How to Make a Game App – The Easiest DIY Tutorial Ever

If you have been dying to create your first app, but you don't know where to begin, then this post is for you.

We will show you the absolute easiest way that we know of to create your first app.

First, let's set some realistic expectations…

You aren't going to create a blockbuster app on your first try and make $10,000 a day, just by publishing this one app.

However, this tutorial will give you the skills to get started, and more importantly, it will show you that making an app yourself, is possible.

From there, it is up to you how far you want to take it.

Remember this: Even blockbuster app publishers had to start somewhere. Most of the successful app publishers in our community started this way, so you are in good company.

By following the instructions in this tutorial, you will see results in a few minutes and can have a complete app, that is ready to publish, in a few days or maybe even a few hours.

It depends on how much you can do yourself and how hard you work at it.

Tutorial building blocks

From there, you can choose to learn more about the process and hire people to build more complex apps or you can continue to do everything yourself. You can make apps that generate income or do it just for fun…it is totally up to you.

But it all starts with this first step.

So get off the fence and let's learn how to make an app

What You Can Expect From This Tutorial

[tweet_box design=”default”]This tutorial will teach you how to make a game app in a few easy steps.  [/tweet_box]

We won't worry about how to publish it to an app store or how to market it.

We just want you to create a customized game that works.

Learn better with videos? Here you go…

If you prefer the text version, it is provided below the video.

 

You will run your game in a simulator on your computer that will act just like your phone or tablet. That will remove a lot of steps from the equation and allow you to concentrate on the app creation process itself.

That also means that you don't have to spend money on a developer account and you can give this a try with little or no money at risk.

There are many platforms that help us build apps, but in this case, we will be using Corona.

Install the Free Corona Software Development Kit (SDK)

This might sound a little technical, but don't worry, it actually makes your life easier. Corona, and platforms like it, make it much simpler for app developers to create an app by pre-packaging complex code so that you can just drag and drop it into your project.

Need to add gravity to your game? They have a package for that. Need to create an app for all the app stores? Their software handles that.

The first step is to head on over to the Corona website. Click on the Download button in the upper right corner of the screen.

Download the Corona SDK here

You will be taken to the download page. Download the SDK for your operating system. They currently support Mac and Windows.

Public download

Once you download the file, double click it to open it. Here is a video on how to install it. The process is similar for Windows.

 

After you install Corona, they have a few sample apps that you can play around with. You can try that later, but they are pretty basic and they don't really give you a full-blown game.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, we want to get you up and running with a real game as soon as possible.

The easiest way to do this is to use an app template.

An app template is a real working app that you can customize.

Get an App Template

You can get an app template from a lot of different places, they are also known as source code. But the template we recommend starting with is Tap to Shoot, so that is what we will be showing you how to use in this tutorial.

We recommend it because it is super simple to customize and it is legit (more on that later).

This app template is free to Bluecloud Select members. Get your first month of Bluecloud Select for only $1 and you can cancel anytime.

If you want to use this template, click here to get the $1 trial. Then come back to this tutorial to finish up.

Otherwise, you can use almost any source code that you have available, to do this.

Play the Real App

First, if you have an iOS device, you can download the app for free, from the App Store. Even if you don't have an iOS device, be sure to look at the App Store listing to get an idea of what the game is about.

If you love the game, be sure to leave a review 🙂

Download game

Either way, you will be able to play the game on your computer. So it doesn't matter if you have an iPhone or iPad or not.

Download the App Template

Now that you know how the game works, it is time to download a template. To get our template for free, be sure to join Bluecloud Select for $1. Once you have downloaded it, double click it to unzip the file.

double-click-to-open

Open the Game in Corona Simulator

Then double click on the Corona Simulator icon to launch it.

Corona Simulator Icon

On the start screen, click on the Open icon.

open-corona-project

Then navigate to your Tap to Shoot folder. Open the code folder.

Open code folder

Scroll down to the main.lua file and double click on that.

Open project file

The Corona Simulator will now show you the game in a simulator window. You are probably wondering why there are all those pesky Bluecloud Solution pictures on the screen.

They simply watermark each of our graphics, so nobody can just copy our entire game and publish it as their own.

You will want to swap those out for your own graphics anyway, so it's not a big deal.

The game still works, as-is.

If you didn't get a chance to play the game before, you can play the game now. Simply click on the play button in the middle of the screen to get started.

iPhone simulation

The object of the game is to hit the red or yellow part of the circle. You get 1 point for hitting the red area and 3 points for hitting the yellow part. The circle starts spinning faster every time you hit the target.

It's a lot of fun!

Game Center is built into this game, so you can also see the high score leaders in the live app.

The current high score is 47. This is not available in the simulator, but this is what the current live leaderboard looks like:

iOS leaderboard

I have no idea how that guy got 47 points…pretty amazing actually. I can't break 25!

But anyway…

So there you go! In a few minutes, you were able to take an app template and get a playable game up and running.

That wasn't so hard right?

I hope you see the power of app templates and using development platforms like Corona.

Now it is just a matter of changing out different elements in this template code.

Don't worry, it's simple. Let's do one together as an example…

Change Out the Bullet

Duck hunt screen

Image: Wikipedia

Before I begin…

…when you make a real app, you never, ever want to completely clone another game.

You want to make it your own and even make it better!

This is how you will differentiate yourself from the other “me too” apps out there that struggle to get downloads.

But there is absolutely nothing wrong with using the same gameplay mechanics. Ultra successful games do that all the time, because it works.

Since this is just an exercise, let's use a random topic and say that you want to make your game about ducks.

Maybe you were a hardcore Duck Hunt player or you are a closet Duck Dynasty fan.

So let's do sort of a reverse Duck Hunt.

Instead of shooting bullets, let's shoot ducks…

Step One – Find a Replacement Image

The first step is to find a picture of a duck that you want to use to replace the bullet.

Again, since this is just an exercise, you can use any ol' picture you find on the internet.

If you are actually going to publish your game to the App Store, be sure that you have the proper licenses to use the graphics. 

If you ever get overwhelmed with editing or creating graphics, remember that you can hire people to do this for you. Fiverr is great for simple jobs and sites like Upwork are awesome for more complex jobs. Hiring someone on Fiverr can cost as little as $5.

I found this free icon on Iconspedia and I'm going to use it for this example.

The finished product is at the end of this section, if you want to use it.

Duck as bullet

Step Two – Resize the Duck

Next, find out where the bullet graphic is hiding in the Tap to Shoot code folder.

We will need to know how big our duck needs to be, so we have to find out how big the original is. The bullet can be found in:

Tap To Shoot – iOS > code > IMG

Then scroll through the files until you find the bullet picture. In this case, it is named triangle.png and there are three different versions. There are three versions because the game will use a different size, depending on the size of the screen of the device the game is being played on.

Game graphics to replace

For this exercise, we will only replace the smallest one, to get results quickly. To do a complete job, you will need to replace all three.

Below each graphic, you will see the size, in pixels.

Since the smallest graphic is 18 pixels by 31 pixels, that is how big we want to make our duck.

So I will open the duck in Photoshop to resize it. If you don't have Photoshop, you can use a free program like GIMP to do the same thing.

The steps are very similar.

First, I'm going to resize my graphic so that it matches the smallest side first. That means making the width 18 pixels.

So I will go to: Image > Image Size…

Resize image

Then resize the width to 18 pixels and click OK.

Photoshop resize width

Then we are going to resize the canvas height so it matches the existing bullet graphic. You can do this by going to:

Image > Canvas Size

Change canvas size

Then set the height to 31 pixels.

In this case, I'm going to set the anchor to the top of the image so the head of the duck is at the top of the graphic.

Click on the OK and you are almost ready to go!

Canvas size settings

Now save it so that it can easily replace the bullet image. Go to:

File > Save as…

Save image as

Then save it as triangle.png. Save it to your Desktop, or somewhere easy to find, and click the OK button.

How to edit game graphics

Finished Product

Here is what your image should look like. Feel free to right-click it and download it, if you want to compare notes.

Finished game character

Step Three – Replace the Bullet

Now simply drag your new image into the Tap To Shoot – iOS > code > IMG folder.

Replace app icon

Then click Replace to overwrite existing triangle.png bullet picture.

Replace iOS game picture

Step Four – Reload the Game and Play It

Now open the Corona Simulator again and open the Tap to Shoot project (see instructions at the beginning of this post if you forgot how to do it).

In order to see the change, you will have to change the simulator to the smallest device, which is an iPhone 4.

Simply go to:

Window > View As > iPhone 4

Change device to iPhone 4

Congratulations!

Booom!

You have officially customized your first app.

Super easy, right? Now play a couple rounds to revel in all of its duckly glory.

Customized screen

Was That Too Easy?

Do you think that a game like this is too simple to actually get downloads? Well, people do download this game and they love it.

The current version of the game has a 4.5 star rating.

ratings

 

Next Steps

Alright, now obviously you have some work to do if you want to completely customize this game. But as you can see, using an app template makes it really easy.

If this tutorial wasn't easy for you, you can simply hire someone to do it for you. Let's look at some of the other things that you will have to do to create a publishable app.

Market Research

In this example, we just chose a random topic, based on our personal interests. But in reality, if you are going to publish a game and you want to make money from it, you will have to figure out what people want to download.

  • Remember, you will also have to make the app better than the template, to have any chance of it doing well.
  • Find out if other successful games have similar game play and find out what they are doing.

Include Ads to Make Money

The monetization strategy in this app template is very well done. You don't see the ads in the simulator, but if you download the real app from the App Store, you will see what I mean.

Some games barrage people with ads. That leads to low customer satisfaction and ultimately low revenue.

This game only displays one ad every time you move between the screens. To put your own ads into the game, you will have to setup your ad accounts and substitute your account information. Read the instructions in the Tap to Shoot folder to learn how to do this.

Tap to Shoot instructions

Publish

We purposely didn't show you how to publish this game because we wanted to take a lot of the complexity out of the development process.

When you are ready to do that, be sure to post a question in Bluecloud Select and someone in the group will help you out.

Conclusion

So that is how to make a game app. This method costs almost nothing and you will take a huge first step towards publishing your first game.

Feel free to play around with the template and see what happens. If you screw it up too badly, you can simply delete the folder and unzip the file you downloaded again, to start fresh.

So go nuts! Explore, test the limits and dig into how everything works.

If you want to get this app template AND get help with any part of the app development process, be sure to join Bluecloud Select. There are people in the group who have created hundreds apps and do it for a living.

They can answer any question that you have about app development…

Click here to get the $1 Bluecloud Select trial

 

 

Still have questions? Leave a comment below…

How to Make An App
 

COMMENTS

  • Thomas Wilson July 23, 2015

    As a Corona developer it is great to see some press on others using the product. Like many things though, it is in the details that Corona truly shines. Advance feature sets will allow you to create amazing apps if you are willing to put the time in to learn them.

  • carmz July 28, 2015

    Hi there,
    this tutorial is good, but what if you already have a source code to play with, how do you open that up on Corona? Cause I do not see no main.lua folder within my source code file for me to click on, it’s unzipped as well.
    So I’m wondering if Corona can only read certain types of source codes.

  • Hugh Kimura July 28, 2015

    Corona uses the Lua programming language, so your source code has to be written in that language or it won’t work.

  • Tony Khang August 11, 2015

    I want to know submit app for Corona.

  • Sato January 25, 2016

    I get the error “module plugin_google_iap_v3 not found” while opening the main.lua code in corona. Could you tell how to tackle it?

    Thanks!

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas January 28, 2016

    @Sato – send an email to support@bluecloudsolutions.com – we’re in the process of getting those codes updated to the latest SDKs, they can hook it up for you

  • roshan April 7, 2016

    hello can you pleas tell me how to put the IAP for android in there i can see no ads icon so can you pleas tell me how to do this

    regards
    Roshan

  • Ross August 7, 2016

    “Remember, you will also have to make the app better than the template, to have any chance of it doing well.”

    At that stage where you are trying to determine what you might want to add to the game mechanics, features, etc. in order to “make the game better” than the base code, how do you know where to draw the line in terms of modifications? An experienced app developer recommended to stay as close as possible to the core mechanics of a template because if you stray too far it could actually be cheaper and better to code the game from scratch. How do we assess what are reasonable modifications to a code and what is “straying too far from the original template”? We’re finding it difficult to find a happy medium.

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas August 8, 2016

    @Ross – I think a lot of it comes down to your budget. If you want to create something totally new and large, you may need to invest a lot. I always start with a budget and ask myself what’s the most I can do with this amount…then research the app store like crazy. Our App Idea Generator mini course is really good for this if you’re interested (http://www.bluecloudsolutions.com/auto-app-idea-generator)

Leave a Comment