1. Game Salad
1. Game Salad
So first in line for a review is Game Salad.
Game Salad is just one of the drag&drop programs for game design. You can download the application for free and install it on your PC or MAC. Everything is then done there from importing your sounds and images to coding itself. Also you can make a game online with the web interface which si basically the same as on the offline program.
The initial tutorial is pretty basic but gives you enough information to start a game on your own. For more detailed info it makes sense to go through more tutorials and documentation. As usually web search will provide enough info for you to continue work and of course there are always forums. Below is the picture of the simple game from the tutorial.
If you're using a computer on a regular basis you should be fine with the interface, if not then guessing this isn't a way for you. Interface consists of a scene screen on the right side while the left is reserved for defining the actors, listing behavior options, importing your images and sound, etc. Below to the left is a properties screen for your actors, scenes and game properties definition. On the right of that is the backstage where you define all properties/attributes to specific actors. Here is a print screen of the program interface:
The properties definition was a bit confusing to me as the backstage interface is not the best in my opinion. Even just going through the tutorial I had a hard time understanding all the bits and the visual appearance does not really help. Question is how confusing it gets when you really have a lot of things to define.
In order to define actions and properties of your actors there is a list of behaviors.
You can also word input the same actions directly in the backstage
which become useful when you know all the angles of the program.
They are sorted by color so you can determine which is which but the differentiation could be a bit better.
Well now we come to the interesting part. Comparing to other alternatives I'd say that GameSalad is not really cheap. You get the program for free but if you want to do something with them you need to pay up in monthly or yearly installments. Looking at the prices it really is a lot for hobby game makers. If you want to publish to all the platforms it goes up to 500$ and more. So imagine you need to make a really good one or a few to get an annual income of this magnitude. If this was simple then everyone would be doing it. Unfortunately the product page does not give any detailed info on what you really get for that amount of money and what happens to your published game when you cancel the subscription.
There is a featured games sub page that shows a few games that have been developed with GameSalad. Searching throughout the web you can find more and that should give you an idea of what the program is capable of. The initial tutorial does not show it all of course.
Score is of course a reflection of my own opinion and goes from 1-10, 10 being the highest possible value. Since this is the first program I'm reviewing the score might not be reflecting the actual value since I have no baseline yet. I will most likely be correcting each of them when I go through all the programs I plan on testing. In terms of difficulty I can say that it's not that difficult to learn the program itself but a couple of things could be more intuitive or visualized in a better way. There is enough information available for you to learn using it in a good way and over time you should become very versed i in it. The cost is the main factor bringing the overall score down since it's really too much for a hobby game maker but if you're a pro then this should be a bargain. Additionally the program can be used for educational purposes by schools an colleges but we're not looking for that so it's not influencing the final decision.
Summary conclusion is that the program looks good to build complex games but is a bit expensive for use for non pro users.
Overall score: 6