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Why did I make my first game

While looking at my daughter playing with her wooden train with a great deal of concentration, adding and removing cubes to change its shape and color, I realized that she and I are currently going through the same process: developing creativity.

I’ve been making professional complex software and websites as a team member or a freelancer for the past 20 years or so. I can virtually use any programming language and I learn new ones without struggle. I always wanted to make games but without taking time to look into it.

Until one morning when I sat down in from of my screens and surprised myself by deciding to try and make my first game.

What to make?

You have to start somewhere, right? So imagine the smallest project you can make with your current skills. Then scaled it down.

Done?
Good.
Now scale it down again.

A first when I was designing Maze-ing I wanted to add more shapes of mazes, more types of game-plays, multiplayer capacity, worldwide scoreboard, hit points, magic spells, time travel, and other stuffs. But I forced myself to trim it down to its very minimal playable version, keeping only the main idea and trashing all the rest.

Why must it be small?

Took me over a month, starting from the first time I launched Unity3D on my desktop, up to the time I uploaded the finished game in Google Play.

My motivation was at its highest when I started the project. Back then Maze-ing was the best idea I ever had, and I was planning to sell millions of copies. But after 3 weeks working on it, I realized that the really exciting part was not to make this game, but it was to make a game.

Your first game won’t be good. Period. Furthermore you will have to experiment with lots of things you haven’t done before. Making a game on your own requires a bit of game design, a bit of coding, a bit of graphic design, a bit of marketing, a bit of publishing, and so on.

But don’t scratch your head around all of that for now. Keep only one thing in mind: the most important thing about your first project is to finish it and to publish it. Just like my 2 years old daughter and her wooden train: our first game have very little chances to change the world, but will teach us a lot.

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Publishing your first project is important

Experienced game designers had in their career trashed hundred if not thousand of ideas before they would publish them. No matter if they was sketches, prototypes, or on-going developments.

For beginners like us, every single part of the process of game making is a source of leaning. Completing the whole cycle of it have you doing things you did not expect you’ll have to do.

Lastly, publishing a game gives a feeling of achievement, which uplifts you for making your next project, and above all will make you less dramatic. It’s just another game after all.

What I’ve learned with Maze-ing

That part is very dependent on your skill-set, but it may be interesting to share what I’ve been through:

I had first to go through Unity3d tutorials and learn how to use the engine itself. Then I had to refresh my math, learn about vectors in 3d space, create my first path-finding algorithm, learn how to pick colors that fit together, struggle with rotations in 3d space, had to make choice between quality of display and performance on mobiles, and find-out where and how to publish.

The mistakes I’ve made

The complete list is very long so I’ll just pick one: at first I targeted my game for mobile only, then decided later to port it to desktops. As in any piece of software, the goals and targets must be clearly identified from the beginning, because changes during the project development may cost lots of time.

Conclusion

Like everything else, there’s a learning curve about game making. It require to temper your excitation and to organize your progression. If you are good in some areas, you will need to learn other areas. You will make mistakes and you will learn from them. Your first project will teach you many thing, so make sure that you can complete it.

Oh, and one last tip for this article: if you got a really great idea don’t use it for your first game, keep it for later.

Resources

Interesting bookmarks from people talking better than I do about different aspect related to game making:

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