If you would have told me a year ago that you could make video games without code, I would have 100% thought you were lying. No code games? Nope, not possible.
As any person eager to get started making video games without a whole lot of programming knowledge, I explored the no-code option first and was met with wall after wall.
2 years later, I've been around the block a couple of times and have some insight on no-code games.
The real question...
Do you have to know how to code to make video games?
The short answer is no, you don't have to know how to code to make video games.
The longer answer, well, here it is.
Programming opens up a lot of doors when it comes to making games. Understanding how code affects design, and being able to change existing code and implement your own ideas is, quite literally, a game-changer.
But it also comes with its drawbacks. A double-edged sword.
If you come into the game dev world already being a skilled programmer, the sky seems infinite, and scope is already at miracle proportions. Often I see programmers wanting to start by building their own game engines, building every script from scratch, and wanting to do it the "right" way.
Knowing how to code is a definite advantage, but can easily be unraveled by scope creep.
No-code games have almost the exact opposite problem.
The No-Code Game Dilemma
There's always a catch, right?
Well, here's the thing. There are some decent solutions that give you the opportunity to make video games without prior programming knowledge.
However, you're always at the mercy of what program you're using. And if it's no-code, it almost always costs something. Because if it's actually helpful, someone else had to know how to code to make it possible, and those people don't work for free.
So while you can build games without code, you might have to shell out some cash to make the project of your dreams. However, this doesn't mean you have to hire a developer and go into debt, there are a surprising amount of affordable templates on the Unity Asset Store.
How do you make No-Code Video Games?
There are a few ways to accomplish this, and by no means is this an all-inclusive list, but this will get you started.
This is first on the list, because it's my personal favorite. Here's why: Unity Templates are just that, templates that other game developers have made for you to work within. They are versatile, have a huge range of options, and are surprisingly cheap. Like, $40 to make a Super Mario clone cheap.
There are templates for so many types of games, from Candy Crush to Resident Evil. One of the best parts of templates is that if you decide to learn to program, the transition is seamless, and learning to work with packages and external resources is a necessary part of game development anyway.
Buildbox, and other programs like it, are second on the list. Although very cool, I have some reservations. Buildbox does have a free version, but to really monetize your game you need to pay a $30/month subscription. When you compare it to being able to buy an entire template for $30 on Unity, it's hard for me to recommend. However, the biggest downside for me is that you're at the mercy of how the program is designed. Every game engine requires a substantial learning curve, even if no coding is involved. If you're going to be investing a lot of time into a gaming program anyways, why not learn how to navigate Unity or Unreal?
Last on the list is visual scripting. People often tout visual scripting as the cure-all for no-code game dev, but it's not quite the knight in shining armor that it claims to be. Unreal engine has built-in visual scripting, but Unity lovers will typically use Bolt. I know it's in the name, but it's simply a visual way to script.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it, but in my opinion, it doesn't save any time and just adds an extra layer of complexity. In some cases, the visual scripting tool will match up perfectly with existing functions and methods. In other cases, they'll just make up different function names. Neither of which, really seem helpful. However, some people find it a more tactile way to learn to program. To me, it just seems like programming with extra steps. To-may-to to-mah-to.
Hope these tips helped, happy developing people!