Tips and hints for beginning game developers

So you want to be a game developer? You're lucky, because that's the post you've been looking for. If you follow the steps below, you will become a true game developer!

Two most important steps are:

1. Actually start writing a game.

2. Finish this game.

Ok, that was too easy. Let me elaborate it a bit.

1. Actually start writing a game.
What kind of game do you want do write? Think about it.

Don't write that game.

Let me put this straight: your first game will always suck. Always. Just like your first drawing sucked, your first bike ride was a fail etc. That's why you don't want to spare your great game idea for that first, lousy shot. Secondly, you can't estimate how big your project is, because you haven't actually written any. And if your project is too big, you won't be able to finish it and won't ever get to point 2.
One more hint: if you want to write an RPG as your first game, you're screwed. It's ten times too big for you. And if you want to write a MMORPG - you're very screwed and you're 14 years old.

Pick something relatively known and (possibly) easy for start. Write a Pong clone, a Pacman clone, a Tetris clone... You'll be surprised how much fun it is and you'll be surprised how much work it is. Really. And by picking a known game you have a very clear goal to achieve - that's very important.

After you finished your Pong, think: what always annoyed you about Pong? Is it too slow? Too boring? Maybe it would be better with some funky bonuses? Write it! Let your creative juices flow and fix (or spice up) the original idea! That's a great exercise in game design.
Guess what - I wanted to write a simple Arkanoid clone as my first Android game.

That's my Arkanoid. Rockin', huh?

I have to tell you that I don't like Arkanoids and I don't play them, ever. I just wanted to practise game development on Android. But with some ideas applied I actually managed to make it fun (for me at least ;))! And so I came up with Kilgamore Castle.
And that's how it looks right now. You've come a long way, baby.

2. Finish this game.

Derek Yu wrote a great post on that subject. You should read it now.

Additional resources

There are tons of blogs, tutorials and other things on the web that might help you. There's my little, distilled list of things that you should read:

  • Everything by Jonathan Blow. You know him, right? You should. He's the author of Braid (just don't tell me you don't know what Braid is...) and (in my opinion) he knows a LOT about game design. His blogs are: number one, number two.
  • Chris DeLeon wrote a helpful post for you. The whole blog is helpful too (albeit a little bit wordy), so you can subscribe to it right away.
  • Wolfire guys. Some thoughts on game design, a little bit of programming and indie marketing.
  • If you're into horror games, this blog is very valuable. Lots of interesting thoughts about horror game design. From the guys of Amnesia and Penumbra.
  • There's also a blog by Chris Pruett. It's focused mainly on the programming side of game development; highly recommended for programmers.
  • Edge Magazine (I mean the printed one). It's good.
  • There are two famous blogs about indie games, very inspirational: IndieGames and TIGSource.
Good luck with your game!

Kilgamore Castle available now!

It's a game written by me exclusively for the Android platform, published by HyperBees. You play as Ernest Pucklington, a retired treasure hunter. He finds a treasure map and decides to take the plunge again! Ernest sets out on a treasure hunt to Kilgamore Castle (shown by the map) together with his dog Barney. They overcome many obstacles and make some amazing discoveries on the way. It's an Arkanoid-type game with unexpected twists, quests to complete and mysteries to solve; integrated with Feint.
Some promo images:

And the QR code:

#screenshotsaturday review (2010-11-20)

Ever heard about that new Twitter thing? Every saturday game developers post a screenshot of what they're working on at the moment and tag it as #screenshotsaturday. Actually, I haven't posted anything this saturday, but I came up with an idea to "review" some of these screenies. My choice is totally subjective! If you agree or don't agree with any of my statements, or just want to extend info about your screen featured here, write a comment!

Ok, let's go!

That's a game by @adamatomic and @chevyray (if I remember correctly). I really like the pixel art here - fairly low resolution, but very well used.

Some weird art here, I wonder what's this game about. Looks like a cross between a board and video game. (by @S0phieH)

I like that art and colors. It's from the game "...But That Was [Yesterday]" by @onemrbean, you can play it here. I strongly recommend giving it a go, it's just about 10 minutes of play. The game's story may be a bit ordinary, but I love the way it's been told, using the language of video games. Unfortunately it's not a common thing, most games are just trying to use the movie language.

Ok, call me an old, nostalgic man, but you have to admit that these 10-pixels elf and kobold are just cute. (+ I like roguelikes) (by @OddballDave)

That reminds me of System Shock 2, which is one of the best games ever created. (by @radiatoryang)

Yeah, yeah, another lovely pixel art. (by @hamumu)

Very interesting art style, something between Grim Fandango and Another World. I'm curious about that game. (by @cardboardcompy)

Makes me want to kick that red guy in the face RIGHT NOW! And who doesn't want to be a ninja? (by @seregrail7)

Looks like an insane battle (it.s for 2 players). Sadly, it's for iPad only... (by @huikea)

It's a screenshot from "Victorian room-based submarine roguelike" and it's one of the reasons I posted it here. (by @JasonP_)

That's it! Would you like me to review another #screenshotsaturday? Well, I did it: here's the next one!

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