Make your first game: How to get started?
5 STEPS TO GET INTO MAKING GAMES
You've never made games before, but always dreamed of doing so? It's rather hard to know where to start and especially how to keep on going for the first month or two. I'm going to share some thoughts of best practices, in getting your first game done!
STEP 1: USE READY MADE ENGINES
If you have background with programming, do NOT start programming your own game engine. The time which it takes to have a fully functional engine, is way too much compared to using ready made engines to make your first game. Even if you're an expert programmer, I would suggest in going with game engines for your first couple of games. By doing this, you make sure that you have the motivation to actually finish the game, rather than having unfinished game and rough game engine at the end.
If you're not a programmer, there is a lot of great game engines (and tools) available, which features "visual scripting". Visual scripting is kind of "talking English" for the game engine. Here are good engines which you might want to take a look:
Unity3D (For visual scripting, try Bolt or Play Maker)
Unreal Engine (Has Blueprint feature for visual scripting)
Game Maker (Has built-in visual scripting tools)
Construct 3 (Has built-in visual scripting tools)
All these engines has A LOT of tutorials available for beginners. For Construct 3, you can see my beginner level tutorial series HERE.
STEP 2: LOOK FOR A SIMPLE REFERENCE GAME
It's great to design games of your own, I guess that's (in most of the cases) the best part of game development. When it comes to actual development, it may surprise how even the simple features take a lot of time to make feel like complete. Because of this, it's good to start with something very simple and with something, in which you can find a reference game. What I mean with reference game, is that you have a game from which you can look how the mechanics, effects, sounds and such have been created. With this information, you can focus more into thinking how to create that, rather than designing the whole structure yourself.
It's not necessary to just "clone" the reference game, you can think of better, or different ways for the mechanics to make the game even better. (Flappy Bird with RPG elements... Anyone?)
STEP 3: GET INTO GAME JAMS
Join a game jam or two, to improve your skills in actual development, but also your designing skills. The most valuable skill of all, is to think of a game which you can actually create. Anyone can throw game ideas, but only few can actually accomplish those. In game jams you may have only couple of days to make a game, so you have to keep stuff simple, but still create something entertaining and "complete".
There is game jams running all the time on itchio and Game Jolt, just pick one and hop in! (Or come and join our upcoming #JesterJam)
STEP 4: JOIN COMMUNITIES
Making games alone is really hard. The hardest part is to keep motivation for the project, if there is none interested in what you're doing. By joining communities, you can share your progress and also see the progress of others to get yourself hyped. One Game A Month is a awesome community, as well as the Game Dev Underground. (you can also join Jestercraft Discord right HERE)
STEP 5: JOIN A TEAM
Once you have enough experience from making games, it's time to start looking for a team to join. Even if you would love to make games on your own, it's good practice to make a game or two within teams. By doing this, you get new contacts and even friends who may have big role in your upcoming game development career. The communities in which you joined at STEP 4, is the placed where you can find the teams as well. Just dare to ask!
You can also start gathering a team of your own. But always remember that you're supposed to be creating games together, do NOT expect people to get hyped of "your awesome idea" and do it for free. Everyone has those "awesome ideas" and most of the people want to see those ideas coming to life, just like you.
If you have actual budget reserved for your "awesome idea" you can start hiring people to make the idea into reality. If you're doing it for the sake of "having fun", do not expect people to "find the fun" from your project and working for it for months without salary, or other concrete benefits.
The road to making games from the beginner level is rather easy nowadays, you just need to be motivated enough to continue learning and to actually plan stuff to get games finished. By planning, I don't necessarily mean having hundreds of pages of game design documents, rather than "knowing your limits". How many hours can you use every week for the game and for how long will it take to get the game finished.
Follow these steps above and I promise you, that you will be releasing games pretty soon which have thrilled players playing it as well!
Join our community of game developers!