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How to make a videogame (with no experience)

There’s no easy next step here, you’re just going to have start learning stuff. Best advice is to start small. You might have grand plans for Call of Battleshock, or something equally ambitious but the thing that stops 99% of game making attempts is aiming too high. Pick a small project you can finish as you’ll learn so much more from completion than anything else.

While there are forums and plenty of text based resources I can not recommend YouTube enough. Seeing code being typed in ‘live’ and watching the results is an incredibly fast way of learning.

Do some research though before you commit to any YouTube tutorials - Has the channel you’re looking at posted recently? Are there a lot of videos? Basically are they as committed as you? Nothing kills enthusiasm quicker than tutorials that peter out, or start well but get sloppy and less carefully made over time. 

GameMaker: Studio tutorials - where to start

YoYo Games, the people behind GameMaker, have some great tutorials (opens in new tab) to start you off. HeartBeast is also excellent (opens in new tab) as is RealTutsGML (opens in new tab). Tom Francis, a games writer turned developer, also has a very good series (opens in new tab) on creating a game with no experience from the perspective of a self taught programmer.
You can also read up on things and ask for help in the GameMaker forums (opens in new tab).

Unity tutorials - where to start

Unity has its own tutorial section (opens in new tab) but the more complicated nature of the engine means it has fewer easy intros. This ball rolling game (opens in new tab) is a pretty basic starter. However, you’re probably best catered for on YouTube. Jimmy Vegas (opens in new tab) has a wealth of well maintained lessons (start with his beginner mini tutorials (opens in new tab)) and Brackeys (opens in new tab) is also good but does jump mainly into ‘make an entire actual game’ level stuff, which will be a nightmare for a first project. Instead begin with something simpler like a Pong style game (opens in new tab).

Unity also has its own community forum (opens in new tab) as well as a specific ‘answers’ page (opens in new tab) to deal directly with problems and questions on how to do stuff.

Other free resources

Basic resources
GameMaker marketplace (opens in new tab) - here you can buy or download a range of assets like sprites, lighting engines, backgrounds and even finished games to take apart.

Unity Assets Store (opens in new tab) - like GameMaker, this has a range of free and paid for  models, assets, animations, games, pre-built game engines (first person or 2D for example) and other things you can plug into your game.

Animation
GraphicsGale (opens in new tab) is a free and very versatile pixel animation program for 2D projects.

Piskel (opens in new tab) is a browser based animation program suited for fast 2D creation.

Blender (opens in new tab) is a free 3D modeling and animation program and basically industry standard. Be warned though, mastering this is a mission in itself so think about buying in pre-made models or getting a partner.

Daz Studio (opens in new tab) is another free modeling and animation program but it’s probably not the best for total beginners.

Animation HD (opens in new tab)is a good program for iPad if you have a stylus and want to try something more hand drawn.

Sound
Audacity (opens in new tab) is your go to for simple sound editing. You can edit, trim and layer samples to make your own sound effects.

Freesound (opens in new tab) and FreeSFX (opens in new tab) are both great resources for royalty free sound effects from gunshots to footsteps.

Leon Hurley
Senior Guides Co-ordinator

I'm currently GamesRadar's Senior Guides Co-ordinator, which means I've had a hand in producing or writing all of the guide and tips content on the site. I also write reviews, previews and features, and do video. Previously I worked for Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website. I'm a big fan of open world games, horror, and narrative adventures.