Indie games development. It’s been a popular subject on the internet lately. With the explosion of the internet sensation, Minecraft, many are looking into how they can create their own games (for commercial purposes or otherwise) with simple tools, so that even the coding rookie can make something impressive for today’s machines. There are, of course, several tools available, each with their own benefits and quirks. Here’s a quick list of a few different tools and things to keep in mind:
AGS (Adventure Game Studio):
Adventure game studio is a fantastic engine to create point and click style adventure games with, even with little to no knowledge of computer programming. The engine comes with some tutorials and has a fairly large, active community. The best part? AGS is free! You won’t have to pay a dime to get started. The program gives the user a complete graphical interface, so you won’t worry about having to use pure code. Everything is laid out in a very practical fashion, it’s hard to get lost. It’s even possible to create non-adventure games with AGS. Games such as Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s “5 Days a Stranger” were made with AGS, but don’t be fooled. It is capable of higher resolution productions as well. The advantage here is ease of use. The disadvantage? You don’t have complete control and the potential for pure creativity. You’ll be restricted to the engine’s limitations, even if AGS is a very powerful product. You can produce commercial titles with AGS, but be careful, the MP3 license is a bit tricky when it comes to producing commercial games. An easy way to avoid this is to simply not use MP3 file types as your primary means of playing music or sounds.
Well I suppose this one is obvious, isn’t it? In a sense, Game Maker is even easier to use than AGS, since you can basically get away with not knowing or using any code and still make something that functions. Game Maker can also create just about any genre of video game. However, this comes at a cost. While you do have the option to drag and drop game elements rather than code, the more innovative, interesting, and creative games almost always come with a bit more depth that can only be accomplished with at least some light coding. The best you’ll be able to accomplish without code is something similar to very basic Atari games. Don’t panic, though. Game Maker also has a very large and helpful community, as well as tons of examples and tutorials that can be found all over the internet.
Last but not least, there is of course, the option to simply learn a programming language. Sure, this option is easily the most difficult, but it is also easily the most rewarding. When you opt to learn a language, not only will you be able to make games, but you will be virtually unlimited in your creative process. You won’t be bounded by limitations of engines, since you yourself are making the engine. Knowing any coding language also looks great on resumes, and has all sorts of practical uses in both office and freelance work. Learning a language can really open up some doors in your life.
One of the biggest concerns from people who wish to learn a new computer language is the confusion that is associated with where to begin. While languages can be incredibly deep and complex, just remember to take things one step at a time. Start with books for beginners on the subject, look for short and sweet tutorials on YouTube. Also, don’t be afraid to join forums that chat about your language of choice. Community help is priceless.
Some Final Tips:
Making a video game is hard. Making a good video game is harder. You’ll need time and patience if you really want to make your project come to life. Don’t expect to make something overnight, and when the going gets rough, you can’t give up. Know that you’ll likely need help. It’s very rare that one person is gifted at designing, drawing, writing music, and coding games all at once. Keep in mind that it will be hard to get help until you’ve got something to show for yourself. Make something modest, but practical. Let the world see what you can do, and before you know it, you’ll be in business. Start small, work hard, and keep on keeping on.