Believe it or not, but making a video game is not some sort of ‘dark magic’ that only certain people have the power to use. On the contrary: creating a game is something that anyone can accomplish if they know the proper steps to take. It is a long journey that is going to challenge your patience, but more often than not, the payoff in the end is totally worth it.
Whether you want to simply develop a game so you can scratch another item off your bucket list or you are serious about creating games for a living, it doesn’t matter; it is vital that you realize the proper way to create your first game. It may seem stressful, but don’t worry! Take a look at our guide below, and begin the process of creating your first video game.
You are likely going to want to create that dream game that has been brewing in your mind for years. While we cannot blame you, it is probably too complex for you to create at the moment. Sure, an Elder Scrolls/Little Big Planet hybrid does sound awesome, but you need to build up to that project. For now, think about a simple concept that you think the masses would enjoy playing.
For example, if you want to create a platformer with a twist, think about the different ways you could create a unique platformer. Perhaps you have an idea for a platformer/match-three hybrid that you think is going to take the App Store by storm. If so, document your idea onto paper and create a basic outline that details the fundamentals of your game. After you have a general idea regarding how your game is going to work, it is time to…
Now that you know what type of game you will be creating, you will need to prototype the game to see if this idea actually has legs to stand on. One of the things that may surprise you the most about creating video games is that many of your awesome ideas will fail to pan out properly. Every idea – even the ones that seem to be the best – will fail to translate properly into a game. Thus, that’s where prototyping your ideas come in.
Obviously to prototype your ideas, you need software to aid you in developing your games (we suggest our game building software Buildbox). You may want to outsource assets such as audio, graphics, animations, etc. (more on this in a moment) in order to properly prototype your game idea. Your mileage may vary.
You may also want to have others playtest (more on this in a moment as well) your prototype to see if it is actually fun. After all, if other people are having fun playing your prototype, that’s a surefire sign that you have a winning idea on your hands. Once your prototype has been fruitful and you are convinced that your idea is worth turning into the video game, then you need to consider…
In other words, what is the point of the game? Moreover, what is the goal of the game, and what is going to make your game stand out from other games like it? You probably answered at least one of these questions during the prototype phase, but if you need to, return to the prototyping phase to get a better idea as to what makes your game special. Every game you create must have a thesis statement that accurately describes what makes the game unique and stand out from other games in its genre. Furthermore, you need to know…
Your target audience
Do you know the type of player that is going to be playing your game? If you have no idea, you need to figure it out. Research other games that are in your game’s genre, and take a look at the type of players that play those games. Find and read press information regarding these games and look at each games’ social media page. This will provide you with a better understanding as to who your target audience actually is.
This will help you to create a game that will actually sell! It will also help you to know how to market your game appropriately, but not before you know…
It does not matter what type of game you are developing or who you are: competition is at an all-time high among indie developers. Thus, you need to create a name that will not only describe what your game is all about, but is also memorable enough that players can easily remember the name. Word-of-mouth is the best type of marketing, and you want to be certain that when a player wants to recommend your game, it’s simple to remember. It may not sound like an important issue, but in an era in which so many games are released daily, it’s easy to forget the name of the game.
Here’s a useful formula for quickly coming up with name ideas. Take the theme and a verb that describes the main action of the game. For example, Subway Surfers takes the theme (subway) and a variant of the verb (surfing), resulting in the game’s memorable name. This also worked for Temple Runner as well.
Plan, plan, plan
What types of levels do you plan to create (and what order are they going to go in)? Do you have some ideas regarding power-ups, boss battles, the game’s art style, etc.? Be sure you have a plan of action before you begin to actually develop your game. Create a game document you can reference that will answer any questions your team may have during the course of development. Of course, you are not going to be able to document every answer before you begin building the game; but you need to have enough of an idea to get you started.
There is no such thing as too much planning – and if you plan ahead extensively before building your game, you increase the odds of your success even further.
You may have already acquired outsourced help during the prototype phase. Whatever your case may be, it is time to actually begin developing your game! Before you can do that, you need to have assets – and that is where outsourcing comes in. You need to hire professionals that can create custom graphics (and sounds if needed) that will bring your unique game to life. Scour outsourcing sites such as Elance, oDesk, and Freelancer.com to find outsourced employees that will deliver the desired results. Who knows? You may want to hire these outsourced pros for your next game!
Playtest, playtest, playtest
Throughout the development process, you need to constantly ask others to playtest portions of your game. Let them tell you exactly what they enjoyed and disliked about the game, any problems or bugs they found during their play session, and generally any information they believe would improve your game. Making a game is all about PER: planning, execution, and revision. Wash, rinse, and repeat no matter how stressful or difficult the project becomes, and eventually you will create a game for the masses to enjoy.