Free Online Game Makers | Shadowfox Games

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