The Best Ways to Get Started with Game Development

Jul 26, 2021

8 Min Read

Are you thinking of changing your reality or creating a whole new one? Maybe you want a space-based reality with asteroids attacking spaceships or an ocean-based world where you try to fight pirates. Whatever idea you want to build your reality on, know that creating a new reality seems impossible in the real world. But in the world of Game Development, which is increasingly gaining popularity, anything is possible.

As video games become more popular today, many people want to partake in these worlds and create them.

If you want to know how you can get started with Game Development, you’re in the right place! You will get to know the basics and various resources that will help you proceed with your journey.

To start, we’re going to tell you what Game Development means before proceeding to more specific tips.

What Do You Know About Game Development?

In short, Game Development is the general process of creating video games. Playing a video game is not as easy as creating one. There are many components for creating a video game – story, characters, art, audio, lighting, and more. All are joined together to create a new world in a video game.

Though the standard process of Game Development for commercial games is often funded by a publisher, individuals can also create independent video games since there are varying levels of complexity.

Now let’s address the common misconception about Game Development that says, “only good game players can be good game developers.”

Do You Think Being a Good Game Player is Necessary for Game Development?

Some people feel like since they’re excellent game players, they should be good in Game Development. If this notion drives you, you’ve mistaken. Well, you’ve got an advantage as a good gamer because you’re already familiar with game stories, players, levels, and more. So being a good game player is just a bonus.

Game playing and Game Development are distinctly different fields. More so, the skills you acquire in playing games won’t necessarily help you in Game Development. For example, the fact that you love movies doesn’t justify that you’ll become a good movie director.

If you’re passionate about game programming and wish to develop a video game for fun, consider going into Game Development.

What are the Components in Game Development?

Game Development has many components that are usually managed by a team of multiple people or an individual. However, you need to understand the various elements in Game Development to get started. It will help you with the components that most interest you.

Story

As everything has a story in the real world, many video games also require a solid storyline to get engaged players. You can create a story that has a linear structure, which is easy. Or a non-linear structure with several plot changes due to character actions. Note that your story must be fascinating enough to captivate your players.

Characters

Every story has a character ─ either realistic or fantasized. After the story, the characters are an essential part of all video games. You should mindfully develop:

  • Your characters’ looks and personalities
  • How fast they should move
  • Their manners and characters
  • Special abilities

Audio

Audio is the backbone of video games – it supports the game. You must understand the various sounds in the game world like background music, player sounds, object sounds, even menu or setting sounds, and more. With all these, you can create an engaging and immersive video game.

Art

Video games are a form of art. It’s important because it gives the feel of the game. Art in video games often include:

  • Game texture
  • Game particle systems to make fire
  • Game lighting
  • Fog
  • 3D modeling of characters and objects

Lighting

Lighting is vital in video games. Though they’re all artificial, they’re meant for mood settings. In horror or thriller games, you can use less lighting. But in fun or adventure games, increased lighting can be used. Lighting is also essential in stealth modes with darker areas to protect characters.

Levels

Every good game has various levels that increase the difficulty with time. You can use different buildings, multiple floors, or even different planets to denote your game levels. It depends on the game you want to create and how it ties into your overall theme. Each level should have many possible paths that lead to the next level. Making games with many potential path combinations for various levels is very important in Game Development.

How Do You Start Learning Game Development?

Now that we’ve covered the various components in Game Development. Here’s the information you need to understand the basics of learning Game Development. Once you’ve understood the basics, you can begin your own level 1 into Game Development.

Learn Computer Programming

The beautiful world-view in all video games is created by computer programming. In this sense, you need to understand programming if you want to become a game developer. If you have basic knowledge about Python, C#, Java, C++, Ruby on Rails, and more, you’re good to get started. Otherwise, you will have to learn programming before proceeding any further.

There is no specific programming language solely used for Game Development. But the most popular language used in game development and for coding game engines is C++. For example, World of Warcraft, Counter-Strike, King Quest, and many more are made with C++.

There is another popular language that has multithreading and sockets – Java. The popular game, Angry Birds, is made with Java.

If you’re a total beginner, check out Introduction to Computer Science by Harvard University. It will help you gain a basic knowledge of computer programming and it’s free on edX.

Choose a Popular Game Engine

If you’re a newbie in game development, the best thing to start with is a well-known game engine. A popular game engine is quite helpful as they provide various functionalities for your games like:

  • Animation
  • Audio support
  • Collision
  • 3D and 2D graphics
  • Networking
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Detection, and more

The most popular game engine that is very easy to learn is Unity. It also has a free personal version. Another popular game engine that can be modified to create unique video games is Unreal Engine. It doesn’t matter the game engine you use, but you must cling to it so that you understand it well enough to execute future projects.

On the other hand, you don’t necessarily need to use a game engine. Though creating a game without a game engine can be challenging as you’ll have to do most of the technical work yourself, it’s another learning opportunity ─ you’ll be able to create the design patterns for game programming on your own in the future.

Create a Simple Game

Hopefully, with your programming skills, you can now create a simple game. Do not get carried away and try to create a masterpiece. You’ll feel more accomplished if you tackle smaller projects that last around a week or so. Understanding the basics is the most important thing when you learn something and it’s impossible to become a master overnight. The most popular place you can start from is Tetris – a classic! With Tetris, you have access to many concepts in game development. You will also get to know the three steps in the game loop – initial, update, and draw.

They are at the heart of any game development you will do in the future. You can choose any game that is easy enough if you don’t want to start with Tetris. Make sure the game has objective and endpoint clarity and is not complicated or confusing.

Understand Game Design Patterns

We’ve covered the basics of creating a video game, but we still need to dive into game design patterns which can get a bit more complex. What are game design patterns?

If you want to include asteroids that will destroy a spaceship in a space video game, it’s much wiser to have a code module that can be reused more often for the asteroids rather than concentrating on individual asteroids. It is called “Object pooling” in game design patterns.

Many game design patterns are just templates for creating modular code. They can be used repeatedly to solve any problem in game development. Some of the game design patterns with templates are:

  • Prototype
  • Flyweight
  • Observer

Before you start applying these templates in various small games, you must first understand their design patterns. It will help you understand the impacts and advantages of game design patterns over game development generally.

Start learning game design patterns from Game Programming Patterns by Robert Nystrom. It has various design patterns that will help you optimize your video games.

Learn 3D Graphics and Associated Math

If you don’t know anything about graphics, there’s no possible way you can make a video game. Learn graphics! In the mid-1990s, 2D graphics were quite well-known. But most of the popular games today need 3D graphics. It can be rendered in Fixed 3D, First-person perspective, Third-person perspective, and more. 3D graphics provide a real-world feeling to video games.

Do you wish to become a top-notch game programmer? Then you should know computer graphics and the math behind them. If you master these skills, you won’t even have to use an already-made game engine anymore.

The maths generally needed for 3D graphics is Linear Algebra, which includes matrices, linear equations, vectors, and more. Understanding Linear Algebra theories will help you manipulate the 3D world of your game easily to create remarkable effects.

If you’re ready to learn 3D graphics in game development, check out 3D Math Primer for Graphics and Game Development Book. To have basic knowledge of Linear Algebra, you will find MIT OpenCourseWare Linear Algebra courses on YouTube.

Online Resources to Learn Game Development

Many articles, books, and courses that you can use to learn various aspects of game development are available online. To prevent confusion as to what to choose, here are some of the popular resources:

  • The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell is a popular book for learning game design basics. The book allows you to view your video games from various perspectives or lenses.
  • Introduction to Game Development, provided by Michigan University on Coursera, is an ideal online course for learning game development. Another related course is Introduction to Game Design by Calarts.
  • Unity Game Development Build 2D & 3D Games on Udemy is a course based on game development that uses Unity. If you want to focus exclusively on Unity, this course is the best option.
  • Gamasutra: The Art and Business of Making Games is a website that offers free articles and exciting articles on game development. It is reliable and highly recommended.

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