Making Games is EASY, and I won apparently

devcover

So a few things to report here, firstly I was asked to write an article for Develop magazine and they kindly made it the cover article for this month’s issue which was super nice. the article is pretty much about getting started making games on a cheap budget, and how to keep going, you can read it online here (pages 18-19)

I was also sort of interviewd with a few other cool folks for an article in a previous issue which is now available right on their blog type features thing: its mostly people talking about what it’s like being indie and indie issues and this is the link to that.

And as I mentioned in my last post, I was a speaker at the World of Love conference last month, I understand videos will be uploaded of the talks at some point (I suspect the new footage of Subversion and Eskil Steenberg’s tools will be the hottest things on the internet once they are) and I’ll link that here when it’s available. (even though I was pretty shakey and probably not so understandable).

the talk was titled ‘computer games are awesome, but you suck because you haven’t made one yet, you lazy bastard.‘ and I spoke about how it puzzles me that some people who want to make games don’t, and list off a few reasons why they should. I’ll post what I planned to say after the jump so view this post in full if you want to read it. 🙂


Not enough people are making games.

too many people know only how to make ‘parts’ of games, in other words they see themselves as a programmer, or an artist, or a musician, and ONLY that.

that’s quite fine for plenty of projects when working together in teams, but I rarely ever see a day pass by where someone is looking for a project to work on.

this seems pretty weird to me because these people;

– Want to make games

– Have free time to make games

so they have this free time whilst not on a project and this will to make games, but they aren’t spending time learning how to make games themselves before a team oppeertunity arrives?

by my thinking, either they don’t really want to make games, or they don’t realise;

MAKING GAMES ON YOUR OWN IS ACTUALLY PRETTY EASY.

I mean, it’s just sitting in front of a computer, odds are you won’t be hospitalised from the physical strain, and you don’t have to be smart or talented (I’m living proof).

The only real challenge is that learning stuff takes time, and seems like a challenge at first. But it’s not impossible and if you want to make games, you will get through it, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you.

If however it is too much for you and you want to give up, you need to ask yourself if you really want to make games. when you are not in a team you have every oppertunity to make games yourself and if you don’t take that oppertunity what does that say about you?

I do believe there is nothing wrong with someone who wants to provide help to others so another persons vision can come true, that’s awesome in fact. super decent. but that sounds to me like wanting to help make games, and not wantiong to make games.

Like I say, there is nothing wrong with that, just make sure you know where you are, if you never get the opportunity to work on a team again, would you still make games or just give up?

…do you really want to make games? if so, then PROVE IT! MAKE A GAME ALREADY! 😀

so, now we know you really want to make games (I’m assuming you do, making games is totally awesome after all) here’s how making games is really easy:

1) You don’t actually have to become good at it.

Just good enough to make something super basic.

When you were born you shit yourself all the time, couldn’t talk and your hands were too small to shoryuken. in other words you really sucked at being a person, but thats ok, when you start out at anything you will suck, the same is true for making games.

EMBRACE IT! sucking at stuff is only the first step in the direction of becoming awesome.  when you accept that for a good long while everything you make will be the gaming equivelant of babyshit it’s much easier to get better at taking dumps and sooner or later you can do it in the toilet and not your pants… ok not a pleasant analogy, but it really fits, your games will suck. don’t tell yourself  “yeah, but I’ll plan mine and…” nope, planning is for people who don’t have undo buttons, dive headfirst into making games and don’t worry about making rubbish games. after a while you will notice your games become less and less bad the more you work at it.

which brings me to my next point;

2) it’s just like a j-rpg!

To improve your skills you need to accumulate experience in the appropriate disciplines, in other words;

JUST GRIND! 😀

The more time you spend doing something, the better you get.and following through with this analogy further, you can power level too, and the power leveling guides are available online, just google ‘<what I want to get good at> tutorial’ – this works for EVERYTHING! and if you are having trouble following these ‘how to make games’ walkthroughs, why not ask someone to level your character (that’s you), just drop into the appropriate online chatroom and ask for help, I’m not the only one who wants you to learn, people will help you.

3) It doesn’t take that much time.

Ok sure,  if you want to become a level 99 master ninja game making warrior, you gotta set aside a few years making games. but we are aiming for ‘make a game’ not ‘make gaming history’ (not yet anyway), and getting your first level is always super short and super easy (we are still on the j-rpg analogy btw 😉 )

Most tools for making games are pretty damn easy to use, and you can learn them in next to no time (I reckon most people could learn game maker basics in an afternoon, unity in a weekend). and let’s keep in mind you hardly have to set aside ‘learning time’. that time when your boss/teacher/partner thinks you are doing something productive but reall you are just looking at lolcats? that’s a few minutes that could have been spent skimming a tutorial, learning some basic concepts, or even making a game.

here is an example, how to unwrap a model in blender ready to put textures on it;

  • select some edges that will act as seams (where you would cut the model if it was made of card or felt to make it into flat shapes)
  • press E – mark seams
  • press U – unwrap
  • Admire your new UVs that are ready for a texture

there, that didn’t need an hour to be put aside, sure you haven’t ‘done‘ the tutorial but the stuff is in your head now, and it will bake away in there until you do follow a tutorial practically and this will have helped you and saved you time later (you’re welcome by the way 😉 )

so yeah, you don’t have to be an unemployed layabout like me to have time to learn the skills needed to make a game on your own.

lastly and most importantly;

4) Making games is really damn cool.

Seriously, I don’t play games that much because making them is more fun. and it’s not just because games are fun, it’s because each thing that goes into making a game feels like an achievement (a real one) . like I say you should expect to suck at first, but you will soon do work you can be proud of, and that will push you on. Motivation is rarely a problem if you are doing something totally kickass like making games.

And that’s why making games is easy, but there is a hard part:

people don’t like learning, not when they are aware of it anyway, it’s like being back at school, which was forced, there were bullies and nobody had good hair.

the main problem with learning skills to make games is just being motivated enough to get started. and it’s not made easier by the fact all your early work will suck ass, but once the ball is rolling, ‘picking up the skills you need’ will become ‘picking up the skills you want’ and it will be effortless!

so have a go, find out what it is you need to know to make a game, and learn it!

Not enough people are making games.

too many people know only how to make ‘parts’ of games, in other words
they see themselves as a programmer, or an artist, or a musician, and
ONLY that.

thats quite fine for plenty of projects when working together in teams,
but I rarely ever see a day pass where there isn’t someone looking for
a project to work on.

this seems pretty wierd, because these people;
– want to make games
– have time to make games

so they have this free time whilst not on a project and this will to make
games, but they arent spending time learning how to make games themselves
till the next team oppertunity comes?

by my thinking, either they dont really want to make games, or they don’t
realise this;

MAKING GAMES ON YOUR OWN IS ACTUALLY PRETTY EASY.

I mean, it’s just sitting in front of a computer, odds are you won’t be
hospitalized from the physical strain. and you don’t have to be smart or
talented (I’m living proof).

the only real challenge is that learning stuff takes time, and seems
like a challenge at first, but it’s not impossible and if you want to
make games, you will get through it, there is light at the end of the
tunnel.

if however it is too much for you, you want to give up, you need to
ask yourself if you really want to make games. when you are not in
a team you have every oppertunity to make games yourself and if you
don’t take the oppertunity, what does that say about you?

I do believe there is nothing wrong with someone who wants to provide
help to others so another persons vision can come true, that’s awesome
in fact. super decent. but that sounds more to me like wanting to help
make games, than wanting to make games.

Like I say there is nothing wrong with that, just make sure you know
where you are, if you never get the oppertunity to work on a team again,
would you still make games or just give up. do you really want to make games.

if you do, then PROVE IT. MAKE A GAME ALREADY!

so, now we know you really want to make games (I’m assuming you do, making
games is totally awesome after all) here’s how making games is really easy:

#1) you dont actually have to become good at it.

just good enough to make something super super basic;

when you were born you shit yourself all the time, couldn’t talk and your
hands were too small to play videogames, you really sucked at being a person,
but that’s ok. when starting out at anything you will suck, the same is
true for making games.

EMBRACE IT! sucking at stuff is only the first step in the direction
of becoming awesome. when you accept that for a good long while
everything you make will be the gaming equivelant of babyshit
its much easier to get better at taking dumps and sooner or later
you can do it in the toilet and not your pants… ok not a pleasant
analogy, but it really fits, your games will suck. dont tell yourself
‘yeah but I’ll plan mine and…’ nope, planning is for people who
don’t have undo buttons, dive headfirst into making games and dont
worry about making rubbish games. after a while you will notice your
games become less and less bad the more you work at it.

which brings me to my next point;

#2) it’s just like a J-RPG!

to improve your skills you need to accumulate experience in the
appropriate disciplines, in other words;

JUST GRIND 😀

the more time you spend doing something, the better you get. and
following through with this new analogy further, you can power level
too, and the power leveling guides are available online, just google
‘<skill> tutorial’ it works for EVERYTHING! and if you are having
trouble following these ‘how to make videogames’ walkthroughs,
why not get someone to level your character (thats you), just drop
into an appropriate online chatroom and ask for help, I’m not the
only one who wants you to learn, people will help you.

#3) it doesent take *that* much time

Ok sure, if you want to become a level 99 master ninja game making
warrior, you gotta set aside a few of years making games. but we
are aiming for ‘make a game’ not ‘make gaming history’ (not yet
anyway), and getting your first level is always super short and
super easy.

most tools for making games are pretty damn easy to use, and you
can learn them in next to no time (I reckon most people could learn
game maker basics in an afternoon, unity in a weekend). and lets
keep in mind you hardly have to set aside ‘learning time’ that
time when your boss/teacher/partner *thinks* you are doing something
productive but really you are just looking at lolcats is time that
could be spent reading an introdution to a tutorial or learning
some basic concepts, or even making part of a game.

here is an example, how to unwrap a model in blender ready to
put textures on it.

1) select some edges that will act as seams (where you would
cut the model if it was made of card or felt to make it into flat shapes)

2) Press E – Mark seams

3) Press U – unwrap

4) Admire your new UVs that are ready for a texture.

there, that didnt need an hour to be put aside, sure you havent
*done* the tutorial but the stuff is in your head, and it will
bake away in there until you do follow the tutorial practically
and this preview will have helped you (you’re welcome by the way 😉 )

so yeah, you dont need to be an unemployed layabout likeme to
have time to learn the skills needed to make a game on your own.

Lastly and most importantly

#4) Making games is really damn cool.

Seriously, I dont play games that much because making them
is more fun. and its not just because games ae fun, each
thing that goes into making a game feels like an achievement
(a real one). like I say you should expect to suck at irst,
but you will soon do work you can be proud of, and that will
push you on. motivaton is rarely a problem if you are doing
something totally kickass like making games.

And thats why making games is easy, but there is a hard part:

people dont like learning, not when they are aware of it
anyway, its like school, it was forced, and there were
bullies and nobody had good hair.

the main problem with learning the skills to make games
is just being motivated enough to get started. and its
not made easer by the fact all your early work will
suck ass, but once the ball is rolling picking up the
skills you need, will become just picking up the skills
you want and it will be effortless!

so have a go, find out what you dont know that you cant
make a game without and go learn it!


20 Comments on “Making Games is EASY, and I won apparently”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Won’t say who I am, but. This has actually given me a pretty interesting new perspective on things.

    One I didn’t know I needed.

  2. Sophie says:

    @ Anonymous: I’m super glad to hear that! I hope your new perspective leads to something wonderful 🙂

  3. Willem says:

    Cool post, Sophie. Many people confuse wanting to do something with desiring to do it. But wanting is really actually doing it.

  4. Al says:

    Nice one, although a more practical step by step guide or link to some tutorials to support your point and allow people to link to some of those great resources.

    Say I wanted to create a simple game what would you recommend as a starting project, technologies, toolset and tutorials.

    I think the problem is probably that it’s easy to have great ideas but creating and adapting the ideas into a great game is not simple (and not rocket science).

    And you didn’t mention Ludum Dare! ;0)

  5. Sophie says:

    @ Willem: oooh, I like that, really wanting to do somethin is the same as doing it. I approve!

    @ Al: well a practical starting point has been something on my mind for a while now, and I know also on the minds of a few other indies who want to help folks get going, watch this space ^_^ (actually flashgamedojo is *sort of* a specialised version of a ‘start here’ site, its definitely good anyway)

    as for the simple game starting point, my reccomendation is always pretty much: make pong, make breakout, make a simple platformer, make snake, and then you know enough about making games to know where your ‘present’ limits lie. I think game maker is probably the best tool if you have no idea about programming, but unity or flash are just as easy to pick up if you are prepared to learn how to code first.

    as for great ideas and all that, like I say, don’t plan, not yet anyway. it’s important to know what you are capable of before deciding what to do. it’s silly to try and build a house on the east side of the canyon if you are on the west and there is no bridge. just work at little things and as you get the hang of it you will see in your mind what it takes to pull a game out of an idea.

    and I didn’t have to mention ludum dare anyway, Terry Cavanagh was speaking and he covered it along with a few other jams/comps/pageants/whatevers 😀

  6. kikito says:

    Hi, I’m new here.

    Thanks for these wonderful articles.

    I am a fan of yours since I read “shoryuken”.

  7. arielsan says:

    Nice post, I am starting to make shit.. I mean, Games with a friend of mine but I made various of semi/mini games in the past. I believe you are totally right when you say that you must make a lot of games (even 1hr games) and learn from each one to become, slowly, the master of the game development universe, I hope some day I become one… and learn how to do shoryukens too.

  8. I used to run the programming team for a mid-sized game studio and it was (of course) my job to interview for new programmers. I can’t tell you how many interviewees said to me “I love games, I play them a lot. I really want to make them, but I haven’t had time.” … one guy actually said he didn’t have time to make games, then at the end of the interview told me that he wouldn’t be available for work right away because he was going skiing for two weeks!

    If you really want to make games, you will find a way. You will find time. There are some awesome tools out there and everything you need can be found totally free. Making games isn’t (always) like making a database application or administering a server – there is a certain creative passion inside that eats at you to go and do it.

    So, kudos. This is exactly what I’ve thought for a long time and tried to convey to wannabe game makers… quick screwing around, just grab some free software and go make games!

  9. […] Making Games Is Easy, and I Won Apparently… […]

  10. Ruben says:

    Inspiring. And I agree to most of it. I’m in for the October commercial game challenge, and reading this post just reinforced what I believe in. Thanks!

  11. Might want to update the link to the online version of your article. The proper URL is: http://issuu.com/develop/docs/dev107_web

  12. Sophie says:

    @Ruben: Good luck for the challenge 😀

    @Brian ‘Psychochild’ Green : Thanks! I’ve updated the post 🙂

  13. I admire your enthusiasm, but your article has a couple of flaws. One is that you’re not telling people how to actually get started at all (though I suppose your magazine article covers that). Second, you’re not warning them that making games, while easy, is real work. It’s all too easy to become disillusioned with the lack of results when the grind goes on for a while.

    Also, are you seriously advising people not to plan at all? Tsk tsk. 😛

    It just happens that I recently wrote an article on the same topic. Shameless plug: http://notimetoplay.org/2010/08/31/walk-before-you-run/ — it seems to be a serious concern nowadays! “Not enough people are making games.” Indeed. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  14. 2nd Anon says:

    1st anonymous poster: Peter Molyneux. True story.

  15. Sophie says:

    @ Felix Pleșoianu: I’m totaly in agreement with you, games take effort, but I dont see effort as difficulty, and so long as a person *wants* something, doing it is no challenge, its just time until they succeed. that said you are very right I dont stress that it takes effort, but that’s because the audience for these things is really people who are already into game development (a magazine about game dev and an indie game dev conference). and these things are to get a person to make a whole game themselves, even if it’s crap, together, so they can see on their own what it takes to be able to do what they want 🙂

    certainly, for someone starting out with no clue at all what to do, your definitely is likely favourable, and I’ll be linking to it next time I come across a kid asking how to get started 🙂

    @ 2nd Anon: You sure? I thought it was Hideo Kojima. (thanks for the comment though Miyamoto-san)

  16. Well, Felix Pleșoianu I do agree that game-making is real work, but do feel that it isn’t easy at all. For me, I had to start my Flash engine from scratch, and had to follow 7 tutorials without knowing what is the end product. They were either half-heartedly made and thus could not be used at all for a complete game, or was not completed at all and couldn’t work. After each setback, I would not feel sad and instead think “Tomorrow I will try again.” I never got disillusioned at all, this is because I really love game-making. Thus I feel that people have to appreciate game-making or else they will not be able to stand up each time they get knocked down.

    Personally, why I love making games is because you can make something that suits you and because i get annoyed to often by games that are bugged or too difficult. When I do make a game, I will make it so flexible that even the weakest player, or for the matter a hardcore gamer will be able to have fun at their level.

    What I really want to say about this post anyway is that this is probably because game programming is too gruelling and only a small minority are willing to persevere. If we can convince people that it is fulfilling and meaningful though tiring as you get to create YOUR OWN GAME, maybe then the number of game developers will increase.

  17. Nikc says:

    I’ve never made a game before, but I love playing them. I get frusturated when I can’t find the right game, but then I realize that I never know it’s possible until I try making one myself.
    It seems the world is going sterile as long as people don’t have the will to produce.

  18. Stefan says:

    Sophie thank for the awesome post! Truly inspiring – I’m literally started making a game immediately after reading it (and even writing out this post feels like I’m wasting my time and should be working on my game :))

  19. F says:

    Loved the article, particularly the last few paragraph’s really made me think about something specific. The fact that “each thing that goes into making a game feels like an achievement”. I’ve always felt this way. Not even just when I’m a part of it. But giving suggestions from a point of view and making educated guesses about things.
    As a C/ programmer I’ve learned a lot when it comes to what goes into making a game, and even just getting to the point where I need to add a new script or source file, it makes me feel like I’ve made huge progress. And it’s that feeling that makes game developing worth doing.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *