How to make a game app of your own

By Christine Ottoni

So, you’ve got an awesome idea for a game but you don’t know how to code. No sweat. We’re going to walk you through two fantastic programs that let you make a game app with simple, 2D graphics.

Popular mobile games are built around strong, basic ideas, have unique artwork and are relatively easy to play.

There’s a lot of coding opportunities for full 3D gameplay out there but we’re going to cover two options for beginners.

Both programs we’ll recommend allow you to make a game app of your own and publish your game for people to download and play.

GameSalad and Stencyl help you master important game-making skills like logic, organization, design, story-building, problem solving and more.

 


 

GameSalad

GameSalad is a visual editor that lets you create 2D games using simple logic. It’s a welcoming, accessible platform for those new to coding. With GameSalad, instead of digging into code, game-makers use drag and drop tools to program game elements like scenes and behaviors.

Budding designers should get comfortable drawing and creating unique graphics with digital visual tools like Photoshop. It’s easy to render graphics in Photoshop and import them into GameSalad. This integration gives you some control and flexibility in designing your game world.

While you’re hard at work, you can easily preview and demo your game. If you’re a more advanced coder, GameSalad is a great way to prototype a game and test out a concept. GameSalad also has built in tutorials to get you started and online community forums where other users share tips, tricks and help answer questions.

GameSalad’s claim to fame is that you can create your first game in an hour using one of their tutorials. Download it for free and start creating. GameSalad is built for multi-platform publishing to iOS, Android, Windows Phone, HTML5 and Amazon Fire.

Stencyl

Stencyl is a 2D game creation toolkit with an easy to navigate drag and drop interface. Built-in crash course kits teach you how to create your first project and walk you through the basics of game assets like characters, scenes, behaviors and sounds.

Stencyl organizes your games by individual scenes that function like levels. You can create multiple scenes or levels and create different physical environments, sounds, behaviors and even gravitational pulls for each one. You can test your game as you go and modify your game accordingly.

Users have the ability to get into more advanced coding and Stencyl allows for unique modification. Developers can exercise control over what they create and are encouraged to learn more in Stencyl’s Developer Center.

The Stencylpedia is your go-to for all things Stencyl, including guides, videos and coding for developers. Similar to GameSalad, designers have the option of working mainly in the Stencyl desktop to create graphics or importing work from a digital visual tool.

Stencyl, unlike GameSalad, will cost you a bit. The Free version lets you publish to web, the Indie version ($99 per year) lets you publish to web and desktop and the Studio version ($199 per year) lets you publish to web, desktop, iOS and Android.


Keep it simple

Now that you know all about the tools, you need a good idea.

You’ll want to keep your game easygoing and accessible at first. Remember, you can always create add-ons and complexity in later versions. What’s more, the easier the game, the more people will play it. Think about really popular games like Cut the Rope. A simple enough concept, but with a fun character and unique setting, it became one of a kind.

Know your gameplay

Is your game a puzzle? A racer? An adventure? Make this choice early and stick with it. If you don’t have a clear idea of the objective you’ll confuse your end gamer.

There are lots of different kinds of games and ways to build off of traditional models with mobile. Here’s a few to get you started: guessing, trivia, strategy, action-adventure, battle, sports and RPG. Download a few games from each category and give them a whirl. See what makes them different firsthand.

Do your research

If you’re looking to launch your game with a modicum of success, you’ll want to check out the competition. Browse through the Apple App Store and Google Play and see what’s out there.

Originality is highly valued in the world of mobile games. New games come out every day so if you want to people to download your game, you have to stand out from the pack. That being said, there are certain parameters and rules mobile games have to follow. Read up on design. Looking for a good place to start? How about 12 basic principles of animation.

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