With the increasing popularity of computer games many people are becoming interested in the possibility of actually making a game. For many, this will remain an unfulfilled dream because they lack the knowledge of where to start. In this article I will examine the range of options that are available to the beginning game maker.
Games were traditionally created using a programming language. One of the earliest first person shooters (FPS), Wolfenstein 3D, was coded with the programming language C. Most games that have been produced since then have been written in either C or C++. These programming languages have traditionally been used for games because they are able to produce code that executes quickly. Speed of execution was an issue of concern in the past because older computers were slow and less powerful than the computers we use today. Now that this is not such a concern it is possible to write high quality computer games in programming languages other than C or C++
Learning a programming language is not a trivial task. Most people spend months if not years using a language before they are capable of programming a game. However, there are a number of programming languages that are specifically designed for programming games. Using one of these will significantly reduce the learning curve for game production. The two main games programming languages are; Blitz Basic (www.blitzbasic.com), and DarkBASIC (www.thegamecreators.com). Both of these programming languages are based on Beginners All purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC). BASIC was originally conceived as an easy to learn programming language for beginners. Despite the origins of BASIC as a Beginners’ programming language you should not think that Blitz Basic or DarkBASIC lacks power. Both are powerful programming languages suitable for making a range of games. Whether you wish to make a scrolling platform game or a 3D FPS both languages are more than capable of the job. Both products are reasonably priced. Blitz Basic sells for $60 – $100 (USD), whilst DarkBASIC sells for $39.99 – $69.99 (USD). So for a minimal outlay and a modest investment of time anyone can learn to produce their own computer games.
If you have no inclination to learn a programming language there are still options for creating your own game. If you wish to create platform games, top down racing games, or scrolling shooter games etc, then there are a number of products that will meet your needs. Two of the best of these are; Game Maker 7.0 (GM) (www.yoyogames.com/make), and the Games Factory (TGF) (www.clickteam.com/eng/index.p hp). Both products allow you to create a game by dragging game components onto the play field and then setting up the interactions between the various elements that comprise the game. TGF comes with a wide variety of game assets (characters, backgrounds, game objects, sounds, music etc) that can be used immediately to create a game. GM by default has few assets that can be used to immediately create a game. This may initially seem like a drawback but as both products have the ability to import assets it is not a big deal. Suitable assets are widely available online or can easily be created by the user. Drag and drop game creation tools are easy to use but often lack flexibility. This is true of TGF but less so of GM. GM has a scripting language that allows the user to easily extend the capabilities of the product. In the long run, most serious users will find that GM is the more useful tool because of the scripting ability. TGF is really geared more towards beginners. Both products are reasonably priced. The Games Factory costs $59.00 (USD). Whilst Game Maker has both a free edition and a Professional edition that retails for $20 (USD).
If you would like to produce 3D games there are a number of products available that will help you do just this. The first is geared solely towards creating First Person Shooters (FPS). Not surprisingly it is called FPS Creator (FPSC) (www.fpscreator.com). Although this product only creates one type of game it does it very well. FPSC is easy to use. This product allows the user to drag and drop components to create their game. The user is then able to change the settings of these components so that the game is set up just the way they want it. It may sound slightly inflexible but in practice it is not. This product also comes with a large number of assets with which to make your game. Add on model packs can be bought online and the user can easily import their own assets into their game. This product is aimed squarely at those who want to make the next DOOM. If your interests extend to creating other types of 3D games you will be interested in the 3D Game Studio (3DGS) (www.3dgamestudio.com). This product is comprised of a level editor, model editor and code editor. The product comes with a variety of media for use in your games. You can however import your own media. 3DGS is capable of creating both 2D and 3D games. Any sort of 3D game that can be imagined can be created with this versatile product. This product uses a scripting language to code the behavior of objects in the worlds that you create. 3DGS is more complex and has a far steeper learning curve than FPS Creator but with increasing complexity comes increased power. 3DGS is definitely aimed at the power user who wants to create a variety of game types. Both products are reasonably priced. FPS Creator sells for $49.99 (USD). Whilst 3D Game Studio retails for between $99.00 and $899 (USD).
There are a range of options available to the beginning game maker. Some of the creation tools are inexpensive and easy to use. Others have more of a learning curve. This increased learning curve is frequently offset by increased flexibility and power. Each aspiring game creator will need to judge which creation tools best meets their needs. Once you settle upon the tool that is right for you there is no reason why you cannot create your very own computer game masterpiece.