Hello GameTreps! Last week I covered the South Florida game industry and how it is growing, this week I wanted to share some ways you can start making games even if you are a complete newbie.
Making games has never been easier than today, which is a great thing. From high quality game developer tools to education becoming pretty much free, the barrier to entry has pretty disappeared.
Most of the initiate game devs I’ve met so far stall out somewhere between having interest and actually completing their learning objective or game project before calling it quits on a dream. In an effort to help out those of you who are in that free fall between interest and your first step towards making games here is a list of ways to really start making games.
Remember…It is dangerous to go alone, take this:
1. Tutorials –
Yep, going to start with this plain old suggestion that some new game devs actually never consider since it is so pedestrian. Well turns out alot of the tutorials you can find out there online are fantastic and even free in alot of cases.
Here take a look at the Unity Tutorials as a great example, they come with the lessons to guide you through learning and all the assets you need to focus on learning the engine. Now Unity doesn’t have a monopoly for tutorials with their engine, all the major game engines do such as Unreal and CryEngine do as well so you have plenty of options. If live-action is more your speed then Twitch.tv even has an entire channel dedicated to game dev tutorials.
2. GameJams –
For those of you that like to jump in the deep end for learning I present to you…gamejams! These events are generally 24 – 72 hours long where game developers of all specialties (Artists, Designers, Programmers, Writers, etc.) all come together to make a game in the designated time span. These games are not meant to be AAA productions like Skyrim or anything, but rather quick prototypes of games. More importantly it lets attending game devs get together to find potential partners for projects.
In the case of a new game dev this kind of event can be a great way to find a project they can immediately jump in or at least observe. Sometimes newer game devs will hit it off just right and they can find a mentor or two to help them on their learning journey. Find gamejams here, here and here or check out some of the community groups found here on GameTrep
3. Community Projects –
This options for learning is much like GameJams except over a long period of time usually. Say for example your local game developer group has a game project they’ve been working on such as a 2D side scroller. They may have some amount of the work done for the game but will generally have tasks open to the public or their group to contribute to, such as “Design the 5th level” with some guidelines attached to its design.
For the new game dev this is a great opportunity to pick up a very small and achievable goal to start learning from all while helping their community that will undoubtedly help them in return.
For those of you in Florida here are two examples you can check out Florida Game Developers Association Pyramid of the Sun & Miami Game Developers What’s My Name.
4. Ye Olde Games, pen and paper prototypes-
Design and develop your first game using the ancient tools known as pencils and paper, I know, it sounds crazy but hear me out. This example is something that several aspiring game developers already do while dreaming up their perfect game. Unfortunately they usually stop at the concept part and let the dream die on the vine! With some structure and consideration you can build an entire game that will then help guide your learning process for the virtual version.
For the new game dev you can easily begin designing games by building pen and paper prototypes. You can practically create most games without even touching a game engine or modelling any assets. From the game design, to the math behind the mechanics and even the concept artwork you can do this without any special knowledge around the tools. All you need is a little structure, perhaps starting with a game design document and then making a playable prototype if possible.
Read this other article if this is your selected path Game Development & Paper Prototyping by GameCareerGuide and see how much you can fill out on a Game Design Document to get the ball rolling.
5. Modding Games
So I heard you want to make games? Why not make a game using a game so you can become a game developer?!
Modding is a practice where users of a game can modify the core game to create assets or even entire game experiences within the original game. This can be seen in Skyrim, Half-Life, Grand Theft Auto Series and Arma just to name a few. Check out Moddb.com, one of the larger sites for mods to share their work and learn.
Modding, unfortunately, is not always seen as a legitimate way of becoming a game developer or at least a way to make money from it. Fortunately, that belief is quickly fading into the rear-view mirror of our industry. Want a few example of things to come? Steam still plans on allowing mods to be sold when they rework their system, DayBreak Studios (Formerly Sony Online Entertainment) has shown success with allowing players to sell custom helmets and have plans for player created items for sale with their next Everquest game. Daybreak/SOE even let it be known a player-creator made around $100,000 on their platforms.
For the new dev this may be the route to take if you are inspired to develop games using one of your favorites if it is moddable. There are very strong communities that can help you and sometimes making small simple changes can lead to a very lucrative path for game development. Not just from selling mods in the future as mentioned, but in some cases the modders of popular mods have been hired by the original game’s studio. This includes the creator of DayZ and a young developer that made the impressively massive Skyrim Falskaar Mod.
Time modding like a professional can be worthwhile it seems!
Well that’s the list and the kitchen sink for you guys, now pick a path and get to making your dream games!!!