Even clueless lamers gotta eat...
In the last chapter, we discussed some of the different jobs available
in the game development industry. We we will look at them again in the
next chapter when we talk about putting a team together. In the
meantime, let's assume, for this chapter, that you are a rank beginner,
an absolute newbie, one of those scorned and much-flamed wanna-be's.
Lets assume your prior accomplishments are none, your skills, such as
they are, are untested, and nobody knows for sure whether you have a
future or not. Let's assume, for the sake of this chapter, that nobody
but you really believes you have a chance in the game development
field, and even you are not too sure. In fact, let's consider
today to be day one, and you are embarking on your new career by taking
your first toddling baby-steps, still clinging to the sofa with one hand.
Some Popular Types of Games
So, what do you do now?
There is really only one thing you can do. And deep down inside, I
think you know it. There is only one way to really get off to a good
start in game development. The thing you need to do, if you have not
done so already, is write a game.
That's right. Put a game in your head, and from there put the game
in your computer. Make it work. It doesn't have to be a great game.
It doesn't even have to be a fun game. It can be tic-tac-toe or hangman.
It can be ugly and hard to play. As long as it is a game, and as long
as you wrote it.
In fact, as I will discuss in Chapter 5, I strongly suggest your first
game is not a very hard game. You should not spend a lot of time on it
and you should not plan on making a lot of money from it. Your first
game should be a learning experience. It should be a lesson you start,
and finish, and move on from. Try to do the best you can, but don't try
to make Doom your first game.
So, what kind of game should you write? That's up to you, of course,
but we can brainstorm together a bit. Let's take a look at some of the
game genres, and see if any of them jump out and bite you.
3D shooting Games
You know, like Doom or Quake. You're not ready for this yet.
A genre that is close to my heart. These are games like Sonic the
Hedgehog and Super Mario Brothers. On the PC, these are games like
Commander Keen and Jazz Jackrabbit. These games are fun to play, but
deceptively difficult to develop. These games require a huge investment
in not only programming, but artwork and level design. This is not a
good choice for a first game, but perhaps a second or third game. If
you are interested in side-scroller games, you may want to check out my
book Action Arcade Adventure
These are games like Monkey Island and Myst, which tend to be
graphics intensive, but often do not involve intensive animation.
Unlike twitch games (games
which rely upon hand-eye coordination), adventure games tend to
involve thinking puzzles. Often they have complex story lines and
lead the player through the solution to some kind of mystery. One of
my favorite adventure games is
I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream which features a storyline by
well-known science fiction writer (and potty-mouthed crank) Harlan
Ellison. Again, this type of game requires a huge investment in
This a catch-all category, including card games, board games,
word games, and classic games like cribbage and Chinese checkers. For
our purposes, I'm going to include gambling games in this category
too, although most people give them a category by themselves.
Games in this category are usually a good pick for a first
game. Be careful about trademarks, though. I wouldn't write Monopoly
or Risk, unless you have a good lawyer.
Another catch-all category. Jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles
go here, along with token-shifting games like
Cargo Bay or Rings of the
Magi from MVP
Software. Games such as Pipe Dream and Tetris may fit here, or in
Arcade games. This is another excellent place to start.
Games like Asteroids, Breakout, Centepede, overhead shooters,
or any game relying heavily on hand-eye coordination. These games
can be simple or difficult. If your taste moves in this direction,
it is a good place to start, but I recommend choosing a simple
concept for your first game.
Don't let the concept of intensive animation throw you. Even
beginners can master animation techniques with a good graphics
library like Fastgraph. A
simple arcade game with fast animation will be easier and cheaper
to produce than a graphics-intensive adventure game, for example.
Games that teach you something, or try to teach something to
children. These days, the emphasis is on the 'tainment. If you want
to make sales, the game better be fun. A spelling test just isn't
going to do it.
Give your first game some thought. Think about your options and weigh
the costs and benefits. Remember, the goal is not to make your first game
an award winner, or even a money maker. The goal is to prove to yourself
and to the world that you can be a game developer. Once you have a complete
game, finished and ready to show to the world, then you have a calling
card. You have a way to get your foot in the door, so to speak. You
can take your game to trade shows and introduce yourself to publishers.
Depending on your goals, you can find a job or find funding for your
next project. You can attract a higher level of team members to your team,
or you can join another team. And don't forget, the code you use in your
first game will be reuseable in your second game. So let me repeat, for
emphasis, in case you missed it the first time:
Your first step in becoming a game developer is to write a game.
Are you prepared to work alone on your first game, or do you already have
some buddies who want to work on it with you? If you are thinking of putting
together a team, read on. Tips for teamwork can be found in
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