Resources for building video games

Kids today have it so easy. When I was a young gamer, if you wanted to build a commercial game you would usually spin up your favorite assembler and start building your own code library. In those days there was no internet to speak of so it was difficult to get help. Most of the time your read the few books you could afford / find and start cranking code. If you were really hardcore you would not even use an assembler. Yes its true, there were a few people out there who actually hand assembled their code and typed the resulting hex codes into their home computers then dumped the memory out to tape / disk. wow. Thank goodness we have moved on a bit since then and now anyone can create an app / game using a set of easy to use tools. That being said there are still a large group of people who enjoy creating new games using old tools such as 6502 assemblers like DASM. Here is one guy that does it today and creates new games that exceed the original games created for this platform -

Fast forward to todays world and now you barely need to have the ability to code to be able to create an app. Perhaps you have been inspired to finally create a video game but are thinking about where you can get graphics / sounds and tools from. Here are some suggestions:

Vector Drawing Package – useful when you want to target different devices with different resolutions. Design your images using vectors then you can scale accordingly for different device resolutions

For pixel based graphics this tool should help

For sound manipulation check out these tools

Personally I have spent way too much time playing with Korgs Microkorg series which appears to make it simple to create game sounds. At least the last time I was in a music store I managed to create a looping track for a racing game. Perhaps I need to start creating that game and give me the excuse I need to buy this wonderful piece of musical hardware! :-)

Lastly, perhaps all you need is a good set of sprites to inspire you.

If you end up publishing a game using Ari's graphics please consider making a donation to him. Ari also wrote a book about creating computer game graphics which he has made available as a free download

If after reading this your there any way to make it even easier to create games or do I need to learn C++ / C# / DirectX?

Actually there are now three systems I can recommend (more on the way)

GameSalad and Scirra are both HTML5 game design tools which literally let you build rich games just by dropping in graphics / sounds and configuring what happens when sprite one collides with sprite two for example. Think of them as no coding game creation systems although in reality you still need to the ability to think and plan logically.

Monkey from those guys in New Zealand is slightly different. You create your game in a BASIC / Java like language that can trace its roots all the way back to Blitz BASIC on 16bit home computers. Once you you have created your game you will then have the system create a source project for another system like Windows Phone 7.5 XNA. Once created you then load up visual studio and compile your game, publish to our marketplace and retire to your own private island.

Monkey can target many different platforms and should be considered a source to source translator. It also appears that one of the top grossing games on the UK iphone app store is written in Monkey so maybe worth a try. You can read about this development platform with a new book -

Here is that top selling UK game I mentioned -

Here is another created with Monkey and published to our own Windows Phone store -

When you try Blotty Pots remember that the author created the game in a BASIC like language then had the Monkey system translate the code to Windows phone 7.5 / XNA. Pretty cool huh!

If your coding for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 and missing XNA then consider this -

There has never been a better time to become an app developer and these tools can be your shortcut to fame and fortune. Over the next months I will put togerher a followup showing how to create the same game in all 3 systems. Now just have to come up with an interesting but simple game concept so you can see how each system works. Perhaps a robot inspired shooter, we shall see.

If all this has got you interested in creating your first game remember the first rule of game creation. Start small and do not assume you will create Halo as your first game. Start with small ideas such putting your character on the screen and have one other object to shoot at that moves around. Even when you go beyond a simple idea be sure to break your game down into many small chunks so you can still get a sense of achievement by completing each small part.

Above all start creating games for Windows 8 and Windows Phone. You can just never predict whether the next game created will become the next mega hit and and who knows it could be your design!


John O'Donnell, Technical Evangelist, DPE
Microsoft Corporation