For just about every gamer there is in the world, there are about a half a hundred game ideas just waiting to be tapped into. If I had a dime for every time that I’ve heard one, I think I’d be rich enough to provide every cent that Rockstar needed to make GTA 6 a reality. For many, these are just ideas, but for others, these are the beginning baby steps into a long, glorious future in game design, and we here at EnomView want nothing more than to set those beginners on the right track. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:
1. Idea & Scope
The first part of this step is simple enough: have an idea! Was there ever a game-related passion project you wanted to start on? A concept you wanted to make into something tangible? If so, then now’s the time to take that idea and practically apply it.
The second part of this step, however, is much more tricky.
While you should definitely let your imagination run wild, you have to remember that this is the first time you’ve stepped up to the plate, bat at-the-ready. You shouldn’t expect your game to sell, nor should you be trying to make something comparable to AAA titles like Assassin’s Creed, The Elder Scrolls, or Call of Duty. Instead, shoot for something like a mobile app game, or one of the more simple flash games you’d find on Kongregate or Armorgames.
If you have some sort of other talents you can use, like art or writing, then by all means, use it. However, since you’ll most likely be working on this all on your own–and again–this is your first project, you’ll want to worry first and foremost about the gameplay and mechanics, not the stylization of it all. Record a basic synopsis of that idea somewhere safe and keep that synopsis handy.
There are lots of strategies to creating good mechanics, but if you want more help with those before you start or maybe just need some inspiration, then I’m going to recommend the following links:
–Snoman Gaming (Quick videos going over examples of good game design in popular indie and AAA games)
–GDC (Videos of lectures given by professional designers at the Game Design Con)
–Extra Credits (A channel recommended to me personally by several designers who’ve been making games for years)
2. Game On
Play games similar to the one you want to make, but don’t just mess around, analyze them. Try to break them, exploit their faults and glitches, figure out what they did right and what they did wrong. Try to look at these games not only from the perspective of a player, but a developer, and determine why the systems put in place were chosen. Use the knowledge you’ve gained and edit the information on your recorded synopsis as necessary.
3. Pick an Engine
Things weren’t this easy at this stage back in the old days, but thankfully times have changed. It’s now possible to make something that people all over the world will fall in love with and not even have to touch the code. Every one of the engines listed below has their perks. While you can truthfully use any one that you so please, certain engines will work better for certain types of games.
Gamemaker Studio 2 – Used to make games like Death’s Gambit and Undertale, Gamemaker Studio 2 is really the best all-around choice here. Platformers, RPGs, general flash games, and even 3D games can be made with GMS2. (Tutorial playlist links)
Gamesalad – Generally used for mobile app games, it’s not uncommon to see a featured download on the App Store that was made with Gamesalad. For games made to be played on a phone or tablet, Gamesalad’s where you’ll want to go. (Part 1 of Tutorial Videos)
Unity – Used to make 3D games like Kerbal Space Program, Rust, and Battlestar Galactica Online, Unity’s the first choice of several indie developers. It will unfortunately be the hardest on this list, and is usually only used for games with 3D models, but it should not by any means be dismissed. (Part 1 of Tutorial Videos)
Once you’ve decided upon one such engine, play around with it. Use one of the tutorials linked above and get a feel for what you can and can’t do. Then, when you’ve got a basic feel for it…
4. Give it a Go
Try and make it happen!
Set about with an idea that won’t take you any longer than a month, then give yourself half a months time longer to account for production errors. If you go over that month and a half-long timeframe, then it may be best to take a step back, figure out what you did wrong, and start again with something new. It’s far too easy to fall into a forever-unending development cycle, and you want to make sure that you finish your work.
When you’re done, ask a few people you know to play it, and collect feedback. Apply that feedback and make changes as necessary.
“And what about when I’m done? What do I do then?”
Start right over from the beginning, my friend, and keep making games over and over again until everyone you know is begging to play your latest release. And then, once you’ve reached that point, keep on going.
Looking for more articles like this? Check out our Game Development is Not Easy article!