Here are a list of tools available to create games. I highlight the free, easy to use tools first as my hope is that kids, teens, adults and parents will want to start making games and sharing their experiences. It’s easier than you think!
These are tools that are built to be used by beginners of all ages. These tools are especially great to get kids interested in making games and also help to teach logic and problem solving — skills for life! Most importantly, all these tools are free to use and the games created are free to distribute with no copyright (as long as you don’t use copyrighted material in the creation of the game).
Scratch is a simple snap and click way for individuals to design games.
(From their website) Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web.
As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.
Twine allows for the creation of text based stories similar to choose your own adventure stories.
No programming is needed as it is a graphical interface that joins different ideas together. Creating a story is thus just as simple as linking ideas. The way the ideas are joined are similar to a mindmap.
Ren’Py is similar to twine in that it primarily creates text based stories that are supplemented with visuals and sounds. In this way, it is more of a novel creation engine. The stores you can create are similar to the “Ace Attorney” Series.
Although not as simple as twine as it is not a graphical, but rather coding based, it is a simple language. Moreover, the programming language is based in python which means that it can be very powerful.
Hopscotch is an Ipad programming language that allows kids to create simple games. Similar to Scratch, it uses simple rules that kids can place together to animate and control numerous avatars on screen.The neat thing is that it uses a touch interface, making it simple to use and play.
Kodu is created by Microsoft and is an interesting example as it allows you to create games on the XBox.
(from their website) Kodu lets kids create games on the PC and XBox via a simple visual programming language. Kodu can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well as programming. Anyone can use Kodu to make a game, young children as well as adults with no design or programming skills.
Game Maker is one of the first game making tools that allowed individuals to create their own games. It straddles the easy-to-moderate range of tools. Since it came out, it has been bought out by YoYo Games and apparently is not the same game maker it used to be.
If you would like to try this out, older versions are apparently the best as they allow you to distribute your games without a watermark. You can download the version here through Anna Anthropy’s website.
Although these tools are more powerful, they are more difficult to use. Most of these have free versions, but you need to purchase yearly subscriptions to create games that do not have a watermark. If you are getting started in creating video games, however, I suggest trying out the tools above first to get an idea of game creation.
Paying homage to Scratch by MIT, Stencyl is a drag and drop tool that allows you to create some powerful games. It also allows you to supplement the point-and-click method of game creation with C+ code.
The new version will allow you to publish games across all the major operating systems.
Game Salad uses a graphical interface. Objects have attributes that allow you to specify how they react during game play. Like Stencyl, it allows you to publish the games to numerous different platforms.
Like both Stencyl and Game Salad, Construct 2 is very powerful, but is not something that you would use to create games just for fun in your spare time as there is a learning curve.