How to make a video game: the best game development software for 2022

Even the most demanding creative fields can have low barriers to entry. For example, you don’t need to know how to use photo editing or video editing software to take a photo or shoot a movie on your phone. Mankind wrote brilliant literature with paper, ink, and quill for hundreds of years before word processors. But what about video games, the most modern art medium?

Today, you have more options than ever to pursue a career in game development, and more ways to hone your skills beyond modifying new Doom level WAD files. Each year, new generations of developers graduate from game design schools around the world. Shout out at DePaul, DigiPen, Full Sail, and NYU Game Center. Yet, you can teach yourself how to make the game of your dreams with consumer video game development software.

Choose your character

How do we define consumer video game development software? The programs we reviewed (AppGameKit Studio, Godot, Construct, Core, Stencyl, Twine, Fuze4, and our Editor’s Picks GameMaker Studio 2 and Game Builder Garage) let you create fully functional video games from scratch.

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Although you can learn a lot about creativity and game design from games and products like Baba Is You, Dreams, Human Resource Machine, LittleBigPlanet, Levelhead, Minecraft, Nintendo Labo, Roblox, Super Mario Maker or a kit Lego Mindstorms, they are not. included in this listing. They don’t let you create entirely original work, and their interfaces are just a bit too far removed from the real coding required to develop real games. That said, many games turn coding concepts into fun puzzles, and playing good video games can spark your imagination for your own projects.

We also haven’t included any robust engines, the engines behind visual powers like Crysis and Doom, which primarily target professional game developers in independent studios, as well as large corporations. Not only are these programs generally more expensive, they involve a level of basic knowledge that many people lack. Additionally, many studios create and use proprietary engines exclusively for themselves, even after third-party competitors have overtaken their technology. The Bethesda Engines and EA’s Frostbite come to mind.

Basic characters

The programs featured in this summary guide beginners through the process of making a game. Once you feel confident in your skills, feel free to try other popular engines. Unity is free with a personal license. The ubiquitous Unreal Engine currently costs nothing, and you can check out a developer marketplace through the Epic Games Store.

Finally, we’ve tried to focus on software that lets you create a wide variety of video games rather than a specific niche. If you only care about dating sims, fighting games, RPGs, esoteric text adventures, or machinima movies, check out Ren’Py, Mugen, RPG Maker, Inform 7, or Valve’s Source Filmmaker, respectively. We highlight Twine, because this program allows you to easily create a surprisingly varied amount of games in interactive fiction format.

String card

What kinds of games can you create?

Besides Twine, the other products in this synthesis allow you to create any type of 2D game you can think of. For 3D development you need a more powerful tool. Yet the developers have used these engines to create everything from side-scrolling platforms to top-down shooters based on the Netflix movies to the hugely influential indie RPG Undertale. If you grew up playing Flash games online at sites like Newgrounds and Kongregate, you will recognize the look and feel of these games.

However, when it comes to the features you can add to your game, not all engines are created equal. AppGameKit Studio, Core, Game Builder Garage, and Godot are capable 3D engines. GameMaker and Fuze4 offer limited support for 3D graphics. Stencyl allows you to use a controller plugged into your computer, but you cannot add multiplayer to your projects. Core’s games can only be played in Core’s social PC ecosystem. Fuze4 and Game Builder Garage lock all your projects on the Nintendo Switch. All other tools allow you to publish to the web through HTML5. Twine and Construct even work in a web browser. Most subscriptions also offer levels for publishing PC games and mobile games with built-in purchase options.

When it comes to consoles, only GameMaker sells licenses for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. GameMaker also recently added full support for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S. With other software, you will need a third-party solution to port to consoles, or be prepared to do difficult, expensive, and technical porting work yourself.

Pay to win

The price varies depending on the software you choose. Godot and Twine are completely free. Core is free, but you can purchase optional cosmetics and credits. Fuze4 costs $ 20, but you own it forever. The same goes for Game Builder Garage, which costs $ 30. Construct and Stencyl offer free versions, but you have to pay at least $ 99 per year to take full advantage of their features and sell your games for real money. AppGameKit Studio sells a basic version for $ 99, along with optional DLC add-ons. GameMaker offers a 30-day free trial, a permanent license of $ 99, as well as an annual subscription of $ 1,500 to sell your games on all three consoles. This price, while inevitably high, can be worth accessing the large and lucrative public of consoles.

Note that these are all standard and individual prices. Prices can also change if you are a business making more than a certain amount of money, or an educator looking to teach game development in the classroom. Teachers should also consider looking for services just for them. Youth Digital, once an editorial choice for coding courses focused on game design, has now evolved into the digital Apex Learning curriculum. Even if you are an adult, online learning services, in general, can complement your game development training well.

Build a market place

Learn to code (or not)

If you want to become a serious game developer, eventually you should learn to code. Video games are made up of wonderful art, smooth animation, catchy music, and clever game systems created by some very talented individuals, but it’s the code that ties them all together in a game. code is difficult, however, what makes these programs particularly convenient for consumers is the way they make the coding process easier for you or make it entirely optional.

With Twine, you only need to code if you want to make your game prettier or more complex by editing JavaScript or CSS. GameMaker, Game Builder Garage, Core, Stencyl, Godot and Construct transform their code into easily understandable visual languages. Instead of writing in a specific syntax, you program your game by adding properties and changing behaviors on objects, as well as creating events that tell the game what to do under certain conditions. It’s all just an if / then statement. If you press a button, the character jumps. If you hit an enemy, you die.

Fashion stencil design

A strong emphasis on visual language makes game development much more accessible to non-technical users. At their best, visual languages ​​also incorporate more complex concepts (such as collision masks, frame rate, and variables) that help you better shift to proper coding and set you up for success when you take your job. potential professional career more seriously. These programs also allow you to write your own code from scratch if you want more control from the start. AppGameKit Studio and Fuze4 require you to write code, with no visual language option. With Fuze4, you’ll need to connect a keyboard to your Nintendo Switch to avoid the inconvenience of typing on its touchscreen, an issue you’ll also encounter with the otherwise handy AppGameKit mobile companion app.

By simplifying coding, these programs also allow you to focus on other essential and creative elements of game design. Use built-in picture editors to draw sprites, animate them, and arrange them on levels you create from tile sets. Synthesize your own sound effects or import music files. You’ll get deeply into your game much faster once you get a sense of place, and the personalized, handmade sounds and visuals provide a more personal cachet than sterile code.

Fuze4 Editor

What good is art if you don’t share it with people? These engines are not just tools, they are starting points for users to share knowledge and resources. These programs provide helpful documentation on how to get started. Once you have mastered the tutorials, check out the community, on the forums, or via online videos, for tips on how to improve your projects.

The creators of Twine love to swap tips on how to take stories to the next level. Game Builder Garage allows you to share games with friends online. Fuze4 allows you to download new games from strangers through the online portal. AppGameKit Studio DLC add-ons include demo games. GameMaker, Construct, Core, Godot, and Stencyl offer community marketplaces where you can purchase or download free graphics, sound effects, game demos, useful code, and other resources to speed up your own development. You don’t have to limit yourself to one store or another. The independent game store itch.io also sells a lot of assets.

Don’t beat them, join them

There is nothing wrong with just being a fan of video games. Still, making a video game yourself will give you a better appreciation for the hard work that goes into the wonderful video games you play. Our top picks of consumer video game development software give you the skills and tools you need to start your journey to becoming the next Amy Hennig, Shigeru Miyamoto, or Gabe Newell.

Once your game is finished, sell it to the masses using a PC games marketplace. Then let an influencer pay attention to it through a video game live streaming service.


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