No one leaps into the world of video game development coding complex scripts and building top-quality assets. Everyone has to begin somewhere. But dipping that first toe into the pool can seem like a daunting task, especially when there's so much to learn. Here are five beginner-friendly programs to get prospective developers and game designers started.
Sometimes, simple is best. Twine is an easy-to-use, open-source tool for creating interactive text-based games. Nodding to old school Choose Your Own Adventure games, Twine allows developers to implement branching paths, variables, and multiple choices to make their narrative as dynamic and immersive as they please. While free, the program isn't especially versatile, and serves best as first-time practice rather than an advanced developer's tool.
A free engine for making Visual Novels, Ren'Py allows developers to combine art, story, and music to create their own versions of the immersive style of game popular in Japan. Knowledge of scripting isn't required, and Ren'Py's own script system is accessible and easy to learn. An engaged community shares creative resources, advice, tutorials, and feedback for completed games and works-in-progress.
RPG Maker encompasses multiple programs aimed at creating classically styled Japanese Role-Playing Games. Developers can use the event engine to design their games or advance into scripting for more complex structures. While the program is mostly for turn-based RPGs, different genres of sprite games can easily be created using the system's straightforward engine. Active developers within the RPG Maker community offer advice, custom scripts, and art assets for others to use. While full versions each require one-time payments, limited editions are available to experiment and make simple games with.
Created by YoYo Games, GameMaker: Studio offers a simple platform for beginners to create games, as well as a more sophisticated script system for advanced developers. Accessible and streamlined, GameMaker: Studio offers an array of tools to make any genre of high-quality, 2D game. The free standard edition allows creators to develop full games, but a paid version is required for more advanced functions, such as collaboration and multi-platform exports.
Using any of these developer tools, beginners can learn and familiarize themselves with the basics of video game making. Setting a foundation is essential to building any skill, and video game development is no different. With time, practice, and dedication, even the most novice of developers will grow from basic tutorials to designing and creating their own games.