Ask HN: Yo wants to build a game, I'm lost. What can I do?

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  • scratch-www

    Standalone web client for Scratch

    This ! Learning to code will come after, spending time with your son writing down ideas might be more fun at first and it's a good time to teach him that games are thoughts first and then coded after.

    I would have recommended Scratch [1] for a first introduction instead of hoping into code right away, but since he is 9yo he will most likely want to hop on big game engine like he sees his favorite youtubers doing.

    so while you guys are thinking about ideas, you should look up and compare engine in this thread and learn one, then teach him and make the game/prototype together later.

    [1] - https://scratch.mit.edu/

  • awesome-gamemaker

    A curated list of awesome libraries, snippets, guides, and projects for GameMaker.

    My 9-yo son has been making games with GameMaker https://gamemaker.io/

    It's a popular framework for creating 2D HTML games and publishing them on sites like Crazy Games.

    GameMaker has a lot of great tutorials and templates that makes it easy to get up and running. I usually just set him up with one of the existing game templates and let him loose on customizing the characters using the built-in tools. Then I help him customize the game interactions. GameMaker has two modes: one for visual flow editing and one for directly editing the code. It's a great onramp to learning to code with a super low barrier to entry.

  • SurveyJS

    Open-Source JSON Form Builder to Create Dynamic Forms Right in Your App. With SurveyJS form UI libraries, you can build and style forms in a fully-integrated drag & drop form builder, render them in your JS app, and store form submission data in any backend, inc. PHP, ASP.NET Core, and Node.js.

  • love

    LÖVE is an awesome 2D game framework for Lua.

    I've built a few games with my son over the years. The fun part for us was all about fast iteration, and then laughing at the bugs together.

    There are some other recommendations here for how to approach 3d, and he is specifically asking for 3d -- but I want to put in one more pitch for 2d: the fun-to-tedium ratio can be much higher.

    I wonder if you could spend some time prototyping some of his ideas in LÖVE https://love2d.org/ -- if you show him the smallest sketch of something working, he might have an idea about what to add next.

    Many years ago, on a flight, we went from 0 to game before we landed (with no experience).

  • kaboom.js

    💥 JavaScript game library

    Switch to 2D and use kaboom: https://kaboomjs.com/ it is incredibly simple but incredibly rewarding!

  • wireworld-love

    Wireworld using Love2D

    Seconded for Love2D, here's a sample of how simple it is to quickly whip up something in it:

    https://github.com/EsportToys/wireworld-love

  • Starter-Kit-3D-Platformer

    Godot

    Whatever platform/engine(s) you end up trying, you both might enjoy looking through the game assets that Kenney shares with the world for free:

    * https://kenney.nl/assets

    * https://kenney.nl/starter-kits

    The asset range includes 2D & 3D and in a variety of graphical fidelity/style from 1-bit to low-poly--including sets which are designed to work together.

    The "Starter Kits" are a more recent development which aim to get you something working out of the box with Godot which you can then customise: https://github.com/KenneyNL/Starter-Kit-3D-Platformer

    I'm pretty sure you'll find both cars and zombies to start with... :)

    (Another person who shares high-quality free assets worth checking out is Kay Lousberg: https://kaylousberg.itch.io )

  • WorkOS

    The modern identity platform for B2B SaaS. The APIs are flexible and easy-to-use, supporting authentication, user identity, and complex enterprise features like SSO and SCIM provisioning.

  • Godot

    Godot Engine – Multi-platform 2D and 3D game engine

    Godot [1] is a very nice game engine. There's a game on Itch.io that teaches the scripting language it uses [2], and a ton of great tutorials on YouTube for beginners and experts alike.

    [1]: https://godotengine.org/

  • pyxel

    A retro game engine for Python

  • TIC-80

    TIC-80 is a fantasy computer for making, playing and sharing tiny games.

    Or the more free TIC-80. I have paid for both, but never used either enough to be able to say one or the other has any significant advantages.

    https://tic80.com/

  • glicol

    Graph-oriented live coding language and music/audio DSP library written in Rust

    I picked up LOGO when I was 6 and leant Pascal and C later.

    I didn't program for a few years because I wasn't interested in competitions. So I think interest is the most important, otherwise it will be easy to get lost and give up.

    Later, I became very interested in programming, mainly because I came into contact with music technology.

    I think since your child is interested in game development, it is a good choice to start step by step. For example, starting with threejs. I also recommend learning Rust and Bevy so you learn the underlying layers and ECS.

    Last but not least, although it's not related to games dev but I sincerely invite you and your son to try Glicol (https://glicol.org), the project that I am developing.

  • programming-for-kids

    book for parents and kids.

    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=pico8+tutorial

    Another option is to make a Roblox game, their studio is very accessible and the scripting is quite straight forward (e.g. if you step on this object it moves)

    I have spent 2 years teaching my daughter and I thought python and pygame are nice, but we made lots of other games, and lots of turtle based generative art (you can also get some basic game ideas from there, like snake or tictactore or whereiswaldo):

    https://github.com/jackdoe/programming-for-kids/blob/master/...

    I think the curve of excitement is quite steep at start, and then it gets super boring, so if you can reduce the scope as much as possible, and manage to get to some playable state its amazing, if you use godot or some other engine you can make the game playable on web so he can share it with his friends its really nice.

  • upbge

    UPBGE, the best integrated game engine in Blender

    Starting with 2d games is very good advice however if the child is mostly interested in 3d, well not the most helpful advice.

    Some people here forget that children are way more tolerant of not understanding things than adults are. They just want to get a quick taste not necessary dedicate their life to the study of game development.

    I think something like RPG in a Box https://rpginabox.com/ is nice if the child likes Minecraft-style graphics. Also it is worth checking out if modding an existing games is something that might be of interest. Also blender is perfect, as it allows to focus on certain aspects on modeling first and in has an amazing game engine that can be solely driven by logic bricks: https://upbge.org/#/

    Still, I think even something like Unreal should not be ruled out if the child is dead set on making a "real" game (9 years is a bit pushing it admittedly with help it might work out). For a visually-motivated child that has access to beefy computer, Unreal is the perfect tool to get things done early and fast. Load the starter template and they have a character they can walk around with in the first minute. Grab some free-for-the-month asset packs and they can make decent looking levels in a day or two that they can show friends and be proud of. And if they get to the point of needing logic, the visual scripting language is more than enough to make complete games in it.

    Unreal is a monster of complexity but but perfect for just hacking together a quick asset-flip demo one can feel good about. They will learn about the realities of game dev soon enough, let them have some fun.

    Also, if the child is the kind to need a more focused approach, blender is a nice choice

  • ICVR

    A set of tools for building Unity WebXR experiences that run on the Internet Computer.

    You are welcome to use the framework I made. It's called ICVR - Island Collective Virtual Reality. It is a Unity-based framework and has all the modules for creating a simple running, jumping, throwing type mechanics. It is designed for VR and PC and works on standalone devices (Quest 2 type). As a demo, i made a tenpin bowling simulator that is discoverable on the interwebs.

    https://github.com/willguest/ICVR

    If you pair it with another (also FOSS) repo, you can self-host it on the Internet Computer. That means cutting out fees from hosting providers and has security built in. This is not a requirement, but it's quite snazzy.

    I am fairly busy person, but would be happy to give pointers. The setup in Unity is also automated and, to get a simple scene going, no coding is necessary. There are a bunch of assets to get started there too. If, as you say, you are already a dev, this wouldn't be much of a learning curve for you.

  • twinejs

    Twine, a tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories

  • make-real

    Draw a ui and make it real

    Consider using some seriously modern tech (LLMs!) to make games with point and click/draw.

    https://github.com/tldraw/make-real

    This is a really fun project that uses GPT4 and TLDraw. People have made games with it- it’s super WYSIWYG and you can draw the state machines as a diagram with boxes and arrows, the UI directly, etc. I would have loved to have this as a kid.

  • alan-and-ada

    Nice idea! You may be interested in a repo I created for a small programming course I'm going to give at the school of my kids, also for 9+. It's not 3D, I figured that's way too complicated on a number of fronts to start with. It's a simple 2D platform game in typescript. The dialogue is in Dutch I'm afraid, but it could still serve as inspiration: https://github.com/WimYedema/alan-and-ada

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