Flash games can be obscenely fun to play, but not so easy to make. There is, however, a wonderful market of game building tools, including standouts like Sploder that have seen steady improvement. PlayCrafter is a new entrant to the fray with a tool that lets you build very simple, enjoyable games that run right in your browser., and
Like the Incredible Machine and games that have come since, Playcrafter is a piecework creation tool that centers around combining various parts ruled by an in-game physics system. All game pieces are drag and drop, and each bucket of parts can be customized by color, point value, or in some cases down to their interaction with the in-game physics engine (hello, zero-friction mini golf).
Included in the builder are genres like Breakout (see Pong), Mini Golf, and Memory. These are simply templates, as you can remove each element to begin anew. There are also various sets of ready-made parts that plug in to the building environment. You can simply mix and match these to create a franken-game that blends genres completely.
Making a good game is about more than templates. Playcrafter requires a little bit of gaming know-how to create games that make you want to come back for more. The good news is that you can dive right into a creation that's half-baked in order to play-test it, and figure out where the weaknesses are, something that makes building games almost as fun as playing ones created by others.
When finished with a creation, you can share it with others in the built-in community page. The "fair," as it's called, shows which games have received the most play, along with their general difficulty level. You can also quickly eyeball which ones are worth playing from their thumbnail and see when they were last edited.
Playcrafter is off to a really fantastic start. There's a revenue sharing system in place that rewards game makers for heavily played titles, and enough game types to let you build 10 or more titles that are completely different from one another. Players looking for a truly unique experience, however, will still want to rely on honest to goodness game developers that distribute their work to sites like Kongregate, Miniclip, and others since Playcrafter is missing some of the deep community elements like in-game chat, and a rewards and payment system that will let creators make premium titles--all things to expect in future updates.
Video of the tool in action is after the jump.