If you’re going to design a 3D game, you’re going to need a fair amount of 3D art to furnish your game’s world. You have a few options. You could try to find an artist to help you flesh out your vision, or you could try to buy pre-made 3D objects or (assets) from some source. But suppose that you don’t have access to an artist willing to work with you on your projects, or that you don’t have the money to buy the art you need. Or, perhaps more realistically, suppose you want to try your hand at making a game that has your own distinct visual style. You could, should, or perhaps even must make your own 3D art.
I know—this sounds intimidating at first. After all, 3D art requires a great deal of talent, skill, and (heaven forbid) practice; not to mention, commercial versions of the most popular 3D software packages (Maya, 3DSMax, and so on) will eventually cost their users thousands of dollars (even if some packages are offered free-to-use for students). There is an answer to these potential problems: find a free alternative with a great community. Blender is just that alternative, and its community is exactly that kind of community.
Blender is an open-source (and, so, free) suite of tools for creating 3D images and animations. Since its release 20 years ago, Blender has developed into a stable package with an active (and growing) community of users. Over the years, many designers and art studios have switched over to it from the alternative, high-priced commercial software packages. Some of these designers cite Blender’s user-interface—which safeguards the user from making careless mistakes and allows the user quick access to most functions using keyboard shortcuts—as the main reason to make the switch. Some have switched because of Cycles, Blender’s new stand-alone image renderer—capable of producing beautiful, photorealistic images.
One of Blender’s under-recognized features, however, is its built-in Game Engine. That’s right: you can design 3D games from within Blender. What’s more is that you can design a game without writing a single line of code. Games in Blender are often designed using the built-in game logic editor, where the user can attach “logic bricks” to each of the objects in their game’s scene and specify behavior for each. Power users can use Blender’s embedded Python programming environment for more control over their game’s logic, if they need it. People have made many kinds of games using Blender’s game engine and programing environment: from platformer adventures like Yo Frankie! to 2D pixel-art games with realistic lighting like Solarlune’s Gearend. There is a lot of potential here for independent and hobbyist game designers who want to kill two birds with one stone: for people who want to make art, and then make their art interactive.
To get started, download the latest copy of Blender from their official page. Once you have it installed, check out Getblended.org’s video series on the basics of using Blender. When you’re ready to move onto game design in Blender, watch BornCG’s tutorials on how to use Blender’s game engine.
…and above all else, have as much fun as you can.