All video game players with certain creative tendencies end up considering making their own videogame at some time or other in their life. But, in most cases, if they don’t have a good technical background, they end up running into the barrier that programming entails. Currently, there are dozens of programs that solve this problem thanks to high-end, easy-to-use environments that make the task easy. Here are four of the best programs for creating videogames without knowing how to program.
Background information and tools
All the programs listed below, while almost the majority of which are aimed towards and focus on a drag and drop method, require a negligible amount of knowledge of algorithms so you can easily resolve the challenges that emerge during the design and implementation: managing variables, control structures, and that’s about it. If an elementary-school child can learn to program, anyone can!
Many of the environments mentioned below come with their own image editor, but it’s always recommended to work with third-party specialized tools. There are all kinds of freeware resources, from tools for touching up and drawing, such as Paint.NET and Photoscape, to audio editors such as Audacity, including chiptune music editors such as Famitracker, and process modeling software such as Eunomia to outline projects.
This is perhaps the most well known and popular of them all. Many commercial independent videogames are made with Game Maker, an environment that specializes in 2D videogame creation (and making its way into 3D) of practically every genre, as its flexible environment allows you to do practically whatever you can think up. Also, it quite possibly has the greatest and most active user base, so you can find tons of tutorials and different resources on the web.
It uses a system based on events and logical triggers with common-day language. That is, creating action sequences such as “if you hit the spacebar, your ship will shoot straight ahead with constant speed,” or “if the shot hits an enemy, it kills the enemy, and the shot disappears,” will be a piece of cake. Its environment also includes a customizable physics engine, an image editor, and even the ability to optionally use its own scripting language, called GML (Game Maker Language), which allows you to modify how event tiniest detail works in your game.
The free version of the program allows you to export your game to Windows and Mac, but the number of resources that you can add to your project is limited. However, the different paid versions of the app (starting at $50) allow you to do whatever comes to mind, and even commercialize your creations, in addition to coming with extra packets that allow you to export your project to many other formats, such as HTML 5 and Android.
Download Game Maker on Uptodown | http://gamemaker-studio.en.uptodown.com/
This idea began as a simplified environment for creating Flash games, but it currently allows you to export to almost any format. The menus and creation tools are even more “visual” than Game Maker, and is somewhat more accessible to novice developers than is the later. It even allows you to access an entire data base where you can obtain characters and objects for your game with their own corresponding behavior.
Likewise, if needed, it also has its own simplified programming language which is based on an easy-to-use visual interface rather than on having to write it out line by line.
The program’s free version only allows you to export to Flash, and doesn’t come with a commercial license. However, the Pro version costs $79/year, and allows you to publish and sell games both in Flash and on Windows. The modules for exporting to iOS and Android are sold separately.
Download Stencyl on Uptodown | http://stencylworks.en.uptodown.com/
If I had to organize all the environments mentioned up until now by difficulty level, Construct2 would without a doubt be the easiest for a beginner. By simply dragging a sprite towards the game screen, you can position it, rotate it, resize it, and assign it specific behavior with just a couple clicks. However, simplicity doesn’t mean lack of versatility in this case, as it also has several options for specifying with great detail what you want.
It is the ideal program for learning basic concepts in videogame development, or for creating simplified prototypes in the least amount of time possible thanks to its practical event system which is very similar to that of the other mentioned programs.
The basic version of the pack is completely free, and has barely any use limitations. But, it doesn’t allow commercial distribution. The paid version costs $119, a bit more expensive than the rest, but that includes the ability to export to iOS and Android.
Download Construct2 on Uptodown | http://construct-2.en.uptodown.com/
With the exception of Game Maker, the rest of the environments that we’ve listed are only available for Windows. GameSalad, however, is exclusively for Mac OS, and is mainly focused on creating apps for iOS and OS X. It also uses a simplified drag-and-drop system, backed up by a structure based on simple logic sentences.
The basic, free license is exactly the same in regards to functionality, which allows you to publish your games as desktop or web apps, or for iOS. However, the latter requires you to have a developer account on the App Store. What the Pro version includes, which costs $299, is the option to monetize your creations at all levels, whether it be by adding advertising to the app, external links, or even in-game purchases. Also, it allows you to export to Android and the Windows 8 Store.
Download GameSalad on Uptodown | http://gamesalad.en.uptodown.com/
In addition to these multi-purpose environments, there are others that focus on a specific genre or type of game. Adventure Games Studio and Wintermute Engine are focused on creating point and click adventures, RPG Maker focuses on creating JRPGs, MUGEN on 2D fighting games… Obviously, there is an endless amount of options, not to mention the infinite number of options for more advanced developers, which allow them to use robustly powerful third-party 3D engines for the program themselves, such as Unity and Unreal Development Kit.