Doujin publisher Playism have popped open the barrel on aspiring fighting game makers with EF-12, a completely free, no ads, no strings attached, 3D fighting game engine that’s completely moddable. Like other similar “Maker” games, you’re given free reign over pretty much every aspect of a fighting game—from fighters to stages to move sets. And it’s available for newbies, old hats and those not even interested in making a thing.
The big plus/downside is that this is both an entry and high-level sort of title—you don’t have to have any sort of programming knowledge, but you probably want to have some to eventually be able to tinker under the hood in more detail. 3D drawings and other such game industry skills can help, too, if you want to focus on those bits such as creating your own completely custom fighter. I mean, this game actually supports you doing wireframe 3D modeling outside it with Autodesk and importing it in!
That said, EF-12 does come with tutorials to help ease newbies into how to create their own content—which includes even changing the level layouts and setting dynamic time-of-day lighting effects. As should be obvious from such an open-source idea, the game allows players to share their characters, world creations and even specific rulesets and have others quickly and easily install it into their own version to try out. So even if you have no interest at all in ever getting your hands dirty, there’s something to look around and test.
If you are a good hand at this stuff though, there’s no harm in putting your works out there. After all, this guy got hired at Bungie for his work doing the massively cool Falskaar mod for Skyrim.
The game is currently on Steam’s Greenlight page, but if you want you can also grab it from Playism’s website here for a dollar (or you could be nice to creator Masahiro Onoguchi who helped make this dream come true and pay more).