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My son would like to create his own video game. Is it possible?

The kind of game (shoot-em up, labyrinth, strategy, first person 3D... etc) to be created is not very relevant for this case. I search mainly for some Do-It-Yourself program that could teach the boys how to practice in composing video games instead of just playing them.

Considerations:

  • Web (java, flash, on-line... etc) solutions accepted.
  • Standalone programs (any platform, in order to keep this thread wiki-style as a reference for any operating system) too.
  • Open-source preferred. Free but not open-source accepted. Even paid solutions will be considered if they are good enough.
  • This is not a "How to code?" or "Learn programming languages?" question. Of course that creating a game involves much work time, but the answer must propose some software that anyone can use. Consider it rather as a "Visual Creation Game Software?" question.
  • Reference to "my son" is a way to ask for a software that anyone can use, as oposed to other complex engineering (DFDs, functions, betatesters... etc) programming tools.
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I would recommend teach them to code first once they get a hold of that you can successfully move on to the other aspects like design work,framework and other things.Maybe this article on most used programming language can help you decide. To grasp the basic function of programming languages i would highly recommend to start with Scratch.Scratch is the computer programming language that makes it easy and fun to create interactive stories, games and animations and share them online. Scratch is designed and maintained by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab. One a create amazing games in scratch refer to their website to see other people work. Their's even a Free MOOC available on edX for the scratch programming language for beginners. Here's a link to that. Refer to their website their are a whole lot of tutorials available,step by step guides,Scratch Cards etc.

After learning the basics i would recommend starting by developing for the OUYA, since its SDK is open and free and that experience that can propel you later into the bigger consoles, which have a lot more loops to jump through (and money to spend!) to get on those platforms.

I would personally recommend starting with Unity3D, because then you can later port your game to pretty much any platform you want. Technically, you can just go into Build settings, click Switch Platform and it will run (although not feel like it was built for that system until you make some changes). A full list of engines that support OUYA can be found on the left sidebar here: Docs - OUYA Developers

If you're only interested in making iPhone games, learn Objective-C and how to work with XCode. If you're interested in Android, learn Java. I'd recommend first determining which system you want to make games for and then learn specifically for that platform or look at different game engines and find one you like and start there.

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    Scratch all the way! I didn't think it was suitable for gaming when I looked at it either, but a nice glossy book is about to be published which targets this specifically. And that's my other piece of advice: the quality and age-appropriateness of the learning materials available are at least as important as the game-creation platform that you choose. – Antony Nov 23 '15 at 14:14
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GameMaker

screen1

It's a drag-and-drop game creator that allows you to design a variety of different games. Simple 2D games can be done using purely the GUI but some knowledge of programming and use of the sandboxed built-in scripting language Game Maker Language may be necessary for more complex games.

The company, YoyoGames is primarily marketing GameMaker: Studio for professional game creation but they do offer a free version with more limited export options (Windows only) and without some more advance functionality. Still, the free version should be more than sufficient to try it out, have some fun creating your own game. If you do manage to create something really addictive you can always purchase the professional edition later on to export to Android, iOS, OSX, Playstation, Linux and HTML5.

screen2

Documentation and tutorials that largely apply to both the free and professional versions are readily available both on the company's site as well as elsewhere online. This isn't something you can pick up and immediately start using to create a platformer but rather something you can learn over a period of time. Depending on previous experience and motivation beginners will probably be able to get started with simple bomberman-like movement within a day and slowly progress to more complicated mechanics

Unfortunately, GameMaker is only available for Windows. There is a legacy "lite" OSX edition but I haven't used it personally and would not recommend it as it's unlikely to be updated or supported for much longer.

  • A useful recommendation given it’s one of the major players in this segment, but I’m afraid not a fan of the visual approach to software-creation because the complexity it adds is specific to one particular platform, thus deferring the time at which the learner has real power and control over their computer. This concern applies particular to GameMaker which I feel got in the way of my game-creation efforts. – Antony Nov 23 '15 at 14:04
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You have two options which I'm aware of:

On the free side you need only learn one of a multitude of free professional languages focusing on game development to get started. C++, python, java, flash. But for kids, that's at least a very dedicated junior high school kid.

The second option I can think of is to purchase a license to one of various engines or softwares and learn perhaps easier coding. The free Steam platform has a few such programs in its library and those range from 20-100 bucks.

Development is a big time investment, a lot of code, math, algorithms, ... GOOD tools that require MUCH less configuration can be a money investment.

Use Sourceforge and you can find a lot of free open source stuff. Anyway you look at it though, coding is tough. A lot of schools in my area and libraries offer coding classes for free or a modest fee. This can be a part of the curriculum or after school. Check out you area, use high school student coding classes or something like it in your search.

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    Downvoters didn't comment, so a hint here: Answers should recommend software, and include what makes that software a good solution. Your answer basically tells the OP to search at a certain site, but doesn't include any clear recommendation. Please read our answer guidelines for details. – Izzy Nov 20 '15 at 11:13
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    ...and this answer is very close to just telling "Learn programming". That is far from a game creation software. – Sopalajo de Arrierez Nov 20 '15 at 12:49
  • I'm sorry about that. Thanks for informing me better. – user18367 Nov 21 '15 at 4:41

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