Wanna try out your game idea, but don’t know how to code? Do not despair! There are a bunch of awesome people out there willing to help you – here is my collection of super awesome articles and tutorials for any game programmer wannabe. Warning – do not expect any pro advice, this is for n00bs like me who have no idea how to start this scary journey, just like my 2D art tutorials collection gathered here.
What to Start With??
The question that troubled mankind since the Iron Age of game programming was this: how should I start? I know I want to learn basic skills of game prototyping, but there are all kinds of strange letters and words out there, like C++, Java, C#, HTML5 and more, and I feel like I somehow need to discover The Best One and pick that up, otherwise all my future learning progress is for nothing and I will NEVER to get my own game prototype out there. How can I pick one, considering that all of them sound like 中國的?
But there is hope! It’s in the form of easy to use, drag and drop, sometimes No Coding Skills Required At All editors like Unity, GameMaker, Construct, Unreal, Twine, RPG Maker and more, and they are all free, all you need to do is just grab them and make your game prototype!
Of course, you need to look at a few and see which one works best with you!
By the time you would have tried some of these tools, you may end up feeling like me: stupid. Or maybe incapable. Or at the very least, lazy as hell. In any case, the conclusion is simple: clearly, game prototyping is not for you (or me). But just hold on….
Let the PROs speak!
What choice you ACTUALLY make depends on how core the feature is to your game, how much time you’re willing to spend making it, and whether you have the technical skills to implement it.
Here is Liz England’s quick and comprehensive advice for your first steps in coding, intelligently taking into consideration your start-up skill inclinations. For those of you who don’t know, Liz is a game designer at Insomniac Games (a studio absolutely packed with super helpful people who are always out there helping and sharing their knowledge) and she is responsible for the now famous Door problem.
It’s very important to take things one step at a time. If you approach your dream game all at once, chances are you will get frustrated and overwhelmed.
Here is Tommy Refenes’ advice on how to start programming games. It covers a nice range of topics, from what programming language to choose, to what tools and frameworks to use and what tutorials to read. The nice part of the article is that it does not really answer any of these questions, because the simple and painful truth is that there is no game dev answer for all. It really is about you. For those of you who don’t know who Tommy is, get your hands on Super Meat Boy, now! And also follow the team behind it, because they are awesome. They are also one of the protagonists of Indie Game: The Movie.
Yes, you can code […] it’s really not hard. It just takes time.
Here is James Cox’s encouraging and wonderful words for game coder wannabes. The article debuts with the story of his own road towards this exciting adventure of making games, and then continues with simple and factual advice written in probably the most encouraging, no-excuse way I have ever read. I wish I could tell you who James Cox is, but the article does it better than me.
…all you need to break is the psychological barrier that you’re missing years of experience necessary to do anything. The only prerequisite is the ability to think logically.
Note to self: CodeCademy deserves an article of its own.
…by the end, because you learned by doing, you’ll be much further along than someone who just read and did nothing.
Here are precisely 4 projects that can jump start your skills to make your own game prototypes. This is an awesome resource because it puts you in the right mindset to start coding. It shows you in detail how to start simple, as opposed to dreaming up the worlds best [insert your favorite game genre here] and then getting super depressed when you learn you cannot compete with veteran game developers and veteran game dev teams.
To be continued?
If you found this article helpful, let me know and I will write a follow-up. In the meantime, here is a step-by-step guide on how to make Pong in Unity. Beware that the BallMover script does not work (or at least, it didn’t for me).