Thoughts on re-skinning games

I just received an email from a Flash developer who reads my blog and wanted some advice about creating a pinball game. He wrote that he doesn't have much experience making games, and he's been given a really tight deadline, so should he try and find an existing game to reskin, or should he develop the game from scratch? So reader, this is my advice:
  • Firstly, don't even think about grabbing a game from a portal and decompiling it. It's immoral and it's illegal.
  • One idea might be to go to or and search for pinball games. You can then contact the developers and ask them if they'd like to reskin their game for you or supply the source files so you can do it yourself. This option may actually work out much more profitable than developing the game yourself.
  • If you do a google search for "flash game source code" you will find there are many companies selling source code for Flash games, often at really low prices, and you may be able to find a pinball game somewhere in there.
  • Finally, if you do decide to code the game yourself, your best option might be to try - this physics engine will handle all of the hard maths and physics you would need to do a pinball game - you would just need to learn the API and hook up the graphics.


Anonymous said…
"Firstly, don't even think about grabbing a game from a portal and decompiling it. It's immoral and it's illegal."

I disagree, especially since that was the first thing you decided to list. Don't get me wrong, I am in now way advocating that it's ok to copy / plagiarize / steal other people's work and pass it off as your own. I do think, however, that for someone that's brand new to game programming, decompiling an example of an existing game can be extremely educational.

Reading tutorials and books can help, but they rarely cover an entire finished product, and usually leave advanced features "up to you."

Of course, if this is all in a tight deadline (I imagine that means less than 60-80 hours), and if he is not confident in his ability to make the app, the only real option would be to contract it out, or to pitch the client a simpler game.
Iain said…
@Anonymous - yeah, it's a grey area but it's probably *just about* morally acceptable to decompile someone else is game to look at how it's made, as long as you don't directly copy and paste any of it. I certainly can't argue that it's very educational.