Make your own game

september 21, 2011 11:26am

If you're wondering how to make a game, here's my approach.

Learning new skills
When you're starting a game project, chances are you have to learn new skills, be it learn how to design your own level, draw in a certain style or find out what your technical constraints are. Now if you find yourself in a situation you're learning a new skill and it just don't work for you, make sure you're aware of this. If somehow you're not getting it, the learning curve of the tool is too high or you're not making sense out of the documentation, here's a few tips.

-Learn how to read documentation. This seems like a weird pointer, let me explain. Most documentation is written by a programmer or written in an abstract way. Learn about object-oriented programming, properties and systems design. Having a fundamental understanding of systems and how they interact will enable you to learn any sort of software much more quickly.
-Look for a video tutorial on YouTube. Chances are something you're trying to do is online and there's a video to walk you through. You can even skip to the end of the video to check the result first, which should really help you to stay motivated!
-Involve another person. But not just yet! It's real easy to overlook the cause because you have been staring at it too long. Relax for a moment and go over the most basic and fundamental issues you may be having. Allow different people to look at your problem, they might have really different ways of looking at problems which you have never thought off.
-Don't waste your time. If you're not getting it, maybe all you need is to give it is some rest. Relax and move onto another, more routine task.

Creative flow vs Scheduling
A great thing about making games is that with some task you just loose track of time and you get complete immersed in the process. There's always so many things to tweak to make it better. But ask yourself the question, are you really making it 'better' or just 'different'? As we know in the games industry, an artist is never satisfied. Know when something reaches a point where it's good enough, and assess what you really require for something to work in-game.

Set goals
Set long term and short term goals. Make a list of the things you want to work on or learn. You can sign things off your list and at the end of the day you can track progress objectively. Make sure you there's different types of tasks you can switch between, changes are if you're working on something for an extended period you're going to get saturated and you need to work on something different for a couple of hours or maybe even a couple of week. Be flexible in approaching large amounts of work, in the end it all needs to be done; it's better to pick up some tasks on the side than to wear yourself down into a zombie state.

Be persistent!
This is the most important thing for me, which I think you really learn the most from. Being persistent and finishing a project is the only way to learn. If you abandon your ideas too soon, you're just wasting your time. Give a bad idea enough time and energy for you to understand fully why it doesn't work. Don't be afraid to make drastic and fundamental changes; change your game mechanics, shift and rotate level chunks, scale up values or actors to silly dimensions, be resourceful!

That concludes this blog on making your own game. Be sure to check back often and follow us on Twitter!

-Sjors


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