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Best free game engine to teach teens HTML5 games?

Jon Goikolea

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Do you know of any free game engine that would be suited to teach youngsters how to make (simple) HTML5 games? I'm preparing a project focused in my local basque speaking community and I would like to offer the basic resources so the teen can make their own games. I know for example Scratch, that is a very nice tool to make games for kids, but I would like to also offer some basic HTML5 content.

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Some options:


GameMaker: Studio

Not quite Scratch-like. Uses it's own "Drag&Drop" system for visual code, along with a easy to use C-like scripting language. Exports to a number of platforms. Set to export HTML5 games costs $198 ($99 for Pro edition, $99 for HTML5 module), but educational licences are available.

Construct 2
Somewhat Scratch-like. Behaviour system makes it easy (and fast) to create games in number of genres, but if you decide to make some game mechanic that doesn't fit into existing behaviours, you may need to dig into their JavaScript SDK (to write a behaviour to use in your game). Personally I don't particularly like this program, but their scene editor is, without a doubt, cool.



Rather Scratch-like. Version 3.0 is said to introduce HTML5 export, but their site does not have information whether it's in open/semi-open beta yet or not. Could ask them. Original program exports to Flash, among other things, which is pretty good too. Behaviour creation is done via very Scratch-like visual scripting or AS3 (replaced by Haxe in version 3.0).



Rather Scratch-like. The program is still in beta, but very actively developed. One of main features is that it allows realtime collaboration on projects (that is, actually editing assets together and seeing changes exactly as they are being made). Behaviours are created with visual scripting (Scratch-like) or Lua. Games can be exported to Windows, Mac, Linux, and HTML5. One thing to note is that newly added features may not appear in HTML5 on instant, but rather in one to few weeks (e.g. physics were added in last update, but aren't available in HTML5 yet). Nevertheless, this seems like a very good choice for use in classrooms.


Currently I can't comment on GameSalad as I haven't had a chance to try their Windows version yet.

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Check out the iio Engine. It's an open source app framework designed for simplicity and ease of use that I just released about a month ago.


I am actually beginning to partner with some education providers and direct iio's development towards youth and teen learning tools. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about it.

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  • 2 years later...

Why not Phaser? Literally everything is done by JavaScript dot notation and has millions of examples that they can use and learn from. Plus, it has everything you need (or that I can think of). Except for an 'official' editor but MightyFingers works great.


Let's just say I've been converting my dom based action rpg into Phaser which is around 20k LOC and it's only been several days and I'm almost done. The engine is great and super easy to learn.

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It depends on if the goal is to teach programming games or the creative aspects of game development.


Game Maker, Construct, Stencyl, etc. are great for teaching game design without being encumbered with programming. Phaser and any other JavaScript engines are good for teaching the programming of games. I hope that made sense.

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If you have prior programming experience (I did as a teen), I would use something like phaser.  It depends on where you're at and your preference.  The drag-and-drop editors work well and wil teach some programming concepts.  I kindof think of them as visual/drag and drop programming.   My preference is coding, and it takes me much less time to understand concepts and execute with code and a good library then figuring out a GUI and where all the menu/buttons are to do something that takes one line of code.


You should try both, you owe it to your brain to see what "clicks" better.  Try coding with phaser.io and try construct 2. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

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