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Can a non-programmer make games?


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#1 distilledwater71   Members   -  Reputation: 136

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 09:30 PM

I am a computer science major right now, thinking that this is the normal path for an aspiring game developer, but it just isn't clicking for me. I don't like it at all. But I still really want to make games alone without having to partner up with a programmer for it. Could someone like me still make good games using engines like Game Maker and Unity without having a serious, hardcore knowledge of programming?



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#2 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 14666

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 10:24 PM

Probably, yes.

 

You will be limited a bit based on how much programming you're comfortable doing, but that's easy to work around with a partner or teammate to collaborate with.



#3 Tangletail   Members   -  Reputation: 115

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 10:27 PM

No... it's not very possible.

 

The basic knowledge is things like creating a console application. The advanced knowledge is creating actual applications. And then Expert and Master is actually building your own systems.

 

If you do not have someone without advanced knowledge in computer science, then your project will be doomed from the beginning. You can live without a really good artist, and you can live without a decent story writer. It all comes down to how good your programming team is to your game's idea.

 

Granted, the API is a gimme. You still need to know how to manipulate the computer to get simple things done.


Edited by Tangletail, 18 April 2014 - 10:28 PM.


#4 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 14666

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 10:37 PM

That's a bit melodramatic if you ask me.

 

 

Lots of games are made with trivial amounts of "programming" effort. Some of them are even pretty good.



#5 traghera   Members   -  Reputation: 411

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 12:21 AM


 

If you do not have someone without advanced knowledge in computer science, then your project will be doomed from the beginning. You can live without a really good artist, and you can live without a decent story writer. It all comes down to how good your programming team is to your game's idea.

 

 

 while I agree with your previous statement, I disagree with this one. Virtual games are a unique combination of art and technology. While it is true that you can make the individual parts without need of another's help, if they don't fit together well, the game will be shit. Unless you yourself are both an artist or programmer, you cannot live without one.
 

 Game developing is like a teamsport for nerds-~ it's best done with a team. If you really wanna go solo, (not Han Solo), you have to know some programming. While it is indeed possible, with current engines on the market to make games without either programming or art knowledge and skill, it will, at least, not be as good as when you are making it with people that "know stuff" a truly good game requires at least a programmer and an artist.



#6 Satharis   Members   -  Reputation: 949

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 01:20 AM

Usually coding will come up in one way or another. For instance even RPG maker has a few different series of more "casual-ish" rpgs like Aveyond(that have made some pretty good money as far as I can tell.) Game maker is the same way really. The thing is even using progressively more tools that remove the coding requirement, you'll probably have to learn some scripting at the least if you want to put unique behavior in your game.

Coding is always kind of there it just matters how much you'll delve into it. Of course there is an ENORMOUS gap in the knowledge required to throw a game together with an existing tool vs starting from scratch or libraries. Like Apoch said, if it really became an issue you could always look for someone to collaborate with.

Learning a little coding knowledge isn't bad though, it helps give more perspective on games and works your brain to react to logic better.

EDIT: If you're not much of a programmer there's always the possibility of switching your major. Just do what you're happy with, not what you think will be the best thing.

Edited by Satharis, 19 April 2014 - 01:22 AM.


#7 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17745

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 02:41 AM

Yes, but...

  • You'll still need to do some programming, even if it's hidden behind a graphical system rather than actually typing programming keywords for a compiler.  Game Maker allows you to express game logic using a drag & drop editor, or to use a simplified scripting language called Game Maker Language (or GML) if you're finding the drag & drop too limiting.  Construct 2 also offers a graphical drag & drop event based system, but you're essentially still programming -- just with a different interface.  Even though it boils down to the same basic task of breaking down and solving problems, and then expressing them in a form the computer can understand, some people find a visual system less intimidating than the act of typing code.
  • You may face some limitations.  As mentioned above, the drag & drop system in Game Maker is limited, and many developers progress to the GML scripting language for more complex ideas.  If you can only use drag & drop you'll be limited to what it can do.  If you can muddle through some basic GML you will be less limited, but still confined to the capabilities of Game Maker.  If you could learn a full-featured programming language you're essentially free to anything you can take the time and effort to create.
  • It will still be hard work.  Just taking programming out of the equation (or reducing it) doesn't make creating a non-trivial game easy, and if you want to offer a complete play experience you'll still need to do boring things like implementing menus, high-scores, etc. along with the fun stuff.  If you're pushing the limits of a limited system you may even find some things more difficult than they would be in a less limited one, so you'll need to match your expectations to the capabilities of the tool(s) you choose to use.

 

Note that many development tools have plenty of tutorials and examples available, and often have active and helpful communities to help you out with difficulties.  If you're able to effectively find and use information from these sources, and if your ideas aren't too radically different from what others have done before you can minimise your own programming effort by relying to the efforts of others, although you will still have to do some work to fit all the pieces together and to adjust things to your specific needs.

 

 

If you're not enjoying programming, it could be that you're more interested in a different development role such as writing, design, or art.  If your course really isn't what you want to do it's worth considering other options -- you can always make small games as a hobby even if you find you're better suited to another field, or if programming isn't your thing there are other roles in professional development.

 

Hope that helps! smile.png



#8 Mouser9169   Members   -  Reputation: 401

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 03:00 AM

No... it's not very possible.

 

The basic knowledge is things like creating a console application. The advanced knowledge is creating actual applications. And then Expert and Master is actually building your own systems.

 

If you do not have someone without advanced knowledge in computer science, then your project will be doomed from the beginning. You can live without a really good artist, and you can live without a decent story writer. It all comes down to how good your programming team is to your game's idea.

 

Granted, the API is a gimme. You still need to know how to manipulate the computer to get simple things done.

 

Disagree. If you're doing anything within the role-play genre, as an example - story comes first, second, and third. Without that, you have no game.

Pretty graphics and fluid motion can only take you so far.

 

If you don't handle the programming, it has to be handled by someone else. Two main possibilities: a teammate or a toolkit. Unreal has blueprints, Game Maker has it's drag and drop stuff. Pretty much every 'engine' has some sort of scripting capability. It's a bit like asking, "What do I need to know to make a movie?" A whole hell of a lot, actually if you're talking from writing the first draft of the screenplay through the filming to the final post-production editing (and don't forget marketing).

 

Games are a lot like that - there is no 'one thing' that makes or breaks a game: it's the sum of a whole lot of things that need to work together. You can be 'weak' in one or two areas and make up for it in others (so long as they don't completely suck), but the better you or your team are overall, the better the game will be.


Edited by Mouser9169, 19 April 2014 - 03:01 AM.

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#9 Mats1   Members   -  Reputation: 297

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 03:02 AM

I am a computer science major right now, thinking that this is the normal path for an aspiring game developer, but it just isn't clicking for me. I don't like it at all. But I still really want to make games alone without having to partner up with a programmer for it. Could someone like me still make good games using engines like Game Maker and Unity without having a serious, hardcore knowledge of programming?

My next door neighbour just started making games using a 2D game engine and although he doesn't know any programming, he's doing ok. Every now and then, I take a brief look at his games and give him some advice on problems he's having and that seems to help a lot. 
So, I think it will be a lot harder, but if you can have people look over your code or give help every now & then, IRL or online, you can do it. Definitely would recommend initially making 2D games using a pre-made engine to start off with though. You might consider to start out by making some clones of basic games, such as pong, asteroids and city defence.

Personally, I use GameDevelop for making 2D games ( http://www.en.compilgames.net/ ) for which I'm just about to finish up some major tutorials on how to make some of these games on scratch (going up on Youtube this Easter weekend). My neighbour is using construct 2 and he seems to find that fine too. Unity I believe, is a little more difficult for the beginner (that is just my two cents though).



#10 Anthony Serrano   Members   -  Reputation: 1139

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 04:09 AM

It's possible to make games solo without being able to program; HOWEVER, not being able to program severely restricts the range of ideas you are able to realize alone.

Giving more information about the types of games you'd like to make would make it easier to give a specific answer and help direct you to the appropriate tools.

#11 SteveDeFact0   Members   -  Reputation: 151

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 02:42 PM

I am a computer science major right now, thinking that this is the normal path for an aspiring game developer, but it just isn't clicking for me. I don't like it at all. But I still really want to make games alone without having to partner up with a programmer for it. Could someone like me still make good games using engines like Game Maker and Unity without having a serious, hardcore knowledge of programming?

I do believe Unity still requires some scripting and game maker would likely limit what you can do to a small set of standard game mechanics. Programming to making games is like understanding how to write/play music to making music. There are ways to get around it but you will be essentially mixing other people's music and or code in order to create a derived work. You will not be able to truly create something which is unique and it will always be a re-mastering  of other people's work.


Edited by SteveDeFact0, 19 April 2014 - 02:47 PM.


#12 ikarth   Members   -  Reputation: 392

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 04:16 PM

Can you make games without programming? Yes, sort of. In fact, I've seen an artist who doesn't know any code at all plug a working level together in Unity with various scripted components, though there were some definite limitations to that approach. But let's look a little deeper. There are a bunch of unstated assumptions that your post doesn't answer. Some clarification might help. You say Computer Science isn't clicking for you? Which parts? Why? The answer to that is going to determine how much success you have with any form of game development. 

 

The way you phrased the question implies that you want to develop games entirely on your own. That's very admirable, but not the only way to go about game development. If you want to go to work at a AAA game studio, that's a very different set of questions.

 

"Game developer" is a very broad label; teams usually break down into artists, programmers, designers, and so forth. Some of the posts up thread covered that. Assuming you want to do the core stuff yourself, having solid programming ability will definitely help you. There are all kinds of games you could make though, some that require less programming and some that require more. What kinds of games do you want to make? What is one specific game you want to make?

 

There's also the common and solid suggestion of making a board game first. That will give you some of the discipline you need to do development while letting you not worry about the computer just yet. Learning how to write the rules clearly is good practice for some of the skills needed to implement a game on the computer. It won't teach you everything, of course, but it is something that will help you figure out what you really want to do.

 

Lastly, Computer Science is useful for a lot more than just games, and if you're thinking about dropping your degree you probably need to think about what you are going to do if you end up on a non-game career path.



#13 catslap   Members   -  Reputation: 35

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 04:16 AM

Yes.

 

Even if you don't code, for the tiny bits you might need, game coders are usually cheap or free. No-one gets a nobel prize for game coding, it's just not that hard.

 

Knowing about coding certainly helps a lot though.


Edited by catslap, 20 April 2014 - 05:40 AM.


#14 Angus Hollands   Members   -  Reputation: 707

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 05:18 PM

Simple answer, no. More complex answer, yes:

 

A game is really an abstract concept, many things can be considered "a game". A game involves creating an experience, and that is a broad field. Anyone can create a game by this logic. What you're really asking is, can someone without programming knowledge create a playable game with existing tools, and the answer to that is yes. Programming itself is often a case of learning about logical thinking - maintaining an understanding of how your code translates into the user's experience, and how your systems work with one another, and any potential APIs. As a programmer, one doesn't possess any ability a "non" programmer does not, they have merely developed the line of logical analysis further, to enable them to express their thoughts in another language, on another architecture.

 

For example, I specialise in Python, but I have a good grasp of many other languages. After learning how programming necessitates a certain mindset and adopting it, it was far easier to learn new languages, and even the difference between typing, interpreting and additional language capabilities did not prove to be too challenging to grasp, given the initial toolset that I had learned.

 

You will need to program in order to develop a game. A game requires some form of interactive experience, and interactive experiences need to be designed. However, programming is a diverse and loosely defined concept, and there are many restricted and abstracted programming environments which enable you to write "code" through a more visual approach.

 

Such examples include Blender Game Engine's logic bricks and Hive nodes (which are currently quite young in implementation), Unity PlayMaker and UScript, UDK's Blueprints / Kismet, the list goes on.

 

Ultimately these translate, like programming languages, into machine code,the difference is the semantics. With all of these systems, there comes a price. Typically, more complicated programs either do not translate into visual languages, or they do so poorly. It may be  that on occasion, you require someone else to implement logic into a visual logic editor for you (e.g writing a new node), which limits you as the developer. 

 

My advice would be to understand to adopt the programmer's mindset, even if you don't intend to write complex programs any time soon.

 

I wish you the best!

Angus



#15 Satharis   Members   -  Reputation: 949

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 05:46 PM

Yes.
 
Even if you don't code, for the tiny bits you might need, game coders are usually cheap or free. No-one gets a nobel prize for game coding, it's just not that hard.
 
Knowing about coding certainly helps a lot though.

Yes I just smack a rock against my monitor and code appears, who would ever possibly pay for that?

Sometimes I even smack a rock against my monitor for significantly more hours than other programmers while what I'm doing requires 10x the rock smashing complexity of anything they ever will, they even pay me less!

Its a good thing there are silly people like me around that like to smack rocks against screens.

Edited by Satharis, 20 April 2014 - 05:46 PM.


#16 Tangletail   Members   -  Reputation: 115

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 08:44 AM

Yes.

 

Even if you don't code, for the tiny bits you might need, game coders are usually cheap or free. No-one gets a nobel prize for game coding, it's just not that hard.

 

Knowing about coding certainly helps a lot though.

I have yet to hear of a game coder being free. Now if you mean the programming API. Then I can see that.

 

But a program that programs a game for you (besides game maker, whos highly limited without the pro license), that allows you to sell commercially, or someone who is programming your game for you... you are probably going to pay a pretty penny for that.


Edited by Tangletail, 21 April 2014 - 08:45 AM.


#17 ferrous   Members   -  Reputation: 1864

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 01:40 PM

I'll just swipe this paragraph from wikipedia:

 

 

Gunpoint was developed by Tom Francis in his spare time while working as section editor for PC Gamer magazine. Francis had no formal background in programming, but having learned that Spelunky was created by one person with the user-friendly software suite Game Maker, he decided to experiment with game development.[3] He started work on his first game, under the working title Private Dick, in May 2010. Within about a month Francis had a working prototype which he released on his blog to gauge interest and garner feedback.

 

Now, there are certain games that couldn't have been made without a programmer, Portal springs to mind, for example.  But these days, its quite possible to make something original, and interesting using an engine and only having to do some minimal coding logic, possibly using a gui the whole time.  Now, you're probably not going to be able to create something with mindblowing, never before seen mechanics.  It would, for example, be really, really f'ing hard to make a game with incredibly realistic and interesting water without anyone doing additional programming at this point, because none of the available game engines have it.  That said, you can make really unique and interesting games, games with great stories, or interesting gameplay hooks with an existing engine.  If you just want to make an RPG, and don't want to implement some new form of mechanics, but just want to build on existing stuff, and concentrate on having a unique story, that is very doable.



#18 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3971

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 07:56 PM

No-one gets a nobel prize for game coding, it's just not that hard.
That was a very, very bad call to make dude.

"I AM ZE EMPRAH OPENGL 3.3 THE CORE, I DEMAND FROM THEE ZE SHADERZ AND MATRIXEZ"

 

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#19 Myhijim   Members   -  Reputation: 150

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 05:50 AM

If you are looking at Unity as a engine there is a fairly 'code free' plugin called PlayMaker.

 

http://www.hutonggames.com/

Well may have been exaggerating the 'code-free' part but this could help you visualize the whole system better.

 

Dunno how much this will help your cause but I couldn't see it making it any worse.



#20 catslap   Members   -  Reputation: 35

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 11:52 AM

 

No-one gets a nobel prize for game coding, it's just not that hard.
That was a very, very bad call to make dude.

 

So it would seem if the bubble that comes up telling me I'm hemorrhaging reputation actually means anything 

 

I've got three client projects at the minute, one is avionic, so meets DO-178B, only a few thousand LOCs but many man years of work by excellent experienced engineers to meet the safety critical cert, the next is being dropping into an explosive environment so has to be ATEX certified and the start-up self test code reflects this, the last is SIL3 (dramatic loss of life on failure) and has to demonstrate thread safety on two processors running operating systems while performing extreme DSP, the test rig alone cost over $1M of software dev. But you suggest that whacking a texture to a screen with some noddy logic to drive it is trivial compared to real world software and gamedev throw their toys out of the pram :/

 

Besides, the answer is still true, you don't need coding to make games, and I haven't met many rich game coders. 






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