It’s that time again!
For another 14 hours, you can pick up a whole lot of GameMaker content on Humble Bundle. Everything I said the last time this happened is still true: GameMaker is powerful, yet still great for beginners, and the source code included with the bundle’s upper tiers is great as a learning resource. If you’re interested in getting started with digital design, the $15 bundle on offer here is an excellent way to go.
Welcome! Game design is an endlessly fascinating and exciting field. It’s awesome that you want to try it out, and you can get involved without needing to invest anything more than your time and curiosity.
A lot of people will tell you start by learning something like Unity or GameMaker. Those are both good programs, but there’s a certain amount of lead time involved as you learn them. My suggestion would be to start by creating some games; once you’ve gotten a sense for where you want to go with your first design(s), you’ll be better positioned to judge which tools will help you get there.
Instead of working on the computer, begin by learning with Magic: the Gathering. Try making up some cards, and then play them and see how they work out. (Don’t worry about making them pretty–just cut up slips of paper and sleeve them with normal cards.) Expand that into a full set, or design a cube for drafting. Get used to reaching into a game’s systems.
While you’re doing that, play some games that will give you a sense for just how vast the genre is, and how limitless the opportunities for creativity are. Gone Home, Proteus, Beyond Eyes, Papers, Please–the list goes on. Challenge yourself to see games in new ways.
Don’t neglect to read, either. There’s a lot of great writing about game design out there. The links page above has some; when you’ve exhausted that, I’d recommend Salen and Zimmerman’s Rules of Play.
Game design is sometimes fun, always challenging, and incredibly rewarding. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and that the advice above helps you get started. Again, welcome!
After Wednesday’s post it might seem weird that I’m linking to the GameMaker Humble Bundle. However, the product on offer here is different from Super Mario Maker in three key respects:
1. GameMaker is a proper engine, not just a level editor. Even if you start from the position that level editors are subject to limitations, GameMaker doesn’t suffer from them.
2. GameMaker is great for beginners. The strength of GameMaker is that it’s simple enough to learn quickly, while still being powerful enough that you can make some engaging stuff with it. I’ve heard of academic game design programs that use GameMaker as part of their introductory curriculum, and I can understand why it’s their choice. If you’re at an introductory stage, GameMaker is a good option.
3. The bundle includes source code. Although GameMaker is as accessible as a serious engine can be, it still involves programming–and that can be a real hurdle to clear. Having solid, working code to start from is a tremendous benefit to those new to programming, and easily makes the higher tiers of the bundle worthwhile.
I’ve only used GameMaker briefly, but I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen. I think you’ll be more than satisfied with what you get for $12.