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19 Nov 2013

Finishing Your First Game – Part 2

Last week, I wrote an article regarding tips to make certain that you finish your first game. It’s an article that really spoke to me – especially since I am participating in National Novel Writing Month. The tips I mentioned last week proved to help me out a lot over the weekend as I march to my goal of writing a novel in one month, and I know it’s certainly a helpful article for indie devs alike. Therefore, I felt as if a follow up article was suitable, so if you enjoyed last week’s “Tips to Ensure You Actually Finish Your First Game,” you will be pleased to know that you are not having to wait longer to receive more tips. So without further ado, here are extra tips to ensure you actually finish your first indie game, and tips that will allow you to finish your concurrent games as your career rolls on.


Stop worrying about the technology that you use

It’s easy to get caught up in the technological aspects of your game rather than focusing on what is most important: how fun the game actually is. I had an interview with Raphael Sautron, designer of the mobile game Level 22, Gary’s Misadventures (you can listen to the interview over at Game Academy Radio on Friday), and he echoed the same thing. If your game looks beautiful yet is boring and generally not fun, then it doesn’t matter how impressive the tech behind the game actually is. Moral of the story? Stop worrying about how technologically impressive the game is, and focus on the most important aspect of the game: how fun the game is. There’s a reason people still flock to Super Mario Bros. instead of a technologically impressive game (for the time) that was released 10-15 years ago, and it’s because it’s simply fun.


Keep your game simple

I went into this a bit in part one of this series, yet this bit of advice goes out to the programmers that are developing their first game. This is your first game. Because of this, you are probably eager to create the game you have always wanted to develop. Something big. Something massive. An epic game to end all epic games.  Yet, keep in mind that while you are ambitious, this is after all your first game.

There is no reason to create fancy design patterns or write code that looks beautiful and will make any programmer gasp in amazement. Instead, focus on what is the most important part of your game: developing a game! Should you attempt to write good code? Absolutely, but it isn’t the priority in developing your first game. Instead, focus on making a fun game, even if the code is ugly after your first draft. This is what your game is, too: a first draft. If you must return to your code and edit some of the code to make it better, feel free to do so, but never edit your bad code to improve it at the expense of your game. Remember: players are not going to know or even care if your code looks ugly – all they care about is how fun the game actually is.



Back in September, I wrote two articles detailing how to hire quality playtests for your indie game. It’s a great way to obtain unbiased feedback, yet it also serves another function: to incite excitement back into your project. Nothing is more contagious than someone finding something fun about your game and telling you about it. There is also nothing more contagious than someone telling you what can be improved in your game. Long story short: feedback is contagious!

Once you have several individuals telling you about what they like and dislike about your game, you can then use the advice to improve your game. And the best part? No matter what type of ‘rut’ you are currently in during the development of your game, you will have a newfound zeal to continue working on your game and improving it.


Follow Nike’s advice

Just do it. Close out everything around you. Turn off your cell phone, your web browser, shut the blinds, put on a pot of coffee, and just work. Have fun with developing your game, immerse yourself, and you are going to find that developing your first game actually becomes an addiction.

And that’s really rule number one of game development: have fun! Developing games is supposed to be a blast, and while you are certainly susceptible to getting stressed, angry, sad – literally feeling every negative emotion under the sun while developing your first game – at the end of the day, it’s fun. Have fun with your first game, follow the advice above (and in the first part of this series), and discover how incredible it feels to finish and ultimately release your first game!

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