Let’s say you wan’t to become a game developer at some point in your life. Let’s also say that achieving this goal is your top priority in life right now. It may be because you don’t like your current job (if you have one) or because making games has been your life long dream. It does not really matter why you wan’t to do this, at least not for me. It just matters to you.
What matters to me is the fact that achieving this goal is not easy. In fact, it is way easier to screw up by making simple -yet not so obvious- mistakes along the way. Today we are going to talk about one of the most important: not trying to build something so big that it can eat your dreams in one big gulp.
Don’t let your projects squash your dreams!
When you think on starting to develop your first game you tend to think up and gather every great idea you’ve ever had and try to make them all fit into the same game. You plan lots of characters, a superb story and infinite levels for the player to explore. Truth is, with this approach you will never finish the game. In fact, I bet you will even find it difficult to start coding after a few “planning” sessions for your masterpiece.
This is how you take your dreams and place them straight into the closet forever. Don’t do it. If you wan’t to be able to build something like that someday you will have to start with the most simple and short game you can think of.
Set for manageable goals
Even though your idea might be a simple one you have to set up for a feasible and reachable goal. For instance, taking part on a game jam is a good idea since it makes you move your ass and forces you to finish something before a specific date. Another way to do this is through a simple schedule that you make yourself forced to follow. Also, take into account you abilities. You probably don’t know hoy to properly do lots of things but that doesn’t mean you should try to tackle them all at once. Focus on one specific feature you want to implement and study it in detail. Once you are confident enough with it implement it into your game. I could also be a good idea to model your game around this feature alone, so you can play with it and explore it as much as you want.
Once this game is done you will be able to implement this feature alongside others with extremely ease in future projects. So remember, focus on one task at a time and you will have lots of building blocks available for you in the future.
Choose your goals wisely
Don’t be afraid
Everyone is afraid at some point. In fact, failure is one of the most fearsome things you can think of, specially on the game development business. But you must remember this, everybody fails. And failure is an integral part of growing up as anything. You just need to learn to fail in a better way every time you try to accomplish something. The more you try the more your chances of success grow.
You will probably make a few rubbish games that will be of no interest to people other than yourself. This is completely ok, because even though they are not interesting or fun they are of the biggest importance to you. Each iteration of the whole game development process you take the better your skills will get, the faster you will produce code or art, the better and more polished your creations will be. They may be rubbish at first, but they will eventually become fine pieces of entertainment.
Also, you are probably going to spend a lot of time thinking alongside the lines of “what I’m making is no good” or “the pros wont ever program things as bad as this” or even “this is absolutely not the way this feature should be done”. This is normal, in fact, everybody thinks stuff like this every now and then. It’s not bad, it demonstrates that you care about how things are supposed to be made, and how are they supposed to look and feel (this means you care about polish as well), but you also have to think that it is impossible to make things perfect on the first try. It’s more important to have made 10 incorrect ways to do something that having 1 unfinished way that gets nothing done because it has to be perfect.
Finishing feels great. Always.
Finish what you start
Finally, the most important aspect of them all: you MUST finish what you start. If you don’t finish you projects -as small as they may be- they don’t exist. As simple as that. They don’t count and they won’t mean anything unless you finish them and release them. Learning to wrap up things is a skill you must have to be a developer. It is easy to work on something forever, not having to deal with stuff like debugging or testing everything to the bone. But this “finishing” skill is one of the most rewarding you can have. When you realize you have finished something you initially set up to do you get this insanely good feeling running through your body.Each time you do it and go through the whole process of creation you are literally a step closer to your dream and you place another step on the ladder towards your goal.
So set forth and start building your dreams NOW!