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  • From Couch to Game Jam

    [05.22.14]
    - James Taylor
  •  So you want to get into Game DevelopmentWhat do you do? Where do you start? There are always different answers to these questions depending on who you ask but here, I will show you my own answer.

    To boil it down to two words, the answer is: Game Jams.

    I know there are many other routes but I want to show you how to get from sitting on your ass to completing a game in record time!

    Now, I want to have no pretenses here so before I start anything I want to tell you that: YOUR FIRST GAME WILL BE TERRIBLE. And possibly your second and third game too.

    Game design is still a nebulous field with no perfect way to do it yet so my main philosophy with this is to fail fast, fail often. You will learn so much faster by participating in Game Jams than taking a course or reading books or watching youtube videos .

    On an additional note, in this guide I will focus on making a digital game for a Game Jam where you will be a core element in the creation of the game. Many game jams now allow board games or card games to be made too.

    And now to start...


    Step 1: Find your talent/strongest skill

    "What are you good at?" is usually the question you'll be first posed with and "Is this useful for Game Development?". This is where most usually stop and give up on Game Development, before its even started.

    There are so many skills that are useful to Game Development that I could fill half the page with a list but I will focus on a few specifics that most are capable of learning the basics of (the minimum to get a game made).

    • Basic Logical processes (basic Mathematics or Management skills)
    • Basic Drawing (in MS Paint)
    • Ability to use various types of Software (therefore able to learn new ones pretty fast)

    These are all you need to make a game. Thanks to some powerful software, it's no longer necessary to be a programmer.

    One more thing that you need to have in order to make games; you need the passion and drive to do it and finish it. No point in continuing if you don't really want to do it. Like everything, it will have its ups and downs so be ready to commit!

    Note: If you are joining a team be sure to outline your skills, regardless of what they are, to the rest of the team. This way, your team can organize how best to use your talents.

    Step 2: Install some game making software

    This is where it all begins. Grab one of the following:

    Game Maker: Studio

    Construct 2

    Game Salad

    Stencyl

    Twine

    Now you should already be handy enough with using software so these should be quite easy to pick up. They all have fairly simple UI's. Which one you pick is up to you but each have their own benefits and draw backs. In general, the first 4 are for graphical games and the last one is for text based games. Test them all out if you can make the time.

    Mess around with them now if you like, otherwise, lets get stuck into the next step.

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