Making your first video game is a fun experience on its own. The hope of making it all work and playing yourself one day along with the regular encounters with life-sucking bugs makes it an emotional rollercoaster. The feeling of even making a small character move at your control can’t be put into words. The dream of roaming in a world that is entirely my own is what kept me going.
To learn to make video games there is no better way than getting your hands dirty. Choose a suitable game engine like Unity3D or Unreal and dive right into the development phase. Even though it sounds simple, most people don’t have a clue where to begin their project, how to divide the complex problem into simpler subproblems, how to overcome simple obstacles smartly and eventually they end up over-complicating the matter. After all, not all of us are skilled industry-level software developers. So, don’t be over-ambitious and try to keep everything simple.
Think of your starting projects as a training exercise rather than your once in a lifetime masterpiece. Aim for a small, simple and easy to build an idea and try to complete it even if in the most rudimentary way possible. Believe me, when I say this and I say it from experience, it is a tough job to think your entire idea and stick to it till the end. Your idea will take its true shape as you develop, which often adds to unnecessary complications. So, try not to add too many functionalities, objects, characters or even levels in your game because there is no end to these things and you can just keep on thinking new stuff. Also, don’t be too stubborn regarding a particular idea, if you can’t implement it, leave it, think of something else. It is better to get over it instead of beating your head against it for weeks. Remember, it’s just a training exercise and at the end of the day, a single working project is still better than a bunch of unfinished ones.
Know your weaknesses and learn to use your strengths wisely. If you are not good enough at the modeling and artistic work then don’t dream of making a fairyland with ponies, mermaids, and ice rainbows. I think you would do just fine with a simple Super Mario Bros. and DX-Ball. Just use the models available online, the Unity asset store is the place for that.
“First we build the tools, then they build us.”
The most basic tool needed to develop a video game is obviously a game engine. There are a number of variants, both paid and unpaid, available online. With an easy to use interface, properly maintained documentation and easily available video tutorials, these are just perfect for an aspiring beginner. Most popular ones are:
3D modeling is an important part of video games, as all the objects we see in a scene like characters, buildings, weapons, vehicles, etc. are all first modeled with the help of a 3D modeling software. There is a variety of such software available that will serve your purpose of initial learning and the development of small projects. Each one of these has its own pros and cons depending on the ease of use or the control provided by them. Most popular ones are:
2D designing is used to make textures and images for various surfaces and buttons in a scene. Some software for the same are:
“Help is always given to those who ask for it.”
There is a large open-source community out for video game enthusiasts. People are more than happy to make tutorials on stuff they are working on. Tutorials are available for small stuff like adding a movable platform, animations for opening doors, making your player jump to entire projects like Roll-a-Ball, Space Shooter and Nightmare. Check out the links below:
Apart from video tutorials and lectures available online, you can ask questions in forums too. People are really helpful in this community and try their best to solve each other’s problems.
Also, don’t forget to Google your problems, surely you will find some small tutorial to help you out. Till now I have tried to provide all the resources that are free, so anyone can learn the basics. But if you are willing to spend some cash to learn more advanced topics, check out the courses on websites like Coursera, Udemy, and Udacity. Some links are provided below:
- Complete C# Unity Developer 2D
- Unity: Beginner to Advanced
- RPG: Core Combat Creator- Unity
- The Ultimate Guide to Unity
- Unreal Courses Udemy
Both Unity and Unreal are world-famous game engines with their own pros and cons, the choice varies from person to person. But for a beginner, my personal choice would be Unity due to its simplicity. So, make your own pick and start to build your ideas into reality.
Written by Sachin Jain