You have that hungry look on your face. You know, the kind you get when you haven’t eaten for a while. Only this time it’s a hunger to make games. Being a game developer, I can understand the passion that you may possess to create a game can be killed by the lack of patience it takes to learn to program. You have an idea, and you want to make a game now! This reminds me of an analogy supposedly written by a high school student that I heard once.
“Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.”
You really couldn’t care less about their love for each other anymore. You are no longer invested in it, just like your once-awesome video game idea.
This may be the first beginner game design article that you have found in your quest but it likely isn’t. The first thing I want to do is show you that you don’t have to be an artist, a musician, or a programmer to make good games. Although all of these things help, and will make your journey easier, some of the most moving games that I have played could have been made by a person who thinks you should pull the toilet paper from the bottom of the roll.
One of the titles that drives my point home is a game called Loneliness that was created by Jordan Magnuson. The game is created to cause you to feel a strong emotion. Check the game out here before you read any more and then come back.
Are you done? Good. I know your thought: “I could have made that!” Games are powerful because there is no other medium that can cause us to feel emotion to the extent of interactive visuals, audio, and media.
That brings us to the section that you care about. How do you actually make the games? There are a lot of programs out there that take an afternoon to learn how to use, and you can use them to make an incredible variety of games. Here comes my quick disclaimer. I was not paid by any of the companies that created the products that I am telling you guys about.
Let’s start simple. There are a lot of products out there that will let you take your simple game concepts and turn them into a reality. These programs are even often used as prototyping tools by professional developers. One of the oldest tools in game development that you may have already heard of is GameMaker: Studio. You can get the basics of GameMaker down very quickly, making it a great starting program. Another product out there is Construct 2. Construct is my personal favorite as it comes with a lot of pre-made templates to create games from platformers to tower defense titles. This product also comes with some great tutorials to learn how to do everything, and the community, although riddled with very young game developers, is still very helpful.
Maybe you have messed with some of these easy programs before and would like to move to something a little bit more ambitious. If you want to waste hundreds of hours creating a single game, you should look into RPG Maker VX Ace, or some of their other products. Even though RPG Maker can take a little longer to learn and get the hang of, the reward is great if you are a fan of the genre.
So you’ve made it this far and you’re thinking, “Pfft. I’ve dabbled in the arts of making games. I want to step up and do some 3D work.” Without a doubt you should check out the Unity Game Engine. The best part about Unity is that it’s a product that many developers use to create full, professional games. This product also now allows you to produce games for mobile platforms on its free version. Some of the titles that we have covered here at Indie Game Insider have been made on Unity, such as Race the Sun.
The indie community has a lot of programmers, artists, and musicians, but making sure you have good design is what makes a game. Keep it simple, and don’t take on more than you can handle, but also make sure that you challenge yourself. The best thing you can do to be an indie developer is to just get out and work on it. Don’t keep telling yourself that one day you will have to make a game. Make it, and then tell us at Indie Game Insider, and we just may tell our fans about it!