For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in computers and videogames. In the mid eighties I used to write simple adventure games on my Commodore 64 in BASIC, an extremely easy to learn language that pretty much every kid of the era with a computer could use to some limited extent.
Unfortunately, my game programming skills never advanced further than that.
Step forward to my mid-thrities and I wanted, really badly, to get into game design… especially after seeing the millions to be made on the App Store… and I stumbled across a unique development environment for Mac and iPhone games that required absolutely NO programming skill!
That devkit was GameSalad. With that tool, I constructed my first game, Max Vector, which I released on the iPhone App store. It was incredible what I was able to achieve in such a short amount of time, with such limited technical know-how. I didn’t make myself a millionaire, but I had a heap of fun and now thousands of people are playing my creation!
After a while though, I was getting frustrated with the tool’s limitations… despite not needing to know how to code, you REALLY need to know how to optimise (hence Max Vector only running smoothly on iPhone 3GS and above).
So, I decided to learn how to program. I’d tried building games with the incredible Unity3D engine, but alas, it is a full on devkit, which requires fairly decent programming knowledge… so I enrolled in the Diploma of Interactive Gaming at Media Design School, where for the next 8 months I’d be learning and building skills in the language of C++, specifically for gaming. Although I dropped out (let’s just say, maths isn’t my strongest point), I learnt more than I needed to to go back to Unity and start building!
Okay, getting back to the title of this post… if you want to learn how to program games, I strongly suggest picking up a copy of GameSalad or even Yoyo Games’ Game Maker. Both applications require no programming skill, yet oddly, will give you a solid grasp of programming fundamentals, such as variables and arrays. I found my experience with GS made it much easier to pick up C++. In essence, it is programming, but with a GUI, instead of typing lines of code.
Although GameSalad is STILL in beta and has its healthy share of bugs, it can be used to create some wonderful stuff… many a successful money spinner has been tooled with the program… I can’t praise it enough.
So get out there, download these free devkits (Unity iOS and Android is free until 8th April – savings of $800US!!!), and get building! The era of the bedroom coder is back in full swing, thanks to pioneering companies such as Yoyo and Gendai (creators of GS).
Check out these links for more info: