How to make games

Three years ago I was doing volunteer work on a farm in Costa Rica. I was pushing a wheelbarrow of manure when suddenly I thought “I should make a game”. That was three years ago, I’ve since made ten small games, and am about to release my first full-length game.

In case you’ve ever wanted to make a game, here’s what I did:

Pick an engine:

Don’t make a game from scratch (unless you’re turned on by boring, repetitive tasks like writing math libraries). There are tons of super high-quality (and free!) game engines that take care of 90% of development, so you can focus on making games instead of your boredom fetish. You sick fuck.

Google around and check out different game engines that have pretty showcase trailers before eventually settling on Unity. Great! Onto the next step!

In all seriousness, Unity is probably the best engine for beginners as it has the most tutorials and largest community out of all the engines (since it was the first free engine that was actually decent). But feel free to shop around and check out the other engines…you’ll totally be able to make a great game in Unreal without any prior programming experience (moral: C++ is a bitch).

Now onto the work

Looking back, I notice I went through three phases; I’ll call them Tutorial, Tinker, and Commit.

If you know anything about programming you’ll probably fly through these. Actually, if you already know how to program why are you reading this?

I will now guide you through these phases:

Tutorial phase

This is the awkward cringey phase where you’re a total noob. Embrace it. You will experience the ‘tutorial polarity’ as I call it; an emotional pendulum that swings from ‘warm and safe in the guiding hands of the tutorial god’ to ‘wait, shit how did he do that? what the f-?! *clicks back 15 seconds and rewatches* the screen just changes and he’s done! wtf?!’.

You will politely ask dumb questions like “Thank you so much for your help with this! great tutorial! Just one quick question; I’m getting an error that says *proceeds to list extremely obvious error that tells you exactly what the problem is and what line you can find it on and could have been solved in five seconds by googling it*”.

Learn to google.

Here are some tutorial peoples I recommend:

Brackeys (logo shown, I started with this guy’s tutorials; great teacher!): 

Sebastian Lague:

BurgZerg Arcade (this guy’s a classic; though, his starting tutorials are a bit dated):

PushyPixels (they do some neat livestreams where you can follow along and ask questions):

Master Indie (used to be Eteeski tutorials):

est. time to complete this phase: one month

Tinker Phase

This is the magical phase where you move beyond relying on tutorials and actually begin applying what you’ve learned to come up with your own unique creations. Your Google searches will go from ‘how to make rpg unity’ to ‘how to save stats unity’. You start comprehending smaller scale problems and how you can solve them.

You will now experience ‘tinker polarity’, the emotional pendulum that swings from ‘fuck yeah, I got this’ to ‘fuck, I don’t know anything’.

est. time to complete this phase: anywhere from a month to years (more on this below)

Now for the final challenge: commitment issues.

Commit Phase

After a certain amount of tinkering (less than you’d think!) you’ll be ready to make your own game to share with the public. But you won’t. You’ll start working on a game, then you’ll get a better idea and start working on that instead, then you’ll get a better idea and start working on that instead, then you’ll get a better idea and start working on that instead…This is pretty much what the tinker phase is all about. You don’t want to get stuck in the tinker phase.

What separates the tinkerers from the game developers? Having a finished game. How do you finish a game? Pick something small that you can do and do it. Do whatever it takes! (justdoit.gif) To finish my first game I set a deadline of one week and used public domain art; you can play it here:( it’s total shit but it’s still a game. The commit phase is all about training the ultimate skill: the abilitiy to finish things.

Here’s a great article on finishing games by Derek Yu:

This article was what inspired me to get past the tinker stage; I was like ‘oh shit, that’s me; I have to change’ and I did. yeah.

Here’s some places to get free, public domain assets for your games:

est. time to complete this phase: three games

Congrats! you’re now a level 2 game developer!

Good luck!

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