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So you want to make a new game...

A topic by Maine Video Game Devs created Mar 29, 2020 Views: 259
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If you're coming to this post for our Rhythm Game Jam, there are several resources both on Itch and Humble Bundle that you might want to check out. has a winter sale on gamedev assets:

Unity Game Development:

GameMaker Studio 2: Gamedev

UI Assets:

Classes on making Game Art with Blender:

Royalty free music and SFX:

---------------AND NOW OUR FEATURE PRESENTATION-----------------

This post is based on two earlier posts by Squires and Ben for Precision Jam and expanded by me, with input from the other members of the We Can Make This Work (Probably) Network and Brian Nielsen from the Maine Video Game Devs Meetup.  

Here's where jam participants can discuss game engines and development tools. Below is a brief list of free ones that I (Arjuna) would recommend, some introductory resources to check out, and a list of well known games made with each in order to get an idea what the tools are capable of.  They are roughly ordered by easiest to hardest to get started with in my opinion. Your mileage may vary. Feel free to contribute any tutorials or info I might have missed, and ask questions if anything was unclear.

But I’ve never even made a game...ever!?

Then you are in the right place.  No worries at all. Jams are a great place to begin.  That being said if you want to get some insight into how to code games without a ton of hours I suggest this free tutorial below.  All you need is a text editor (like notepad) and any browser (Chrome, Firefox, Edge etc.) to get going on your first game. You can do this one in an evening or two. 

Free JavaScript Tutorial - Code Your First Game: Arcade Classic in JavaScript on Canvas

A Brief Game Jam Survival Guide by Luca Galli

Whatever tool you choose, check out Codecks and Milanote to keep track of your project during the jam.

Other tools, from easiest to hardest

  • Twine: A tool used to create interactive narrative and text based games. While it can be used with no coding, CSS and JavaScript can be integrated for additional functionality.  

Notable Games: Games made with Twine on Itch

Resources: Wiki; Twine is really easy to pick up and shouldn't require much reading to get started.


  • Puzzlescript: An HTML5 based game engine designed for puzzle games. Recommended by Nina Freeman for those who don't want to get into too much coding.

Notable Games: Puzzlescript official gallery on Tumblr


  • GDevelop: Another HTML5 based game engine that does not require any coding. 

Notable Games & Resources: Examples and games made with GDevelop on Itch

  • Bitsy: Also recommended by Nina, Bitsy is a grid based, retro-style engine that's works well for top-down adventure games.

Notable Games: Games made with Bitsy on Itch


  • Superpowers: A collaborative HTML5 engine that actually runs in the browser. If you set up hosting for it you can get google-docs style collaboration, which is not great for proper software engineering but it's awesome for game jams!

Notable Games: Games made with Superpowers on Itch

Resources: See this page from the official docs for tips on how to use source control with Superpowers.

  • Unity: The most popular game development tool, which is capable of creating both 2D and 3D games. Some C# scripting will likely be required, but a lot can be accomplished in the level editor alone, and with the help of the asset store.

Notable Games: DUSK, Edge of Eternity, Kerbal Space Program, Tacoma, Hearthstone, Cities Skylines, Ori and the Blind Forest, Cuphead


Unity Download Link 

Unity Beginner Documentation;Sebastian

Lague Intro Playlist;


Unity in Action by Joseph Hocking is an excellent introduction to Unity. A little pricey, but this kit available on the asset store is well worth the cost if you're interested in making first-person exploration games. 

For source control, see Github for Unity or Unity Collaborate.  Check out Unity Cloud Build for automated builds.  If you’re making a 3D game, I strongly recommend Darren Lile’s Udemy class on environment art in Blender and Unity.


  • Godot: Godot is good for 2D games.  It can do 3D too, but the docs and pipeline for it aren't really easy to get a grasp on if you're new to the engine unless you want to do really simple stuff.  Has sort of a similar approach as Unity in a lot of respects, but with a focus on nodes instead of components, and a Python-variant as a scripting language (GDScript). It's also free and open source!

Notable Games: See Godot games on

Resources:, Official Godot Engine documentation

Gamefromscratch Tutorial Video series (this series is good for running over various features, though isn't as entertaining or rewarding as the other, goal-based ones below):

Godot 3 Tutorial Series -- Introduction

Making your first 3D game (with an intro to nodes and physics)

Making your first 2D game with Godot

Make an Action RPG in Godot 3.2 (project setup + basic movement)

A bunch of assorted video tutorials:

See this Q&A answer for a guide to setting up Godot with Jenkins for continuous integration.  Most of the other resources for setting up Github Desktop to work with Unity and Unreal Engine should be almost as applicable for Godot.

  • GameMaker: A relatively beginner friendly tool specializing in 2D games. GameMaker features a drag and drop interface but can also be programmed entirely with it's own unique scripting language.

Notable Games: Spelunky, Hotline Miami, Hyper Light Drifter, Undertale

Resources:, Making A Game With No Experience;Shaun Spalding Tutorials; this guide on the Yoyogames website covers source control for GameMaker using Git and Mercurial.


  • Playscii: An open source, ASCII-art based game and art creation tool. Good for making a game reminiscent of old DOS titles like Rogue and ZZT or newer games that have this look like Dwarf Fortress.

Notable Games: Endless Ladder Climbing 2, your submission maybe?

Resources: documentation, the engine ships with several example games that new users can learn from. 

RPG Maker: While very focused in its capabilities, specializing in JRPG style games, RPG Maker is also pretty straightforward and easy to use. It requires no coding, but additional functionality can be added with custom scripts using the Ruby language. There are multiple versions, each with a free trial, but RPG Maker VX Ace Lite is a completely free version, which should serve the needs of this jam.

Notable Games: To the Moon, Lisa, Touhou - Wandering Souls

Resources: RPG Maker VX Official Documentation; I have no experience with RPG Maker, so hopefully others can list additional resources as well, but that didn’t stop me from Googling this guide to using Bitbucket for source control. 


  • Unreal Engine: Noted for its visual quality, and used in AAA and indie games alike, especially for first person shooters. While a lot of effort has been put into making the engine more accessible, it will still require some research and may require some knowledge of C++.  From my experience learning the engine, any UE4 tutorials made in mid-2016 or earlier will likely be of no use to newcomers due to significant changes in the engine since then. A good guideline is to make sure that any tutorials you look at use 4.17 or later.

Notable Games: Fortnite, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Psychonauts 2, Sea of Thieves, Dragon Quest XI, PUBG, Injustice 2, Rocket League


Get UE4 Now,

Unreal Online Learning,

Unreal Engine Official Documentation, has produced three high-quality Unreal Engine classes on UDemy (about $12-$20 each): an introduction to Unreal, a class on multiplayer, and one on VR

The Gnomon Workshop has several (subscription required) classes on environmental art in Unreal Engine. 

See also Tom Looman’s introduction to Unreal, which also covers multiplayer topics. 

See the Unreal Engine documentation to set up Perforce for source control.  A similar guide with Git and Github Desktop is here.  Check out Patrice Vignola’s guide to setting up Jenkins for automated UE4 project builds.

GB Studio: Drag and drop editor for making Game Boy style games. 


The Global Game Jam also provides a list of resources that is ever growing.  Check them out here:

Jammer Resources

Version Control/Source Control

For those of us that are very new to game development, version control is something we don’t think of right away, but it is essential for collaboration and keeping your own work safe. 

There are endless articles on this and the debate on which method is best is never ending.  The focus of the below articles is on Git and GitHub. I use Git and GitHub because that is what I was taught first and it has worked well for my purposes (short term Unity and Javascript on HTML5 canvas projects).  Please feel free to use whatever works best for your team. 

  1. The Place: GitHub
  2. Make an account (if you don’t have one already).
  3. Download GitHub Desktop.
  4. Watch this video by Brackeys (also a wonderful Unity resource) How to use GitHub with Unity. This is a GitHub and GitHub Desktop overview.  It branches into how to use it in Unity but the video shows a good way to set up any project that uses GitHub Desktop. 

If you want to check out some other option the Global Game Jam Resources doc has a nice list of links here :Resources for Jammers - Source Control