So, you’re determined and inspired to build a mobile app game. Amazing! With the right tools and understanding of best practices, you can learn how to create a game app for free that people will love to play. Before you dive in, here's what you need to know to get started.
How Big is Mobile Gaming?
It may come as no surprise–in fact, this might be the reason you are inspired to create your own mobile gaming app–but the app gaming industry is huge. According to Statista, in 2022, the mobile games segment is approximately a $124.9 billion dollar industry.
With those kinds of numbers, it's no wonder you want to get in on the action of creating a game app. But where do you start, and how can you create a game to will stand out in this competitive market?
Here are some key elements to think about as you begin the design process for your game app:
- What is the purpose of the game?
- Who is the target audience?
- What type of game do you want to create?
- What gameplay mechanics will be used?
- What story will be told?
These are important questions to answer before you create a game app. Once you have a clear vision for your game, you can begin designing your no code mobile app. But first, let's dive into why the design is so important.
Why is a Game's UX Design Important?
People feast with their eyes. You want to create something with engaging mechanics and a captivating design. A game's UX design can keep gaming enthusiasts engaged for hours. The design also inspires gamers to wait for further extensions. (And let’s not forget better designs generate more revenue!) Think about your own favorite games; do you enjoy just the functional parts or the visual elements as well? The design takes a lot of credit for the success of a gaming app. It's possible to create a fantastic user experience, but you want to ensure a visually pleasing experience as well. This doesn't have to be an elaborate world-building task. Instead, something as simple as the 2D game Flappy Bird is simple in design, but the visual elements all build the world around it. Or even the literal eye candy of Candy Crush which takes 2D design for a simple matching game and livens it up with delicious visuals. As you can see, world game building can be as elaborate as or as simple as you want it to be.
Now, let's get into the steps of how to begin designing your game.
Step 1: Market Research
According to Data.ai, 73% of consumer spend on Google Play is on games, while on iOS, games account for 60% of consumer spend. Not only is the gaming industry a booming one, but this also means everyone is fighting to get a piece of the pie. For this reason, you want to ensure you are giving your game a competitive edge. Success is in the details. It is critical to understand the market before diving into your app creation.
Dive into the research to understand the landscape: what is getting a lot of attention, who are your competitors, etc. This will help set you up for success.
Step 2: Choose Your Game Genre
Do you have a genre of game in mind? This is the part in the development process where you want to set expectations on what type of game you want to build and the work needed for its development. To get you started, here are some ideas for creating a game app without using a single line of code, on Thunkable:
Once you decide what type of game you want then you can begin laying out the flow of the mobile game. (And don’t be afraid to play around and get started with our above examples!)
Step 3: Map Out the User Journey
Now that you know what kind of game you want to create, now is the time to lay out the user flow. Conduct a step-by-step design for each screen your audience will encounter as they move through the game. We suggest using post-it notes, tools like Miro, or even GoogleSlides to demonstrate how the game will progress. Lay out the game mechanics, if a win or fail screen will appear based upon certain actions, and more. Lay out each screen your gamers will see and include the functionality required to go from one screen to the next.
We dive into details of this type of app development process in 5 Steps for Planning Your Mobile App Project, click to read more.
Step 4: Gathering Assets
By now you have a firm understanding of the type of game you want to create and how your audience will progress through it, you need to start thinking about what kind of graphics, colors, and fonts you will use.
Some games are more text-heavy, while others are more reliant on images, and some are even a mix of both. No matter what, it is important to choose visuals to compliment the theme and genre of your game. For example, if you are building a spooky Halloween-themed game, you might want to use dark colors and gothic fonts whereas a beach-themed game could make use of brighter colors and playful fonts.
The game assets include all the individual pieces making up a game. This can include 2D graphics, animated sprites, 3D models, background images, level design, music, sound clips, and more. Basically, anything the player can see or hear during the game needs to be created.
Before moving forward, let's go over some terms, including ones mentioned above.
What is a Sprite?
A sprite is a two-dimensional image that is part of a larger scene in a video game. For example, a single image of your character is a sprite even though it exists in a larger game world. Sprite sheets are often used for animation purposes and are a series of images all combined to make the image appear like it’s moving. Sprites are used in 2D video games to create characters and other graphics within the game. These sprites can either be dragged across the screen to create movement or they can collide with other sprites as in this Maze example. To begin creating your own sprites, you can use this free sprite sheet packer or create sprites using this Piskel tool.
For more in-depth knowledge on sprites and sprite types check out our Thunkable documentation.
(Source: Free Sprite Sheet Packer)
What is the Canvas?
The Canvas component in Thunkable’s no code mobile app development platform is a touch-sensitive panel that allows for the movement of objects. You may use this element to create a number of games and experiences that require various ways of touching the screen.
When you add a canvas to your project, you will get seven additional categories of blocks. Each of these categories will allow you to programmatically control what happens with your sprites and sprite types, on the canvas and on the stage. To learn more about using Canvas on your no code mobile app, check out our documentation.
Now that you have a firm understanding of the market, have selected your game genre, have mapped out the user flow, and know what assets to build, you can put together all the pieces and move on to the next step.
Step 5: Create a Playable Prototype
Gather all the components and start building with Thunkable, the best no code app builder! At this stage, you will want to get all the functional and necessary pieces together to build your no code mobile app. With Thunkable, you will be able to publish for both Android and iOS.
Remember, after publishing your game app, you will need to continue testing and listening to feedback from your audience to make improvements and updates. Publishing is only half the battle. You want audiences to download your game and remain engaged, so having a strong testing group will aid in your success. To find a responsive group to test your app reach out to our Thunkable Community.
Create a Game App with Thunkable
There are a number of things to keep in mind when creating a game app. By following the steps laid out in this article, you'll be well on your way to creating a successful and engaging game for your players.
Ready to take your first steps towards developing that amazing idea? Get started on your app for free.