Learning how to make your own games is no easy feat, but several online platforms, such as Udemy and Coursera, offer courses to aspiring game designers. Because of this, even those without programming experience can learn how to make games. If you’re interested in learning the entire process from within an already developed game engine, the Unreal Engine: Intro to Game Design is a great place to start.
From first-person shooters to platformers, there are numerous genres available in game design. Many popular indie designers created their games — including Ori and the Blind Forest and Cuphead — using game engines such as Unity and Unreal.
If you’re interested in creating your own game, start by choosing the genre. And, if you’re not sure, check out some games you enjoy or that use simple mechanics. Platformers, for example, are one of the best options for beginner game designers.
Many online game design courses teach the basics of a certain programming language, while others will instruct you in how to experiment in a preexisting game engine. When it comes to programming languages, there are many options. For instance, there’s Java, which was used in Mojang’s Minecraft. More niche games, including Doki Doki Literature Club!, used Python. C and its various versions is another good choice for game development.
If you’re interested in learning the basics of game design using an established game engine, there are several online courses for that. For example, Unity, Unreal and Gamemaker all make the entire process much easier.
The best engine depends mainly on the type of game you want to make. Gamemaker Studio 2 is ideal for 2D games and basic platformers, while Unity and Unreal are great for first-person shooters and platformers.
Some modern game engines require coding knowledge, while others streamline the process so that even those who don’t know coding or programming languages can still follow along. Most basic courses will teach you everything you need to learn game design. More advanced online courses assume you already have a fundamental understanding of game design.
As for time commitment, game design requires a lot of dedication and practice. Most online game design courses take at least four to six weeks, though some require more time.
Depending on your current skills and how you want your game to look, you might need to take a course that includes graphic design or basic illustration. Many courses cover things like pixel art for simple platformers, while others also focus on 3D modeling and other complex art styles. Choose a course that teaches you the specifics of whatever art style you desire.
Most online game design courses are broken into several modules, each of which teaches a specific concept or skill. Modules range from basic coding to modeling 3D characters or sprites. Within a single module, you’ll also usually find several related lessons that supplement the material and let you build upon the various concepts. If you choose a course from a site like Udemy or Coursera, you’ll often see the course breakdown prior to purchase.
The length of each module varies, with most ranging from one to six hours. The individual lessons are usually a few minutes to half an hour long.
When learning game design, you’ll probably need to work in other programs, too. Some programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, are common, while others are more niche. If you use a game engine, such as Unity or Unreal, you will need to download it along with the online course. Depending on the program or game engine, your computer might not be able to run it smoothly, so check your computer specs first.
Some online course websites, including Coursera, offer paid certificates, which is useful if you want something to show them to a potential employer or build a portfolio. If you don’t get the certificate, many game design courses are less expensive.
Some online game design courses are free but don’t include features like certificates. Others cost upwards of $100. Certain platforms come with a free seven-day trial followed by a monthly fee of around $30-$50.
A. There are many aspects of game design, but it’s a good idea to learn basic coding, animation and modeling. You should also familiarize yourself with the various aspects of smaller games in the genre you’re building yours in.
A. This depends on the type and your technical background. In many ways, learning to code is similar to learning a foreign language since each coding language has its rules, problems, solutions and techniques. Additionally, not all games require much coding, which makes it easier for those new to it.
Unreal Engine: Intro to Game Design
What you need to know: This online class is best for people who are looking for an introduction to game design and are interested in using the Unreal Engine, which has been used to develop many popular games, including Fortnite.
What you’ll love: This course introduces the Unreal Engine and key concepts, such as how to move around within the engine, how to construct and dress up a level, and how to make a HUD and menu screen. Through this course, you’ll learn how to make a fully functional game from scratch. It doesn’t require programming experience.
What you should consider: The audio in the course is low at times.
Where to buy: Sold by Udemy
What you need to know: For anyone who wants a more beginner-friendly approach to game design, this course is a great option.
What you’ll love: This online game design course is part of a series of lessons that teaches people the various elements of game design, from basic concepts to narrative development and beyond. It also covers what’s needed to make a popular game.
What you should consider: This course teaches the fundamentals of programming and coding, which makes it too easy for more advanced game designers.
Where to buy: Sold by Coursera
Complete C# Unity Game Developer 3D
What you need to know: This course is ideal for individuals who want to learn coding and the game engine Unity.
What you’ll love: With over 200 lectures and around 30 hours of content, this course teaches the basics of C# and what’s needed to make good coding decisions. In it, you’ll learn how to make 2.5D and 3D games within an established game engine. It also leads you in performing different exercises to further hone your skills.
What you should consider: There isn’t a strong focus on character or set modeling and art design.
Where to buy: Sold by Udemy
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.