I suppose it really should go without saying that the first thing you need in order to create your own video game is an idea for the kind of game you want to create. You don’t need (and probably shouldn’t have) every detail worked out, but you should have a general feel and a few specifics that you are really excited about. If you don’t have these things, go come up with one and then come back and read this article. We good? Okay, let’s move on.
The most fascinating thing to me about game design and development is the sheer number of ways there are to go about reaching the same end result. Some will tell you that their way is ‘better’ or ‘more elegant’ than other ways, and they may be correct, but for the scope of a game developed by a single person (or even a team of two or three) it really makes very little impact. That said, there are still some universal truths that you have to accept and internalize if you are going to be successful. The first, and most important, is that creating a game from scratch takes a LONG TIME. I am probably a hundred hours into the creation of the game I am building (I am calling it Apprentice for now) and so far I have a few sprites and tiles and a single mostly empty map to move around on. Your mileage may vary, but no matter how easy an engine makes creating your game seem, there is a lot of repetition and time-consuming tedium.
It may sound like I am trying to dissuade you from trying to create your own game, which is really the opposite of the truth. In reality, the more independent developers there are making fun games, the more fun games there are for me to play. I am really trying to get you into the right head-space so that when these things hit you, you aren’t discouraged. The best-kept secret of independent game development is that even the time-consuming, repetitive, tedious stuff is FUN. For a sense of scale, at the time of this article’s writing, Overwatch came out a few weeks ago. I played in the closed Beta some and find the game to be incredibly fun and addictive. All my friends and my wife play regularly, and the game is great to play as a group activity. And yet, I find myself frequently passing on opportunities to get on an play with them because I want to put some more time into this sprite, or I feel really close to solving this opacity issue, or that depth rendering problem. In reality, there aren’t many things that can compete for my attention with my game, and the real effort is not neglecting my wife and friends, rather than not putting enough time into my game.
In this article series, I am going to generally start with the very basics, assuming that not everyone who is interested in making their own game is a renaissance man(or woman) of coding, art and music/sound. If you are, you probably don’t need to read this article to figure out how best to go about making your game anyway. I will do my best to cover all the options available to prospective indie developers, but since there are hundreds of ways to get there, as I mentioned above, I will mostly be forced to focus on the methods that I employ. If any of you reading this explore a different route and would like to share your experiences, I would love to hear about them! Leave your thoughts in the comments and I will do my best to keep up on them.
Next time on So You Want To Create Your Own Game?, I will address one of the biggest decisions most game-makers face early in the process: Game Engine. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you again next time!