How to make games : 6 steps to become a game developer

How to make games

So you wanna know how to make games don’t you? Here you will find all the possible tips to become a game developer. I must tell you that the road to becoming a great game developer is hard and time-consuming. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to develop great games, and hopefully, make some money.

Games are the most difficult digital products to develop. Why is that? Because games are the most expressive form of technology and art combined together. In order to succeed, you must know about everything that gravitates around game development and this is not gonna be easy.

Step one: Decide your field

If you want to know how to make games, you must understand what you have to know to make a successful game:

  1. Technology
    1. Game engine (Unity, Unreal, etc etc)
    2. Programming languages (C#, C++, Swift etc)
      1. Data structure
      2. Algorithm
      3. Design pattern
      4. OOP: Object oriented programming
      5. Multithreading
      6. Network communications
      7. State machine
      8. Etc Etc
  2. Physics (mostly integrated into the game engine but it’s always good to have some basics)
  3. Marketing: Without this, your game is worthless because nobody will know about it
    1. Utilize social networking sites
    2. Market your game
    3. Create content to share (video , screenshot, etc)
    4. Hot to sell your game
    5. Gamification
    6. Etc Etc
  4. Graphics: This is what the user sees
  5. Team Management
  6. Project Management
  7. Game Design
  8. etc etc

At the beginning, forget about making games but start learning about what you need to know to make them. Firstly, decide on the field you want to be in, and become an expert in that one. If you’re a team, each member of the team should become an expert in only one field.

I know it’s a lot of work but the trick is very simple: “Divide et impera” as the Romans said. In other words, divide your problems into smaller problems in order to solve the bigger problem, which in our case is: “How to make a game”.

Start small: How to build your game development skills:

The four type of players

Becoming an expert in one of the fields that we’ve listed before is gonna take a ton of time, and most of the time you don’t need to. And in case you become an expert in everything, you can become a “Game Producer”.

My suggestion is to start with what you feel you are more comfortable with. If you’re good with math or solving problems, for example, you can start to study programming and slowly build your programming skills. Same story for the other fields.

Where should I start? Some fields are important but not essential. For example, you can make games without knowing about game design or game marketing, but unless you’re very lucky, your game won’t be good at all and you won’t have any success.

With that said your main goal for your first project is not to create beautiful games but to learn how to make them. So if you’re thinking of making the next “World of Warcraft” I can simply say: “Forget about it and start with something very small and simple”.

Example:

If I want to start to learn to program with Unity and it’s my first time, this is what  would do:

  1. Watch all the basic unity tutorial about the editor
  2. Watch all the basic unity tutorial about the C# programming
  3. Build something basic just to apply what you’ve learned (max one week)
  4. Start again from point one but learn something new.

Once you’ve learned all the basics about programming so you can start to build your first small game (max 1 month). Once it’s done you can learn something new and add complexity to your projects. Slowly, you’ll be able to add more skills to your portfolio and build better games. But don’t make the common mistake of building something big without having the skills to do so.

Resources to start to study how to make games:

If you want to learn how to make games, you need to find the best places where to study your favorite topics.

Here is a collection of the best books related to the game development industries.

Other than books, you can also use:

  1. Game engine forums (Unity forum, Unreal forum)
  2. Reddit is full of game development communities with a lot of topics related to the game development industry
  3. Paid or free course: Websites like Coursera or Udemy for example, are full of free courses that you can follow
  4. Youtube free tutorials

If you’re really starting from scratch I suggest you take a basic course possibly with exercises to follow. This way you’ll have a simple path to follow and it’s gonna be a good way to get into the game development world.

Don’t waste your time: Be productive

In case you want to have a look, we’ve already discussed here  how to be productive in game development. But here are some tips to try so as not to waste your time while you’re learning how to make games.

You can use Trello to build your learning board. Here is an example of one board used to measure your progress and to better organize your improvements.

It is important to measure your improvements and stay motivated. Organize your learning plan for the next two months and after that, start again.

Avoid the common mistake and don’t give up

Try to stay focused and never lose hope. If your goal is to make games for a living then don’t think that it’s something that you’re going to achieve in a couple of months. It will probably take a lot of years and you’ll have to go through a lot of failures but don’t give up.

The common mistake is to start with a lot of ambitions and ending up with projects bigger than yourself. Never underestimate the difficulty of a project, and as you’ll see, even things that seem small and simple to develop can become very complex.

We can take Rovio entertainment as an example. Before they became famous for the game Angry Birds, they developed 51 unknown games. They didn’t give up until they made it. Like it or not this is the world of game development now.

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