So you want to be a game developer?
THERE IS SO MUCH TO GAIN from taking a peek under the hood of software development of any kind, whether it’s what you end up doing as a career or not.
WHAT IS A GAME ENGINE? Game engines are programs or libraries of code that come pre-built and that do a lot of the hard work for you to get you started quickly. In the old days, each game studio would build their own engine and it would take enormous amounts of skill and time. These days, studios rather use one of the main engines, as they speed up development time, as well as make the games more reliable and rich. A typical library component would be something like adding gravity to your game or detecting collisions so that characters don’t fall through the floor.
HARDCORE VS EASY ENTRY GAME ENGINES If you really want to do game development as a career then learning a game engine like UNITY or Unreal Engine is a must. Most PlayStation type games are made with these programs. But the learning curve is steep. There are plenty of free tutorials on YouTube and on sites like linda.com, but beware, it takes a long time (years) before you will be able to build anything decent. You will also need to learn to code to use them. If you want to do this, we’d advise you to use UNITY, because it’s free to start and is very adaptable for use on mobile games, as well as console. Our suggested route would, however, be to start with a softer engine. In particular, we’d advise you to look at Construct2.
It’s free to start and you don’t need to know how to code. It also allows easy export to multiple online and mobile platforms. It’s not nearly as powerful an engine as UNITY, but it will show you the basics of the game making world. Put your mind to it and you could have a game out in a month. Check out the tutorials on their site and also have a look on YouTube. There are plenty of good ones around.
CONCEPT VS DESIGN VS DEVELOPMENT In game development studios, there are different roles to consider – top line architecture, game concept, graphics, 3D models and development. If you want to go mainstream, you will have to figure out which of these areas you want to focus on and then get very good. As a small independent, you will probably have to work on all aspects, but realize you will be better at some roles than others and the quality of your game may mean getting help to cover you on the areas you aren’t so good at. So learn enough to know what you are good at and what you aren’t. As an independent, you will have to do a lot of design to get going, so we’d also advise learning Illustrator and/or Photoshop.
MAKE LOTS OF GAMES Very few people know how to make successful games and it’s only after lots of trial and error will you increase your chances of making a hit. Just by way of one example, Angry Birds was the 52nd game that the studio made before they had commercial success. 51 failures for one success. So make lots of games.
Extra Credits tutorials: loads of good tips about making games and marketing them. Watch as many of these as you can.
How to get started video:
Construct 2 tutorials:
1. Watch the Extra Credit videos and start using Construct2.
2. For design, we’d say you learn a program like Illustrator or Photoshop.
3. For animation, you could use a program like AfterEffects or Flash.