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Resources for the Amateur Video Game Designer

Always dreamed of making your own fantasy game for your Xbox? Microsoft has announced their software package for you to make Xbox games on your computer! It's Called XNA Game Studio Express Read more about it

What software and books do you need to get started?

This depends on what kind of games you want to make and your skill as a programmer; or willingness to learn programming.. Let me break it down for you: This section is taken from the video game design FAQ

Absolute Beginner: Make a 2d Side Scroller Game (Good Introduction to Game Making)
You should Get the software and the book: Awesome 3d Game Development: No Programming Required
Absolute Beginner: Make a 3d, Walk around the world, RPG style Game
You should get the software and books:Ultimate Game Design: Building Game Worlds
Many game design books give you an overall view. This book actually gives you real results and help with designing levels, textures and lighting. Good book for adults.
Willing to get better and learn how to program
You should learn how to program in C++. Get these two books: The First book (Sam's Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days) is an excellent step by step guide to C++ programming which is an excellent language for game programming. The Second book (Beginning C++ Game Programming) uses your new found C++ skill and applies it to game making..You will make simple games and develop to more complex ones as you progress through the book
Want to be involved in video games professionally but not sure if I want to do design, scripts, music, art or something else
You should get: Game Design for Teens
This is a great book for learning all about game design. This isn't a book that you can use to make a game on your own. It shows you the real process for game design. If you are considering a career in games you should get this book.
Still Not sure about what I want to do?
You should go to my tutorial on video game making and start there.It shows you what software to get, where to get it for free and takes you through the steps to make a 3d adventure style game. Within two hours you will have a character and a room for him to walk around in. You will also have learned a lot about what goes into video game design.

There are three different types of software that you should have to get going on video game design.

1. You need software that you will build the video game world in (often called world-building software). This is where you make the terrain, water, buildings etc. There are many different software applications that do this. If you want to get an overview of a lot of these I suggest you go to the DMOZ open directory project and check out Game Development Software

Many of these development software suites come complete with lots of textures and models that you can drag and drop right into your game. You can build complete games.

2. You need software to manipulate images and graphics. If you want to have individualized characters and items in your world or if you want a very specific look you will have to draw these items or modify existing items. This means a graphics program. I have been using Paint Shop Pro for years.

Paint Shop Pro Artist software

Paint Shop Pro Product Page at Amazon

It is simply, for the price, the best. The professionals use PhotoShop but it is expensive.

3. You need modeling software so you can design and create your characters and items for the game.

There are two major programs that you should use for 3D modeling: 3D Studio Max (www.autodesk.com) and Maya (www.alias.com) They are both very expensive but Maya has a special free download for students and learning. Check out the Maya download.

Another big player in this field is Lightwave 3D.It is also an expensive program.

If you want to just get your feet wet on something simpler you might want to try a program called Milkshape3D (www.milkshape3d.com). Its a good 3d Modeling program that is predominantly used for Quake and Half life and Unreal. They have a free 30 day trial download.

The Genesis 3d Game Engine Resources

The Genesis3D Home Page

Nice article on open software game engines

The Storm the Castle Tutorial on making your own video game for free. A step by step tutorial on how to make a video game with this open source software. Complete with pictures and explanations all along the way. You can have a single room game up and running in an hour.

I have the program right here for you to download. It is about 30Meg so if you are on a dial up modem it is going to take a while. Right click and select "Save As" Genesis 3D Developer Kit

For More comprehensive software, updates and other tools by Genesis 3d go to their home page and then proceed to the download page.

 

Construct 2 - A Visual HTML 5 Game development tool

This is an interesting video game design program that enables you to make games without programming. They have a variety of offerings including a free beta version and online trial tools so you can tinker with it and give it a whirl right away.

Check it out here: Construct 2

 

Video Game Summer Camps

Video Game Camp - Take interests further and gain a competitive edge for school, college, and future careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Weeklong, day and overnight technology programs for ages 7-17 where students design video games, mod and build with Minecraft, build 3D models, and more. Held at over 80 prestigious universities nationwide including Stanford, Princeton, Yale, and others.  Visit iDTech.com or call 1-888-709-TECH (8324) for details.

Teen Game Development - Instead of just playing games, create, design, and develop your own! Pre-college summer programs where ages 13-18 spend 2 weeks immersed in game design, development, programming, and 3D modeling. Held at top universities like Stanford, Harvard, and others. Learn from Academy faculty, collaborate in small classes (8:1 student to instructor ratio), and learn how game development can lead to a college degree and even a rewarding career. Tour a game studio and work with software from Microsoft, Epic Games, Autodesk, and Google. Also, late-night gaming tournaments.

 

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