Hi, this may seem weird but I'm 16 years old and since i was about 7 I've always wanted to make games! The thing is I've never known how to start. It would be amazing if you could help me or even just give me a few pointers? Your art looks amazing :)
If there is one thing I like it is answering this question so BUCKLE UP KIDS because here we go.
The first and most important thing about starting to learn to make games is that, more often than not, elitists are full of shit. You don’t need super amazing coding skills, you don’t need years of qualifications (although you may want them), you don’t need to code your own engine or whatever other nonsense I always see spouted to new creators. You can start making games the second you finish reading this. You can have a working game within the next hour.
OK, so here we go - I’ll take you through the first few steps I took when learning to make games.
Start with a super simple program like Stencyl. (http://www.stencyl.com/)
Stencyl is a fantastic program that I made my first game in, with no prior experience whatsoever. It uses a simple drag and drop interface (based on scratch) to make even complex gameplay a breeze to implement. The tutorials are great, and I guarantee you can have a working game within half an hour of following them.
I would suggest following the tutorials and cloning a game - the classics, such as snake, pacman, space invaders, mario etc are all perfect, but contemporary stuff like Angry Birds or Flappy Bird are great examples too. Follow tutorials, make em, and learn how they work! Stencyl is again great for this, as you can download stuff called behaviours - premade gamemechanics that you can open up and see how they were made, modifying them however you like.
After you’ve made your clone, modify it! Add a new gameplay feature, take some away, do something fun with it. I took space invaders, broke it down to a pure black and white colour palette (making it harder) and then made sure that the enemies, after they blew up, scattered debris through space that the player had to dodge. Build your game out and upload it to the internet (Stencyl creates flash applications and is great for easily sharing your work.) Get it out there, even if you’re not totally proud of it. You made a game!
And that is literally it. A couple of evenings messing around with this and you’ll be ready to start thinking about your own games! And again, don’t let elitists tell you you aren’t “real”, or that coding with stencyl is “cheating”. A bunch of incredible game designers use Stencyl for its speed and versatility when prototyping.
OK TIME FOR PART TWO
Maybe you don’t fancy making something like the games above, in which case I would recommend looking into Twine. (http://twinery.org/) Twine lets you create text-based games of various kinds super easily. If you’re a writer or poet looking to get into games, or just a new challenge, then Twine is perfect.
Here’s an interactive poem game I made in twine last year: http://philome.la/nialljtaylor/a-fracture-in-the-bone
Twine is as versatile as you want it to be - my favourite Twine concept so far is a collection of games by Anna Anthropy, that come with a character sheet - you fill in the sheet, and then play through each game in sequence as the same character, your choices and modifications in earlier games affecting your character and the choices you can make in later ones. Its a replacement for programming, yes, but one which attaches you to your character and leaves you with a permanent, real memory of the games, one that can be compared with friends and yeah, is just generally wonderful.
Another option to move onto is GameMaker - GameMaker is an amazing program (and my dev tool of choice), that uses a bit more traditional code. If you’ve picked up some logical stuff from the visual side of Stencyl, transitioning to Stencyl will be less difficult. It gives you just a bit more control when making something unusual. Tom Francis is currently running tutorials aimed at absolute beginners, and they are great! (http://www.pentadact.com/2015-01-09-video-tutorial-make-a-game-with-no-experience/)
BUT WHAT ABOUT ART NIALL?
I’LL TELL YOU ALL ABOUT ART, PERSON READING THIS. There are thousands of art programs available for game creation, but my favourite is definitely Hexels (http://hexraystudios.com/hexels/) - Hexels is a 2D art creation program where you paint with shapes (including pixels), and it has everything you could possibly need. Layers, texturing, animation - including the ability to render animations down to spritesheets, which will save you roughly a million hours when using something like Stencyl or GameMaker. Its the best program, the free is pretty great and the pro is without a doubt the best 20 bucks I ever spent in my life.
Its also worth looking into weird specialist programs - Stencyl, for example, has a cool option to create level artwork from tilesheets. Tilesheets are a nightmare to create, however programs exist that lets you plug in bits of art (made say in hexels) and they will automatically turn it into a tilesheet, allowing you to build a level straight away. Basically, any art problem you might run into, some hero has built a program to make it easy and probably given it away for free.
When it comes to 3D games and art, the obvious recommendation is Unity and Blender - however, Unity requires much more complex coding knowledge, and is not the “beginners” tool that many will tell you it is. Its very easy for a beginner to pick up, but it will take you much longer than the simpler 2D programs I’ve been mentioning above.
1) Do tutorials and clone some classics in Stencyl
2) Grab some Behaviours and edit your clones to do something different.
3) Write and make a Twine Game.
4) Watch Tom Francis’s GameMaker tutorials (you might like it more than Stencyl.)
Hope this massive wall of text helps!