Posted on June 23, 2017
The Struggling New Game Developer, The real perils of Game Development
Hello guys Lone Wolf Game Developer here. Its been a while a while since I have written something. Explaining this gonna take some time. Grab some coffee.
So you want to make games? Now I can just tell you “do that, read that, do this” and you would be on your way, but there is a problem. I have been there and done that too many times to realize it doesn’t work. It took me 2 years to realize the approach was a waste of time for me. Lets start off with “what happened ? “.
I was the first guy to initiate an Offical 2D Game Development workshop in the country as a Microsoft Student Partner Lead from my university. It was held at the Microsoft Office, Bangladesh. My job was to show 2D Game Dev and another great person (Shanto Bhai) also took 3D Game Development workshop with Unity3D and Maya. All-through about 300 selected participants were taught in 4 workshops only 10/15 could actually make something. This reminds me of Jeff Atwood’s Article : The two types of Programmers.
So what went wrong?
– We thought we have created the perfect formula. We found Contruct 2 , which was a game development engine where you didn’t have to code. The beauty of the workshop was that it was for non-developers. We had participants from Business, Computer Science, Electrical, Environmental Science and more. “You develop once” & “deliver everywhere” with a click. But programming is still programming and there is no alternative but Construct 2 just made it too easy for everyone and apparently hid it under a layer of ready made behaviors. It was just visual programming and new commers had incredible amount of fun with it. It is similar to Game Maker Studio. Now lets flash back a little further. Where did I know about these engines? from the web? no. It was after my third Computer Science course at the university, at an experimental 3 day workshop. We had about 15 students in that workshop. The first day I learned Construct 2, I was wake all night and the very next day I made a small 2D Car Parking Game, to show the Instructor. You can download the template.
There were 15 of us in that workshop. All Computer Science students, so programming shouldn’t be a problem. Do you know how many actually made something out of that workshop? only 3 people. Let me tell you what happens after each workshop, it can be game development, mobile app development, marketing, anything and there is a common trend that goes on, here are pretty much all the permuatations I have seen.
The student/participant goes home , Then :
+ Logs into facebook, tags him/herself on the workshop pictures. Gets lost in the great abyss of facebook and forgets to practice thinking “I have done the worksop, I can make games anytime I want. I will start next week when I have free time, exams,girlfriend/boyfriend/family and what not right now”. In the following week he/she opens up construct2 and realizes the mind has forgotten where to begin. The end.
+ Starts Construct2 that night, makes small strides. Now realizes he can paint, but what to paint that is the question?. Gets lost in the great abyss of confussion. This isn’t bad.
+ Makes something, gets very excited and soon realizes he/she needs art/visual/audio skills along with programming to make something good. Nobody wants to hang a badly drawn painting by a 3 year old kid. Everybody wants Picasso.
+ Doesn’t really care. Waits for the future to be built automatically for him/her where he becomes Bill Gates .
So lets get you started :
This is the grim reality of the development world. Now you know and you can avoid them. This is why we have few good developers and just like Picasso they are always in high demand. Its easy to get lost in things around us and only “practice makes perfect”. This is true of all art forms. No one becomes David Beckham, Ken Block or Elon Musk in a day, just like you didn’t learn to ride like a pro the first time you touched your bycicle. The problem is that we see the outcome and demand the knowledge thinking that is what is missing, but fail to see the struggle. This in the professional world is called “Experience”. In order to get better, you must make tons of crappy stuff and lots of mistakes, its called practice. Over time you will get better. And this is very true in Game Development. If you don’t have patience, this is not for you. Ask yourself if you can commit yourself to least 6 months of effort, just the learning phase. This reminds me of Peter Norvig’s “Teach yourself Programming in 10 years“. Yes, game development is going to take time. The question is are you willing to put the effort. Now, giving something consistent time, everyday, is going to take away time from something else. I suggest you figure out what you can drop and in order to achieve your dreams. It can be social life,TV,Youtube,girlfriend/boyfriend,useless hangouts etc.
I use this quote to judge my students and friends. For a student if I have taught him/her something, there should be output. Thats how I know he/she been busy. I have seen brilliant students sit on their ass while stupid shit make brilliant stuff. Same goes for society. People discussing has become very high with social medias all around us now. Narcissism on the rise and widely accepted. By this time since you already know what I am saying. Lets not waste any more of your time and get down to business.
Start with the Basics:
Forget making Clash of Clans, Call of Duty etc. for now. Dream, thats fine. Eventually you can make them, but for now. Stick to the basics. You have to learn to balance before you make handbrake turns with your bike right? Watch the following videos:
Keep Yourself Motivated, work everyday:
A lot of times we are wrong about game development from the start. To avoid this there are a lot of resources online. One particular person who I think gets it right is Rick Davidson (Youtube Channel | Site).
Start with Game Maker Studio or Construct 2 (if you have low programming skills) . Both are excellent. Start with 2D Game Development. Now there is a missconception among programmers that “I must code to make games, otherwise I am not a programmer” and also “2D game sucks, I need to make 3D games cause I am a boss” . In order to prove that wrong. Here are some games that have been developed by the easy to use engines above. [Check them out] . Making 2D games will get you started with understand GAMEPLAY Mechanics and achieve them easily. You won’t have fun if your friends cannot play your games. Feedback is important. Now there are already tons of tutorials everywhere. Start with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_RE6miFj9o
Some Youtube Channels (Construct 2):
Unity3D Basic Tutorial to get started:
Unreal Engine Basic Tutorial to get started:
Game Maker Studio Tutorial to get started:
Even give AutoDesk Stingray a go:
Watch this Documentaries (history is important):
– Lost Between Levels: Valve: | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFELtcCnD94
– Rise of the Video Game: Level 1: | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3u3Hc13wzHE
Read these Blogs:
– Paul Graham : Taste for Makers (Because Game Development has a lot to do with taste)
– Diana Gruber : Game Development Chapters (Because she been making games before many of us were born)
Other Game Development Blogs/Sites you should keep track of:
– World of Level Design: http://worldofleveldesign.com
– GamaSutra Alex Bean: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/author/AlexBean/961619/
– Alex Galuzin: http://www.alexgaluzin.com/blog/
– Reddit : https://www.reddit.com/r/devblogs/
[Part 2 coming soon , where I go into details of “Tao of the Lone Wolf Game Developer”…]