Making Games Without Programming

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vdf22 101 Feb 20, 2008 at 21:55

It seems like there are tons of people out there that want to make a game with little or no programming. So, I decided to write this, and if anyone asks the question I’ll refer them to this thread.

First off, realize that not doing any coding puts some limits on what you can do. But with a little bit of scripting you can make something pretty decent. And that’s what I’m trying to show you here.

DISCLAIMER: This documentation is provided “AS IS”, without any expressed or implied warranty. In no event shall the author be liable for any damage arising from using or inability to use this documentation. If your computer blows up when you follow these instructions, it’s not my fault :D. On a more serious note, feel free to express any opinions you may have. I’m not an expert at this, and I usually use C++ for my games, so some of this might be a bit off.

2D vs. 3D

2D games are easier, for obvious reasons. The added dimension in 3D games makes it a fair amount harder, and good understanding of math is a must. While 2D games can get away with using simple math, 3D games require an understanding of algebra and trig, and the more you know the better. I recommend starting off with a simple 2D game, such as a platform game. Later on, you can add a third dimension, but prepare for the headaches that go with it.

Now I’m not trying to discourage you from making a 3D game, but if this is your first game you should consider something a little simpler. And as has been said often, don’t expect your first game to be a really cool game that will sell millions of copies – it just won’t happen. Okay, I won’t say it can’t happen, but it is very unlikely. Anyway, with that said, here we go!

2D Games

Because 2D games are easier, I’ll start with them. One program you should definitely look into is Game Maker, from www.yoyogames.com. I’ve made several games with it in the past, and it’s very easy for beginners. It has good documentation and there are many samples on the website so you can look at how other games are made. I made a decent platform game with it in a few hours. And once you get more experience you can use the Game Maker Language to do things that you otherwise can’t do. A lot of stuff can be accomplished using GML. It’s also a lot similar to languages such as C++ so you’ll be able to switch to other languages more easily.

If you’re going to use it much I highly recommend the Pro edition, as it has more advanced features such as transformed sprites, particles, extensions, 3D support (which I’ll talk about a bit later). And hey, it’s only $20 so it won’t break your bank.

To start with Game Maker I’d say first check out the documentation, under “Using Game Maker”. It walks you through a bit of background information and then has an example you can go through. It’s really straightforward so you’ll be able to make pretty decent games after reading it. Actually, the documentation might be all you need to make good games. It’s about all I used to get started. There are other places to get information from such as their website.

To do anything serious, you’ll need programming, and GML is a good place to start. Once you’re more experienced with Game Maker, start doing bits of programming using GML just to get your feet wet, so to speak. In this way you can use the graphical interface and stick in bits of code when you can’t do something without it.

There are other programs which I’ve heard a lot about, but haven’t had experience with, such as Torque X Builder or Flash. But I’ll leave it up to you to decide what to use.

After doing 2D stuff for a while, it’s time to get into 3D!

3D Games

Like I’ve said before, 3D games are harder than 2D games, and I really recommend you don’t try to do it without knowing any coding. But if you insist…

One program you can use is Blender, which looks pretty daunting at first and the interface takes a while to get used to. However, it has good documentation online and lots of support. You’ll be able to get support pretty easily, so look around. Blender supports both modeling and game programming, so if you already use it for modeling (which a lot of people do btw), you’ll be making games in no time. With OGRE getting integrated into Blender (or whatever is happening with OGRE), Blender will likely become a really good game builder. A good place to start is with the Blender – noob to pro book. It has a section on the game engine. Also blender.org and the Blender Wiki have a lot of useful information.

Another good program you hear about a lot is DX Studio. I’ve never used it, but from what I’ve seen and heard about it’s pretty good. Maybe someone else can post something about it. Google is your friend.

If you bought the Pro version of Game Maker, you can use that to make 3D games. Game Maker wasn’t designed to make 3D games, and there is minimal support for it, but using GML, you can do it. You NEED to program if you go this route though, which you should do anyway. If you want to use Game Maker, start with the documentation and the examples at their website.

Conclusion

Though coding is required for most things, it isn’t impossible to make a pretty good game without much. So start with the programs I’ve suggested, then I’d suggest you get into some coding.

Those are my suggestions, and if you have anything to add, feel free to say what you like about this, or tell what you use for making games. Or post some links to good tutorials and documentation. And there’s loads of information on the web if you’ll just spend some time to do a search.

Anyway, I’ll end here. I hope this helps somebody out.

15 Replies

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Reedbeta 167 Feb 20, 2008 at 22:38

Thanks for writing this, vdf22. I’ve stickied it.

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onyxthedog 101 Feb 20, 2008 at 22:40

No offense but I disagree with you will be able to make nothing original without coding, especially considering that you have knowledge of Game Maker. I got my start there, I didn’t get to terribly far before I realized I wanted to do more, so to speak. But it is very possible to create something entirely out of scratch using Game Maker and a couple of 3rd Party programs.

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vdf22 101 Feb 20, 2008 at 22:59

That’s true, Game Maker does a really good job of 2D games, I’ve done some. But with most things I’ve done I found some need for GML. Anyway, I changed it. What do you think now?
@vdf22

First off, realize that not doing any coding puts some limits on what you can do. But with a little bit of scripting you can make something pretty decent. And that’s what I’m trying to show you here.

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onyxthedog 101 Feb 20, 2008 at 23:01

@vdf22

That’s true, Game Maker does a really good job of 2D games, I’ve done some. But with most things I’ve done I found some need for GML. Anyway, I changed it. What do you think now?

Just didn’t want anyone to think that it was impossible, when it is very possible just harder. But thanks for the change!

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vdf22 101 Feb 20, 2008 at 23:19

@onyxthedog

Just didn’t want anyone to think that it was impossible, when it is very possible just harder. But thanks for the change!

Yeah I guess you don’t really want to say its impossible and then tell them how to do it! :)

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Nae_blis 101 Mar 14, 2008 at 17:43

Just to expand on the suggestion of using Flash…

I’ve found Flash to be an excellent platform for ease of starting off (although Flash isn’t where I learned game development). Get a book like ‘Flash Professional 8 Game Development’ and follow that. It’ll show you that, as a starting point, Flash is pretty much creating simple images, positioning them on a stage, and then adding a few lines here and there to get interactivity. However, after just a few simple games, like whack-a-mole and stuff, the code will start building up, so you can’t truly compare it to the “I want it done for me” game-creation packages.

It is superb for “easy” commercial-quality games, with a great community and excellent portals to host your games, so if you actually want to release a game into the outer world it might be worth considering Flash’s popularity on the web.

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Nils_Pipenbrinck 101 Mar 14, 2008 at 19:45

Q: Making Games Without Programming

A: Try board games, card games. Whatever.. Lots of choices. If you want to make a computer game without programming there is a single answer: Forget it.

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onyxthedog 101 Mar 14, 2008 at 20:15

Here is a good thread with lots of links: http://www.devmaster.net/forums/showthread.php?t=11870

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carlj 101 Mar 18, 2008 at 12:06

Nice article, I disagree though that DX Studio is one of those engines that require no programming. It’s not got “Build Game” button and still requires maths and talent to get something out.

There’s really no such thing as making a game without programming unless it’s that really crap thing called “The 3D Game Maker” *pukes*

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cypherovski 101 Mar 18, 2008 at 17:11

Of course it is possible to make a game without programming!

It is also possible make a complex rock/pop without playing any instrument.
You just have to get a collection of sampled
drumloops
basslines
guitar riffs

Pick out a few samples and click them together.

That’s it!

The question, however, is:
Who realy made the song?
The one how clicked togehter the samples, or the people who have recorded the samples

I would recommend “3D Game Studio” to anyone who has no programming experience.
http://www.3dgamestudio.com/
Very(!) easy to learn, lot’s of contents available, and a helpful community.
However, when it comes to the point where programming is necessary, I would NOT learn it with the build in Script language (C-Script), because it does not reflect modern programming paradigms, and after having learned programming the wrong way, it can be very hard to relearn.
Python is IMHO the best language for leaning programming. And it gets more and more popular as a Script-Language for 3D-Engines.
After learning the basics of Python (and especially the OOP-Basics !!) it is no risk to switch back to C-Script.

Just my 2 cents!

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vdf22 101 Mar 22, 2008 at 01:29

@carlj

Nice article, I disagree though that DX Studio is one of those engines that require no programming. It’s not got “Build Game” button and still requires maths and talent to get something out.

Well I’ve never used it so I’m just going by the things I’ve heard.

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tyree 102 Jun 01, 2008 at 16:29

the problem comes from interactivity thats what causes the need for programming. a web page has to be programed in order for it to be interactive
but with web pages you may be able to use a tool that will do the programming for you. but with games there has yet to be an application or engine that does all the programming for you. telling your character when to walk, run, stop and jump, have to programed. depending on the engine collision may have to be programmed in also. the enemy movements also have to be programed how else will it know who to attack or where to go. it goes on and on. interactivity is what makes programming unavoidable

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vrnunes 102 Jun 01, 2008 at 20:27

programming will never die, it’ll just change with time.

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SamuraiCrow 101 Jun 02, 2008 at 03:16

@vrnunes

programming will never die, it’ll just change with time.

I agree. I remember and even have a simple multimedia sequencer (PowerPoint precursor) called AmigaVision for the Amiga Operating System. It had drag-and-drop programming with icons for every structured code paradigm. Granted it is dated by todays standards but such a “visual” programming language could save typing and speed debugging in future programming editors.

While AmigaVision was only suitable for kiosk presentations I think people are getting fed up with cumbersome keystrokes for curly-braces and other such syntax structures and will eventually start turning toward more icon-based programming/scripting systems.

It will still be programming, of course, but it will look a lot friendlier and be a lot more syntax constrained than current languages can accommodate.

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onyxthedog 101 Jun 30, 2008 at 02:27

Game Maker, like Mindrover (a popular AI game) is more of a front end over a programming language.