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Thoughts From A Game Dev Newbie Six Weeks On



It's been six weeks since I started this new journey and I wanted to share my experiences with you all. Game development can be frustrating, lonely, downright tough (understatement) at times, but we do it because we love games. If I didn't make a single penny/cent/euro from it, games would still exist somewhere, somehow. 

Beginnings

I started with Buildbox 3 after browsing the web for different development tools. Unity was always in the back of my mind, and I will go back to it at some point, but that's a story for another time. My initial thought was GameMaker Studio 2 by YoYo Games as some great games like Crashlands, Undertale, Hotline Miami and Spelunky had been made with their software. I was unsure and ended up coming across a lot of talk about hyper-casual games and how they could be made with no code thanks to Buildbox. 

I wasn't so fussed about the idea of hyper-casual games but liked the idea of games being made with no code. I wasn't a techie and had little experience with coding (I briefly studied Visual Basic for a semester at university many years ago before dropping out) so this appealed to me immediately. My mind was quite excited at the possibilities of what could be created, especially since so many hit games had been created with Buildbox's software. I was hooked at what might be. 

I immediately downloaded the free version of Buildbox 3 and signed up to their forum. I liked the idea of joining a community that would help one another and think this is incredibly important in game development. 

Early Steps

As I've written before, my initial prototype was Trials Of A Martian Flyboy. This was going to be a fun and cool looking endless runner set on Mars. I set up a story in my mind about a gung-ho hero escaping killer robots while collecting power crystals - that would be what I wanted (and everyone else, too, I so imagined). 

This idea didn't work out and I ended up moving on to Tappy Donut. I recently released a final build on Itch.io and IndieGala and have closed the chapter on that particular story

Other Projects

One of my side projects after Tappy Donut was Twisty Slopes - a 3D skiing game built with Buildbox 3. I've put it aside for the time being as it will end up being rebuilt in Unity. I experimented with WebGL and created a version of an old, now sadly defunct, Ketchapp game called 2 Cars (the aim of the game was to move two cars simultaneously to collect circles and avoid squares). This was called Two Bikes and it can be played in your browser

I wanted to give back to the community and gave away several asset packs. I use Inkscape a lot and have lots of fun experimenting with new designs. I've given away macarons, a fast food asset pack, leaderboard icons for mobile games and some 'impossible hexagons'. 

Game Jams

As I wrote yesterday, I took part in a couple of game jams this month: a hyper casual game jam from My.Games and a 'So bad it's good' themed jam. Both proved to be quite different experiences and I will definitely enter game jams again. They are a great way to plan on the fly and come up with new ways of making games. The short space of time required can be quite pressurising, though, but, at the same time, a good way to try new things.

I ended up creating two new games in a short space of time: Blue vs White (a simple escape the maze game) and Flappy Soup

The Future

Where do I go from here? I released a demo of my upcoming game, Burger Dunk, on Itch.io. There is still a way to go, though, and I hope to have the finished project ready to go sometime in the summer. The game will hopefully be published on Google Play, iOS, Itch.io and IndieGala when it's complete. I may end up trying Steam, too, as I'd like to reach as many players as I can. 

Lessons learnt
  • Take your time with game development: I know it sounds cliched but it's true - sometimes it's far better not to rush things. I learnt this the hard way with Tappy Donut. If I hadn't rushed it, I think the end result would have been far better.
  • Never be afraid to ask for help: The great thing about game dev now is there are a lot of resources available - forums, YouTube videos etc.
  • Don't worry if you don't have a particular skill set: Not a great artist? Find someone on a site like Fiverr to help or think about vector art, for example. Can't code? try Buildbox or Playmaker with Unity. Don't worry about being a human Swiss army knife.
  • Think carefully about marketing.
  • Give back if you can. 
  • Be humble. 
  • Don't give up! 






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