Seven Tips for Starting Game Developers
Well, it’s been a ride. My first game Totem Spirits is now live.
I’m not gonna tell you how awesome the game is (since you may try it yourself :) ). Instead I want to share my own experience as a game developer and highlight some useful tips for those interested in game development.
First of all, short background information about myself — I’m 26 now and have about 22 years of a game playing experience (yes, that’s right the first games I played at age 3–4, one of them was Age of Empires) and slightly more than three years of professional career as a Java developer.
Alright, let’s dive into the topic itself now. There are seven tips I’ve discovered while creating the game:
1. The team is the main asset.
Yes, even the smallest game dev studios have a team of a few people. I literally give a standing ovation to those guys who are able to create a whole game product only by themselves (I know only one example of such). In my team there were one artist, one UX-designer\artist, one sound designer, and myself — programmer\game designer\UX-designer. And here comes the first tip: you should
tip 1: Delegate the work you are not qualified in to the professionals.
Just a few examples why:
>> Firstly, I tried to find the sounds myself, spent a few days on it and ended up with a terrible mix of unsuitable and poorly created sound samples. Then, I found a guy who made a great set of sounds for less than $15.
>> The first version of promo video was, well, horrible, because I thought I’m quite good at it. Fortunately, I met an UX-designer who made this cool version you may find at the beginning of this post.
I can see now why there are so many, let’s say, strange-looking games with horrible art assets and unlistenable music. Well, you just can’t have the same level of professionalism in everything.
2. Game development is not free.
You would have to spend your time or\and your money. I mean, if you want to create a good-looking and playable product you need to invest in it. To be honest, I think that not each and every product out there in the markets can be called a “Game”, since many of them are barely playable. As for my game I’ve spend about $1200 on the development and slightly more than 2 years of my life. Still think that it’s worth every penny and every minute, since I gained a lot of experience in programming which boosted my professional career.
tip 2: Take it seriously, investments are necessary.
3. Respect the product.
The development process is painful, you will want to quit several(many)times. But if the game you’re building is the one you would enjoy playing yourself it would make the process more interesting and give it additional meaning. The third tip is my main keynote.
tip 3: Build a game you would want to play yourself.
4. Share it with the closest friends and relatives, BUT…
tip 4: …choose beta-testers wisely.
If you don’t want to pay extra money for professional testers then friends\colleagues\relatives are gonna be the first ones to test the game. Try to find what kind of games they like since probably not each of them represents your target audience. And I suggest sharing the product not earlier that in the “beta” stage — otherwise you would need to explain a lot of game rules and that would harm the user experience and you gain almost nothing useful out of it.
5. Make use of your strengths.
It will cost you less if you know how to code or how to create an assets. In my case, I didn’t need to hire a programmers or game designers. No one is able to implement your idea better than you, that’s why I suggest to
tip 5: Take as many roles in the project as possible.
But do not forget about the tip 1.
6. Don’t waste too much time on planning.
No, you still need to have some kind of a roadmap and game design document, just
tip 6: Make documentation flexible.
You would probably need to change it many times. In my case a lot of great ideas had come during the development process itself. And don’t be afraid to share your ideas within a team and listen to their ideas as well!
7. You will hate your game at some point.
That may sound sad, but that’s true. After a ten-thousandth launch you just hate the game. You may be tempted to start a new “better”, “more interesting”, etc. project at that point, but, please,
tip 7: Don’t give up!
Make it happen. Share the game with the world since you’ve put a lot of effort into it.
Those tips I’ve discovered mostly for myself and more than sure that for game industry giants the list above may sound like a baby talk. Nevertheless I still think it might be useful for those dreaming to create the best game ever.