Tired of all the games in your app library? Make your own!

Have you ever played a simple but successful videogame like Doodle Jump and thought to yourself: “I bet I could make a game like that easily!” With Sketch Nation Studio, that reaction might not be as unbelievable as it once was. Enginious’ newest creation follows its previous success of Sketch Nation Shooter by giving players the tools they need to make their own “beat the hi score” style game.

Sketch Nation Studio allows you to pick from a handful of templates, including jumper (think Doodle Jump), runner (think Canabalt), or flyer (think Jetpack Joyride). After you’ve decided on a template, it’s your job to create all of the art elements, including characters, enemies, powerups, and backgrounds.

There are three options for uploading your unique artwork for each of your games. The easiest is a Draw Something-style toolset, perfect for users that want to draw up some quick doodles on the fly. Also available is the option to read your drawings from real life via the iOS camera. There are a few specific rules (always draw with lots of space on white paper, use thick pens, use decent lighting), but for the most part, it works well. And finally, there’s also an option to upload images directly from your picture library. No matter how you like to draw, there are plenty of ways to transfer your art well.

Game creation offers multiple modes too. The simple mode, perfect for younger players with creative aspirations, allows for new games in as little as five minutes. For players seeking more interactive tools, advanced mode allows control over several individual facets in each game. From enemy flight paths to powerup design and frequency, there’s a surprising amount of depth and control for each game.

Once a player has created a game in advanced mode, they have the option to share their artwork or completed game with every other player via an in-game store. By spending currency deemed “sketch bucks,” you can obtain art elements and games uploaded by other players. While sketch bucks are available via in-app purchases, they’re easy to earn by uploading your own work, and even by simply playing the games that you’ve downloaded.

Sketch Nation Studio Sketch Nation Studio

If you’ve put an exceptional amount of work into your new game, you also have the option to submit it for consideration on the App Store via a partnership program with Enginious. While this is a cool concept, we highly doubt that any true App store success stories will come from it. Sketch Nation Studio offers for some truly fun template-based game design, but it still doesn’t offer nearly enough to compete with existing titles made by “real” developers. It’s a fantastic tool, but offering the promise of the App Store seems a little ambitious.

Another factor that limits Sketch Nation Studio is the fact that most games from the same genre will turn out pretty similarly. You might be able to change elements pretty extensively, but once you’ve played one Doodle Jump clone (which itself, we might add, is a clone of Papi Jump), you’ve played them all.

And finally, for a game that offers some excellent freedom visually, your sound design options are extremely limited. There are only around ten different songs available for your games, and many of those are very short and annoying loops. While we figured that there’d have to be some kind of limitation for an app that offers so much, it’s still a shame that many games sounds better when played on mute.

Sketch Nation Studio might not be able to conjure up professional-grade games, but it still offers an appealing set of tools for the beginning creator. Managing aspects like art direction and game balance are crucial skills for a budding independent developer, and this is a great place to start. Best of all, it’s free! With nothing to lose but your time, making a simple little game with your own artwork is plenty of fun.