How to make your first game from the comfort of home – Part 2 – Tips for making your first game
There are a few things to keep in mind while building your first video game. This will serve as a good starting point for your foray into the world of Game Development. Below are our top tips on how to make your first game.
You are a Game Developer
The moment you start prototyping your first game idea – whether you use C++ or a Game Engine or start making a physical board game prototype – you are now a developer. Let that sink in. Say it to yourself. “I am a Game Developer”. You no longer WANT to be a Game Developer – you ARE one. This is the best thing you can do for yourself as you begin.
Choose an engine
Refer to part 1 of our “Make your first game from the comfort of home” series. Look through the available tools, make a choice, and stick to it. There are huge advantages to using a game engine. Engines provide all the tools you need to make a game quickly. This is one of our most important tips for making your first game.
Your choice will also depend on whether you’re interested in 2D or 3D Game Development.
The alternative is to start from scratch and build a game using just a programming language. We only recommend this if you have prior programming experience, are super interested in the very core of game engines, or are very committed towards becoming a programming
Simplicity at its best
Making your first game isn’t easy. Especially if you imagine your first one to be a game like Skyrim. Makes sense?
Often first time developers weave possibilities larger than life for their first game. It is your first game not your last. You don’t have to give it your all. You just have to make a game. It could be the simplest game possible but it would still be yours.
The important part is getting things done and producing something at the end of it. Aiming too high is VERY likely to cause you to lose motivation quickly. Yes, open-world RPGs are amazing, but the amount of progress you make towards one in a week (or even a month) isn’t going to look very impressive. The larger the game is, the longer it takes to start feeling like something worthwhile.
This is an optional step. If you already know what you want to make (and if it adheres to the rule of simplicity), great! Otherwise, looking for games in the right places can be a great start.
Here’s what you don’t want to look at – AAA games, highly complex games, and blockbuster hits that took 10 years to make. Here’s what you do want to look at – Game jam games (Explained in a later section), Indie games, games that are fun but simple, and maybe even retro games. This is the best way to comply with the rule of simplicity. It is definitely possible to make something fun that isn’t full of mechanics, characters, and possibilities. You just need to be looking at the right places.
Think of the first Super Mario game. The player initially has 3 possible actions – move left, move right, or jump. The level and characters are built in a manner that make it a fun and addictive game. There are some simple interactions – jump on an enemy to kill it, or get touched by it and die. And sometimes that’s all you need – a simple goal and simple controls.
Brainstorm simple and clear ideas
Don’t dive into introducing thousands of complex characters, incredible scenarios, or jaw-dropping mechanics. Choose a very simple and reasonable story.
It is a very good idea to base your first game on a single mechanic. Maybe your protagonist only jumps to avoid obstacles or to remain alive in the game. Or just shoots. Don’t add tons of obstacles either. Keep the concept and functions easy and doable.
Make a plan
Organization isn’t the most exciting part of a project. It doesn’t have to be intense, thorough, or extremely intelligent. But it can make the difference between completing a project and leaving it hanging.
You can learn how to make a basic Game Design Document. This is something that’ll serve you well in the future as well – for personal, hobby, or professional projects. You should write down what your idea is, what the basic mechanics are, and the work you need to do to create that. You should decide what is the MINIMUM that you need to do in order to have a working prototype.
After this, strongly RESIST the urge to add, change, or modify your plans. If you have ideas that would make your game even cooler, put them in a separate document. This way you stick to your plan and quickly have something playable. This is the best thing you can do for yourself as a developer.
Play to your strengths
Game development is a multi-disciplinary skill. Games employ design, programming, graphics, sound, and more. Ask yourself – which skill do you have some experience with? Perhaps more importantly, which skill interests you the most?
2D or 3D Game Development? That choice should also be informed by your strengths.
All components of a game are very rarely made by a single person. You can choose to get a taste of each skill, and maybe even become really good at them. You can also choose to just master one skill. If there is a certain aspect you don’t enjoy, you don’t have to force yourself to do it. The most important part is staying motivated and finishing your project. You can always come back to the part you skipped later. Until then, you can take advantage of free resources.
Socialising – Of tuts and jamming
Finding the right communities is extremely helpful once you’re ready to start developing. Communities like One Game a Month are places where you can interact and socialise over games with other developers. You can also refer to the subreddit or forum for your specific engine or library.
Wondering how this extra little chit chat would add to your game? Well, you could learn easier or more efficient ways to go about your game. You could get past through problems where you’re stuck during your game development process. You could find a potential partner with a different set of skills to develop your game with.
A lot of online tutorials go step-by-step through creating a certain type of game. Such tutorials are easy to follow for beginners, and give you a clear roadmap towards finishing your first game. You also learn a lot in the process, without having to read through all the documentation for a certain engine or library.
You could even be part of game jams! Game jams are events which bring developers together with the goal of making a small game within a couple of days. There is sometimes a prize involved, but the spirit of the event is mostly creativity and cooperation. These events can be local to a certain place, or global and run online. Find a game jam here!
Start your game!
Forget everything you read in this post. Just start making something. The most important thing is that you start writing code, writing stories, drawing up characters, or making mock-ups. The worst thing you can do is to keep reading articles and procrastinate the actual work. Once you get started, you’ll build up that momentum you need to learn new skills and create something impressive. If you get stuck somewhere, you can always google it or ask a relevant community online.
Remember – to be a Game Developer, all you have to do is start making games.
If you’re interested in 2D, 3D Game Development in Singapore, remember to check out MAGES’ expert courses.