When you think about video games, acclaimed titles like Final Fantasy or Silent Hill can come to mind. These are complex both from all angles – storytelling, development, graphics, and soundtrack.
However, there are a lot of basic video games that anyone can make. In this post, we will share a no-nonsense roadmap for starting your journey as a game dev.
Idea That Hooks: The Cornerstone of Video Game Success
More than other apps, video games are often as successful as their ideas. As soon as you have the concept, the technology follows. At the end of the day, if the idea behind the gameplay is boring and doesn’t excite end-users, it doesn’t matter how elegant your codebase is.
While this guide is not focused on the creative part of game development, here’s a quick look at ways and tools creators use for brainstorming:
- Watch the outside world. It’s a good idea to always be on the lookout for interesting concepts and stories and commit anything intriguing you see to paper.
- Consume creative work. To make a successful title, you need to be an avid gamer yourself. As you play through others’ stories, do it intelligently, pointing out things you would improve and those you’d like to implement in your projects.
- Set creative constraints. The video game universe is big – it’s easy to get lost if you have no direction. That’s why entry-level game developers should focus on a specific genre and explore what it has to offer.
Technology: Choose The Programming Language You Are Confident In (Or Eager to Learn)
Once you understand the genre and plot of the game, it’s time to think about technology. Most financially successful titles are built in C#. While a flagship technology for game dev, it’s by no means an easy language to learn.
Luckily, if you are fed up with C#, there are alternative routes.
- There are a few gaming-focused Go libraries and bindings.
- C++ is also adopted by major game studios and comes with an impressive toolset (e.g. Unreal).
- Java is an excellent fit for game development since it’s cross-platform and beginner-friendly. There are a lot of resources you can use to get started – some game developers learn java on CodeGym (https://codegym.cc) by building simple games like Hungry Snake or 2048.
- If you are targeting iOS users, Swift is a go-to technology.
Before you lock your choice in, do your research on how to learn gaming in Java as a beginner (or a different programming language) codegym.cc/java-game-programming-for-beginners-where-to-start. It’s a good idea to explore what developers on Reddit, Stack Overflow, and professional blogs have to say about game dev technologies and tools.
Resources: Know How You Learn and Make the Most Out Of It
There are different ways to approach learning game development. You could pick up a few theory books to understand high-level concepts first or dive right into building projects and following Youtube tutorials. While some learners love being supervised, others prefer independence.
Before you start looking for tutors, exploring online courses, or books, figure out your learning style and commit to it.
Meanwhile, here’s a small but handy resource deck for all types of learners:
Books on Game Development Theory
- Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
- The Art of Game Design: The Book of Lenses
- The Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
- The Visual Story.
Youtube Channels on Game Development
Best Reddit Threads For Game Developers
While it’s tempting to use a ton of resources, you could be risking chaos and confusion. That’s why it’s better to stick to 1-2 picks per category (e.g. 2 books, 2 YT channels, and 2 niche Reddit threads) to stay focused.
The Halo Effect: Keep Your Ambitions in Check
As much as you want to make a successful RPG on the first try, that’s likely not going to happen. If you want to have a complete game rather than an awesome but half-baked idea, it’s better to keep it simple.
To understand what types of games you can build on a shoestring budget, take some time to explore indie titles. A few simple but awesome ideas are:
Though simple by design, a lot of these games can become complex if you decide to throw AI in. Thus, don’t let the simplicity of the concept fool you and stick to indie concepts until you are confident in your coding skills and perseverance.
Game development is highly glorified and has a competitive job market. That’s why entry-level developers often see game dev as a distant dream and come up with a ton of excuses to not explore it.
The truth is, game development becomes straightforward and “crackable” once you study the theory and put your skills to practice. Don’t worry if, halfway through, you realize you have no idea what you are doing – in this field, no one really does.