SOVEREIGN MOON PRESENTS…
7 Best FREE Game Development Tools & Game Engines to Make Games Without Coding
If you want to make video games, but don’t know how to code, then we have you covered. In this post, we’ll explore the best tools and game engines to help non-programmers develop and design 2D and 3D games from scratch without coding.
How to Make a Video Game Without Coding
Today, Sovereign Moon Studios, the makers of your favorite NoCode game development course, are going to talk to you about our favorite no-code game development tools. Huge advances in visual programming have taken place over the last few years and now today, it’s 100% possible to create both 2D and 3D video games from scratch without coding or programming knowlege.
In today’s tutorial, we’re going to explore our favorite tools (most of them are free), which help you bring your creative video game ideas to life without having to know how to code.
So let’s jump in.
How is No-Code Game Development Possible
No-code game development is possible because a group of programmers have decided they want to make programming more readily available to the general public. Often people don’t have the time to learn how to code or don’t have the funds necessary to hire programmers to help them bring their creative ideas to life. Making high-end 2D or 3D video games is a very skill intensive process. As game players we often take the complexity for granted. We just assume that our character won’t fall through the digital ground they are walking on and we just assume the materials we properly reflect the light within the sky around our player as we move around in 3D space. We know when we press the WASD keys on our keyboard that our character will move or when we hit the space bar our character will jump and then gravity will pull them back to the ground. But behind of of these basic movements is a huge volume of code that governs everything from the character’s velocity to the gravity that pulls them back down after a jump. In short, doing the most seemingly simple tasks within game development, is anything but simple.
Luckily, programmers have taken it upon themselves to make game development more accessible by creating visual programming (or visual scripting) tools that allow no-code game devs to use drag and drop technology to build their games.
Think of no-code game development like you would building a Wix, WordPress or Shopify website. It’s not that running a website doesn’t require code, it’s just that modern platforms have allowed you to access code through no-code tools like plugins or apps. Once you know which functionality you want your website to have, you simply need to find the plugin or app that can help you accomplish that task. The plugin or app you decide to use will have been developed using code, but the programmer who built it will create it in a way that gives users of the plugin an easy to understand user interface (UI) which allows them to modify the code of the plugin without having to touch the code base itself. This allows website owners to create complex websites with built-in ecommerce functionality, forms, security systems, drag and drop design interfaces and much more… all without having to touch a line of code.
While no-code development has been common practice in the world of website design for many years now, it’s been a trend that’s been slower to take a foothold in the game development world. However, over the last 5 years we’ve seen huge advanced in visual programing in the world of game development.
So I’m going to dive in now and explore some of my favorite no-code game development tools.
1. Unity (Freemium)
When someone mentions the game engine Unity, the thoughts of a beginner friendly system are not usually the first thoughts to enter the person’s head. Unity is often associated with more complex game development. However, recently Unity has made some changes to their engine which make creating games using Unity’s no-code tools possible. Unity also has a free tier of their game engine available which makes getting started creating 2D or 3D video games possible.
In fact, Unity recently went public and completed their IPO, and I have a good feeling that they will continue to venture further into the world of no-code game development and try to put Unity is the hands of as many aspiring game makers as possible.
Don’t be intimated by Unity. You’ll be surprised at the game engines ease of use when you sign up. Unity also has a great onboarding process where they hold your hand through the entire game development process in a series of free tutorials and micro-game development courses.
2. Unity’s 3D Game Kit (Free)
One of my favorite no-code game development tools is a free Unity asset that’s called 3D Game Kit. This kit is essentially a pre-built video game which Unity has designed to make it easy for people to develop 3D video games without having to know how to code.
The game kit comes with everything you need to develop a video game; a beautiful game world, a pre-rigged character (learn how to change the character here), music, game objects, enemies and much more. All you need to do is drag and drop game assets where you want them within your world, and then use their built-in no-code game development tools to make the in-game objects behave how you want.
For example, if your want your enemy to do more damage when they attack you, all you need to do is enter their attack strength within an input box and then click save.
This asset was designed to help people who want to get involved in 3D game development learn how to make games without needing to write a line of code.
3. Unity’s 2D Game Kit (Free)
Unity has also created a 2D Game Kit which is almost identical to the 3D Game Kit, except that instead of building a 3D world, you’ll be building a 2D world instead. However, like the 3D game kit, this pre-built no-code game package comes with everything you need to make a 2D video game from scratch without having to know how to code.
4. Bolt (Free)
Bolt is another free Unity asset that helps no-code game developers take their games to the next level by giving them access to more advanced visual scripting tools that allow game designers who want more control over their game to create more advanced edits to their game without having to write code.
With the 3D and 2D game kits mentioned above, many of the no-code tools are “baked” into the game. So although you don’t need to write code, you might hit a wall and feel limited by what you can do.
For example, with the 2D and 3d game kit you get a couple of dozen character animations. Your character animations will do pretty much everything you need your character to do like walk, run, jump, land, roll, fight etc. But what if you wanted your character to crawl or dance? Well this is where things get a little more complex and a no-code tool like Bolt would come into play.
Bolt will give you more granular control over what you can within your Unity game. It’s not quite as easy to use as the 2D or 3D game kits, but if you feel like you’ve mastered Unity’s free Game Kits, then it might be time to jump to the next level and master Bolt.
Another feature I love about Bolt is the way it presents language and logic to users. Bolt makes no-code game development easy, but while doing so, it also introduces you to coding logic. If you were to get really good at Bolt, you would find that taking your first steps into the world of programming (if you decide to go that route) would be much easier because you’d have a better understanding of the code logic. Recently we published a Bolt beginner level video tutorial. So check that out, to see if Bolt is a tool you think you’d find helpful.
5. Playmaker (Paid)
Playmaker is another no-code development tool which is very similar to Bolt. Again, it allows you to setup complex game logic without writing a line of code by giving you access to a visual scripting tool that allows you to build game logic using drag and drop game dev technology. Playmaker was the tool used to help this game maker create “The First Tree”, a no-code indie game that went on to make over $100,000 in sales. However, Playmaker is not a free asset (Bolt is), so study both no-code tools before deciding which one is best for you.
6. BuildBox (Freemium)
Up until this point we’ve only talked about Unity and Unity add-ons. However, I wanted to talk about another game engine that I really like that can make 2D or 3D games. it also has a free version available for download. This game engine is called BuildBox and it’s incredibly user friendly. BuildBox is easier to get started with compared to Unity. So if you’re looking for a game engine with a less intimidating learning curve then BuildBox might be the best fit for you. You can create breathtaking 2D and 3D games using this game engine and its drag and drop interface make this a great option for absolute beginners.
7. Godot (Free and Open Source)
Godot is a free and open source game engine that will feel familiar to you if you’re already familiar with Unity. Godot has recently introduced a visual scripting tool aimed at no-coders but it’s currently in its infancy and not as flushed out as Unity’s Bolt or Playmaker. However, it does work well and if the open source community continue to develop Godot’s no-coding features, Godot could be a strong no-code game engine contender.
Another thing I love about Godot is that they recently developed a AAA quality open source demo game that allows people to see how a game is built from the ground up. Because the game is open source, you’ll have access to all of the programing, art assets and animations. This makes learning fun because you can deconstruct someone else game to see how it was put together. Often taking something that’s already built and taking it apart is a great way to learn.
If you’re looking to make games without programming, but you’re not sure where to start, consider enrolling in our no-code game development course. Our outcomes based, hands-on course will teach you everything you need to know about creating professional video games from scratch without having to know how to code. Simply click on our homepage to learn more.
Sovereign Moon Studios is dedicated to helping game enthusiasts bring their creative visions to life without having to know how to code or draw. Our NoCode game development course teaches indie game devs how to build breathtaking games from scratch.
Want to Make Video Games?
Do you love game design? So do we! For this reason, we created a no-code video game development course that walks you through the process of bringing your game visions to life without needing to know how to program and without having to be an artist. We will teach you how to bring your game to life in our 4 hour 36 module no-code game development course.