Five Things To Know Before Making Your First Game

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Before You Proceed...

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You just downloaded and/or purchased Construct 2. You've got a game idea in mind, or perhaps you don't...yet. Regardless, you're an eager young buck (or doe), ready to become the next Phil Fish or Jonathan Blow.

The thing is, you probably don't know a thing about video game creation. That's OK. The three important things you'll need to see your endeavor through to completion are: Creativity, Determination, and Patience.

I'm currently working on my first 2D video game, and I've learned so much from this website and others. However, I gave myself tons of unnecessary headaches from my eagerness and ambition to make the greatest game in the world right from day one. I wish somebody had been there to give me the advice I'm about to give you, so I hope it helps!

1.) Artwork Is The LAST Thing You'll Design

Seriously. Don't even think about it at this point. Envision how you'd LIKE for it to look, but don't open up Photoshop, GIMP, or Illustrator just yet.

You don't know how your game mechanics will work, how big the map/level/room/world is going to end up being, or if you'll change the game into something completely different.

I made the mistake of thinking this process was actually the OPPOSITE, and I began ardently crafting my world before I'd prototyped anything. I shudder thinking about all those hours completely wasted, but it was a learning experience, so I regret nothing.

2.) Create A Prototype And Share It For Feedback

You might be wondering about pixels and layout size and all that jazz. Let me tell you something -- the dimensions of your game do not matter. It can be 22000 x 5000 if that's how your world ends up looking.

You should never base your video game off of dimensions -- rather, base it off your assets. Of course, format it so it fits in a playable ratio like 16:9, 4:3, etc. Research popular ratio templates for your type of game, and do likewise.

Create a skeleton of your video game. Use lines, squares, triangles, or other very simple objects to craft your prototype. Important things to consider are: Is this going to be difficult or easy? Is this fun? Is this too long or too short? Is the end product going to be within my realm of ability to create?

As a pro-tip, you probably shouldn't try to create FEZ as your first game, though if you are, then prepare yourself for a long and frustrating journey ahead, but don't let anyone tell you it's impossible.

Once you have a prototype created, be it a simple level or an entire world, let your friends, family members, or forum members check it out. Ask them for feedback and adjust things accordingly.

Be prepared for negative criticism, because honestly, that's exactly what you're looking for. Nobody cares about positive criticism when designing a game, because chances are you already think the world of your creation. Ask for blunt truths from your prototype testers, because you want the game to be successful.

3.) Tutorials, Tutorials, Tutorials

Read ALL the tutorials you can find. Seriously, eat them up, save them for later, and test them out when applicable. If a tutorial doesn't quite resemble the game you're creating, give it a read anyways. You might be inspired to add extra concepts to your game.

For example: If you're creating a platform game, you might want to read up on a tutorial for creating a top-down shooter, or one for creating a board game. Some of these tutorials have gameplay mechanics you can borrow for your own idea. Always keep an open mind.

4.) Give It A Rest

By "it" I'm talking about your brain. There's such a thing as getting "too close" to your work, and this applies directly to video game creation.

You can spend hours and days tweaking things here and there, only to wait a week, return to your game, and realize that you completely hate what you've done. Taking a break isn't a suggestion during the development period -- it's required.

Figure out what directly inspires your creativity, and spend time doing it. For me, a long drive while sipping a Baja Blast does wonders for my imagination. In fact, anytime I find myself stuck creatively, I go for a drive.

For you, this might be a long shower, a walk on the beach, music, reading, playing video games, or watching your favorite movie. However you find your inner creativity, focus on that during every stage of development, and for goodness sakes, give it a rest.

5.) If It Ceases To Be Fun, You're Doing It Wrong

This is probably the most important point I can make. Creating a video game shouldn't feel like work -- it should feel like crafting a masterpiece that's both enjoyable and functional.

Have fun and don't take things too seriously. Oh, you discovered a game-breaking bug? No sweat! Grab a coke, sit down at your keyboard, and sort it out patiently and logically.

NEVER CREATE A GAME JUST FOR THE SAKE OF CREATING A GAME

This is a pointless waste of your time. There's a difference between working at McDonalds for bill money and designing a video game just because you want to impress a girl, or make a quick buck (ha...I just used 'video game design' and 'quick buck' in the same sentence), etc.

Unless you absolutely fall in love with the world you're crafting, proceed no further. You'll only waste your time and possibly even burn yourself out. This is a great way to never make a video game again.

It's for this very reason that tip #2 is so important. Would you rather spend 2 months making a bad game that you can scrap, or 2 years making a bad game that you hate simply so you can say you did? (Yes, realistically your game will take 6 months to 3+ years to design, depending on game type, art, etc).

Anyways, I hope you appreciated these simple suggestions. I broke several of them my first time around, and I'm sure I can't be the only one. Check out all the other wonderful tutorials on this site, and best of luck on your journey down the rabbit hole of game development!

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