You have an idea for a video game.
And you want to make it happen.
Congrats, you’re a game developer now.
Welcome to the games industry.
But remember. It’s not about ideas.
It’s about making ideas happen.
Making ideas happen
Can’t remember who came up with that (eg. not me). They couldn’t be more right. Ideas are cheap and available in large quantities. Some are better than others, sure. So yes, ideas are important (too). But in the end, it’s the ones that make it to the players that matter. Which means having ideas is not enough.
That other thing is called execution. Without execution ideas are worthless. So what do we need to execute? A structured vision, a bit of discipline and the right tools.
First thing to do: tell your brilliant idea to someone. Or at least say it out loud. Because when you get an idea in the shower, everyone thinks they’re a genius. But it’s only by telling it to someone that you realise how great or crappy it actually is.
A game idea needs to inspire people. Be it people who would want to play that game or people you’d like to work with to create it.
Work on your pitch. Structure your vision. This will serve as a guide through the shit storm that’s coming…I mean the creative process of making a video game.
I believe making video games to be one of the hardest things ever. There’s no recipe for success. No magic formula. Even game developers who have already shipped several games start every new game project filled with questions and doubts. Answering all these questions to find out what’s fun is going to take many iterations. And a lot of discipline.
You’ll need a system. Something that will drive you forward and allow you to learn and adapt every step of the way. Something that will energise you when things get tough and keep you committed until you deliver.
If you are to do good work, you need good tools. A game engine, a code editor, 3D software, something to write game design docs, something to keep track of tasks and bugs etc. The good news is there are many professional grade tools available for free (or very cheap), great support from active communities and lots of awesome tutorials to help along the way.
The hardest part is sometimes figuring out which tool to pick (engine analysis paralysis!) from all the available options. Only then the fun of learning how to use it can begin.
Here we go.
Vision I have an idea for a video game. Here’s the pitch: Play as the Commander of a spaceship in a one on one, synchronous turn-based spaceship battle in the style of pirate ships sea battles.
Discipline To do this, I’m going to borrow a few things from the Agile toolbox. I’m thinking Product Backlog, time-boxed iterations, showcasing progress regularly etc.
Tools And of course finding and teaching myself how to use the right tools to actually build this.
All of this while sharing what I’ve learned every step of the way.
This journey begins now.