You don’t need to be a top gaming developer to create your own video game. You only need an idea, a gaming engine, and patience. Continue reading to learn how to do it yourself!
Gaming Is for Everyone
In recent years, gaming has become one of the leading sectors of the entertainment industry. Once a niche hobby, more people are gaming today than ever before. Thanks to the internet, people can also take advantage of several creative and professional outlets to do with gaming. For instance, becoming a professional gamer is easier than it ever has been. By entering competitions, gamers can quickly make their way up through pro tournaments.
While being a pro gamer is an achievable goal, others enjoy the satisfaction of creating video games. In fact, some people consider it an art form since video games encourage unorthodox storytelling and world-building. While developing a video game requires a lot of work, finishing the product and sharing it with others is a gratifying experience.
Below are a few steps to follow when designing your own video game.
Think of an Idea
Before getting into the details, lay down the foundations of your game. Lock down the story, characters, setting, and most importantly, the genre. Video game genres differ slightly from film and television genres because the mechanics depend on it just as much as the story does. What genre you choose will depend on your tastes. Jot down some main points from your idea to find some direction.
Once you have a general idea of your plot, genre and themes, it will be easier for you to think of the game design. Take plot points, or “concepts,” and turn them into features. For example, if you decided to create a fighting game, one of the first concepts could be training to use your weapon.
Come up with about ten concepts and features, then tune and refine those ideas until they feel right to you.
The Game Design Document
Your game design document, or GDD, is the key to bringing your game to life. Of course, developers debate the usefulness of GDDs, saying they are unnecessary because most developers don’t heed them in the first place. However, as an amateur, creating a GDD will help pave the way for you and anyone you plan to work with.
Using a table of contents is the best way to organize your game. Lay down as many categories as possible, such as the project description, gameplay, progression, art style, technical aspects, funding, and more.
Once you have all these categories in order, fill them out to the best of your ability. Capturing the big picture is an essential part of this phase, so don’t get swamped in details or try to make everything make sense all at once.
As soon as you have a GDD that you’re satisfied with, show it to people whose opinions you trust. Hearing feedback will be best at this stage because it is still on paper, so there are things you can change much more easily than if you had already programmed it. Reflect and revise as much as you can in this step before you start building.
Building the Game
With a solid GDD, you’re nearly ready to go. Before you can start building, you’ll have to make some technical decisions, including the language and engine.
After deciding on the language, you can choose the engine. Fortunately, most gaming engines are free and open source. Some popular choices include Unity, Unreal Engine, Godot, GameMaker: Studio and Twine.
With these decisions made, you can start building the prototype. In this phase, you’re only laying down the structure, controls and mechanics. Afterwards, you can implement the art and assets.
Making video game art is arguably the most fun yet heftiest part of developing. Besides defining choices like 2D vs 3D, you’ll also have to consider every detail involved in the game. Take this step slowly and remember to have fun with it.
Test and Release
With your artwork ready, your game is nearly complete! The next step is to test for bugs to ensure that gamers don’t get stuck early on in the game. Ask your trusted circle to play the game and record any grievances about the gameplay.
Once you’ve fixed all the bugs, your game is ready to see the world! Platforms like Steam, Itch.io and Discord are all great places to share your work. Remember to promote your game so it gets as much visibility as possible. Most importantly, be proud that you managed to finish a masterpiece!