GameSalad Tutorial: A Beginner’s Quick Start Guide

gamesaladtutorialIf you have ever thought about creating your own video games but didn’t know where to begin, GameSalad is the answer you have been looking for. Whether you want to create games for Android, iOS, Windows 8, or Flash, GameSalad allows you to create visually appealing 2-D games with little to no programming experience.

It is a very powerful tool and the best part is that it is free to use. To unlock some of the premium features, you do have to purchase a Pro license; however, this is not necessary to begin creating games right now. To get a jumpstart on creating your own games using GameSalad, check out the Introduction to Mobile Games Development course.

What is GameSalad?

GameSalad is an intuitive drag-and-drop interface designed specifically for people without programming experience. Using this interface, you can create your own games and assign specific behaviors to various game assets without programming anything at all.

If you have some experience creating your own games, you may think GameSalad isn’t for you. Believe it or not, GameSalad is relied on by professional game developers because it is a quick and easy way to create game concepts. In other words, you can create original games without worrying about the technicalities typically associated with creating even a basic game concept demonstration.

At this time, GameSalad is limited to creating 2-D games. Although 3-D games are becoming increasingly popular, many of the most popular (and best-selling) games on both the Android and iOS mobile platforms are 2-D games – games that can be created very easily using GameSalad. Don’t forget that GameSalad also allows you to create games for the Windows 8 operating system. This is becoming a very lucrative platform for game developers as it is available on desktop PCs, laptops and even tablets.

Installing GameSalad

Before you can begin creating the next best-selling computer game, you need to download and install the GameSalad creator. The software is free to use and you can create Flash-based games and iOS games without purchasing any additional licensing. If you plan on creating games for Android or Windows 8, however, you are required to purchase a Pro Member license for $299. Keep in mind this is an annual fee, but you can easily make back this money with one game created using this powerful development tool.

One of the other powerful features included in GameSalad is known as the GameSalad Viewer. This is a tool that allows you to emulate an iOS device and see your game in action while you are still developing. Please note that this is not available for Android-based games where a separate emulator is required to view games prior to publishing.

The installation process is covered in more detail in iPhone Game Design with No Coding Required.

Creating Your First Game

Once GameSalad is properly configured on your computer, the next step is to begin creating your very first game. Another feature that makes GameSalad so beginner-friendly is that it provides a number of templates that can be used to get started quickly. Templates range from basic shooter games to pong style games to cross-platform controller templates that are compatible with both iOS and Android.

The templates are important because it will help to build confidence as you begin creating your very first game. You do not have to worry about creating any of the behaviors or backgrounds as they are provided for you in the template. All you need to do is put a personal touch on your template-based games and you can be playing your very first game within hours.

Eventually, however, you will outgrow the templates and want to create your games from scratch. Even when creating games from scratch, GameSalad makes it extremely simple. Everything is drag-and-drop and pre-programmed behaviors can be assigned to any of your game assets with only a few mouse clicks.

When creating a game from scratch, you will probably want custom assets (or game characters). Fortunately, GameSalad provides a Marketplace where additional game assets can be downloaded. You can also create your own assets using Photoshop or another image-editing program. You can learn more about using Photoshop to create game assets in Photoshop: Mastering the Fundamentals.

Assuming you’re using the free version of GameSalad, there’s no rush to get a game into the market to recover your investment in software. Take your time and learn how to use the powerful toolset included in GameSalad to your advantage. Some very popular games have been created using this simple platform that anyone can use. GameSalad also offers free tutorials and a forum where you can ask questions and learn new techniques from other game developers.

Testing & Publishing Your Game

Here comes the fun part. After you have finished your game, you get to play it. The testing phase of development is just as important as the game development itself. Not only should you test your game but you should also get friends or family members to play your game as well. Listen to any feedback you receive to make your game better before publishing it to the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. The last thing you want is negative feedback for something that could have been easily fixed during the testing phase.

Once you’re satisfied with the functions of your new game, you are ready to publish it on your platform of choice. If you are publishing to the Apple App Store, you need to submit your application to Apple for approval – a process that typically takes 4 to 6 weeks.

If you choose to release your game on the Android platform, you need to purchase a Google developer license for $25 and your game is available for download within hours of submission. You might even decide to release your game on both platforms.

You can learn more about selling your new game in the iOS, Android and HTML5 Development course.

GameSalad is an excellent introduction to game development. Some academic curriculums have even started using GameSalad as a way to interest young students in computer programming and game development. Whatever your reason for using GameSalad, be confident knowing that you are using one of the most powerful game development engines available and the best part is you don’t need any programming experience to start creating an exciting new game right now.