If you were ever interested in how games are made or you wish to make them by yourself, but you don’t know how in next few steps I will share my experience for all those that are interested in how to make a game. When I started creating video games there was nobody to direct me in the right way or correct mistakes that I did, so I will tell you all the things that you need to know so that you don’t make the same mistakes that as I did.
What tools are necessary?
You do not need to have a strong PC, but it’s recommended. This only counts if you are going to make 2D games, even smaller 3D games. For bigger 3D and graphic demanding games, it is necessary to have a good computer with latest components. But, since this is your first game, you will not create anything demanding. When I started with game development I owned P4 processor. This is the proof that you do not need a strong PC for smaller games.
To develop video game you will need specific tools, like game engine and a graphic tool. The most popular game engines are Unity and Unreal Engine. Unity is better for 2D games and easier to learn, while Unreal Engine is better for demanding 3D games, and has tougher learning curve than Unity. There are also engines that do not require coding, this is more for hobbyists, who do not look to develop a career but only games. I would recommend Game Maker, Buildbox and Stencyl. Though, engines like Unity and Unreal are great for developing a career as a game developer. The good advantage with most game engines today is that you can build games for any platform, so porting games to other platforms is easier than ever.
If you do not love coding but you still want build games, then you can become a graphic artist. a person that creates graphics only for games. Most common tools are Photoshop, Gimp for 2D and Maya, Autodesk, or Blender for 3D games. The only downside to this is that you still need a coder to make a game. Coder without artist can still make games, while you can’t. It’s very common for teams that partner up together to build games fail, as most people do not have discipline and consistency to finish a product.
Youtube and tutorials
Believe me or not, today you can learn anything on the internet. I personally learned to program by watching YouTube tutorials where I shaped my knowledge. On the said platform you can find different tutorials that are narrowly related to game development, to smallest details. There are tutorials where you can make the game at the same time with the lecturer and all for free. Wonder how to create an Endless Runner, just search it on YouTube and start learning. You will be proud of yourself that you started learning today.
Most companies that create game engines own forums where you can discuss specific engine or you can even find partners or jobs.
Discipline vs Motivation
The biggest trap that most developers fall into is motivation. To develop video games you do not need motivation, but discipline. Motivation is a mental state that comes and disappears and it’s not a solution to finish game. Many times when you are developing your game you will enter a state of a mental drain, where you don’t have an idea how to proceed next or why did you need this in your life. If you want to finish your game you have to develop a certain level of discipline, so you will have to practice every day, a specific number of hours. Even if you work only fifteen minutes in a day, is still better than doing nothing. You must create a need for work, do not seek for that feeling of fulfillment that you have when motivation hits you, it will not happen often, so you have to work hard to finish projects. But if you work only when motivation hits you, then you will finish nothing, like most developers, actually, most people do not finish things, and that is what makes difference between successful and unsuccessful people. I am not saying motivation is a bad thing, but try to not rely on it, as it does not happen often.
Your idea is not worth it
My first video game was an arcade racing game, where you had to evade incoming cars from opposite direction. I thought that my idea was unique and that nobody before me tried something similar, I had that feeling where I thought I am going to get rich and rule the world. This feeling lasted until I published the game, it was a catastrophe, on Kongregate it had like 2/5 rating, it was almost 1/5, but graphics saved me a little.
On this example, I learned that everybody has an idea and the idea that I had, thousands of people had before me. Also, I learned that you need feedback from players or developers because that is what make games great. I did not know any of this because I hid my idea from everybody as I thought someone else will steal it and make millions instead of me. That’s why I joined communities like Reddit’s GameDev or facebook’s game developer group, where you can get really great feedback from developers. This way I improved my games a lot.
What makes great games is not a good idea, but the execution of the fun game. Many people come to me and talk to me how they have an idea that can make a lot of money, but what they do not understand is that every person on this planet has an idea. The idea is worthless, what you put on a table (finished game) is what is important.
Many future developers make this mistake and it’s the most popular mistake in the game industry that beginners create. There are people who are inspired by big games like GTA V or WoW, and they think that a game like that is achievable for one person, but after they learn what they need to know in order to create a game like that, they just give up. This is a bad example on how to create your first game and this happened to many before. They do not know that games are made in teams like great sports teams are made, it’s the same in game industry.
To skip this mistake, you need to start small. Build small games like Pong or Tetris. If you never created a game before, a game like Super Mario from NES is an overkill, no way a beginner could make something similar. Imagine you want to become a painter, and your first painting is a masterpiece, that’s not gonna happen, and it’s the same with games. Once you will come to stage when you will be able to code any type of game, but it doesn’t mean that your game will be fun to play. You have to learn that there is a difference between knowing how to make a game and making a fun game. Making fun game is more difficult than making a game, but you can’t make a fun game without knowing how to create a game. And accept the fact that your game will not be great, but you have to keep going, and the more games you build, the more creative you become, and more creative you are, the more fun your games are.
Finish your games
This is the most important aspect of every game, finishing games. Most developers do not come to this stage of development, they just give up. If you want to work in industry, in future and if you don’t have finished projects there’s a very low chance that you will get a hired, whoever has finished projects will beat you on a job interview. It’s not about how fancy your graphics are, how good your game is, or your degree, it’s just about showing the ability that you can finish games. Finishing games is a skill of its own that has to be practiced and mastered.