How do I start Game Development?

Not sure where to start?

With many people looking to start a career in game development, this guide is aimed at those people who are serious about giving game development a try, but have no idea where to start or which is the best route to take.

Millions of us enjoy playing the latest video games on the market. Billions of dollars and hours are spent on one of the most popular forms of entertainment on the planet. But have you ever wondered how they work?

Game Development

If you have the ability to create your own video game, you could find yourself turning a nice profit, while at the same time doing something you are passionate about. The hardest step to take is Where do i start? Its easy to get confused with which is the right step for you. Everyone has their different way of starting, different ways of learning.

I had an idea to be a game developer. At first I had no idea where to start. Was it even possible? Was game developing something only certain people could do? Its not for everyone, you have to be prepared to make mistakes, constantly learn and have lots of patience. The rewards of seeing a game in action you have created makes it all worthwhile.

If you didn’t have what it takes, then you wouldn’t be reading this article? Would you? If you have talent and passion for game development, then the sky is the limit as to how far you could go.

 

The First Step for Game Development

If you’re still reading this, the you have already taken the first step into game development. It was once just a crazy idea, impossible to implement. But now your here. About to turn that crazy idea of yours into something special.

A passion for gaming is essential. After all, those many hours spent on that PC or console has given you plenty of experience in what is a good game or bad game. That also depends on the type of games we play. Some of us prefer strategy games, while others prefer the Call of Duty frantic action packed style of games. It would be pretty boring if we all liked the same games wouldn’t it? You have to make a game which people will want to play, but more importantly a game you will enjoy making.

I’m not going to mislead you here. You won’t have the skills to make that game you dream off for some time, possibly several years. You have to start small. But even before that, you have to pick a language to learn. Its important to understand the very basics. The good thing is you aren’t limited to one language. There’s nothing stopping you picking up a new language somewhere down the line. They each have their own advantage and uses. You just have to pick the right one.

The First step I took after deciding I was serious was to pick a language.

 

Picking a Language

There are various different games, simple ones, complex ones, all written in different languages.

One of the very basic games you can write right now on your computer is a Batch (.bat) game. These are very simple to make. It will be text based, allowing you to tell your own story and giving the player an option to choose which path to go down. Creating one of these games was really useful for me. It gives you a slight insight into how coding works and how the different commands interlink with each other. If you type into YouTube how to make a Batch game, lots of tutorials will come up. I’ve found the majority of them are very useful. The important thing is that if you struggle at first, don’t give up. This is probably completely new to you, so keep plugging away.

start Game Development

Of course you could just skip this part, and move onto picking a language. By having a language to learn, it’s much easier to begin your journey.

Popular languages for gaming are C, C++ and C#. Majority of games are written in either of these languages, although more commonly the latter two. You could pick to start with a different language such as Java and Unity3D. I personally decided to choose C#. This was because big budget games are commonly written in C++. Java and Unity3D are designed for 3D programming. I found C# to be one of the more straightforward languages to pick up.

Another advantage of C# is that if you are interested in making Xbox 360 games or Windows games, then you can use the XNA to write these games. XNA is offered from Microsoft for free.

Assuming you have decided to learn C# as your language as I did, then it’s take to download the correct software. The first thing you will need is Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Express.

go to http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/eng/downloads and find Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Express and Download.

The final bit of software you will need is XNA Game Studio 4.0.

go to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=23714 and download.

Once you have both pieces of software installed, you will now be able to start programming. If however you decided to start with a different language, then the rest of this guide will probably be useless.

I have the software, Now what?!?!

You now have the software which is capable of turning the code into a game on screen which is playable. I searched the web for tutorials for beginners, and i came across thousands. While some of these were no doubt helpful, there is one problem. These are written by people in their spare time. Some things may be unclear to you with regards to what they are showing you or be too brief. I admire these people as they do a great job. Unfortunately, I just didn’t find they explained why I had to something this way instead of another, or why he has done something differently to me. There are some out there which will be perfect, but the majority already assume you have some knowledge. That is the reason they didn’t work for me.

What worked for me was books. These are written by authors who are paid lots of money. Therefore, they ensure they go through each step clearly and in detail. You will find the majority of them are pretty much idiot proof. That’s not so bad eh?

The only problem is what ones do you choose? You can buy your own books, or if your young or strapped for cash, the library may be a great place to check out. I found Amazon to be the best place if you are looking to buy. Before buying, do a review on Google on that book and check out what people are saying. Its pretty common sense really. I found several great books for C#. The books take you step by step on how to make a game. These can range from a RPG to a scrolling shooter.

Be warned! These books are on average over 400 pages long. It’s important to take your time and make sure you understand each step. Designate certain and days so you can really get into it. This isn’t a project which can progress with 10 minutes here and there I’m afraid.

If reading books isn’t your thing, for one reason or another, then the next best bit is video tutorials. YouTube is a good place to start, but I’m sure with abit of research you’ll find some very detailed ones. Some people learn from watching and doing, listening or reading.

One thing is for sure though, you are only going to get he hang of it and improve by actually DOING. Make mistakes, and start again. It’s all part of the learning curve.

 

Hopefully you find this guide useful and helps you get started on the marathon which is Game Development.

Douglas M. Jacobs

A Music, Video and TV enthusiast.

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