Author Topic: Making Games: The First Steps  (Read 215 times)

BeerDrinkingBurke

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Making Games: The First Steps
« on: September 03, 2017, 06:28:15 PM »
Making Games: The First Steps
By BeerDrinkingBurke


Hello everybody! My name’s Daniel, and I’m currently two and a half years into creating a computer game in my free time. The game is called Innkeep. You play as an innkeeper in a low fantasy world. The idea is that each day you have guests visit your inn. You want everybody to have a good time and stay up drinking in the evening, but you are particularly concerned with figuring out which guest has some nice trinkets on them. If you can get that guest extra drunk it will be easier to sneak into their room at night and rob them!

Well, that’s the idea. If you are interested in following the development process, pop on over to www.innkeepgame.com. There is a mailing list you can sign up for if you scroll down towards the bottom.

So, Jubal has asked me to write a short piece for you all on a topic of my choosing. I thought I would talk about taking that first step in making a game. As I haven’t finished my game yet I can hardly talk about finishing one! I’ll link to somebody else’s post about that further below.

Maybe, like me, you’ve wanted to make games for a long time. You’ve played games for years, and have always toyed around with some ideas of your own. You write on game forums about ideas for cool games you wish existed. You might have tinkered around in simple programming languages in school, and tried out a few of those ideas in the past. (I am getting pretty old now, so for me I started with QBASIC, back in middle school, writing a big old text based detective noir game, set in a giant city you had to traverse with the help of wise-talking taxi drivers. Then I lost the floppy disk holding the data!) But maybe you don’t feel too confident with learning a ‘proper’ programming language. Or maybe you think your art skills are too terrible. Or maybe you don’t know where to begin. Or maybe you just generally lack confidence that you can actually make a game…

If this is you, then I have one initial piece of advice. Stop caring and just start playing around. Whatever you make will be pretty terrible. And that’s OK.

Because…

  • It’s your work. That doesn’t mean it’s not terrible! But it’s yours damnit. You did it. Whatever the level you are at, what you make is a little achievement. Nobody else has to think so. And unfortunately they might well not think very much of it! (I’m sure I had a few people even pity me a little when I first started). But that’s OK too, because…
       
  • You will get better! Something which helped me with the process of starting to make a game was prior experience learning a language. Not a programming language, but a regular language. And this was supposedly a ‘difficult’ one that takes people forever. Right from the very beginning, when I first took some introductory classes, I had a feeling that one day I would be good at this language. I was terrible, and my grades weren’t very impressive, and year after year after year it felt like progress was very slow. And then, eventually, I got better. Then better still. Until I pretty much achieved all of my initial goals and expectations regarding competency in that language. But it did take seven years! Along the way I had to learn from my mistakes, and try new approaches. And this is common to getting good at anything I imagine. I’m not suggesting that you will need seven years to make your first game! But getting good at things takes time, and that’s OK. It’s important to learn to be patient with yourself, and be happy with where you are at, while at the same time looking for ways to improve.

Innkeep, as of early 2015:
Innkeep as of early 2016:
Innkeep as of present:

In the future I might write a few more posts about starting to work on a game, to the extent that I can considering that I am still not exactly a successful developer! I am considering writing a little on the process of thinking up an idea for your game, and how I made some gradual improvements to my terrible drawing skills. If you had some specific things you think I might be able to write about that you would like to see, let us know. Thanks everyone!

 

Some Helpful Resources:

Here is a very good post about starting and finishing a game, by Derek Yu, the creator of Spelunky.

GameMaker is the tool I am using for making Innkeep. It’s quite approachable, and best of all there are a lot of great tutorials on YouTube to get you started.

Speaking of great GameMaker tutorials, Tom Francis, maker of Gunpoint, has this excellent series. This is what I started out with myself.

Want to start trying to draw your own art? I use GIMP. It has most of the functionality of Photoshop, and it is completely FREE.


« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 07:09:35 PM by Jubal »
Developing a game called Innkeep! Serve Ale. Collect Rumors. Make Coin. Regular updates posted at https://innkeepgame.wordpress.com/

Jubal

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Re: Making Games: The First Steps
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2017, 06:39:17 PM »
And we have our very first article! Many thanks for writing it :)

I'm not sure if I got the formatting right, so feedback appreciated there.

I'll probably usually try doing article posting on Fridays usually, and I should have a history one finished for next week, so stay tuned for that too!
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rbuxton

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Re: Making Games: The First Steps
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2017, 08:15:57 PM »
Interesting read, thanks Daniel. I like your comparison to learning a language, including the fact that you had to learn from your mistakes. I've had similar experiences making board games, and as a result I've picked up a lot of skills, such as using graphic design software, I wouldn't otherwise have touched. Have you found the skills you have picked up through your work on Innkeep to be transferable?

Jubal

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Re: Making Games: The First Steps
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2017, 10:49:31 PM »
Ooh, a wild rbuxton appeared! Welcome! :)
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BeerDrinkingBurke

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Re: Making Games: The First Steps
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2017, 11:11:28 AM »
Interesting read, thanks Daniel. I like your comparison to learning a language, including the fact that you had to learn from your mistakes. I've had similar experiences making board games, and as a result I've picked up a lot of skills, such as using graphic design software, I wouldn't otherwise have touched. Have you found the skills you have picked up through your work on Innkeep to be transferable?


Thanks! Programming and art are the two main skills I've had to pick up. Art probably had more of a learning curve. But I've also had to learn how to become familiar with a bunch of other online tools and platforms (recording youtube videos, making a modern style webpage etc.) I'd imagine these skills would be helpful in the future in other creative arts related jobs. I'm working in the humanities though right now, so I can't really ascertain as to how transferable they are.
Developing a game called Innkeep! Serve Ale. Collect Rumors. Make Coin. Regular updates posted at https://innkeepgame.wordpress.com/

Jubal

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Re: Making Games: The First Steps
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2017, 11:32:44 PM »
I also use GIMP for my pixel art (and just about all other image processing). I'm terrible at freehanding though, I usually start by making photomontages then crunching them and colour indexing them to get a "pixelled" version. It looks OK as a method but it doesn't give one much of a recognisable style I suppose.
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...