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!

5 Response to "Tips and hints for beginning game developers"

  1. Unknown says:

    Some good links there. And I completely get what you mean about finishing. It needs to be done, otherwise you move from project to project, never quite seeing the end of it and never having had the satisfaction of actually shipping something.

    Thotep says:

    Yeah, I did that mistake myself:
    I have an idea! Let's write a game!
    (a week later) It's awesome! A little bit of polish and it'll be a smash hit!
    (two weeks later) Making menus is so boring... But I have a new game idea!

    Glad that you liked the links. :)

    These are really good tips. I shared this post with my followers on Twitter.

    You are right about starting off with something that is known. In fact, you made valid points right throughout the article. Lots of people have good ideas for video games but they never start.

    Some start, get frustrated and never finish. As you pointed out, the smaller the game you start with, is the easier it is to face and conquer the challenges involved in this type of project.

    Thanks for sharing these tips! It helped a lot. Cheers!

    These are very helpful tips to those who are into game development. Thank you for posting such a relevant article.

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