Have you ever thought about creating your own online game? The advance of technology has made it easier for almost anyone to do it. We will review the best tools for creating games. So, in this post, we will show the best free game development software to create your own video game!
There are options for all tastes and levels – whether you're a writer from a paper writing service or office worker – you can try yourself in a game developer role. So, save the list!
However, if the game you have in mind is complex, you will need the help of professional developers as game development can get very challenging, especially at large scale.
If you think about AAA games, some of them are made with Unreal Engine. You only have to look at its website to freak out about the possibilities it offers.
The program is free, but from a certain income and beyond, you will have to pay a percentage of your earnings. Moreover, you need to have good programming skills, mainly c++, to use the 3D engine to its full potential.
Unreal Engine key features
- Pipeline integration. FBX, USD, and Alembic support.
- World building.The Unreal Editor.
- Animation. Character animation tools.
- Rendering, lighting, and materials. Photoreal rasterizing and ray tracing in real time.
- Simulation and effects.
- Gameplay and interactivity authoring.
- Integrated media support.
- Virtual production.
- Developer Tools.
- Mult-platform development.
Adventure Game Studio (AGS)
Adventure games are back, or did they never go away? If you want to make a game of this type, either in the retro style of Lucas Arts adventures or with more modern mechanics, you can do it with Adventure Game Studio. Remember that it is free, so this option is the most recommended to make a point and click game for Windows.
Adventure Game Studio features
- A Direct3D graphics driver with hardware acceleration capable of graphically intensive games.
- Older systems can still use a software graphics driver.
- By using graphics filters, you can easily scale up low-res games to run on modern systems.
- Integrated debugger to help you step through a script and track down errors easily.
- Alpha blended sprites are supported in 32-bit color games, as are 256-color, 16-bit color, and 32-bit color games.
- There are screen resolutions of 320×200, 320×240, 640×400, 640×480, 800×600, and 1024×768. Full-screen or windowed modes are available.
- Various audio formats are supported, including OGG, MP3, WAV, MOD, XM, and MIDI. Additional features include ambient location-specific sounds, automatic footstep sounds, multiple sound channels, and crossfading between music tracks.
- Video cutscenes can be played using OGG Theora or standard Windows files such as AVI and WMV.
- Easy to create talkie games with speech compiled into a single file.
- It's easy to manage your inventory with an items editor that uses simple Give and Lose commands during gameplay.
- Graphical User Interface (GUI) and mouse cursor are fully customizable with user-made GUIs available for download.
- Create NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) who roam the world and have their own inventory, and can be smoothly scaled and lit in different areas of the world. The walking animation can be done in 2, 4, and 8 directions. Multiple player characters are also possible, such as in Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle.
- You can create a scrolling room by importing an image larger than the screen resolution.
- A Lucasarts-style conversation system is available, as is the Sierra GUI template.
- Translations of your game into other languages are easy to produce and can be distributed separately as add-on packs.
- Advanced developers can add functionality to AGS using its plugin system.
- Compile your game into one EXE file with a custom icon to distribute it. It is also possible to compile digital music and voice samples into separate files for optional download.
- To maximize the engine's speed, the script is compiled to byte-code when you save the game.
- Features include game save and load, automatic pathfinding, sprite mirroring, walk behinds, hotspots, objects, cutscenes, animations, and timers.
Construct 3 has been the most powerful HTML5 web game engine (if you want the free option), and now it allows you to create games on several platforms (the usual iOs, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux).
The main advantage of Construct 3, although its most popular version is Construct 2, is that being a web program, you can run it anywhere, either on an iPad or on a computer with Ubuntu or Chrome OS.
The program is free if you create free games, so it's a great way to promote yourself without spending a euro.
Construct 3 key features
- Backwards Compatible.
- Performance Optimizations.
- Mobile App Build Service.
- Timeline Animations.
- New Plugins & Behaviours.
- Text And SpriteFont Styling.
- Mesh distortion.
- 3D features.
- Scene graph.
Unity 3D & Unity Gaming Services
Can we say that Unity is the most popular game engine today? The Unity game engine is one of the best available for game development. Unity's key characteristics that make it so powerful are the low learning curve, active community of asset and plugin creators, rapid development speed, and cross-platform integration that supports 25 platforms.
The free version allows us to create games and export them to more than 25 platforms, as long as we do not make a significant amount of money, and all in exchange for not being able to customize the initial loading screen. Not bad, right?
Unity 3D has a good engine for 3D games, so most of the games you know are made in Unity. And it has support for creating multiplayer games, with virtual reality and a long etcetera of options.
That's why it's the language taught in universities when they want to teach video game programming at the highest level because it's the program you can put on your resume if you're going to work for the industry.
It works with the C# language, so the big drawback is that you have to have a good foundation of programming fundamentals, especially in C#, before starting with Unity.
Unity 3D key features
- Workflow that makes it easy to assemble scenes in an intuitive editor workspace.
- Creating quality games, such as AAA visuals, high-definition audio, and full-throttle action, without any graphical glitches.
- The development of both 2D and 3D games is made easier with dedicated tools and shared conventions.
- The unique and flexible animation system creates natural animations in a concise time and provides reliable performance on all platforms developers publish their games on.
- One-click deployment to all platforms – desktops, browsers, mobiles, and consoles – within minutes.
- Utilize reusable assets already created in the huge Asset Store to reduce development time.
The free version of Buildbox allows you to create a world very simple, as it has no programming language, and everything is done through blocks or action boxes.
Interestingly, you can export to iOS and Android in the free version, but not to PC. It has a fairly modern interface and promises quite a lot, although the paid version can be a bit expensive (although if you develop much faster, it can be worth it).
Buildbox key features
- To help you get started and save time, use the built-in Template Library. Each template is a mini-game with prebuilt functionality you can edit and customize. Make stunning 3D space shooters, challenging racers, epic adventures, and more.
- There's also a built-in Asset Library with Smart Assets™ to help you bring your game to life. Each asset comes with preset animations and logic, speeding up game development and ease-of-use. Plus, you can edit them down to their node structure or code.
- Buildbox 3 also features Brainboxes™. With them, you can move any character or object in your game. These drag-and-drop animation components feature built-in logic that makes it easy to create.
- Earning ad revenue from your game is now as easy as 1, 2, 3! Simply integrate Adbox into your game, publish to Google Play or the App Store, and get paid! Adbox handles the rest, from ad optimization (ensuring you the most ad revenue) to payouts, Adbox has you covered.
I could only run the program with a Mac.
It is exported only for iPhone/iPad.
The payment method is by subscription, paying monthly or yearly.
It doesn't have any programming language or scripts, so it could limit the creation of some kind of game.
A lot has happened since then, and the current version of Game Salad allows you to run it also on windows and offer several exports (almost like Game Maker).
Of course, the payment is still by subscription, although you can try the program for free. You can always see what games can be made with Game Salad and evaluate if the price is worth it.
GameSalad key features
- You can easily and quickly create your own game.
- It is compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, and Amazon Marketplace.
- This platform features drag-and-drop coding.
- You can add social features and monetization options with GameSalad Pro.
- With Chartboost, Playhaven, Revmob, and iAd, you have access to a variety of leading advertising networks.
- Technical support is provided as well.
- Amazon's GameCircle is supported.
- Display ads where you want.
- Developers who wish to use the free-to-play model can do so.
GDevelop is open source and multiplatform, and you can create games for the web, iOs, Android, and PC (Windows, Mac, or Linux).
It has an event system very similar to Game Maker, and you don't need to write any code.
To check if it is easy to use their program, you can see how to make a shooter with a top-down view or a platform game in their tutorials.
GDevelop key features
- One click export for Android.
- One click export to Facebook Instant Games, to play on Messenger.
- Export your game for the web in one click
- Export your game to iOS (with a Mac).
- Export as a stand-alone executable game for Windows, macOS and Linux – in one click!
- Publish your game on Poki, CrazyGames, Kongregate, Itch.io and other gaming websites!
- Display ads and reward videos to your players using AdMob.
- Sprites with multiple animations.
- Create explosions, fire and impressive effects with Particle Emitters.
- “9 patch” sprites, perfect for platforms.
- Tiled sprites, to create mosaics, floors and repeating patterns.
- Text objects.
- Formatted rich text with BB Text objects.
- Embed videos with Video objects.
- Draw custom shapes on screen with Shape Painters.
- Author maps of your tile-based game in Tiled and import them in a Tilemap object – coming soon!
- Support for custom collision masks.
Godot has been in fashion lately, and it is gaining more and more strength as an alternative to develop videogames.
It is a game engine, both 2D and 3D, open-source, and you can use Windows, Linux, or OS X to program.
It uses the GDScript programming language, although it can also program in C#. It also exports to many devices, operating systems, and the web.
Godot Engine key features
- Nodes for all your needs. Godot comes with hundreds of built-in nodes that make game design a breeze. You can also create your own for custom behaviors, editors, and more.
- Flexible scene system. Create node compositions with support for instancing and inheritance.
- Visual editor with all the tools you need packed into a beautiful and uncluttered context-sensitive UI.
- Friendly content creation pipeline for artists, level designers, animators and everyone in between.
- Persistent live editing where changes are not lost after stopping the game. It even works on mobile devices!
- Create your own custom tools with ease using the incredible tool system.
- Innovative architecture that combines the best of forward rendering with the efficiency of deferred rendering.
- Physically-based rendering with full MSAA and FXAA support.
- Full principled BSDF with subsurface scattering, reflection, refraction, anisotropy, clearcoat, transmittance and more.
- Global illumination for real-time gorgeous graphics. It can also be pre-baked for beautiful results even on low-end devices.
- Mid- and Post-processing effects including a tonemapper that supports HDR, multiple standard curves and auto exposure, screen-space reflections, fog, bloom, depth of field and much more.
- Easy-to-use shader language based on GLSL, with built-in editor and code completion.
Roblox (Roblox Studio)
Roblox is a multiplayer game, so we could say that it is not a video game engine. But since it allows you to create your worlds, we'll say that you can also make video games in it.
Creating a world in Roblox is quite simple. You go placing pieces as if they were a Lego, and that's it. Being a game designed as an infinite number of online worlds, where anyone can play, it comes standard with integrated chat for your friends or those who play in your world.
If you like to play this game, do not hesitate, create your universes so that everyone can play them. If you want to see how far Roblox has grown you can check our list of the best Roblox games for some inspiration.
OpenRA was created to recreate the Command & Conquer video game. If you don't know the game, we are talking about a real-time strategy game, so OpenRA is an engine that allows you to create this kind of 2D game.
It has interesting features, like an integrated online multiplayer, support for current operating systems (we are talking about computer games, not mobile games), mods with ready-made games, or customize your own mods.
So now you know, if you want to create your own online strategy game, it doesn't get any easier with this tool.
OpenRA key features
- Updated gameplay designed around modern features like attack-move, unit veterancy, and the fog of war.
- Online play with full support for mods and custom maps.
- Updated campaigns with new objectives and difficulties.
- Natively supported on Windows, macOS and Linux.
Scratch is designed to teach programming to children, so it is used in many schools and institutes. The way of programming is very similar to Game maker's Drag&Drop, where we drag the different blocks or actions to go coding your project.
The fame of Stencyl is its great facility to make 2D games, primarily because it mainly exports in Flash format. Flash games were top-rated a few years ago, and simply creating web games made this tool famous. Currently, you can also ship on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. The free version allows you to export for the Web, and if you want other exports, you have to pay annually.
001 Game Creator
I recently saw 001 Game Creator, a curious name, but it hides a program with many features and a quite affordable price.
001 Game Creator key features:
- Exports to Windows, Mac, Android, and HTML5.
- Multilayer map editor.
- Possibility to make 2D and 3d games.
- Integrated online and local multiplayer.
- Graphical scripts, similar to Game Maker Drag&Drop.
- You have the option to try a trial, so you can take a look at it to see if it works for you.
The best free game development software – Conclusion
Here you have a good list to make free videogames. Depending on the type of game you want to make and your level of programming knowledge, you may prefer one engine or another.