You are determined to start making your first game. First you need to ask yourself the question: “What is my goal?” The answer can be different – from gaining initial experience to creating a hit with a multimillion-dollar audience – it is better to immediately record it somewhere.
Now we need to decide on an idea. Let’s say you don’t want to make a new Skyrim in a post-apocalyptic setting. Then, realizing the full range of opportunities that have opened up, it can be difficult to decide what to take on.
In the first article of the series, I will tell you how to come up with a couple of ideas for the game, and which one to choose. But first you need to limit yourself to at least some limits.
Step 1. Assess the possibilities
To create a large, serious project, you need: an experienced team, several months (or even years) of development and a lot of money. In a word, not our case.
On the other hand, to achieve the first results in game development, a few weeks of hard work and good motivation are enough – understanding this will simplify the further choice of an idea.
What else you should pay attention to at the very beginning:
Team size. You shouldn’t take on the challenge of creating a new World of Warcraft alone. But even one person can make an exciting platformer. For example, UnEpic.
Gaming experience. Perhaps you have been playing Tower Defense all your life and counting creep waves is not a problem for you? Then it’s worth thinking in this direction. Or you are at the top of the Korean League of Legends server – then coming up with interesting abilities for your characters will not be difficult.
Professional experience. In addition to “you know how to program, you take it and do it,” there are many other useful skills. Do you get good texts? You can do a text quest. Do you know how to draw manga? This will come in handy when working on interactive novels.
Time. The less time there is for development, the simpler the game should be. Especially if it is the first one, and it is developed by one person or a small team. You can always add new elements later.
Now, based on existing restrictions and desires, you need to choose the genre of the new game. This will allow you not to waste time and energy on studying other areas and quickly move directly to development.
For the first time, it’s better to forget about the multiplayer component and take a closer look at platformers, match-3, rogue-like, scrolling shooter or something similar. There are many training materials for them (for example, the official course on getting to know Unity). These genres are the fastest to prototype and will be easier to scale by adding new levels and mechanics.
If you can’t clearly choose a genre yet, you can choose a few that are interesting
Step 2. Looking for Ideas
The range of possibilities for a new game is already noticeably narrowing. Now about specific methods for finding ideas for a project.
Finally, you can say that you are not having fun in vain, but are looking for an idea for a new game that will bring in millions. The most important thing is to look at games from a game designer’s point of view. That is, ask yourself the question “why?”
Why doesn’t the player immediately get a sword in The Legend of Zelda?
The moment of receiving it brings great joy to the player and draws him more into the game.
Why do the Worms games have weapons that are not affected by wind?
Not all players know how to correctly take into account its direction.
Why does Enter the Gungeon have a starting hub?
It allows you to get comfortable with controlling different characters without the risk of dying or losing health.
There is usually more than one reason – the answers can be found during discussions with other people, as well as in developer diaries.
If the gameplay is too addictive and you can’t analyze it, you can study and compare how other people play. For any game you can find videos on YouTube or streams on Twitch
Let’s say we decided to make a 2D platformer and while searching for references we came across Shovel Knight. You have to think about why the first level is filled with an atypically large number of elements – a battle with a dragon, a room with soap bubbles and an abyss.
They provide an opportunity to get used to the game’s physics and show the player the basic mechanics of shovel jumping, which are required to complete later levels.
Once you realize this, you can think about your own idea for a unique movement mechanic and how to apply it.
The industry is constantly evolving, new projects are coming out every day. If you don’t try to track these changes, you may miss important points.
Step 3. Making a Choice
Now we have a whole bunch of ideas, we have identified our weaknesses and strengths, we have played a million hours in all the games that have accumulated on Steam and even disassembled them into cubes. How to deal with all this and choose one thing? Tighten the selection!
Here’s what you need to do based on what you read:
Describe good ideas. There is no need to describe the entire game – it is enough to talk about the genre, the main gameplay and what the project will interest players in a few sentences. If desired, add references from other games.
Some ideas will not work out in the game, they can be excluded in favor of those whose description is easier
Assess what they need. How complex is the idea and how long will it take to implement it? What game elements should be in the first prototype, and what can be abandoned? Experience in valuation will definitely come in handy in the future, even if the first assumptions turn out to be wrong.
Choose. We arrange ideas according to the level of complexity of their implementation. It’s worth starting in game development with the simplest ideas – this way you can quickly gain development experience and hit your first bumps.
Tell friends. All ideas need to be shown to others – this way, overlooked points can be noticed.