Making your own flash games is a lot of fun and I would definitely recommend giving it a try at least once. Because making your own game means it’s played by your own rules. If you really want to mess with friends, you could add your own custom cheats and then challenge them to beat you in the game. Or you could find new ways for your character, depending on the game style you use, to lose life like. You could make them blow up into a million pieces from a 5 block fall, or get electrocuted by touching water without a suit (because you’re a robot, obviously). It may be something you end up really enjoying, and even profiting from.
Get the software
I know there are several programs out there, but by far my favorite one is Stencyl. Work on PC, Mac, and Linux. They have a free version that allows publish to web with a splash screen, and a Pro version that allows you to create games for Apple, Android, Desktop and more. You can check their Comparison Chart for a version feature list. The best part of the Pro versions is that they allow you to “Design Once, Play Anywhere”“Design Once, Play Anywhere” as their slogan says. Which means the same game you created in flash, you could port it to work for Apple, Android, and other devices as well. I myself have not purchased the Pro version, but if you find yourself really getting into game making with the free version, it is something you may want to consider. I found that Stencyl is really easy to use, no real programming knowledge needed but it does come in handy. When you download their program, they also have a few demos to download so you can dissect and modify to get a better understanding of how the game works. There is even a community of people who post little snippets of codes and resources, that they make easily available to share and add into your own games to give you a helping hand. They even make it really easy to link in to Kongregate.
As I said, Stencyl is my personal favorite, but here are a few other you could take a look at.:
- Blender – (PC/Mac/Linux) Free/Open Source. It is powerful, versatile, and has really advanced options. I didn’t get too much into because of the complexity, but if you can it will open a whole world of possibilities.
- FlashDevelop – (PC) Free/Open Source.
- GameMaker: Studio – (PC/Mac) Cost $20-$100 depending on version.
- Scratch – (Online) Free. It’s used through the browser and aimed towards ages 8-16, yet it might be a good place to start if you have zero experience or want to see some quick results. It uses logic blocks similar to Stencyl.
- Unity – (PC/Mac) Free and Pro versions available.
Learn the Ropes
No matter which software you choose, you’re likely to find a ton of resources and tutorials. If not, you may want to rethink your software choice. As tempting as it may be to jump right in, head first into the world of game making, I would recommend holding back and finding some sort of “Getting Started” or “Crash Course” tutorial. Most of the programs will have them, and they will help a lot in the long run.
Once you’ve had a guided taste of what the software can achieve, you could look through the included or downloadable demos. They allow you to have a game right of the back, and you can make minor tweaks in the back end to see how they affect your game play. For example, let’s say you find a demo of Disgruntled Fowls. You can change the bird images to meatballs, and the wood planks into bread sticks. Then alter the physics to make launching a little faster. Now you have a game where you’re launching fast meatballs at a tower of bread sticks called Meatballs of Fire (Patent Pending). This is all hypothetical of course, look through the “code” and to try to get a better understanding of how things work. I say “code”, because most of the programs make it easy to drag and drop functions where little to no coding knowledge is necessary.
The screenshot above is from a game I started working on in Stencyl. My game was inspired by Chip’s Challenge, which was a computer game that came installed on an old Windows 98 SE computer I used to have. In my version, I changed the character to a robot and made it a side scroller instead of the mock-3D top view the original game had. Working on the game gave me a several months of entertainment. I’ve made about 5 levels in my game, but threw in too many features at once and got burnt out. I never even got around to finishing the game and level menus. Yet on occasion I do go by to http://www.stencyl.com/ and check out if they got any new feature that would come in handy. They have come a long way since I’ve started using it, and I will likely start another project again sometime. I’ll post it on this site after pretty-ing it up a bit with a start screen and some menus. Or maybe just make some minor tweaks and say it’s the Alpha release. Either way, I hope you could find some entertainment and motivation to develop your own games as well. You could also play a bunch of flash games and call it “research”.
Test and Test again
Before you release you game into the wilderness, if that is your end goal, you’ll want to do a lot of testing. Testing out the game your self is fine, but you may miss something since you designed it and know how it should work. Have some friends or coworkers test it out. When I made my game, I brought it to work and had my coworkers test it out to see what they thought. They found some ways around certain challenges that I did not intend for, as well as some other minor glitches. They also said they enjoyed and the fun ways my character died, which was a fun little addition I added.
So find some friends, coworkers, strangers, or forums to post your game and get some feedback. Just take some precautions if you’re worried about someone stealing your idea, or people posting your games in places you don’t want. Many of the programs have ways you can just export a few levels to share, or a way to lock it down to certain site like Stencyl’s Site Lock (of course I’m biased to Stencyl). So if you’re a bit paranoid like myself, you can just keep it offline and to people you somewhat trust.
Don’t forget that everyone has their own preference of game play styles, so don’t get discouraged by negative feedback. Someone may not like your game, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world (again, unless that is how your game is designed). It could just because they’re bad at that style of game and it frustrates them. Also, the biggest thing to remember is that you’re the developer. So although other’s input is helpful, you have final say.
Get it out there. Or not…
Once you have all or most of the bugs out of your game (unless bugs are part of your game) you can share it. You could share it with friends, upload it to your own personal site, send it to your grandma on a CD, or upload it to a flash game site. If you would like to make anywhere from a lot to almost no money for your game, you can post your game to some of the bigger flash game sites. Just don’t forget about that Site Lock thing, so others don’t profit off your awesome game. Here are a couple sites where you can achieve the glory of having a popular game online. Just be sure to read the fine print before uploading your game.
- Armor Games – One of the many popular Flash Games sites, to provide hours of entertainment. I mean “research”.
- Kongregate – Tied in with GameStop, this is one of my favorite place to post flash games. That is, if I were to ever finish mine.
- Newgrounds – May not look as classy as Kongregate, but it has a lot of visitor and can get your game out there.
Now that you have the know-how, I hope you can put it to use and let your imagination and creativity run wild. Or maybe this isn’t something that doesn’t interest you, which is fine. There might be a later post that sparks your interest a little more. I appreciate that you made it this far through my writing anyways. For the others, I hope you have as much fun as I did with this or more. The possibilities are endless and it can even make you a bit of cash on the side.
I wish you all luck, and hope to come across your games out there. Feel free to send some links my way.