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How to make a video game (experience not required)

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Conceptualize the video game

First things first, think about what you’re doing before you plow full-steam ahead with your game. It may not be a necessary step if you are just tinkering, but it’s one we highly recommend if you want your game to contain at least an ounce or so of substance. It’s easy to fall prey to the curse of second guessing your ideas and wanting to go back and continually replace what you’ve done. You can easily get stuck in this pattern forever. Visualize the kind of game you want to make, but make sure it is within your limitations as an amateur game designer. Making a completely immersive 3D world on par with the likes of Skyrim and Bioshock is out of the question, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to flesh out your game’s beginnings. Below are a few suggestions of things to think about from the get-go. Remember you can always expand later and change things later, but having the basics locked down will help.

  • Know the type of game you want to make (i.e. a platformer, shooter, RPG).
  • Know the budget. There are both free and premium options ripe for the taking.
  • Know the length. Keep it short or attempt something on the sprawling side?
  • Know the basic plot. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just have a general idea of the game’s goal.
  • Know your skill level. Start with something simple and build from there.

404* The DT Express Quest Conceptualized: I knew I wanted to create an 8-bit, side-scrolling game incorporating our 404 page. And since we’ve recently become completely obsessed with coffee here at DT (seriously, our new coffee machine is so sophisticated it may become sentient and try to take over the world), I thought it fitting to throw that in the mix as well. I chose to keep the game short for the sake of the article, offering only one level and few obstacles as part of my video game endeavor – but I also knew that I wanted to expand it down the line. The plot fluctuated from time to time, but it always revolved around our CEO Ian Bell reclaiming the captured espresso machine at the end of the level and garnering points through coffee mugs. The cliche spikes and flame-throwing baddies were a must, as was that over-the-top 8-bit rendition of the Requiem for Dream theme (credit of Joel Pöllänen).

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