Gameful Beginners Guide – Game Design

This part of the Gameful Beginners Guide is about the process of getting an idea inside the game designer’s head and turning it into a real game. You can find some tips that can help guide you in your journey to become a better game designer.

To develop games you need a lot of discipline and hard work. If you aren’t an organized and disciplined person you can still learn how to become one in order to become more productive both in learning how to better develop games and developing games of your own. Although this is a skill that can’t be learned overnight, it is good to maintain it as a goal.

Game Design Approaches

There are many different techniques for approaching game design and game development. The techniques used will vary depending on the circumstances which the developer is currently in. You’ll need to find the techniques which work best for you and hone them as time goes by. Analyze the situation in which you’re in and try to figure out which methods for learning how to develop games and which techniques you should use to develop your own games that will best serve your purposes.

Defining where you are and where you want to be in the future is very important. These decisions will change how you approach all aspects of game design such as the tools to use, material to learn from, sources of inspiration.

Besides defining where you are at and which are your goals, you’ll need to decide which games to work on. Starting small is usually the best choice for beginner game designers and developers. Even if you are able to plan a big game without any problems and you’re disciplined enough that you could theoretically finish the game, it will be greatly more motivational if you start by creating small and simple games then releasing them.

As a game designer you probably have some idea of what are some of the games you want to work on. Even if you don’t know exactly what game you want to make, you might know what genre you’d like to start working on first. Decide on a genre and style of game that you are sure that you’re able to create a small and simple game that is still fun for people to play. If you wish to create a game that is big, there’s no problem with that. You can always create it later on whenever you have the necessary skills to develop that game without much technical hassle.

A trick for creating games when you’re just starting is to get your idea and then simplify it, then simplify it again. This is because usually when beginner developers think about creating a game, their imagination can run wild and start thinking of many complex features that they can’t really implement. After simplifying it, the game becomes a little more manageable to create but it’ll usually still be very hard to develop. Simplifying it a second time can help the game designer see what is actually important for the game to work. Which features and mechanics are truly necessary for the game to be fun.

Another trick is to just do it. Work on your game for a determined amount of time every day whether you feel like it that day or not. The amount of time will vary based on how serious you are about developing games and any other circumstantial responsibilities such as family, job, etc. Working every day is much more beneficial than working on bursts of time fewer days of the week even if numerically it’s the same amount of time. If you really want to become a game designer you must also know that there will come tough times where you just don’t want to work at all. This down feeling must be put aside in order for you to produce the best games that you can.

For you to become a great game designer you must know that you’ll need to adapt to different situations. This can be applied in many different areas of your work. There may be times that something which you have been working for awhile in your game just doesn’t function or behave from a design perspective the way that you intended for it to function and it’s bringing more harm than good to your game. In that case, even if it’s hard, it’s better to let go of it. There may also come a time when it’s better to switch tools. It may be that you’ve mastered a simple game development tool and you’ve earned experience creating simple games but to go to the next level and create better games, you’ll need to learn a tool which is better capable of handling what you need to create it.

When you have an idea is to write it down somewhere. It can be on a notebook that you carry around or in a file somewhere in your computer, laptop or mobile device. Make sure that when you won’t forget that idea. There are cases where you have a great idea but you won’t be able to work on it just yet. Even if you believe that your idea isn’t that great, you still should write it down. This is because many ideas can come either from other ideas or merging multiple ideas.

From Idea to Game

Now that you know some of the theory behind becoming a game designer, you need some help on turning that theory into practice. The following content will help you get from having an idea inside your head to turning that idea into a playable game.

The first step towards development is to decide which game you want to work on. Figure out some general guidelines that will help you with development. Think of the genre, core game mechanic, general storyline (if it even has one), sounds, levels, tools, target audience, platforms to deploy, how you’ll prototype the game and any other aspect of the game that you feel it is important to meditate upon. This step shouldn’t take up much time as it is merely to set a general direction for the game.

The Platforms

After you have decided on the general direction your game should take, it’s time to develop the game. This is the time where the game starts to become a reality. The decisions which you’ve made in the first step will affect the second step. The tools chosen are mostly based upon the platforms you want the game to be played on. There are many different platforms such as card, board, PC, console and mobile. Each platform has it’s tradeoffs both for development and how the mechanics interact with each other. There are though some platforms that are similar and porting requires minimal tweaks in the game.

Creating a card or board game is a great way for creating a game on a low budget. You can create a game with just some paper and a pencil or pen. Even if you don’t want the game to end up being a card or board game, you can use them as prototypes games which will later become digital games. It’s a fun way to test level design.

Here’s a list of card game creation resources:

Here’s a list of board game creation resources:

The PC platform is one that has many different ways of both creating and distributing the game. You can set up a download link in your website, publish it on Facebook or add it to a online game portal such as Steam or Kongregate. Although there are many tools, it’s recommended that you look for ones which are able to develop for cross-platform games. Even if you only want to release your game on the PC, it will reach a greater audience if it’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Here’s a list of PC game creation resources:

  • For information about the software available for creating games, take a look at the Game Design Software page.

Here’s a list of beginner PC game creation tools:

Console development is possible even for beginner designers. Although possible, there is a few constraints when developing for consoles. You must get a developers license for the console you wish to develop for and depending on the platform you need to meet certain requirements.

Mobile is a platform that many developers have been jumping into. It’s a beginner friendly platform where simple games are very welcome and development cost is very low.

Here’s a list of mobile game creation resources:

With these guidelines you’re now ready to start creating games. Make the decisions needed to prepare your game for development and then just start working on it.

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