I want to make video games, where do I start? – Initial guide – In the six years I have been in the world of video game production I have seen a frequent question in development communities or artists that may vary in nuance, but in essence, it is the same:
- What to study to make video games?
- I’m new, and I want to make video games, which engine do you recommend for me?
- Where do I start?
The purpose of this text is to be a little guide from my experience and from what I have seen throughout this time in friends or acquaintances who have entered or left this field.
First of all, it is worth saying that to create video games, you have to have at least a medium command of the English language. The most significant amount of information is in this language; courses, tutorials, books,, and other resources are produced directly in English. While there is some material in Spanish, it is usually incomplete or limited and costs more to achieve. Understanding English both by reading and listening is necessary.
Do I have to study programming, systems,, or computer science to get into the video game industry?
The short answer is no. Making video games is a multidisciplinary field where programming is important but not the only part. Depending on the size of the project, an independent video game development team may vary in the number of members and roles, but the most common thing is that there is always a 2D or 3D artist and a programmer. In larger teams and budget projects, there are graphic designers, interface designers, user experience designers, musicians, writers, historians, and even economists as well as more specific positions such as game designers, animators, level designers, concept artists, etc.
So what do I study?
Whatever you like best! As I said before, making video games is a field where many professions or disciplines interact to achieve a common goal. Literature, music, art, design, programming, mathematics, economics, linguistics, languages, marketing, audiovisual production, animation. In short, many careers can participate in this industry. It is up to you to direct your learning towards the development of video games by reading, researching, especially by being curious.
In many Latin American countries, even here in Bolivia, specific video game development careers have been opened that are usually focused on art and programming, they are also a good option but are not always fully accessible. Usually, these races see a few various areas involved in the field.
To conclude this point, it is essential that you value what you would like to do, programming is not for everyone, and neither is art, luckily they are not the only areas that are needed when producing video games.
So if I don’t study in college, I can’t make video games?
You can make video games without a college degree. There are small online courses on specific topics. It is also quite likely that there will be workshops and training in some particular discipline that interests you, as well as technical classes in many fields. There is also a lot of material out there and people sharing their experiences in different areas; do a quick search on Youtube to see the vast amount of tutorials, guides, and educational videos in the area you are interested in. You have to want to learn.
I want to make a video game now. What do I do?
If you want to make a video game on your own, consider investigating a little Game design first. Game design is the backbone of a game because it is the area that designs the mechanics, the interactions, the core of the game, the rules, and other critical points. Much of the information about this area is in English, although Wikipedia’s Spanish article paints this fundamental pillar very well.
Besides, if you can get these books, you’d be doing yourself a huge favor, because apart from talking about the design process of a game, they open your eyes to what matters when you create a video game.
Important details to consider
When you enter this world of video game development, it is vital for any stage in which you find yourself always realistic with the goals you pursue. It is a thousand times better to make many small games and learn from each a little than to make one very big. In trying to do a massive project, there is always the risk of not being able to finish it, get frustrated, and think that one does not have the necessary to play games. You waste too much time trying to pull it off, and learning is limited to that one experience.
The community in the development of games is always open to sharing, helping, and teaching those who need it, but it’s worth having some foundation before you start asking questions. Google finds everything; consulting it first will open doors to many more interesting questions, and you will be able to take more advantage of colleagues ‘ knowledge.
Share what you do, don’t keep it in a drawer. Sometimes it’s hard to realize what one might improve or what is wrong flat out, and getting feedback from another person gives you a different point of view that you may not have considered before.
Playing a lot of video games helps a lot when it comes to collecting ideas, but it doesn’t make you make better video games. It’s like, for example, what happens to us with food. We can eat at a restaurant, order some food and like it, we can repeat it and know many different dishes and many different restaurants, but that doesn’t make us good cooks. To make better video games, you have to make many video games, soak up all the information you can collect, books, videos, blogs, all within reach of a search in the big network.