Disclaimer: I did not try or buy any of these solutions… yet.
Nowadays, learning all the skills you need to make a game is not hard; there is a wide community of awesome game devs out there who are more than willing to help and are also great teachers. Here are just a few examples. But there is one thing you might not be able to get, no matter what: time. What do you do then?
You can buy the source code for your own game for less than 100 dollars. Granted, it will be a simple game, a clone of a successful product like Flappy Birds. And you will have to invest a few hours to follow a tutorial and perhaps reskin your little project. But for just a little bit of money, you can have your very own game in a day.
Many game devs are not happy about the idea. But despite a hefty rage in the industry on the subject of these practices, I am personally very excited that they started to exist. You see… I’ve always wanted to make games. And I have always envisioned a world where everybody CAN make games if they want to. The starting to make part needs to be easy, so more and more people – all types of people, and even kids – can be captured by this wonderful art and perhaps decide to stick around and make awesome stuff. But contemplating the idea to learn how to code can be very intimidating, despite the amazing efforts that are happening from all sides to lower this barrier of entry. Unity is not a pickup and play tool… no engine is, no coding language is.
Years ago, a somewhat underground movement started, to build and promote easy to use tools for learning how to program and make games. LEGO and MIT Media Lab developed the LEGO Mindstorms products, where you build your own LEGO robots and then you learn how to program them through a simple and inviting software. Two open source enthusiasts-shared Blockly on Google Code, and quietly that awesome web-based, graphical programming editor became a success under Google’s guidance (who I think actually bought it). See for yourself how awesome Blockly is – make a maze. Of course there are other similar projects out there, like Scratch and MIT App Inventor from MIT. Here’s a great and very informative VPL history infographic.
…and now you can buy your own source code for your game. For 99 Dollars. Mindstorms costs about 600 dollars, just for reference, and Blockly is free.
YES, there will be people who abuse these options. YES, there will be many clones and some of them will become undeserved successes that will make some people rich – kinda like winning the lottery. And for a short while, these projects might make it harder for genuine indie game developers to succeed in an already – presumably – overcrowded market.But just making that source code work and skin it will mean that more people will have a little more in depth contact with what making a game means. An abundance of bad clones will also force the market to come up with solutions to promote genuine quality. And on the long run, this can only mean good things for genuine game developers with an imaginative spirit and a knack to bring this beloved industry of ours to the next level.
I may be an optimist, but I am sure the future is bright for us game creators. If you fear that a game created with a StartAppYard template will steal your clients, then you just don’t trust yourself or your own game enough.