The guide on video game development – Part 1

It’s time to get rid of a thought that creating a game is something unavailable. Inspiration and desire to challenge yourself is all you need to venture into this field. Tools and resources which may speed the process are at your disposal. To obtain them you need to have an excellent Internet connection.

Be ready to learn how to make a video game for free following the guide that is suggested in two parts. The first part will cover the aspects such as readiness to take up a new activity, learning the fundamentals of game development, building a plot of your game, creating a proper timeline, deciding on a team you’d like to work with.

Why you need this for?

Do you feel dismay even thinking of creating a game on your own? Calm down, nothing to worry about – the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so let’s go! Not enough inspiration? Okay, let’s have a look deep inside and go through your habits. Has it occurred to you that while playing you always want to improve something? And you are keen on watching YouTube videos which teach you to design levels? Do you like making up tales with memorable characters and putting all this down on paper? If the answer’s yes, it’s high time to make a try at creating your own game.

Making a video game for entertainment can earn you a game development job

It’s no doubt that you can make your own video game even not being employed. Quite the contrary, while applying for a post, you’re more likely to take up it if you’ve already developed one. To the end of 2022 game design careers are supposed to get a rise of 6%, but it’s not enough to satisfy all applicants for this kind of job.

A bachelor’s degree may only help to achieve success in making an appointment with a hiring manager. Though, experience obtained from practice will give you a real job. No one will have time to teach you game development power tools to help you survive in a competitive world of game development. To become a more proficient programmer you need to dig deep to attain required skills. Before applying for a job, cut your teeth on these tools, despite the fact that it isn’t presented in your university programme.

Of course, your first project will be a bit raw, and you might feel on edge showing it to a game development company. Every developer has to come through this if he wants to reach heights.  Whether your brainchild is a playable prototype it can impress a hiring manager.

Making a video game can gain you an expertise from a new field

Create your own video game and enjoy benefits such as learning new skills, scoring a big plus to your portfolio, new contacts and a great feeling of achievement. And even if you'll see that the process of creating a video game is far from what you've expected, be optimistic, that's good to understand it before you dedicate yourself to this profession.

Making a video game for enjoyment    

There're a majority of things that attract people to game production. Some people make them for fun, some for self-expression, some like Shayna Moon just enjoy the technical process that underlies every video game. It’s similar to playing a musical instrument after hard working day. What differs video game building from playing the musical instrument is that skills you obtain from this activity can be very useful in your job.

Are there any doubts? If not, let’s see how the entire process is organized starting from the very beginning.

  1. Work out a concept: consider what game you’d like to create

Before starting, figure out what a game becomes popular for. Put down all the games you like the best and go through this list considering three characteristics that made her so great: impressive graphics, distinctive characters, music, an original plot line, etc. It’s a good starting point for your own game planning.

Search for inspiration

If you decided to make the game on your own, don’t be lazy to look for similar solo-developed video games. They will definitely inspire you to create a peculiar game.  Let’s review some of them. Lucas Pope, the creator of Papers, Please, was inspired by his own experience of being an immigrant. As a result, he made a puzzle simulation game which suggests being a gatekeeper. The scene takes place at the border of the country at war.

One more example of positively evaluated games is Five Nights at Freddy’s by Scott Cawthon. It’s a real horror story. Here you’re at a children’s entertainment restaurant trying to survive from evil animatronics. It is widely praised for its stunning preparation preceding the attack, which means the game’s over. A great headway for the author who was so criticized for his previous game Chipper & Sons Lumber Co. which characters were claimed to be fearful, but not on purpose. That didn’t prevent Scott Cawthon from porting the concept to his new no less creepy video game.

Don’t forget to be realistic investigating games like these as they all are created by experienced programmers. Give yourself space for error, it’s impossible to make something unique without experimenting.

Outline a story

A thoroughly invented story is the ground for any video game. Working out a story and characters is fundamental as it will indicate the right direction for your follow-up actions.

It’s believed that all stories are based on 7 plots: “Overcoming the Monster”, “Rags to Riches”, “The Quest”, “Voyage and Return”, “Comedy”, “Tragedy”, and “Rebirth”. It could be helpful for your own story.

Do you find it uneasy to create a story out of thin air? Don’t worry, there’re some useful programmes to help you come up with the idea. Plot Generator can be a good start in constructing your own plot, all that you need is to follow instructions. Worth trying as you’ll definitely enjoy the result.

If you are open to experiments you can try Video Game Name Generator which might supply you with some funny, sometimes even quirky ideas.

For those who prefer books, it’s highly advised to read Video Game Storytelling, it covers the entire process of video games development from the point of story building.

It’s up to you whether create a storyboard or not, so weigh up all pros and cons carefully, ask yourself if such visualization will help your story develop.  

Choose a genre for your future video game.

A point-and-click adventure, a platformer, a text-based RPG, learn which genre fits in best with your plan. And remember to take into consideration all components: the story, your knowledge of the chosen genre and your level of proficiency in video game development in general. And, of course, what is no less essential, tools you've acquired. If you have a 2D side-scroller at your disposal, it can turn out the most appropriate to choose, for example, the “Overcoming the Monster” type of video game.

  1. Pre-production: preliminary activities.

Investigate all the information on how to make a basic video game. Be ready to learn much and feel exhausted sometimes. The more you learn in advance, the easier for you to plan.

You might be already studying game design and development in one of game design degree programmes. Let’s have a quick look at what else you can use to extend your knowledge in game design.

1) Choose from the list of providers offering Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) -  free online classes regarded by students from around the world as the education of the future. Here you can sign for self-paced learning or join an online classroom environment.

2) Online guides, for example, A Beginner’s Guide to Making Your First Video Game by Zoe Quinn.

3) Online forums where professionals give their comments, which frequently come in useful, one of them is Game Dev Gone Rogue.

4) Books on video game design –Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design by Scott Rogers’s is a real treasure to a future game design genius.

5) Online groups or mentor who’s ready to take part in the process of creating your own game. The Facebook group Indie Game Developers is worth attention.

And that isn’t the full list of resources available. Keep an eye on what will be mentioned later in the guide.

Draw up a game design document

It’s no matter whether your game is going to be simple or complicated, the game design document is essential for planning. An idea written on paper will give you a better vision of what you need to fulfill it.  You put down all the aspects of your future video game in this document: a basic sketch, mechanics, story, character descriptions and so on. This document is a passport of your video game; it will unify the team working on the game either as give a possibility to "sell' the idea to third parties.  

You can find a drift game design document on the Internet and work it through. Don’t expect your first document to be thoroughly organized; you have a right to make mistakes as you learn.

Scope your game: estimate the time and resources required to realize your potential.

That’s the essential part of planning process. Try to do it scrupulously even if you’re going to make your video game alone. It will help you to achieve your objective and meet the deadline. Finished on time project is better than continuous seeking for perfection.

Start small is advised widely by many successful game developers, who’ve learned from practice that small projects are easier to improve and complete. Game producer Shayna Moon says: “Over scoping a game is the number-one killer of projects. Making sure that you know exactly what you’re making, down to what can seem like really minute details is important.”

Organize a work team

Hardly anyone reading the guide will decide to start off creating an indie game with a team of two or three. It isn’t actually recommended to organize a team for your first video game as the process can be hampered by many unexpected problems. But a big advantage of working with a team is the joy you take when you negotiate with the same keen developers as you are.

To make the right choice, count all pluses and minuses. If you’ve just begun at the beginning, it might be reasonable to set aside the idea of working in a team and wait for the time to be ripe for this.

However, if you lack for specific skills within your game development project, look for aware people, who’re ready to join your team. Ambitious video game projects often involve cooperation, so you’ll probably need a coder, animator, graphic designer, and even composer.

Decided on the team of more than one? Start networking, use all possible occasions and resources: suggest participation in your project for the most motivated students at your university, search for team members using forums and online communities. One of the most known forums is Reddit’s/gamedev.

When the team is organized, consider the way you’re going to communicate within your work. Communication methodology should be learned beforehand. A communication protocol is a basis for successful teamwork. Slack and Trello are good tools to keep in touch in real time, hold documents available for all team members and stick to the timetable.

Follow the second part of the article, which will immerse you in the development process itself and post-production activities.