Getting Started In Video Game Development

Nobody can deny how popular gaming is in our generation.  I know it’s always been my dream to build a great app or game.  The trouble seems to be getting started.  How can people who already work full-time possibly fit the time into their date to create a game?  With all the aspects that go into video game development it seems impossible to know where to start.

By learning video game development, you could land better job opportunities, create the next “big thing”, or even better – make a ton of cash!

 video game development

Anyone Can Get Into Video Game Development

Want to learn how to design video games but think you aren’t qualified?  Think again.  You don’t need to be a programmer to create a video game.  You don’t even need to know how to code in a particular language.  There are plenty of resources out there that assist you in the process of video game development.  You don’t even need a degree.  All you really need to get started is to have a good idea.  From there, everything else will come into play.

 

Here Are Some Tips On Getting Start In Video Game Development:

 

Start Small

If you’re new to video game development, it’s probably best to try and start small.  You don’t want to shoot for the stars and crash and burn.  Choose something simple and go from there.  You can start learning how to build your first game by going through tutorials.  Medium lists the top online courses to learn video game development.

If you aren’t sure where to start, you can browse through other projects to get inspiration.  For example, Unity has examples of projects you could brainstorm ideas from.  Game Maker is another good engine for creating basic games.  Godot and ActionScript are other game engines, but from what I’ve heard they aren’t as “beginner friendly”.  Godot is open source and is still a popular engine, but Unity has a lot more tutorials and resources available.

I recommend starting off by working on a 2D game.  They’re more simple than 3D games because they’re flat.  Once you have mastered 2D games, you shouldn’t have a problem switching over to 3D.  Most importantly, when you are starting out have a goal in mind that you can achieve.  Don’t set yourself up to fail.

 

Choose A Platform For Your Game

Figure out what type of platform you want the game to me on.  For example, mobile, tablet, desktop, etc.  The platform that the game is built on can determine the language used to code the game.  For example, games developed on IOS platforms will be coded with C.  Java will be the language used for games built for Android.

Unity is a great option for a platform if you are creating a game in 2D.  It even has a tool to convert your game for different platforms.  For example, if you wanted to create a game for Mac then convert it to Windows, that’s possible.   The 2D version of Unity is actually completely free until your games makes over $100,000 in revenue.

 

Research Ideas

Behind every successful video game is a successful idea.  The key to game development is thinking of an idea that people will actually want to use.  I recommend checking out what games already exist during the brainstorming process.  Check out the App store, Steam, etc.  This way, you don’t get halfway through creating your game just to find out the same one already exists.

Try to ask yourself the following questions when brainstorming ideas:

  • Who will my target audience be?
  • Why will people want to play this game?
  • How quickly will I be able to protype?
  • What will the plot be?
  • Is there a skill level?
  • Will there be a win/lose scenario?
  • Will there be a story line?  Characters?

Make sure that you keep track of all of your ideas and thoughts so you don’t lose them.  I recommend organizing your notes in an App like Evernote or Trello.

video game development

Design For Video Game Development

Don’t know how to draw?  That’s okay.  You don’t need to be a great artist to begin sketching designs for your video game.  You can start by creating basic sketches with stick figures, shapes, trees, etc.  Creating your designs with paper pro typing is the first step to figuring out what will work for your game.  Sketching designs is part of experimenting, it’s not about how creative or good of an artist you are.  Feeling unmotivated to find the time to sketch?  Try adding time into your routine on a daily basis.  For example, maybe spend 20 minutes during your commute on the train?  Or, spend 20 minutes during your lunch break?

Creating a good design for your game can be hard work.  In addition, it can be very expensive.  The good news is, there are designs available in the Unity Asset Store.  If you are designing a 2D game, you can either create frame-by-frame animations or bone based animations.  Photoshop is a great tool for creating 2D assets.  Creating 3D designs is a bit more complex.  You may need to design with a blender, which can be difficult for beginners.

Ready to see your sketches and designs come to life?  That’s where an interactive “wireframe” comes in.  This allows you to link your sketches together and see how they work.  The best part?  You don’t even need to know how to code.  You can use different tools to prototype your designs and see if you like them.  At this point, you can ask other people on their opinions to see what they think.

Here are some additional resources for designing games:

 

Coding

Don’t know how to code?  I can’t stress enough – if you can’t code don’t let that stop you.  It’s still possible to create a game without programming skills.  You’ll need to learn basic data types and variables, but nothing that’s too complex to pick up on your own.   It’s never too late to learn to code.  If you really need to, you can always hire a developer to help do the back-end coding for you.

Overall, if you already know how to code, you should be able to pick-up video game development fairly easy.  You’re most likely going to need to know some C# and JavaScript for video game design.  Objective C would be a good language to know if you’re creating a game for the Iphone or Ipad.  If you’re creating a game in Unity the process should be pretty straightforward.  If you want to be more creative when it comes to coding your game, RPG maker might be a good tool for you.

In the end, it really doesn’t mater what language you choose for your game.  What matters is picking a language that will get you to create a game that works.

 

Publishing Your Video Game

Now comes the exciting part – publishing your game.  I recommend publishing whenever you feel confident in your game.  Don’t overthink things and put publishing off.   That being said, you should put some thought into the date you decide to publish.  For example, choosing to publish around the holidays is smart because people are downloading games more often.  If you created a sports themed game, maybe it’s smart to publish on the day of the Superbowl?  You don’t need to be nervous.  You can also choose to publish your game later on a different platform if you want to.

If you decide to launch your video game on the app store or another platform, you will most likely need to accept a contract.  From there, you’ll be asked to provide your bank and tax information.  Next, you’ll have to provide your own contact information.

Think of a powerful description for your game.  Don’t hold back on this.  Just like how salesmen have a couple seconds to make their pitch, you only have a couple sentences to pitch your video game.  What makes it great?  Why should the person on the other side of the screen download the game?  Make sure to include screenshots with previews of the game for the store.  This should be carefully thought out as well.  Try and include shots that illustrate the games story, as well as features of what the game looks like.

Below are some platforms where you can publish your game:

video game development

Don’t Give Up

Creating a video game can be frustrating at times.  You’re going to hit roadblocks along the way.  If you feel lost when creating your project or get frustrated, step away.  Come back later.  It’s much better to come back to something with a clear mindset and once you’ve calmed down.

Powering through the struggles is what will help you improve as a game developer.  It’s going to take some effort and it’s going to take motivation.  The good news is, you’re not alone.  There are plenty of tutorials and resources out there to help you along the journey.  For more advice, check out an Insiders Guide To Getting Into The Gaming Industry by the Guardian.

 

Getting Into Video Game Development Is Worth It

Overall, there are plenty of reasons to get started in video game development.  You might not become a millionaire on day one, or even year one, but your effort will pay off.  Make sure to keep on top of bugs and updates and try to keep your game alive as years go on.

All it takes to become a successful game developer is one good idea.  Who knows, maybe you’ll create the next Mario or PacMan.  Okay fine, maybe the next Candy Crush is a more realistic goal.