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Game Making Programs

Originally written: 2001-07-01

Last updated: 2007-03-01

If you have no experience with game creation, and would like to learn how to make your own games, this site will get you started. Moreover, if you already made some simple games, and would like to further your knowledge, you may want to read portions of this site.

Table of Contents

1.       Introduction

2.      Klik & Play

3.      The Games Factory

4.      Game Maker


When you first start making games you are probably going to want to make the game as soon as possible. Therefore, I advise you to start out with the easiest game making program, Klik & Play. This does not mean that Klik & Play is easy. A lot of experimentation and erudite learning is required to understand Klik & Play. It is possible to start out by making games with Game Maker, a more difficult program, but you will most likely achieve very slow progress.

Klik & Play cannot be used to create complex games. When you want your games to be more complex, you should then learn how to use the game making program The Games Factory. Once The Games Factory is not good enough for you, you should move to Game Maker, the most comprehensive game creation program, in my opinion. Game Maker will allow you to make just about every conceivable 2D graphics game. In summary, I recommend progressing from Klik & Play to The Games Factory to Game Maker.

Klik & Play

If you are starting out with game making, you should use Klik & Play. I believe Klik & Play is the best program to start out with. You can download the school version of Klik & Play from here. The standard version is exactly the same, except that it costs approximately ten dollars. Before learning how to use Klik & Play, you may want to see its capabilities with two games that I created with it: Bug Adventure (1.91 MB) and Mario's Super World (197 KB).

One major function missing with Klik & Play is side scrolling. This means that all your levels must be limited to the size of your monitor, because you cannot make a camera follow your character. Hence, you cannot make big levels like the ones in the Sonic and Mario platform games.

In addition, you cannot make 3D games with Klik & Play. If you want to make 3D games that run fast on your computer, you will probably end up paying money for the engine or learning a programming language such as C++. Lastly, you can only use 16-bit color with Klik & Play.

Here are some of the features of Klik & Play: platform characters, jump-through platforms, solid platforms, ladders, secret walk-through platforms, backgrounds, bouncing enemies, enemies that follow paths, mouse and race car objects, characters that can only go in eight directions, text messages, question and answer objects, score and life bars, and timer objects. Thereof, if this is the stuff you want in your game, Klik & Play is the right tool for you.

Klik & Play is completely event driven. Here are some examples: If it is the start of the level, then play a sound looping. When an enemy object collides against a wall, make it bounce. If an enemy collides with your main character, then subtract one life and restart the level. A more advanced event would be: Every 0.45 seconds cause an enemy to face in the direction of your character, set its speed to 10, shoot a fireball object at your character with a speed of 50, and play a non-looping sound. All of these conditions would be placed in the Event Editor. In the Level Editor, you could make your levels, create objects, give them animations, pick the way they move, and make duplicates. In the Storyboard Editor, you can view your levels, title screens, and messages, create a blank level, duplicate levels (so you do not have to make everything all over again), and pick which level you wish to edit. This is basically what Klik & Play is like.

The Games Factory

After learning how to use Klik & Play, you should try The Games Factory. The Games Factory is also made by The Games Factory is for the most part an upgraded version of Klik & Play. The Games Factory incorporates all of the features of Klik & Play, plus side scrolling (side scrolling allows a camera to follow the main character), the ability to let a user save his or her progress, and other useful functions.

The Games Factory is it is not free. You must pay approximately thirty dollars to garner the ability of saving your game as an ".exe". You get a long trial period, but it will eventually run out. There is no free "school" version for The Games Factory like there is for Klik & Play.

One way to avoid the ".exe" shortcoming is to save your game in a format called ".ccn." The free version of The Games Factory permits you to save in this format. A ".ccn" file must be run in Internet Explorer or Netscape with a program called Vitalize!, which is about 1 MB.

Unfortunately, not all computers run ".ccn" games well. I made Pikachu's Adventure Game (1.79 MB) with The Games Factory, saved it as a ".ccn" and put Vitalize inside of the setup file. Some computers ran the game incredibly slow while other computers ran it fine in a web browser. Thus, if you make your game as a ".ccn", there is a risk that someone who downloads your game will not enjoy it since the game runs to slowly.

Game Maker

Game Maker is the ultimate game creation tool in terms of the complex games it can create and its simplicity compared to programming languages like C and C++. It is entirely different from Klik & Play and The Games Factory. Game Maker allows a multitude of functions and the capability of coding. One can make games with Game Maker by simply dragging and dropping actions in events, but one could fabricate truly better games by implementing code.

Game Maker allows camera scrolling, something Klik & Play does not. Moreover, you can have status windows and two player screens on the computer. Try these two games I made if you want, so you can observe the capabilities of Game Maker: Dangerous Dungeons (1.20 MB), and Reflex Pack (826 KB). Furthermore, Game Maker can create 3D games, which neither Klik & Play nor The Games Factory can manufacture. However, if you want to create 3D games, you will have to buy the full version for about 15 Euro or US $20 and you shouldn't expect any fancy effects with the 3D, especially since it is not too fast.

Therefrom, the free version contains everything you need, and the full version contains a couple more useful capabilities. The free version has no trial period, so it should suit your needs. The full version allows you to create network games, 3D games, and more special effects, which are not extremely necessary. 

Variables are used to do everything in Game Maker. For example, lives=lives+1 would add a life, x=x+1 would move your object one pixel to the right, and x=x-1 would move your object one pixel to the left. Similar to Klik & Play and The Games Factory, you place your actions (or code) with an event. Here are some examples: If your character grabs a life, lives=lives+1. If a character collides with an enemy, restart the level. If a bouncing ball collides with a wall, the ball should bounce off. If a level just started, music should be played.

There are numerous features of Game Maker. Here are a few of them: Multiplayer views, camera controls, complete keyboard, mouse, and joystick support (for instance you can know whether the left shift key was pushed, the exact x, y, and z values of a joystick, whether the mouse's middle button was pressed, or whether the spacebar key was released), full screen and window modes, zoom capabilities, translucent colors and images, stretched images, rotated images, animations, control over the screen size (800x600 or 1024x768) and the colors (16 or 32 bit), the ability to adjust the volume of a sound, the frequency of a sound, and the position where a sound should be heard. You can also save or load user files, take a screenshot of the game, display text, control the number of frames per second that should be displayed, create explosions, allow objects or enemies to move with any conceivable motion, allow a user to input a message, pick a color, or browse for a file. There are many more features, but this list would go on forever if I wrote them all.

Game Maker is my favorite game creation program, because it can do so much more than any other creation program I found. Game Maker will allow you to create complex, interesting, professional-looking games whereas Klik & Play and The Games Factory cannot. Likewise, Game Maker has a thriving community forum. When I started using Game Maker, and had some difficulties with things, this forum was incredibly helpful. When you are lost, your simple question will probably be answered very quickly if you ask it on the forum and describe the question properly. A tutorial for starting Game Maker can be found here.

If you want to create a platformer with moving solids, jump-through platforms, water, and other platform game essentials try out my Platform Engine for Game Maker.