• Cesca

Getting Started with Game Dev: Resources and Choosing Tools

Hello, everyone! I wanted to kick off my Patreon posts with a quick resources guide for getting started with game development. I frequently get asked about where to find beginner friendly tools, so here's a bunch of things to check out! Getting Started When you're starting to make games it's easy to feel overwhelmed. There are TONS of great tools and communities, but you'll need to figure out which ones are right for you. It's important to think about what your personal short and long term goals are for your game making. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What skills do you already have?

  • What skills do you want to learn?

  • Are you making games for fun? Professional growth? Some other reason?

  • Will you be sharing this game? Where will you post/publish it?

  • What kind of content do you want to make? What game genres are you interested in?

This last question in particular is important for choosing what tools you'll be using. Certain game engines are great at making specific kinds of content. For example, if you're a writer interested in making interactive narrative games, I would recommend Twine which is specifically made for those types of games. Here are beginner friendly tools, the majority of which require little to no coding to make small games and are very budget friendly!

Game Engines Stencyl - A 2D game engine which uses code blocks. Practice coding logic without worrying about syntax (computer grammar). Great tutorials available on the Girls Make Games website. Excellent for making 2D platformer games. Free! GameMaker - Easy to use game making engine that is light on coding. Free trial, then $40. Check out the showcase page for game examples. Twine - Makes text based interactive narrative based games with hyperlinks. Download or make games in your browser! No coding (unless you want to). Free! Example game. Pico8 - A fantasy console for making and sharing games. Do all your code, pixel art, audio, and design all in one tiny adorable window. Great for experimenting with small games. $15 but so worth it! Example game. Bitsy - A “ little editor for little games or worlds. The goal is to make it easy to make games where you can walk around and talk to people and be somewhere”. Online, browser based tool. Free! Example Game. Unity & Unreal - Most widely used public engines. Both are great for independent development, hobbyists, and professionals! Free for small teams. Lots of support through online forums and tutorials.

Art Piskel - Browser based tool for creating pixel art. Allows for frames to create animations and spritesheets. Free! Blender - 3D modeling software. Integrates well with Unity. Free and open source! Clip Paint Studio - Illustration software. A one-time purchase alternative to Photoshop.

Sounds FreeSound - Website of free to use sound effects and music. Audacity - Audio editing tool. Great for editing existing sounds or recording your own. Free and open source!

Independent Games Community Resources Itch.io - Online games marketplace that is completely unrestricted. Find lots of small indie gems (many free or very cheap) and experimental work. Post your own game projects to share.

Itch.io Game Jams - List of upcoming jams. Great way to meet people and make small projects.

Twitter is a hellscape, but it’s a hub of game developers if you look in the right places. Check out #indiegamedev and #ScreenshotSaturday.

Job Listings THIS SPREADSHEET - Up to date game/art job listings from around the world. Includes a tab for internships. If you're making games with the intention of working in the games industry, I recommend checking out job listings for the roles you're interested in. This gives you a good idea of what skills you should be focused on developing and showcasing with your games! Do you have other tools or resources you think should be on this list? Let me know and I'll add them!