Hello everyone! It’s Ellen…but only for a little bit today! I’m super excited to not only introduce you to my first internet/web related “Into Summer Series”, but also today’s wonderful guest poster & fellow friend of mine: Avalti! If you haven’t heard of Avalti or stumbled upon any of her brilliant game designs or graphics, you’re really missing out on great stuff. She’s an AH-MAZING game designer and artist, who though younger than most developers on the web is equally as talented! I first met her on the coding community “Scratch”, and a few weeks ago, she was one of the first people I thought about when I was preparing my material for this series! As well as talented, she also has a very lovely & intriguing personality, which I’m sure you’ll agree on after reading her little piece on the process of creating a game, perfect for anyone looking to aspire in the game developing community!
Hey everyone! When Ellen approached me to write about something I’m passionate about, one thing instantly popped into my mind: Games. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a self-proclaimed “girl gamer”. Typically, girls aren’t thought of as serious gamers, and especially aren’t well represented in the industry. I wanted to find a way to change this. You can imagine my surprise when I first discovered; you can make your own video games! Since then I haven’t lost sight of this dream, and certainly learned a lot along the way. This is just going to be a very basic overview of all the components it takes to make a game, and how you can start making one yourself 🙂
Step One: Brainstorm
Like with any great ideas, you’re going to need to organize your thoughts. For this step, you need to discover what works best for you. For me, the best way to go about this is creating a game design document. In this document, I jot down ideas about characters, enemies, gameplay, interface, storyline, and make doodles, or rough concept art of what I want the game to look like. From there I create a schedule and timeline, setting goals so that this project doesn’t end up in the dumpster of unused ideas. It may be necessary to create several drafts of your design document as you update ideas to keep it organized. Usually I begin on paper, and once I’m satisfied, I create a formal copy on Google Docs where I can easily pass it to other people who I may be working with. If you’re making a game by yourself, it’s still a good idea to discuss your ideas and brainstorming with another person so they can suggest features before you’re too far in to change the scope of the game. But remember, if this is your first game, do not aim too high. Plan for a simple game you know you are capable of creating.
Step Two: Coding? OH NO
Personally, this is always the hardest step. Actually jumping in and starting to program can be a struggle. But there are many different ways to ease this transition. If you don’t know how to program, there are several great programs out there to help you create games without much experience. Scratch, GameMaker, GameSalad, Stencyl, Unity, and many more are useful, so I encourage you to experiment and find what works for you. Once you’ve figured out what engine you’re going to be making your game with, it’s time to actually start coding. Coding is the process of writing a series of commands to get the characters, or “sprites”, to do what you wish. This will look different depending on the programming language you use, but if you were to write it out in english, it would sound something like “If key left arrow pressed, move left 10” Really, learning to code takes a lot of patience and just playing around until you get it to do what you desire. I recommend always coding first, and using placeholder art until you’ve got a mechanic programmed. Since I usually have more motivation at the beginning of projects, this ensures I don’t quit on coding after I’ve already spent time designing. The single most important piece of advice I can give you at this stage is don’t give up!
Step Three: Graphics are important
Many people overlook the importance of creating good quality graphics in a game. It really comes down to the fact that, no matter how amazing your game is, no one is going to play it if it isn’t visually appealing. Graphics is a powerful tool. So, how do you utilize this tool? Firstly, decide on an art direction to take your game. Is it going to be pixel art? Vector art? Painted, Hand drawn? Is it in a cartoon style? Realistic? I encourage you to sketch some ideas out on paper of what you envision your game to look like in order to decide exactly how you’ll go about creating your graphics. Once you know what you want it to look like, it’s time to find software. Different programs are better for different styles of art, so once again, you should take a look around and see what fits your needs best. There are many amazing programs, such as Illustrator and Photoshop, that you can end up forking out a lot of money for. Since I am on a budget, there are many great free alternatives. such as Inkscape and GIMP. Many great tutorials will be available for each software, so if you’re a beginner, be sure to experiment. This stage usually ends up taking more time than people anticipate, especially if you’re determined to make every detail quality. Everything from the clouds to the monsters to the health bar in a game must be designed carefully. But once you’re complete, you will have a beautiful looking product.
Step Four: Sounds Lovely
Another game-changing feature most people easily overlook is sound effects and music. This can really create an environment for your game and make it vastly more enjoyable. If you’ve ever listened to video game soundtracks, you can tell there is a large amount of effort put into these. Creating a lovely soundtrack isn’t something easily done in an evening. Luckily, there are several options. You can search around and use royalty free music, as long as you credit the artists somewhere within the game. You could hire a composer to create soundtracks specifically designed for the game. Or, you could attempt to learn how to compose yourself. This could take much longer, but it is a great skill to have. Once again, there are many programs available, such as Garageband, Audiotool, and Soundation. As well as music, sound effects can add a lot to a game. Searching online for sound effects always works, or you can create your own. There are fun little programs like this one to help you.
Step Five: Play Away
Test playing your game sounds like the fun part, right? Wrong. Honestly, this is my least favourite part of all, but a very necessary step. You will quickly discover that the first time you play your game, it isn’t going to be perfect. If you expected it to work smoothly, then you’re certainly in for a big surprise. This reason I dread this moment is that after months of slaving away at a single product, you heave a sigh and say “I’m done!” Only to pick up a controller and discover your coding still has bugs, your artwork looks sloppy, and the music sounds entirely wrong. Many game designers are in denial at this point, and try to believe that it can’t be that bad. It’s helpful to have a friend or family member test play the game as well to gain an outside perspective. Once you’ve brutally torn apart your masterpiece and pinpointed all the flaws, it’s back to the drawing board. Re-code, re-design, re-make, and test again. Repeat this process until you and at least 3 other test players are satisfied with the final product.
Step Six: Bring on the Haters
Congratulations! You’ve successfully created your first game. There’s only one thing left to do: Publish. On a few of the engines I mentioned earlier, such as
Scratch, you can publish games right to the site. Others require an outside platform for publishing. There’s plenty of places to do this, such as Game Jolt, Kongregate, and Newgrounds
. Keep in mind that since this is your first game, the feedback may not be entirely positive. But haters are what keep you learning, and hopefully the criticism you receive will inspire you to push even harder. Although there will be negatives, focus on the positives! Show your talents to family and friends, advertise across the internet, get as many people to play it as possible. Good luck and happy game creating!
About the Author:
Hey, I’m Avalti, a young but dedicated game developer, writer, designer, and musician. I first learned to make games about 3 years ago, but have only decided to pursue it professionally over the past year. I’m always looking to further my own skills and help others. If you want to find out more about me, feel free to check out my Twitter account, G+ profile, or contact me over my Skype, “avleetee” Thank you for reading!