Weekend project: Build your own online game

A rainy-weekend project for the adventurous gamer: make your own game. With the help of these online tools, you can do just that.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
4 min read

There are a lot of great ways to spend a weekend, from catching up on sleep to jetting off for a short getaway. But for a game enthusiast sitting at home bored, without a to-do list or good spring weather, what better way to spend a weekend than to create your own online game? You can build a platform title, or you can develop a puzzle game to perplex gamers.

Unless you're a coding genius, creating your own game requires some help. That's why I've put together a grouping of apps that help you build your own online game. From the simple to the complex, you'll find a bunch of useful tools in this roundup.

Build some games

GameSalad GameSalad uses a simple drag-and-drop interface to help you create your game. It offers a download for your Mac (it's not currently available to Windows users) or a Web plug-in to get started. Once you're ready, the tool provides you with a series of "scenes" that you can edit. From there, you can pick characters, choose enemies, and modify them as you wish. Once it's done, you can share it with friends on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, or embed it on your blog.

Mockingbird gives you some options to add objects. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Mockingbird Mockingbird lets you create games by using one of its "kits." There are 10 from which to choose, ranging from the "Throw Stuff" kit to the "Bulldozer" kit. Once you've picked the one that most matches the game you're trying to create, you can choose your player design, upload pictures, and pick sounds.

If you don't like the options that Mockingbird provides, you can also create characters from scratch. Once you choose all your options, Mockingbird will build your game and give you the option to try it out. If you're satisfied, you can share it with the Mockingbird community.

Mockingbird is easy to use, but it might be a bit too simple for more advanced developers.

PlayCrafter PlayCrafter lets you create your own Flash game off a premade template. You just drag and drop different elements into your game, which are all controlled by an in-game physics system.

Despite the cookie cutter setup, any elements you add to the game can be modified. You can assign point totals to each element that factor into the game's performance and playability. PlayCrafter is simple and easy to use, and your games will be quite fun. (Check out CNET's full overview of PlayCrafter.)

Microsoft's PopFly is a well-designed game creation tool. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

PopFly Microsoft's PopFly makes it quick and easy to create games online. Like many of its competitors, PopFly's Game Creator boasts a physics engine that can tell when on-screen figures collide or fall due to gravity. You can choose between templates to create a game in just a few minutes, or you can start from scratch. You have the option of creating a side scroller, a 2D shooter, or a puzzle game. And once you're done, you can add it to Popfly or share it on different sites, such as Facebook.

(Check out CNET's full overview of Popfly.)

Sharendipity Sharendipity is a fully customizable tool that makes it easy to create any game you want. The site has a variety of templates with which you can start out, ranging from "Asteroids" to "The Aliens are Coming." Once you pick the template you want, you can modify it to make it unique to your idea; the site lets you edit the images, change sounds, and modify settings.

Sharendipity isn't the most powerful tool in this roundup, but it's a neat tool to play around with, if you're bored.

Sims Carnival The Sims is one of the most successful franchises in the video game industry. And with the help of Sims Carnival, you can create your own game. The tool lets you choose the genre of game you want to create, and once you've picked that, you can determine which parts you want to modify.

Sims Carnival is a great idea whiteboard for the budding developer. Unlike other tools in this roundup, which provide you with all the options at once, Sims Carnival walks you through the process to make it easier to create the game. By the time you choose all your options, you'll have a game you can preview. If you like it, you can share it with friends.

Sploder is simple, but it's easy to start a game. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Sploder Sploder is a game creation tool that helps you pit your character against a variety of enemies. Creating a new game couldn't be easier; you just choose your character, pick the color scheme, pick the controls, and add elements to the level with a drag-and-drop editor. It's as simple as that.

After just a few minutes of modifying the game's design, you can test it and share it with the Sploder community. There's just one issue with Sploder: the games created with the tool feature the same characters, and most are quite similar. That means that you won't be able to create a unique game like you can on other services in this roundup. But if you want develop a quick title, Sploder is one of the fastest of the bunch.

The Top 3

If you want to create some really neat games this weekend, start with these three services:


Sims Carnival