Video Game Development Guide for Beginners
Video games mean different things to different people. For some, they are considered nostalgic reminders of their youth, while others enjoy them simply because they offer an immersive plot and storyline. They are essentially a piece of visual art as they provide incredible graphics that are constantly pushing the boundaries of reality. They can also be functional and educational, offering an interactive way for users to learn new ideas and concepts.
With video games offering so much, it comes as no surprise that many working professionals and college students seek a career in game design and video game development. However, what is game development exactly, how does one enter the video game development market, and what software is used to design a video game? We take an in-depth look at all aspects pertaining to video game development for beginners and uncover the necessary skills needed to enter this ever-growing field.
What is Video Game Development?
Video game development is essentially the process of creating and developing a video game. It's a diverse and hybrid field forming part of game design and game production and has requisite skills forming the core of a developer's knowledge. The term, video game developer, is normally a big-picture role in the video game creation, guiding the project through several phases. It's basically a cross between programmer and producer, as well as coordinating administrator who also possesses technical skills to contribute and oversee the image rendering, software engineering, editing, and other areas of game design.
Breaking into Video Game Development
Although the video game industry is rather difficult to break into, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of landing a job in this ever-growing industry. Firstly, you will need to lay down the groundwork with a degree relating to game development. Even though you can teach yourself the basics of coding and design, they are far easier to learn through a structured setting, offering specific degree programs, allowing you to lean on peers, professors, and coursework material to further enhance your skills. Therefore, most designers and video game developers will earn a graduate or undergraduate degree in computer science.
More important that a related degree is applicants demonstrating proficiency in design and programming. The best way to achieve this is by building a portfolio of projects that can be evaluated by prospective employers. The quality of your product will be the most important factor of your portfolio and needs to demonstrate an ability to troubleshoot, code, and debug in multiple languages, or design in several artistic styles and mediums. Entering industry competitions focusing on video game development and game design is another way to stand out from the crowd. Participating in video game development competitions will not only demonstrate initiative and passion but will also show employers your ability to take criticism which can later be incorporated into building a stronger project.
Game Development Software
Do you have a unique idea for a video game and wish you could make it yourself? You'll be pleased to know that there are several tools available to assist you with creating the video game of your dreams, even if you don't have any experience with development or coding. If there's no one creating the game you want to play, why not make it yourself?
There are a handful of game development software tools that can assist you with no development or coding experience to having a finished prototype. Most will feature a pre-packaged range of sample tools, allowing you to learn the software and see how everything works. There are three main software tools offering a variety of different games to produce and creating a prototype can be achieved rather quickly. The learning curve on these three software tools is also less steep than others available in the video game development market.
Twine is a free program that is rather new in the market, allowing to you choose your own unique adventure styled game that is showcased in an HTML file that can easily be shared. It utilizes a visual editor with syntax and codes that are easy to grasp. You basically supply your commands and story text in a series of nodes. Twine is an excellent place to start when you don't have any experience with programming or coding.
Stencyl is a graphical interface that is extremely user-friendly, helping you to create a broad range of games. It utilizes a Lego-like approach when it comes to coding, arranging code 'blocks' and snapping them into logical statements. Once you start understanding the concept of coding, you can enter a different mode where you can edit these code 'blocks' to further tweak the code or even create new code from scratch.
GameMaker is basically the same as Stencyl, but with a few key differences. Most features and formats are only unlocked when purchasing the software, while the free version will only export to executable files, such as .dmgs or .exe, with watermarks placed on them. GameMaker utilizes a drag-and-drop approach to coding but utilizes a unique language that will only work in GameMaker. This game development tool is used to create high-end indie games, including Stealth Bastard and Spelunky.