3d & animation

5 Free Apps for Video Game Creators (Who Can’t Program)

Is it possible to create a video game without previous knowledge of programming?

Video games are not limited to one discipline: they need illustration, narrative, design, 3D modeling, and, of course, programming. If you want to create your own interactive game, you may well find it a complex and daunting task. There are often two main obstacles: the price of certain development programs and a lack of programming knowledge.

Fortunately, there are a number of free programs that can help you enter this world with, believe it or not, no prior knowledge of programming. We present you the following list of 5 video game design apps of different complexity so that you can find the one that best suits your level and needs.

1. Quest

A good story is the basis of many video games, so perhaps you should start with the basics. If you are a fan of complex and flexible narratives but have never had to design an interactive story, Quest will allow you to develop text-based games in the style of the legendary Zork (1977).
You won't need any programming, design, or illustration skills for this kind of "Choose Your Own Adventure” game and you will exercise your brain to start thinking like a narrative designer.

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Quest interface

2. Twine

Like Quest, Twine is another ideal way to get started in the complex world of interactive storytelling in a gradual and accessible way.

Being open-source, the interactive stories you write and design in the program can be published on the web as was the case for the game Temple of No, or commercialized, as is the case with Lionkiller, a reinterpretation of the legend of the Chinese warrior Hua Mulan.

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Temple of No (2019), made with Twine

3. Stencyl

Have you had enough of interactive storytelling and want to start exploring the world of gameplay? Stencyl is an ideal tool: it uses a drag-and-drop system that saves infinite lines of code and allows you to create games for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and Flash. This program is especially useful for 2D puzzle and side-scrolling games and can be used to create complete games, although many developers use it to prototype their ideas before using more complex tools.

Its use is free, as well as the publication of the Flash games you make with it. However, if you want to publish your game on other platforms, you will have to buy its license.

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Impossible Pixel (2012), made with Stencyl

4. Buildbox Free

Buildbox Free shows us that not knowing how to program does not have to limit us to the world of text or 2D games. The free version of this code-free video game development software allows you to create 2D and 3D games quickly and conveniently.

And, if over time, you want to start adding more features to your design or want to publish your game commercially, you can always switch to one of the paid versions of the program.

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Buildbox interface

5. Unity

Unity is one of the most used video game engines in the market, and its use is not limited to independent video games or amateur creators: some of the video games that have used this engine include such popular games as Resident Evil Umbrella Corps, Cuphead, or the worldwide success Pokemon Go.

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Ori and the Blind Forest (2015), made with Unity

How is it possible that software capable of developing games like these can be used by people who are just starting out? Besides having a free version with infinite features, a community that's always willing to help solve any doubts that may arise, as well as the program itself, make it an ideal option for new creators.

Unity uses the programming languages C, C++, and C#. But don't let that discourage you! Unity offers all kinds of help so you can start to use them little by little and in a very intuitive way as you create interactions in your future projects. It is the perfect program to start taking the first steps in code. If the other programs were small steps in your learning, Unity is a leap that will take you to the next level.

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Unity interface

The world of video game creation can be very complex, but now that you have a simple and free starting point, it's time to start experimenting until you find the ideal program that allows you to develop your first video game or interactive adventure.

English version by @harry_davies.

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