Saturday, October 5, 2013

The List

Remember in the first post when I said I had almost a hundred game-creation programs already in my list? Yeah, well, while I was writing the last post I ran across some more and followed up some other leads, and... I'm up to over two hundred now. We'll see how many of them I ever get through, but anyway here's the initial list:
It could be that some of these don't belong in the list. Though I've given them all at least a cursory glance to make sure they fit the criteria laid out in the last post, I haven't had time to look thoroughly into most of them, and it's possible there are some that don't. Given how long ago I started this list, it's also possible that some of the programs on the list are now dead and unavailable. If you see any that don't belong in the list, by all means let me know. Likewise if you know of any programs that do belong on the list but aren't.
(The list does include some programs intended for children, to help teach them how to program. I was uncertain as to whether or not I should include those, but finally decided in favor... if I do end up looking at them, at least I can give some commentary, for whatever it's worth.)
And now, I leave it to you, the (as of the moment I write this nonexistent) readers: With which program should I start my journey?
(If anyone does happen across this blog this weekend, though, and comments here, don't expect any replies from me till Monday. This weekend is 24 Hour Comics Day, an event involving a challenge to create a full twenty-four-page comic in twenty-four hours. I've participated (and succeeded!) every year since 2006, and I don't intend to break my streak this year. So I'm going to be busy creating a comic till noon tomorrow, and after that I'm... probably going to be asleep. It's possible I may take a short break during 24 Hour Comics Day and manage a comment or two, but don't count on it.)


  1. I suggest going to with something free, windows based, and also something with an available tileset/assets. I haven't gone through the full list, but I do see a few full engines like Torque. Might as well start at the top. I vote for 001.

    1. Hmm... I don't know anything about 001, but from a glance at the webpage, it looks interesting. I'll wait a few days to see if any votes come in for anything else, but if not, 001 it is.

  2. I am a fan of chronological because it will give your blog a sense of progression as more features become available in newer software. This way you blog about the new things in the next program instead of lamenting whats missing .

    On an unrelated note, I remember Oblivion having its mod tools advertised heavily before release. Morrowind grew such a big mod fan base they decided it was good business to promote that aspect. Heck I'd be interested in a comparative of all the elder scrolls engines, but the only one I know for sure they made a big deal out of the tools was Oblivion.

    Good luck, and remember have fun. Even if you don't have fun with the programs have fun with the blogging. It always bleeds through and a fun tone is usually more welcome than a disengaged one.

    1. I was going to comment on the chronology issue, but the comment got long enough I think I'll just make it a separate post instead. I do want to address it, because there certainly are some points in favor of going chronologically, but I'll make a post about it later tonight.

      As for the Elder Scrolls games, yeah, after looking into the Morrowind tools, I kind of thought they were a borderline case. I didn't realize they made a big deal about the Oblivion tools, too. I guess I'll err on the side of inclusion and add them to the list. (Now that I glance again at the list, though, I also see some duplicate titles I ought to remove... Construct 2, Easy RPG, Hephaestus, and Realm Crafter all ended up on there twice somehow. Whoops. Er... wait... except that from the websites I'm not sure those two Realm Crafters are the same game, as unlikely as it seems that two different MMORPG creator systems would be created with the same name. I guess I'll leave those for now, but I'll delete the others. While I'm editing the list anyway, I suppose I really ought to include RPG Maker 2000 and RPG Maker 2003... I left them out because I wasn't sure there was any way to get legal copies, but I should have them in the list just in case.)

  3. This is a great project that you've started up, here.

    The earliest general-purpose game creation system that I know of is called The Arcade Machine (1982). This was by one of the founders of Broderbund, before Broderbund hit it big with Choplifter, and was originally for the Apple II (later, the Atari 400/800 computers).

    It kind of flew under the radar, presumably due to a lack of gaming press and the low profile of Broderbund at the time. John Romero cut his teeth on it, though!

    Something also maybe sort of relevant to this whole project: when RSD Game-Maker was in production, they had to license the name "Game Maker" from Activision -- even though Garry Kitchen's GameMaker had been out of print for years at that point. Does Mark Overmars face the same licensing issue? Who knows! I have yet to prod into this case.

    The thing that I really like about RSD Game-Maker is the interface. The game engine is pretty limited, but the tools are such fun to use -- crunchy, immediate, tactile. Making the games is often more fun than actually playing the results. I don't really get the same rush out of other game creation systems, which tend to pay scant attention to the design experience.

    The other thing is that the coding is so very simple that although the back-of-the-box features seem limited, it is very easy to bend the tools into all sorts of shapes that were never intended. Even now, this year, users are still figuring out new tricks and meta-techniques. Take a look at Alan Caudel's work with Dummy Duck 7, for instance.

    A far cry from the top-down maze games that the tools were designed for, innit!

    There's also a lengthy interview here with the lead programmer:

    1. Thanks for the comments! The list above is a little outdated now; I'm working on a chronological list that includes a lot more systems I've found since I wrote the list in this post... I'll post the chronological list when I'm done with it, but it may be a while; it's proving hard to track down the release dates of many of the systems on it, especially freeware and shareware systems that never had commercial releases. The Arcade Machine is on the list, and should be coming up pretty soon, actually; the only game creation systems I could find before 1982 were Eamon (which I'm posting about now) and the Dungeon Definition Language. (There are two other 1982 systems besides The Arcade Machine, though, and I'm not sure which order I'll take them in... still, that leaves at most four other "old" game systems to get through before I hit it.)

      As for RSD Game-Maker, that's on the list too, but I have its original release date down as 1991, so it'll be a little longer before I get to it; there weren't as many game creation systems released during the 80s as in later decades, but there were still quite a few. (I found a rather extensive webpage devoted to it, though, so I have quite a bit to delve into when I get there.) Though, yeah, when I do get to it it sounds like it might be a bit of a hassle to get a copy of the software... any help would certainly be appreciated.

    2. Whoops, I should noticed your username and have realized this sooner, but I guess that "rather extensive webpage" I just linked to above... uh, that's your site, isn't it? Heh. Guess it was kind of unnecessary for me to point it out, then.

      Looks like a great site, though, and I'm looking forward to really looking into it when I finally get to RSD Game-Maker.

  4. Oh, incidentally -- although its programmer, Andy Stone, is very into the GPL/open source scene, RSD Game-Maker is both out-of-print and still under copyright. That said, you can toy with a version here (and not save your work).

    For the purpose of this project, if you want to send me a line I can maybe help you out with the software.