Hi. I’m Jacsn (it’s pronounced “Jason”), and I’m here to make games. This is something I have always wanted to do, but I have never known how. I still don’t, really, but I’ve decided that shouldn’t stop me anymore. Some time ago, I read this article by Rami Ismail detailing his “Game a Week” challenge. I’ve no intention of trying to keep up that pace (or following any of the other advice he gives, apparently), but the last paragraph of that article got my attention. I’ll paraphrase it this way: “The only difference between a game designer and a person who just wants to make games is that a game designer is actually making games.” After reading that, I had to try. So here I am a year later, and I’m starting to get the hang of this. I do believe I’ve become a game designer!
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What software/program do you use to make your game? They’re really good and I want to learn to make some, too. Maybe they won’t be as good as yours but I would love to try it out.
I’m afraid this will be a disappointing answer, but I don’t actually use any specialized game-making software. I’m a programmer by day, so I build my games from scratch starting with blank text files.
If it will help, though, here’s the software I use:
That’s it. Two or three pieces of free software, and none of them specifically meant for games. They’re just the tools that best fit my skill set. I don’t know what your skill set is, but if you’re serious about learning to make games, that’s what you’ll have to do, too: find a few tools that you can use, and use them however you can. If you don’t have any programming experience, there are several programs designed to help non-programmers make games. In the end, though, no software in existence is going to make a game for you. Not even the big expensive ones. So just find some software you can work with, and do what you can with it. I have a few words of advice about making games:
Use as few tools as possible. Learning to work with your software is as hard as any other challenge you’ll run into, and probably more time consuming. Also, since it’s the first challenge you’ll run into, it’s the easiest place to give up. This is where I was for years; this is what the Rami Ismail article shook me out of. By all means, search for the right tools for you, but realize that no tool is perfect. Settle for something that works well enough, and then learn how to make it do what you want. To help with this process, you must…
Start simple. I cannot adequately emphasize this. Games are big projects even when they’re not big games. I’ve made sixteen games now, and only one of them took me longer than a month to make. Which one? The first one, of course. It took me two and a half months because I still had no idea what I was doing. When starting out, don’t make it harder on yourself by trying to do some big, amazing thing. That can come later. My first #onegameamonth game was a game where you push a button. That’s it; that was the gameplay. A year later, my twelfth #onegameamonth game was Raise the Sun. I am immensely proud of that game, but believe me when I tell you that it could not have happened even a month earlier. I needed that year of experience to be able to make it. And that’s the real secret…
Experience is what matters. In the end, the tools you use don’t really matter. There are many game designers out there, and they all use different tool sets. Talent doesn’t really matter much, either. If you find some extremely talented artist or musician or game designer, and you wonder how they’re so great at what they do, the answer is that they’ve been doing it for years. They weren’t that great when they started; they became great with experience. And there’s only one way to get experience…
Start now. Getting started is the hardest part, I know. That’s also the good news, though. It gets easier from here! Since I don’t know your skill set, I can’t give any useful advice on how to get started; but if you have any specific questions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them. And if you do start making games, send me a link; I’d like to play them.
Thanks Jacsn. I’ll be sure to try out your tips asap! Thanks again for your help and good luck on your next #onegameamonth !
Me again. Sorry to bother you. I was just looking through about what language to use and I came to ask you whether or not ActionScript is a good idea? Idk what language you use, so I wasn’t sure what I should be using. Sorry if it seems like I am exploiting your work. Sorry. There are just a ton of options and I don’t know which one to pick.
Gilles “PolarZ” Fontgalland
Hello again. I think ActionScript is basically limited to Flash, right? Flash has fallen out of favor in recent years due to security issues. You should use what fits you best, of course, but if you’re just looking for suggestions…
If you’re planning on selling your games, HTML5 and JS aren’t going to work well; copying the source code of a web page is trivially easy. If you just want to make free games and maximize your audience, though, I think there’s nothing better.