I feel like I see a lot of posts here about game ideas with a common theme of “I can’t work on this because I don’t know how to develop games/code”. I will agree, game dev can be daunting but I promise once you dip your toe in the water its…. Well still pretty daunting if you let your project grow. It’s a fun daunting though.
I’m by no means an expert game dev or anything, but I started out as someone who knows literally nothing about code and now I’m able to make little arcade games over the weekend and am even working on a full 3d open world project! So how did I get to this point? Free online learning! Turns out the internet has more than just kitten gifs and conspiracy theories!
I’m going to go through and link some items that will hopefully help those of you who are interested in game dev learn the skills you need to get started. So where do we begin?
Coding! Now I work in C#, but there’s a freakish number of other languages out there. You could learn Python, which is what the engine Ren’Py uses and is also one of the easiest languages to learn. You could go also with C++, which for some messed up reason is what a lot of triple A game dev studios use. Unreal engine also uses this language. For this “guide” though, I’ll be sticking with C# and Unity related sources since that’s what I know best.
Now, how do we learn to code?
Code Academy is a very popular online classroom that offers free and paid lessons: https://www.codecademy.com/learn/learn-c-sharp
LearnCS is another great online classroom: https://www.learncs.org/
Wow, even Microsoft has classes(although they are the ones who created the language so I’d hope they had classes)! Learn C# | Free tutorials, courses, videos, and more | .NET
Don’t like those sites? How about Youtube? There’s plenty of master classes on it, but here are two that may interest you.
C# masterclass series by AngelSix: C# Mastery Course - Introduction - YouTube
C# full course for beginners by FreeCodeCamp: C# Tutorial - Full Course for Beginners - YouTube
These classes will give you the foundation to start on your game dev journey!
Okay Oceanaga so now I’m a coding ninja, what next? Glad you asked! Lets jump into software…
So as I said above, I use unity and absolutely love it. You can do whatever you set your mind to in it. For example, did you know the following games were all made in unity? Hearthstone, Rust, Kerbal Space Program, Beat Saber, Firewatch, and Hollow Knight. Quite the list and there are so many more, but this shows just how versatile the engine is. Pick it up here: https://unity.com/
So we have an infinite knowledge of code, and a free game engine. Let’s learn about the engine!
CodeMonkey has a great seventeen minute walkthrough of the engine, and you will pick up more tidbits of knowledge as you work with it. Learn Unity in 17 MINUTES! - YouTube
So you’re ready to make your first game huh? Well why not follow along a tutorial that gives you all the assets you need and takes you step by step through the process?
Unity has a great projects portal that will walk you through how to make different games. Here is an example project of how to make a 2D RPG: Ruby's Adventure: 2D Beginner - Unity Learn
There’s many more projects available, check them out at: https://learn.unity.com/projects
Wow, we’ve really come a long way! Here you should be ready to take on the world and make your ideas into reality. If you ever get stuck though, don’t fret, there’s plenty of online resources to help answer your questions. Odds are, someone has had the same question as you before and there’s an example of the working code out there. I’m going to link some great channels, websites, and other resources below.
Brackeys: Sadly He has stopped making videos but he used to be like THE go to for unity tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/c/Brackeys
Code Monkey: this channel may look familiar, that’s because I’ve already linked one of his vids. Another great resource for tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/c/CodeMonkeyUnity
Blackthornprod: What’s this? Another great youtube channel for tuts: https://www.youtube.com/c/Blackthornprod
Okay, I think y’all get the point, there’s a lot of great youtube channels for this stuff. Let’s look elsewhere.
The unity answers forum. Here people ask questions about their code and why it’s not working. It’s generally common courtesy to search for your problem first and see if it has been asked before posting the question again(this goes on all forums). The best place for answers about Unity - Unity Answers
Stack Overflow. Every dev in the world either uses stack overflow or lies about not using stack overflow. This website is more than just C# so you may have to dig for answers: Newest Questions - Stack Overflow
Lastly, is Udemy. Now this one is a paid resource but you can find a class for just about anything here. Honestly though, you should be able to find an equivalent class for free elsewhere. Just figured I’d plug the site since I’ve used it before: https://www.udemy.com/topic/unity/
Before we move on I’d like to point out that these sites are not fetish sites, so if you go to ask a question here you should probably change some words around to make it more safe for work.
Now, back to the learning and don’t worry, we’re almost done. The last resources I want to share are asset sites. We’re not all gifted 2D/3D artists (definitely not me), so it’s cool to be able to get some assets from people who are talented in this area.
OpenGameArt is a great site for art, music, sound effects, and more. There are varying licenses so you may have to attribute the artist but that’s nbd: https://opengameart.org/
The unity asset store has a HUGE range of stuff from free asset packs to paid pretty much pre built plug and play games. https://assetstore.unity.com/
Mixamo is a great website that you can upload a 3D model to and it’ll rig it for you and even let you pick out animations! Some paid content here but the core of it is free: Mixamo
Finally there’s Fiverr. Various contractors here that can do all sorts of stuff. You can find people that will help code, design levels, make assets, music, even make an entire game for you. This is a paid service though and you get what you pay for here. https://www.fiverr.com/
Oh and there’s one more, here! There’s a great community here and I bet some folks would love to collab on a project from time to time. You can already see it in the game jams when people make teams. Not linking because you’re on the site reading this. If you’re somehow not on the site and reading this then… how?
Okay, I think we’ve exhausted the “Oceanaga’s list of all things free and some paid, but mainly free services that will help you learn to code games and make friends along the way”. I sincerely hope that those of you aspiring to create games can use these resources to get started on that journey. It’s quite rewarding seeing your first game run and it just gets better from there. If you’re hesitant to learn or have doubts, the best advice I can give is just jump in. You have nothing to lose, aside from some hair and sanity but who needs that stuff anyway?
If there are any other devs out there that have some resources you use, or other engine guides then please feel free to plug them below too!
Final note: I swear this isn’t an advertisement for unity… I just like their engine and it’s what I know.