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Sketchy

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6th February, 2020 at 06/02/2020 11:57:26 -

When I first started making games, I chose to use Clickteam's "Klik & Play". I'd read a very positive magazine review, which immediately made me want to try it. More importantly though, there weren't really *any* alternatives - it was either that, or spend many months learning a real programming language, which certainly didn't appeal.

Since then, the competition to Clickteam products has grown considerably.

The first real contender that I can recall was GameMaker, released in 1999. It was a popular choice, and has been used to create many well known games over the years. However, it still used its own scripting language "GML", making it less accessible to novices. Now, in 2020, the latest version, GameMaker Studio 2, includes the option to create code from "blocks" (as seen in Blockly and Scratch), so it's definitely worth a look (price is $99, or around £75).

Next up was Scirra's Construct, released amid a storm of controversy, in 2007. The reason for this was clear - it was a very blatant rip-off of Clickteam's products, created by one of their long-time users. That was enough to deter many loyal Clickteam supporters, but the pricetag - £FREE - would surely make it very attractive to newcomers. Back then, it was pretty buggy and felt unpolished, but if anything, Scirra are a step ahead these days, while Clickteam have been very slow to add new features. Now, in 2020, I couldn't recommend Construct 3 because of the subscription-based payment model, and Construct 2, while still available, is priced uncompetitively (£140). The original Construct Classic is still available free of charge, but I think there are better options these days...

Since then, there have been a slew of visual game editors released, although most have been aimed more at children and use in education. Many of them are cookie-cutter type engines, web-based, with limited flexibility, and certainly no potential for making commercial or high performance games. MITs Scratch was perhaps the most interesting and influential, introducing code "blocks" ( https://developers.google.com/blockly ), which have since been widely adopted elsewhere.

Other slightly more advanced engines include:
- Stencyl
- GameSalad
- GameFroot
- GDevelop
- AppGameKit
I definitely wouldn't recommend any of those.

The only one I would consider is Egret Lakeshore - https://www.egret.com/en/products/lakeshore.html
It's Chinese (from the makers of DragonBones, amongst other things), so the English documentation is rather lacking, as is any English-speaking community - but the product itself seems good, from my very limited experience with it, and it's completely free.

There are other options though.
HTML5 and WebGL (hardware acceleration in the browser) have been huge. I believe we're getting to the point where there will soon be a two-tier system. The big developers will still be using their own cutting-edge native engines, because there will always be a market for games combining the same old tired formula with the latest and greatest visuals - people will always want to play "FIFA 2037" and "Call of Duty 23", in the same way that they'll go and watch "Star Wars : Episode XVII" and "Fast and Furious 21". However, HTML5 and WebGL, combined with the power of modern mobile devices, will be sufficient for the majority of games - and especially mobile games. It's certainly sufficient for the kind of 2d games that can be made using Clickteam products, so I find it strange that they're not going down that road with Fusion 3, the way Scirra did with Construct...

The interesting thing is that there are *loads* of HTML5 game engines available now, mostly free of charge. They are of course coded using Javascript, which is probably the easiest language to learn - particularly since you can test things and see instant results in the browser, and modern browsers all have such great debugging and profiling tools as well. The other great thing is that HTML5 apps can easily be ported to any other system, simply by wrapping a webview in an app, creating a "hybrid app" - you truly can write once, run anywhere, and without having to pay extra for exporters! Now, in 2020, I think learning to code using Javascript is definitely an option to seriously consider, even for complete novices.

Finally, I have to mention the giant of the industry, Unity, and also competitors such as Godot. They're a pretty big step up from anything else I've mentioned in terms of complexity, so it's hard to recommend them to beginners - I'm a long time user of Clickteam products, and proficient in Javascript and GLSL, and still found Unity to be utterly baffling and unusable - but there's no getting away from the fact that they are immensely powerful. If you're set on making a sophisticated 3d game, one of these is probably the way to go, but be prepared for a steep learning curve.


So, I've waffled on a bit, but what other alternatives have I missed, and what would you recommend - to beginners and to more experienced game developers?

 
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Entura



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  26/08/2017 19:47:58
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6th February, 2020 at 06/02/2020 14:32:41 -

Absolutely! Tool's powerful, no large code knowledge emphasy, and it's really really easy to export MFAs on your PC! It's only a matter of time being used to it, which is the point of every hobby you digest, really.

 
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Hayo

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7th February, 2020 at 07/02/2020 11:47:52 -

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I still use Clickteam products to make games, partly out of loyalty, partly because I am too lazy to learn more complicated tools. On the other hand I switched to Construct 2 for my educational material, mainly because I want it to work in browsers and the html5 exporter for Fusion doesn't quite cut it. I hope Fusion 3 will get released at some point, the current Fusion seems a bit too dated to recommend to people who are new to game development.

 
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