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How to create a game app

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How to create a game app: Smartphones, even the cheapest ones, are powerful enough to be used as small gaming consoles. Of course, you too use yours in this way. In fact, there is no better way to cheat time in “dead moments”, such as when waiting at the bus stop or waiting in the doctor’s room. In light of this evaluation, you were curious to find out how a smartphone game is created and, consequently, you searched for information on the Net.

You are so finished on this tutorial of mine, where, I am happy to announce it, I will have the opportunity to explain  how to play checkers on the Internet . Unfortunately, yours is a vast question and not even an essay would be enough to illustrate all the possibilities available and all the specific functions for each “genre” of game you want to create. In any case, I will do my best to present the simplest solutions to use and show you the development environment.

Having said that, let’s not waste any more time chatting and let’s take action. Courage: make yourself comfortable, read carefully the instructions I am about to give you and, more importantly, try to apply them. I assure you that, with a pinch of practice and a lot of effort, you will be able to get satisfactory spades results. Happy reading and enjoy!

Preliminary information

Gaming keyboard

First, you need to know that the tools for creating a game app fall into two major categories. On the one hand we find the SDK (Software Development Kit) of each operating system with the related application software, such as Android Studio  which is the suite that integrates the Android SDK and which Google makes available to developers for the production of apps intended for the system Android operating. Alternatively, there are independent commercial software , which allow you to develop content within an integrated environment and, based on your license, to export the game in different formats intended for as many operating systems.

These two options have many differences and, obviously, both have their positive and negative characteristics. The SDK allow to maximize the potential of the operating system to which they are addressed, to manage every single detail and make sure that each function is optimized. Furthermore, it is possible to conduct numerous tests, in some cases also through the use of virtually emulated devices.

The independent commercial software, also known as Game Engine , on the other hand, are characterized by a generally lower level of difficulty, have an orientation already heavily based on the creation of games and allow you to develop a unique project (and all related resources) that can be exported as package compatible with different platforms (desktop, mobile, Web, console …), available depending on the license owned.

In this article I will focus with you on the second category of tools I have told you about: game engines , as they are easier to use for non-experts. The game engine landscape is very vast and includes various software, some very simple and useful for novice developers, others more advanced and specifically designed for certain genres of video games, others still very powerful and characterized by the maximum freedom left to the developer, in terms of graphics and programming, which make them suitable solutions for the development of, potentially, any type of game, even very close, in terms of quality, to those currently on the market.

How to create a game with App Inventor

Inventor app

The first tool I want to introduce you is called App Inventor , a development environment for Android apps . It was initially created by Google but, for a few years, the project has been carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the most important universities that does technological research at the United States and worldwide.

App Inventor has a very intuitive interface, which is based on the simple drag-and-drop concept and is very reminiscent of Scratch , another visual programming environment. Although it is possible to publish the application on the Play Store, through the App Inventor, you can generally create small applications with rather elementary functions.

To get started, connect to the official App Inventor website and click the orange Create apps! Button . , top right. To continue, you need to log in with a Google account: then enter your account credentials and, if requested, authorize access. When you are ready to start, click on the Start new project … button , at the top left, and, in the small window that is shown, type the name you want to give to the project and click on the OK button .

The project will open automatically within the Web page. The environment allows you to perform various operations: the heart of App Inventor is represented by the left sidebar , which, divided into categories, shows different controls that you can add to your application. The options are very varied and range from buttons to contacts in the address book, passing through images , lists , text boxes , cameras , SMS and much more.

The operation of the various components you can add is very simple: once you have found the one you are interested in, click on it and physically drag it on the screen visible in the center of the page. Once the component has been added, it will be possible to select it and modify some specific properties through the right sidebar. For example, in the case of a text box , you can change the size and font of the text and the acceptable values.

To create new screens, click on the Add screen … button , present in the top bar, then, in the window that is shown in the center of the page, enter the name and click the OK button . You can move from one screen to another by choosing from those in the menu on the left of the button you have just used.

When you are satisfied with the result, you can export the application in .APK format . To do this, go to the menu at the top of the web page and select the items Compile> App (save the .apk file on my computer) . In this way, the compilation will start, a procedure that checks the formal correctness of all your application, and the .APK file will be downloaded to your PC. If you have doubts about the operation of this file, consult my guide dedicated to the installation of APK files . I conclude, by pointing out the official App Inventor support documentation , useful for deepening the functioning of the platform.

How to create a game with GameMaker

GameMaker

GameMaker is one of the most popular development environments for 2D games. The program allows you to set up the project based on both visual programming and programming via code, using proprietary language. Its basic version, for learning to program, is free, but to publish the games you need to buy a license, with prices starting from $ 39.

To download the free version of GameMaker, visit the official page of YoYo Games  (the software manufacturer) and click on the green Get GameMaker button , at the top right, then locate the Trial panel and click on the green Free button . On the next page, click on the green button Login to download , enter the credentials of your YoYo account and click on the Login  button (to create a new YoYo account, you must click on the Sign up button , on the right and fill in the form that comes to you proposed). At this point, from the menu along the left sidebar, select the itemsGameMaker> Download and finally click on the Download button , under the Windows logo or under the macOS logo , depending on the operating system you use.

To proceed with the GameMaker installation, open the .EXE or .PKG package that you downloaded, click the Yes button (only if you are using Windows), then, in the installation window that appears on the screen, click on the buttons OK , I Agree , Next , then Install and finally Next and Finish . Once the installation is complete, in the main GameMaker screen, click on the New button  and then on  Drag and Drop. Now, in the save window, type the name you want to assign to the project and click on the Save button .

Along the right sidebar, you can find several elements to create, divided into categories. For example, to add audio content, you can right-click on the Sound item , then select the Create Sound option  from the drop-down menu: in this way you can define the properties of the audio file and import the source track.

All the elements present in the panel in question can be dragged into the workspace , which occupies almost all of the GameMaker window and roughly represents the result that will be visible in the final game. At any time, you can test the game by selecting the Build> Run items  from the top bar. At the end of the compilation, you will be able to see the video game in action.

For more information on GameMaker, you can refer to the official website of the program, which I linked to you at the beginning of this chapter. In a special section of the same site you can also find the complete manual of the software.

How to create a game with Unity 3D

Unity

Unity is an integrated multiplatform development environment dedicated to the creation of numerous 3D simulations, which embrace not only the videogame field but also, to name a few, those of animation and architecture. With the Unity graphics engine it is possible to create video games of any kind, customization is maximum and the quality level that can be reached is equal to that of commercial video games.

You should know that you can download and use the Personal version of Unity for free, but only if the legal entity you represent does not generate earnings or fundraisers in excess of $ 100,000. If not, you will need to proceed with the purchase of a Plus or Pro license , starting at $ 25 / month with annual billing.

To download Unity, go to the official website and click on the Get Started button , at the top right, then move to the third option, Personal , and click on the Try Personal button . At this point, put a check mark on the box that you find under the word Accept terms and click on the Download Installer for Windows button, or on the  Download Installer for Mac OS X button , which will be automatically displayed depending on the computer you are using.

Once the download is complete, you can install the program. If you use Windows , open the .EXE file that you downloaded, click the Yes button  in the small pane displayed, and, to proceed with the installation, click the Next button . Then put a check mark next to the item I accept the terms of the License Agreement , click three times on the Next button and finally click the Install button .

If, on the other hand, you have a Mac , you can install Unity by double-clicking on the downloaded .DMG file and dragging the program icon into the Applications folder , which is located in the sidebar of the Finder . To start Unity for the first time, you need to right-click on its icon and select the Open item , two consecutive times: in this way you circumvent the restrictions that macOS imposes on applications from non-certified developers.

The procedure I have illustrated allows you to download the latest version of Unity and configure it according to the default settings, i.e. including the basic modules for development from your PC and, where provided, the supporting documentation.

Once installation is complete, start Unity and, in the window that is proposed to you, log in through your Unity account or, if you do not have one, skip this step by clicking on the Work Offline button . At the top right, click on the New button , type the name of your project in the first text box proposed and select a template for your project from the drop-down list at the bottom, choosing between 2D and 3D , depending on the type of game you want to make. To confirm, click on the Create project button , at the bottom right.

The default layout of Unity organizes the interface into three main main areas, each dedicated to a different component of the workflow: the Hierarchy panel , the Inspector panel and the Project panel . As I said, knowing these three elements is the key to better learning the basics of Unity.

The Hierarchy panel , which in Italian would translate as “Hierarchy”, is located on the left of the window and allows you to manage all the elements present on the scene. To create a new element, simply click with the right mouse button inside the panel and choose, through the appropriate menu that appears, the category and then the object to be created. For example, selecting the items 2D Object> Sprite , a sprite will be added, that is a two-dimensional graphic element that can represent a character or an object.

On the right of the window, there is the Inspector panel , that is the Inspector panel, which allows you to view and modify the properties of the individual elements selected in the Hierarchy panel. By selecting the sprite you created earlier, the Inspector panel will allow you to change its size or add different components to it. To give it a try, click on the Add Component button and select the Physics 2D> Box Collider 2D items from the menu that opens. Very good: you just added a physical collision condition to your sprite. As you have seen, there are many configurable add-ons and they can meet any need.

The last area of ​​the Unity interface that I want to talk to you about is located in the lower part of the window and is what is called the Project Panel . This part is intended for the management of the Assets, that is, the materials and resources that make up the project. By right clicking inside it and selecting the Import New Asset … item from the menu that appears, you can add all the materials you need to your project, such as audio sequences, images or decorative motifs. As you add new resources to your project, within this panel you can use the classic New Folder , Copy and Paste functions to keep your library organized.

Finally, to create new Scenes , that is, new levels or new settings of your game, use the upper bar of Unity and select the items File> New Scene . At any time, you can test your game by clicking on the Play button at the top: remember to press it again to exit the test mode before making changes to the project.

When you are ready to export, go to the top bar and select the items File> Build Settings… . In the window that is shown, choose between Android and iOS , click on the Switch Platform button , at the bottom right, then click on the Build button , which is located in the same position. You just have to assign a name to the file and proceed as if you were carrying out a normal saving.

Unfortunately, the PC does not always include everything that is necessary for exporting the application package. In some cases, depending on your use of your computer, some components, such as libraries, add-ons or software such as Java , which Unity needs in order to continue , may be missing . In this case, unlike what I explained in the previous paragraph, the Switch Platform button will not be available but, instead, the Open Download Page button will be displayed , which, if clicked, will redirect you to the page that provides instructions on the modules. missing and details of their installation.

In conclusion, I recommend you read the  official Unity user manual , which allows you to find out in detail how to take advantage of the features of this software.

How to publish game app

Google Play Console

Very good: now that you understand how to play checkers on the Internet and have taken the first steps in this new world. So the time has come to think about the publication phase, when you will make your game public through official channels, such as the Play Store , in the case of Android, and the App Store , in the case of iOS.

As for the publication on the Google Play Store , the first and only fundamental requirement is to have a developer account, which can be associated with your Google profile at a cost of $ 25. You can do what I just described to you through the Google Play Console registration page .

Once this is done, you will have the possibility to load the .APK files of your applications. In this phase, first of all, you must manage the metadata of the apps you have created, then the versioning and the system requirements and, subsequently, think about the commercial part, then the title, description and screenshots. For more information on loading an app on the Play Store, I invite you to consult the official guide provided by Google and my tutorial on how to create apps for Android .

If your application is geared towards an iOS device , you must obtain an Apple developer account  (at a cost of $ 99 per year) through this website . Then you need to switch from iTunes Connect : log in with your Apple ID and enter the My Apps section , then, at the top right, click on the + and  New app buttons .

You can now edit all the parameters of your game, such as the name, language, description, category, price, screenshots and finally upload the compiled .IPA package of the application. Generally, after sending, the application will be pending for review before its actual publication: you can follow these steps through the notifications that you will receive on the email associated with your Apple ID. For more details, also see my guide on how to create apps for iPhone .