Making Games: Resources
Introduction This page is designed to provide a very basic introduction to game development with an emphasis on the links to products.
The Game Engine The magical game engine is where it is all at. We briefly follow the evolution of the modern Game Engine.
Starting out for the Hobbyist
The magical game engine is where it is all at. We briefly follow the evolution of the modern Game Engine.

Game Development Links

Graphics, Sound & Tools

 Online Games Resources


3D Game Builders

Using a Commercial Game Engine
2D Game Builders
Text Based Games
Links to products or sites I have used are
bolded and scored out of 5 stars

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Introduction to Making Games

By C. D. Xbow

Making games is a difficult business. Repeat 1000 times before you read on.
I have had a few goes at it and my advice is for you to read the following out allowed:


Repeat 1,000,000,000,000,000,times before you read on.

This document is all one page so its easy to save. if its within a frame just open it in a new window
and do a save as. The links within the body of the text are generally to the Wikipedia

Next: Read about the Game Engine>>


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 The Game Engine

A game engine is one of the most complex applications written, frequently featuring dozens of finely tuned systems interacting to ensure a realistic user experience. The most basic element that defines a game engine is graphics rendering facilities (2D or 3D). In addition to graphical rendering the modern graphics engine handle additional tasks such as game AI and physics. There has become strong separation between rendering, scripting, artwork, and level design. A typical game development team to be composed of artists and programmers in an 4:1 ratio. Another common feature is platform abstraction, so the game can run in various platforms with minimal changes in the code - at least in theory. There is probably no piece of software that is so closely attuned to hardware as a modern 3D Game Engine.

The term "game engine" became well known in the 1990 in relation to 3D games such as first-person shooters (FPS) Examples however date from the 1980's. These include  Sierra's AGI and SCI systems, LucasArts' SCUMM system and Incentive Software's Freescape engine. During the 90's id Software's Doom and Quake had the core portions of the software licensed and available to be distributed. Game developers then only has to design their own graphics, maps and characters ie the "game content". Later games, such as Quake III Arena and Epic Games's 1998 Unreal were designed with this specifically in mind, with the engine and content developed separately. The licensing of the Unreal engine has proved to be a significant revenue stream for developers. 

Engines built for FPS also being used in other genre. For example, the RPG Morrowind and the MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot are based on the NetImmerse engine. The Unreal engine engine has had numerous mods and expansions and has had numerous games based on it, including the MMORPG Lineage II. Engines that only provide real-time 3D rendering include 3DSTATE, Power Render, Genesis3D, Irrlicht, Ogre, Panda3D, and Antiryad Gx.

Middleware developers produce software suites which include many elements the game developer needs to build a game. Theses include graphics, sound, physics and AI functions. Gamebryo and RenderWare are two such widely used middleware programs. The RenderWare engine is used in PC games and console games like Grand Theft Auto III and Burnout 2 & 3. Middleware pricing varies enormously.

Increasingly sophisticated functionality has been progressively added to the Game EngineJurassic Park: Trespasser (1998) a dismal commercial failure, introduced physics to the FPS games along with the 'glove'. Physics engines did not become common until around 2002. Destructible terrain did not appear until Faction (2001) and was a feature in Mechassault (XBox 2002) and still was not common even in 2004.. Tribes 2 and Battlefield 1942 fully realized the potential for vehicular-combat and first person shooter integration, followed closely by Halo and Unreal Tournament 2004. With the development of more powerful hardware and renderers, a near photo realistic experience is possible, yet there has been a realization that the physics of the game is as important as the look(the way it plays versus the look). Now we are seeing separate hardware physics engines developed and more emphasis on 'the physics', Microsoft for instance are developing a Physics API, presumably part of DirectX.


Next: Read about the Starting Out



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Starting Out: Game Hobbyists


Using a Game Builder

Using a Commercial Game Engine

 Flash or Shockwave or other graphical tool

Traditional Programming Language


 A. Using a Game Builder

There are many tools (Authorware) for making 2D Adventure games and role-playing games (RPGs). Most of these are freeware and easy. Many can support 2D shooter style games and often have ssophisticated scripting languages. Click here to read through a list of 2D game builders. Some are even simpler and are text based - see list

For starting out 3D Gamestudio this is one of the better ones in that it works at the mugs level but has a reasonable degree of programming and expansion. A useful version costs around $100 A trial version is available and the more expensive versions do network and online games. I think a couple of commercial games have been produced with it. This one looks better on specs than the one below and I am currently evaluating the demo. For developing MMORPG Realm Creator is popular $100 choice - IF ONLY I COULD GET IT TO INSTALL.

The Game Creators have 4 different applications with trials available. FPS Creator make your own action packed FPS games without any programming or 3D modeling knowledge. I have played with the FPS builder and it seem OK. The 3D Gamemaker  is another that allows you to create a uniquely playable game without needing any programming knowledge. Game Creators also produce Dark Basic which is available in a couple of versions and provides a slim and fast Basic that allows you to program DX 8 graphics. I have used this a bit and I have got to say the actual Basic used has a rather antiquated feel to it. Feels like early 80's basic.

Another option is to use a web based 3D community tool such as Blaxxun


 B. Using a Commercial Game Engine

Quake and many other engines (especially the Unreal engine)have been available for 3rd party use. I used to build levels with zombies impaled on flaming spikey trees with Quake 1 or 2. I have no first hand experience with modern versions of these engines and world builders.

In some ways I think this is the best approach because:

-Lots of functionality
-Often lots of resources - some have very active communities
-uses standard models etc
-use the games infrastructure eg: game servers

The major disadvantage is you have to buy the game and there may be redistribution issues

 C: Flash or Shockwave or other graphical tool

A number of graphical applications have been used to develop games. Flash or Shockwave formats are the 2 most common. Flash has become more common in recent years. Both are cross platform and are used commonly for games - most of Miniclip is done in Flash or Shockwave. Big advantage is that they are web based and portable. Lots of tools available.

 D: Traditional Programming Language & Games Engine

Commercial 3D PC & Xbox games are nearly all made in C/C++ with teams of hundreds and budgets of millions of dollars. The small mobile phone & PDA game market are mostly written in JAVA or Flash for portability. There are many game engines available. Torque is cheap, as they say but pretty full featured package. It provides a cheap alternative for indie developers who can program in C++  and is available for US$100. Crystal Space, for example, is a popular, free open source multiplatform game engine. Also available are Irrlicht and  Ogre.




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ame Builders' are based on basi

General Development Sites & Article

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 3DEngines & Authorware for Non-Programmers

These are a mixture of freeware, shareware and commercial programs

  • 3D Adventure Studio an editor for creating adventure games in style of Gabriel Knight 3 (WIN) 
  • 3DCakeWalk soon to be released commercial game engine **
  • The 3D Game Maker point & click 3D game creator (Win)
  • 3D Game Studio produce 3D realtime applications - demos, adventures, role playing, action, advertising, or racing games - without programming skills (WIN) 
  • 3D Rad a programmable, user-friendly, 3D real-time engine (WIN) 
  • 3DSTATE,
  • Alice create python scripts that control the motion of 3D objects for games & simulations, etc (WIN)***
  • Blaxxun - Online 3D worlds and communities
  • Blitz Basic the legendary Amiga Basic compilier for the PC, based around DX7**
  • Blender free and fully functional 3D modeling/rendering/animation package, including games (Unix/Windows/BeOS) 
  • Blitz Basic II basic programming package for creating high-quaility games on the Amiga (Amiga)
  • Crystal Space free (LGPL) and portable 3D engine written in C++ (WIN/MAC/DOS/LINUX)
  • Dark Basic BASIC language that lets you create fast full-screen DirectX and Direct3D games with incredible ease. You can write a 3D game in minutes! (WIN) ****
  • Digital Loca-Lite 3D authoring tool, especially designed for beginning 3D-Game-makers (Win95+)
  • Dimension3 3D game creator (MAC)
  • FPS Creator make your own action packed FPS***
  • GAUGE will be able to support any sort of 3D game, including first  person shooters, real time strategy, simulations, and more 
  • Genesis 3D a completely free 3D gaming engine (WIN)
  • GMAX a free 3D content from Autodesk creation platform designed to let game enthusiasts create custom art for their favorite titles. Unfortunately dropped by vendor but active community (WIN) ****
  •  Irrlicht
  • Jamagic (fka JAMA3D) if you can program your web page, you can program your 3D game in JAVA Script(Win/MAC/Linux) 
  • Ogre,
  • Panda3D,
  • Power Render
  • Ray Game Designer was a commercial (now freeware) 3D Game building system for Windows 3.x & 95 pitched at the DX7 level. It is no longer developed but it did allow a 'no programming'  point-and-click interface. **
  • Torque is pretty full featured, cross platform and OpenGL based. This is a cheap alternative for indie developers who can program in C++  and are available for US$100.****
  • Antiryad Gx.

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 2D Engines & Authorware

I think all of these are freeware but I have not checked them for awhile.

  • ADePT adventure developing and playing toolkit
  • ADRIFT a simple, yet powerful IF game designer (WIN) 
  • Adventure Book CYOA creator
  • Adventure Game Engine engine for creating graphical first-person adventure games with full support for inventory, save/load games, inventory, puzzles, conversations, full motion video, cutscenes (WIN) 
  • Adventure Game Studio make your own 2D point and click adventure games without programming; recently rewritten, and works well. Supports the standard Sierra interface as well as the LucasArts interface. Very good with active community and lots of resources(WIN) ****
  • Adventure Maker 2 make your own 1st person adventure games with no programming or scripting required (Win95+) 
  • AdventureR Lab planned professional tool to create classical point & click adventures 
  • AGAST Adventure Game Authoring System to create and play your own graphic adventure games like those from LucasArts and Sierra On-line (WIN)
  • Aiee! design text adventures without programming experience
  • Antiryad Gx easy multi platform game creator tool
  • AZALTA system with endless adventures, an infinite number of large worlds to explore, hundreds of puzzles to solve, creatures to meet, and items to find -- you can even create your own worlds/creatures/items (WIN/Amiga)
  • Blades of Exile a fantasy role-playing system (WIN/MAC)
  • The Bluespere Project text adventure creation software that is in development (WIN/DOS) 
  • Byond create online games and applications using a simple programming language
  • CAECHO Spanish program for creating interaction fiction (DOS)
  • CAT Creative Adventure Toolkit: adventure authoring utility for writing text adventures on your PC (WIN)
  • Clean Game Library complete development system for 2D games (platform games, side scrollers), using the functional language Clean (Win, MAC, Linux)
  • Coconut 2D adventure game development tool (WIN/LINUX)
  • Coldstone the most complete solution for developing games on the Macintosh (MAC)
  • Cycon Online Gaming -COG- Engine Open Source project aimed at simplifying the creation of online video games with no programming experience necessary
  • DC Games tool kit for creating the hottest CRPGs available (DOS)
  • Delver shareware single-player overhead-view tile-based computer RPG construction kit written in Java (JAVA)
  • DIV Games Studio programming language that has been designed exclusively for the creation of games (WIN
  • Divinty RPG maker/editor (MAC)
  • EdPack authoring tool for graphic adventures. Site is in Spanish but based on the translation I got from AltaVista, program sounds promising.
  • Endless Opportunity MMORPG Maker Site tools to create Massive Multiplayer Online RPGs
  • Erasmatazz Authoring tool used to create interactive storyworlds (WIN/MAC) 
  • Explorations RPG System independent role playing game engine
  • Freeplay free, 2D development environment for multimedia adventure games. Integrated are editors for sprites, scripts, paths and other game components. (JAVA)
  • Game Builder Lite for creating animated adventures and educational programs (DOS) 
  • Game Editor design 2D games for PCs and mobile devices
  • Game Maker allows you to make exciting computer games, without the need to write a single line of code(WIN) 
  • GameMaker & GameMaker Lite simple, card-based development system that enables you to create simple adventure games with graphics, buttons, and text (MAC) 
  • Glumol clone of the mythical LucasArts SCUMM engine (WIN)
  • GRAAL script-based Graphic Adventure Authoring Language (Amiga) 
  • Golden T Game Engine game programming for JAVA programmers
  • G-Wiz Game Wizard will be tool for designing and playing text adventure and role-playing games (WIN)
  • Hephaestus computer role-playing game system with loadable adventures; with the compiler, you can write your own adventures in a simple yet powerful scripting language, and share them with anyone else who has Hephaestus (JAVA) 
  • IndianaJava system to create and run 2D graphic adventure games (JAVA) 
  • Inform a design system for interactive fiction (WIN/MAC/Amiga) 
  • InterAx create games in an easy to use yet powerful visual environment without programming or scripting. (WIN95+) 
  • KOF91 2D fighting game engine (WIN)
  • Legendary Tales Editor text-based gaming environment which allows anyone to create or enjoy independent adventure modules set in any medieval, swords and sorcery fantasy setting(WIN)
  • LucasHacks the ultimate SCUMM hacking resource including the new SCUMM Revisited (WIN)
  • MAC Game Creator Toolkit CD ROM special registered versions of 5 MAC creators, plus tutorials, utilities, and sample games (MAC)
  • MAD Free graphical adventure game engine, designed to be able to create Sierra-style adventures, but flexible enough to handle other types (WIN/DOS/others coming soon)
  • Magx compiler for creating text adventures which is downward compatible with all of the existing versions of the AGT language(DOS/Linux)
  • MediaForge an event-driven, object-based authoring tool (WIN) 
  • Megazeux an object oriented ANSI game maker with many features not found in ZZT (DOS) 
  • Multimedia Fusion create exciting interactive applications with a mouse-driven interface - this is the one I use (WIN)
  • M.u.C.e.S Multichoice Creation System (MuCeS) allows you to create any type of multiple choice text adventure
  • My Adventure Game simple tool for creating graphic adventures
  • Nautilus Engine create a retail quality game by writing less than 100 lines of C (Win and Visual C++)
  • OZ Project technology and art to help artists create high quality interactive drama, based in part on AI technologies 
  • PAGAN full featured arcade game authoring system for shooters, puzzle games, racing games etc (Win)
  • PAWS IF authoring system (Various)
  • Pie 3D Game Creation System make your own 3D action games (DOS/WIN) 
  • Play Basic a game programming language designed to take the learning curve out of 2D game making
  • Playground build computer environments for 4-8 year olds to play, design, and create games (WIN)
  • Point & Click Developers Kit 2D point and click adventure game developer
  • QML Quest Markup Language free XML-based Choose-Your-Own-Adventure game system 
  • Quest Axe Software's app that allows you to create your own text adventure/RPG games quickly(WIN95+) 
  • QuestMaker for making graphical adventure games (DOS)
  • Reality Factory suite of applications that have been created in order to enable people that are NOT programmers to make advanced, 3d first and third person games for PC's running Windows (WIN)
  • Realm Crafter create your own multiplayer online RPG
  • Ren'Py a programming language and runtime, x platfrom, allows creation of visual-novel type games like those japanese dating games, pack 'em as an exe at the end for distro.  ***
  • Role Maker a masters thesis project to develop a free authoring system for RPGs (WIN)
  • RPG Toolkit Development System for the Creation and Play of your own RPG Games (WIN)
  • site for top 3 RPG makers(WIN)
  • RuneSword RPG game and construction set (Win95+)
  • Scripted Adventure Game Engine (SAGE) for creating text adventures with or without graphics (WIN 95/98/NT)
  • SCI Studio create games for Sierra's SCI engine(WIN)
  • Scrolling Game Development Kit complete game development system whose features can be used by experts and beginners alike
  • SFCI ScienceFact Creative Interpreter is a 2D adventure game engine (WIN32)
  • SKClone RPG game maker (WIN)
  • SLUDGE is the box of cogs that will be available so that anyone (within reason) can use it to make an adventure game. (WIN)
  • Sphere RPG engine specialized for making 2D, console-style RPGs, similar to Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star (WIN)
  • Stagecast create multi-level games, mazes, puzzles and simulations for the Web, using the mouse to demonstrate what you want each character to do(MAC/WIN) 
  • STOS get the source code for the classic AtariST game creation software (AtariST)
  • SUDS adventure game system which combines the content and feel of a text adventure game with the point-and-click style of Windows (WIN) 
  • ToonTalk - Making Programming Child's Play build and run all sorts of computer programs (WIN)
  • Ultimate AGI & SCI Web Site great resource for demos, games, utilities
  • VERGE a role-playing game creation system (WIN) 
  • WinPAW windows version of the Professional Adventure Writer (PAW)(WIN)
  • World Builder create your own adventure games (MAC)

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 Text Game Makers

  • HUGO a programming language and authoring system for interactive fiction (WIN/DOS/Linux) 
  • QTAC the quick text adventure creator (DOS/WIN95+/JAVA)
  • Text-World text adventure authoring tool
  • TADS text adventure development system (DOS/WIN/MAC/Amiga/AtariST/OS2/Acorn) 
  • Text-World 1.2 text game creator (DOS)
  • TROAICS upcoming engine Text Rooms and Objects Interactive Adventure Creation System (WIN) 
  • Scribe development system for interactive fiction
  • StoryHarp Audioventure Authoring System adds the dimension of voice to interactive fiction development (WIN95/NT) 
  • StoryMaker create your own interactive fiction games (MAC)
  • StoryLand create Cooperative stories, using only a WEB browser  
  • StorySprawl a site devoted to the creation of hyperfiction 

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