Best light coding make your own game system for 9 yo?
April 7, 2020 12:48 AM   Subscribe

My daughter wants to make her own video game but has no idea what kind of game she wants to make. She is not into plaformers but really enjoyed some smaller games like World of Goo and Donut County. She knows how to do Scratch style gui coding. We are on Win10 or Android. What are the best all in one game creation systems? I don't care if they are pay or open source, only that they are age suitable and don't require everything to be hand crafted. She is not very into LEGO or Minecraft.
posted by benzenedream to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
GameMaker Studio might fit the bill; it's not free, but people use it to build real commercial games, and it's considerably less complex than something like Unity (although it will be a big step up from something like Scratch).

PyGame might also fit the bill - it's fairly primitive, but it is free. You need to know/learn Python to really do much with it, but Python is a good "next step" language from something like Scratch, anyway.

You could also consider genre-specific tools like RPG Maker MV.
posted by parm at 2:22 AM on April 7 [1 favorite]

the forums might be a good place to ask this - here is a thread with recommended game tools
posted by corvine at 2:32 AM on April 7

On a slight tangent: would she find making interactive stories with Twine interesting?

Here’s a random example: Faerie Food by Astrid Dalmady.
posted by pharm at 3:05 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]

MakeCode might be the thing, especially MakeCode: Arcade. It's got sprites, backgrounds, etc. It runs in a web browser, but if you have actual hardware (which is very affordable), you can run your game on that too.
posted by plinth at 6:33 AM on April 7

Seconding MakeCode: Arcade. There's quite a community, lots of games and tutorials, and the hardware is cheap(ish) and interesting. I have a Meowbit just because it's cute.

If Blocks becomes too limiting as a coding scheme, JavaScript also works. Many of the boards can be flashed to MicroPython if that appeals, too.
posted by scruss at 7:13 AM on April 7

You might look into Kodu or Alice
posted by xris at 8:14 AM on April 7

Pico-8 might be a good fit for her.
posted by runehog at 12:55 PM on April 7

Thanks everyone!
Alice looks like it might be a good fit, I think her ideal game is a clickable 2D or 3D environment with simple actions associated with clicking on certain things. She does not have much interest in arcade-ish games. Her favorite game is Goat Simulator and other somewhat open ended silly mischief games (e.g. Untitled Goose Game).
Twine might also work, I'll have to see how complicated it is to add graphics.
Unsure if she would like MakeCode.Arcade in a browser or not, will kick the tires on it.
Pico-9 looks cool but she has no nostalgia or affection for pixel art.
PyGame is probably a few steps away and the gratification/work ratio might be too low for her right now.
posted by benzenedream at 2:47 PM on April 7

A few more updates:
Alice was way too complicated and required external assets, so the art part of it was no fun.
Twine2 was a hit! Simple enough to make a choose your own adventure type story and easy enough to add handmade paintings / pictures to. Bonus is she's learning basic html rather than some domain specific language. Eventually we'll get to doing some coding or inventories or stuff that isn't just a series of links.

Thanks everyone!
posted by benzenedream at 6:12 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

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