Windows 8 Game Development Tools

I presented a session  at the Microsoft Store in Fashion Valley last night (12/05/2012) on creating games for Windows 8.  In that session I covered a TON of resources to help game developers.  In this blog post I link to a number of tools and resources that can help you kickstart your Windows 8 Game Development!

For folks that love to get their hands dirty in code:

If you are a C++ coder and need ultimate performance out of your game, you can develop your game using C++ and Direct X.  If this is your first game though, C++/DirectX will likely be overwhelming.

If you like the power of DirectX, but don’t want to dust off your C++ dev skills, you might be interested in SharpDX.

I had looked into XNA a fair amount on Windows Phone 7, but it turns out that while XNA is still supported on Windows Phone 8, it isn’t supported in WinRT.  But fear not, there is an excellent open source implementation of XNA that WILL run not only windows Windows RT, but also Windows Phone 8, as well as iSO, Android, Mac OS X & Linux!  Want to know more, check out MonoGame from Xamarin!

Another approach could be to use HTML/JS/CSS and the ever powerful HTML5 Canvas to create your own games.  Dan Wahlin has some great blog posts and Pluralsight content about HTML5 canvas.

Want to make a game, not write a bunch of code?

There are a number of excellent game generation tools in the market already, and there are more on the way!  Here are the ones I have checked into so far:

YoYo Games has “GameMaker: Studio” family of tools.  The free version allows you to create both Mac and Windows DESKTOP apps (not Win RT) apps.  However, for just $49.99 you can create games that can be published into the Windows 8 store.

GameSalad is another popular came creation tool called “GameSalad Creator”.  In order to publish to the Windows 8 store, you need to purchase the Pro version for $299/year, but the free version can get you into the tool so you know you can be successful building a game before you pay for the Pro version.

Scirra’s Construct2 allows you to create Windows 8 store apps with the FREE version!  If you want to publish apps for iOS and Android then you’ll need to upgrade to their Personal or Business editions.

Unity3D is a more advanced game creation tool focused on 3D game creation, and may be something you look at after becoming familiar with one of the 2D game creation tools mentioned above.

Tools for graphics and sound?

I like to create my game art using vector graphics first, and then I export those vector images as bitmaps.  To create the vector images I use InkScape.  If I need to edit the bitmap images that are exported, I usually clean them up using Gimp.

For sounds, you need to create them somehow, I have used MusicLab from ClubCreate to make game loops before. OpenLabs has a new tool called StageLight that sells for just $9.99 (a demo version is available), or you might consider buying pre-made sounds from sites like beatport.com .

Once you have sounds you like, you can edit them (or create your own) using Audacity.  Audacity is a great sound editor that has all the functionality a budding game developer would need!

I can’t draw or play music!

Don’t worry, there are a number of places that you can get assets (graphics, sounds, etc) for your games.  My teammate Jeremy Foster has collection of them listed on his blog, but there are two that relate directly to games:

OpenGameArt.org is a great place to get art for your games.  Even if it isn’t the art you end up using in the long run, it may help you get rolling!

Freesound.org is a great place for various sound samples, again this may not be the sounds you use at publish time, but they will serve a purpose.

With both OpenGameArt.org and Freesound.org, make sure to pay attention to how the assets you choose are licensed if you plan on publishing your game to the Windows Store.

What are you waiting for?  Get Started!

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