Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
partious

Dreams and other game creation tools for amateurs.

Recommended Posts

I know nothing about these things but the hype for Dreams is starting to build and I wonder if some of the people here with more knowledge about game creation could answer a few questions.

Firstly, I'll admit I've never used any of the games/tools I'm about to mention.

 

Anyway, the main question. Are these things actually capable of delivering on what they promise? That is, allowing people with no coding experience to build unique short games? Or does it basically come down to a level editor unless you introduce coding etc?

Every few years there's something like the LBP games or Project Spark and now Dreams, that are hyped as something that's going to open up game creation to the masses but they never seem to amount to much. Is the entire idea a sham or have we just been waiting for the right software and Dreams might be it?

 

Secondly, what is currently the best piece of software for making games with no coding experience? Is there anything that fits the bill on PC?

Obviously I wouldn't be expecting anything too fancy or to make a professional level game, mainly just the ability to mash some stuff together for my own amusement in the way one might mess about with Minecraft or Mario Maker.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They are but having some knowledge of the process and absolutely tonnes of patience and time are pretty much essential. 

 

Dreams may have good enough tutorials but there's no substitute for time and effort and creative thinking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's unlikely to ever be a tool that just allows the mass market to become game developers, in the sane way that there isn't one that teaches you piano or Spanish so easily that you don't have to try. Making a game, even a short one, is a massive undertaking which you can only really simplify so far without making everything look the same. People do amazing things with Mario Maker and LBP but they're still within the constraints and it basically being a 2D platformed that looks like that game. You might manage to make something totally unique and different, bit it will take an unbelievable amount of time and effort, probably more than picking up a basic game engine and starting with the templates and tools they offer you. 

 

In that area, RPG Maker is a hugely diverse tool that will allow you to create your own JRPG. There's art included or you can add your own. Its still basically trapped in one genre but its a pretty diverse one and you don't need to code. Game Maker will let you make pretty much any basic 2D game without coding. There's very limited resources online but ultimately you'll need to source or create your own graphics and music. Unreal Engine or Unity will let you create complex 3D games and include templates and assets. It's totally feasible to get games that look and feel like modern games running without any code.

 

In all of these examples, you're basically limited to the things people gave already thought to do with them. Coding allows you to create totally new things from scratch, whereas to innovate in your game without coding you'll need to take old concepts and rearrange them in a unique way, or add an unusual aesthetic twist to differentiate your work.

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ive found using Gamemaker to be a fine tool for making 2d stuff. 

It has a drag and drop mode but is more flexible if you take the time to use its own GML code. 

This is obviously a daunting prospect if you have no experience coding but as I've done before I'd heartily recommend working along to Tom Francis's how to make a game tutorials on YouTube. 

They perfectly drilled into my thick head the basics of how code can be structured and how it works in a way nothing else has before (A-level computer studies 'E' grade here). 

Should point out his tutorials relate to original Gamemaker and there is a sequel now which is largely the same in the code terms but has a more modern workflow area so I'd get the original Gamemaker if you were going to take a look and work along. 

 Tl dr;

Get Gamemaker 1 free, work along to Tom Francis how to make a game on YouTube. 

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't speak for Dreams specifically, but as above there are a good few tools out there for making games without coding experience (whether by allowing you to get by with a fully point and click interface, or by having a very friendly engine and easy code syntax to learn, or a combination of the above), but there's never an 'effortless' solution because irrespective of the tool you'll need dedication and logic/problem-solving skills to make exactly what you're after.

 

Really, the first hurdle isn't finding a good tool, as there are many; rather it's identifying which will be best suited to what you want to build; the more narrowly you can define what you want to make the more likely it is you'll be able to find the perfect, most accessible tool; the broader your design the harder it is.

 

So, to answer your question: "what is currently the best piece of software for making games with no coding experience? Is there anything that fits the bill on PC?"; it depends! I'll go through some of the options I've either used and can recommend, or have seen recommended, in order of relative simplicity of use, though that's somewhat subjective:

 

Text Adventures/Interactive Fiction - Twine (free)

This is a scripting system, not drag and drop. Which makes sense, considering you're making a text-based game. But it's an utterly straight-forward scripting language, produces instant results, and is a joy to work with. There's a reason you'll see this being used in game design classes for children and teenagers.

 

16-bit JRPGs/top down adventures - RPG Maker (commercial) (no link because there are like 5 billion versions by now, all equally usable)

A great way to get used to structuring out an adventure/basic RPG, and extremely helpful thanks both to the interface and wide range of resource packs. You can get into more complex things by creating custom scripts (e.g. to make an SRPG), but if you're happy sticking with making a Dragon Quest-alike then you can get by with no coding whatsoever. Also one of the only options that is also open to people without a PC, with versions on many consoles.

 

Basic 2D games (played in browser) - Construct 2 (commercial)

The other tool you'll see used in classes oriented towards younger students, I've not actually used Construct 2. However, its simple point and click interface, immediate output to HTML, and general friendly nature mean its one of those tools I see a lot of people using for prototyping and teaching.

 

Point and Click Adventures - Adventure Game Studio (free)

Like RPG Maker a venerable piece of software, this, and like RPG Maker with good reason. By the nature of its genre this is a bit more complicated to work with - you have to establish relationships between items and so on, after all, and you'll probably have a fair bit of asset creation ahead of you - but it's a fantastic tool for making a '90s style point and click adventure. There's a reason that there are still modern, brilliant, complex point and click adventures being made using this!

 

Visual Novels - Ren'Py (free)

As with Twine, naturally this is text-oriented due to the nature of the games being made. It also adds the need for some asset creation/acquisition, but otherwise can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. A linear/lightly-branching visual novel is extremely easy to script out; however, with its optional Python scripting functionality you can drastically complicate things if you want; tracking inventories and past decisions to allow for complex loops, adding the ability to mess with game files (and maybe the player...), I've even seen games made in this which add turn-based strategy modes.

 

General 2D games - Gamemaker (commercial)

Probably the tool I've used the most, as its generalist nature makes it flexible, while its 2D focus keeps it from being quite as messy as, say, Unity. Offers full drag and drop if desired, but also allows for full scripting. Perhaps a bit overwhelming for an absolute beginner on first attempt, I'd recommend getting your head around simple logic with one of the previously mentioned tools first. I must admit I barely remember what Gamemaker was like pre-Studio, so can't really comment on the old, free version, but I'm a big fan of Studio (both original Studio and the current Studio 2). And judging by the sheer number of games made using it I'm evidently not alone.

 

8-bit games - PICO-8 (commercial)

Almost the opposite of the above, this is pure programming - a lot of typing awaits. Which sounds daunting, but for a certain kind of beginner this is an ideal system to get used to coding with. It's severely constrained - in terms of the size of the file you can make, in terms of resolution, in terms of palette - and that makes it ideal if you find asset creation exhausting. Instead, this gives you an imaginary 8-bit console to code for, applying constraints that enable you to focus solely on coding. Also publishes extremely easily to web, and can be shared by storing the game as a virtual cartridge - literally a tiny image file that holds all of your code. Certainly worth considering if you want to learn basic coding!

 

Those are just the ones I'm aware of and know enough about to recommend them; the genre focus is evidence of that. I would say that level designers are also worth considering, particularly if you're interested in 3D games design; as much as something like Unity is a natural choice for more advanced work, if you want to get a feel for 3D game building you could do a lot worse than tooling around with either a Doom level editor (seriously) or UnrealEd.

  • Upvote 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Wiper said:

8-bit games - PICO-8 (commercial)

Almost the opposite of the above, this is pure programming - a lot of typing awaits. Which sounds daunting, but for a certain kind of beginner this is an ideal system to get used to coding with. It's severely constrained - in terms of the size of the file you can make, in terms of resolution, in terms of palette - and that makes it ideal if you find asset creation exhausting. Instead, this gives you an imaginary 8-bit console to code for, applying constraints that enable you to focus solely on coding. Also publishes extremely easily to web, and can be shared by storing the game as a virtual cartridge - literally a tiny image file that holds all of your code. Certainly worth considering if you want to learn basic coding!

 

Oh wow. I'd never heard of this but it sounds great and I love the look of the stuff people have made with it.

The idea of learning some coding while making simple retro style games really appeals to me. I've often wondered about the barriers to entry in terms of learning to make simple games for retro hardware, but this seems a whole lot more approachable than that and it runs on a raspberry pi etc, so close enough (can be used with a crt etc). 

 

I'm going to try this one.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just want to echo the recommendations for Game Maker - I didn't bother with drag and drop, and just started on youtube tutorials on the coding instead and once that'd taught some of the principles I found it really easy to transition into coding stuff myself. I've really enjoyed it. The Tom Francis ones are good, and I think Heartbeast is excellent:

Spoiler

 

There's the odd difference to watch out for when tutorials are on older versions (like instance_create has to be changed to instance_create_depth) but generally it's been quite painless, I can prototype little ideas quite quickly now (EDIT - and I made a full game, put it on itch for free and three people have tipped me a dollar each, which I'm ridiculously chuffed about).
 

 

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, partious said:

 

Oh wow. I'd never heard of this but it sounds great and I love the look of the stuff people have made with it.

The idea of learning some coding while making simple retro style games really appeals to me. I've often wondered about the barriers to entry in terms of learning to make simple games for retro hardware, but this seems a whole lot more approachable than that and it runs on a raspberry pi etc, so close enough (can be used with a crt etc). 

 

I'm going to try this one.

 

Good luck with it! In my experience the PICO community are very friendly as well, and if you do end stuck on something, and/or up making a game, no matter how simple, don't hesitate to share it with them, as you'll likely get helpful feedback. The only shame is that the delightful Pocket CHIP died a death, as that was a lovely way to both play and work on your game while out and about. Hopefully someone will produce an equivalent device using Raspberry Pi!

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I struggle to get excited about things like Dreams because they often try to wow you with the graphics and simplicity to a point where it is quite constrictive as to what can be created. More like window dressing and the gameplay doesn't change much. And if it's on console it's very unlikely you will be adding your own assets. Maybe Dreams will do more than that, we'll see.

 

One I've mucked about with is Stencyl. No coding required but an extensive list of functions you can snap together and change variables. It's a pretty cool system and free for amateurs. Early builds of Hollow Knight were done on Stencyl before they switched to Unity iirc.

 

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm, back in the day I learned a few things with Flash and a lot of the ActionScript basics are if-else things, so you can make some things there, but I really wouldn't recommend that to a newbie... especially since Flash is kind of getting left in the dust thanks to HTML5 et al.

 

I've messed with TWINE in the past and it's really easy to get on with if you just want to start with the basics. It takes no time at all to create some passages of text and link them together with choices, and then from there you can just grow your creation with more branches and things.

 

I've never tried RPG Maker beyond the early PS1 stuff, but if you like that you may want to keep an eye on Pixel Game Maker, an upcoming 2D game creation thing that's currently in early access:

 

 

https://store.steampowered.com/app/837510/Pixel_Game_Maker_MV__MV/

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.