Making games seems at often times like magic. How can strings of letters and numbers possibly create something as addictive as Stardew Valley or as wildly popular as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds? With our help, and a little bit of work, you might be able to surprise yourself with just what you can create if you sit down and give it a go. So for 2018, why not set yourself the goal of making your first game? This is by no means a comprehensive guide, but we’ve put together a selection of some useful resources to get you started making your first game and who knows, maybe someday you’ll be the next ConcernedApe or PlayerUnknown?
Crack the Code
First off, you’ll want to pick a programming language for your game. There’s plenty out there, and the choice might seem a bit overwhelming, but one thing that is an excellent idea is to take a look at Humble’s current Coder Book Bundle which offers a huge number of coding books for you to sink your teeth into. At the time of writing, around £14 will get you nearly TWENTY different books on coding, so there’s bound to be something useful to you to explore your options here. As with the gaming bundles, the more you pay, the more books you get – and it never hurts to have a reference for others even if you’ve already got your heart set on one to begin with, as many engines allow for a range of different languages.
Once you’ve got an idea of what language, you’ll want to pick an engine. There’s a few out there, but here’s a few of the major ones and their strengths and weaknesses:
If writing and storytelling is your thing, you might want to look into the Twine engine. Primarily an Interactive Fiction engine, you can still make some very impressive stuff. Other games that have used Twine include Depression Quest. Best of all, it’s absolutely free and open source, so it’s a great way to get a foothold on the basic fundamentals of game programming and handing logic.
Some resources for budding Twine developers that you may find helpful include the eBook Writing Interactive Fiction with Twine which can be had from Amazon for just £6.79 over here:
Arguably one of the best tools for making your way into the more traditional idea of games, GameMaker is a surprisingly powerful and versatile toolkit that allows even the most novice of budding developers to put together something out of cobbled together assets. Of course, you’re still not necessarily going to make the next Minecraft overnight, but given such games as Hyper Light Drifter and the original version of the mighty Spelunky were made in just such a tool, it’s certainly a worthy starting point. You can even get GameMaker Studio 2 Desktop on Steam with a 20% discount at the moment, making it just £60.79 for a standard license.
Another benefit of GameMaker is the range of advice and guidance on offer, with plenty of YouTube tutorials on offer, and books such as this bunch available from the Humble Store for just £3.99
Another hugely popular engine, Unity has arguably been one of this generation’s most popular engines with games such as Yooka-Laylee, Wasteland 2 and Kerbal Space Program but to name just three games that credit Unity as their base.
It’s a little bit more powerful than GameMaker, but by the same token can be a little bit more complex. However, it also uses standard industry programming languages which means if you’re hoping to take your hobby down a more professional route, getting to grips with it could set you up for the long run. Some useful resources include the Unity 5 Cookbook, available from Amazon in digital format for £20.15
Online training course resource uDemy also has some excellent online courses for you to take. They’re created by professional developers, so you know you’re getting useful knowledge. What’s more they’re yours to keep and can be undertaken in your own time at any time. This Learn to Code by Making Games – Complete C# Unity Developer course has 305 lectures with 45.5 hours of on demand video.
Still consistently among the most famous game development engines, there’s a reason this has been a staple of the games industry for the last two decades, and it’s latest versions are no less well supported and respected in the industry. From Bioshock to upcoming games like Vampyr, there’s plenty of games already using the engine.
Another benefit to how long the Unreal engine has been around is that there’s plenty of resources to choose from when deciding to venture into it; once again online training course resource uDemy is a valuable source here, with this package of 314 lectures and over 55.5 hours of video content another excellent resource to look into.
Of course, this is just the start of the journey, and there’s plenty of other stuff to consider, such as artwork, music, getting a team together. But hopefully with these fundamentals you can start making your first steps into the world of game development. It’s obviously not a guaranteed route to prosperity, but it can be a very rewarding undertaking and even if you don’t see yourself making something as successful as Minecraft, you can come away with very useful transferable skills and best of all, the barriers to entry are lower than ever, so there’s never been a better time to get involved. Good luck!