Where to begin when making a computer game

There are many different skills and tasks involved in making a computer game, so how do you know where to start?

To begin with, I made a list of all the main ‘big things’ I would need to do to make a game, to see if it was even feasible. Here’s a high level overview:

  • Come up with a theme and plot for the game (write the story).
  • Create the artwork and animation assets.
  • Make the game (coding/development).
  • Create the music and sound effects.
  • Add voiceovers (optional).

So essentially, if you want to do it all yourself, you need to be at least a writer, an artist, a developer, and a musician.

Personally, I’m not an expert in any of those things, but I have an interest in most of them and I was confident that I could learn the skills required to fill in the gaps. Let’s take a closer look at each item.

Story

I’m not a writer. I’ve never written a novel, or even a short story. But I do have a pretty good grasp of the English language, I love to read, and I feel like with enough practice I could write a decent story for a game.

I don’t have a complete story concept ready to go, and I don’t even know what the game will be about at this point, but I have some ideas, and I think it will be fun to explore those and come up with something interesting.

Artwork

This might be my strongest area. I have a background in art, mainly fine art oil painting, and a decent amount of experience with digital art. I don’t have a ton of animation experience so that’s something I’ll need to work on.

Game Development

While I have some experience with programming (mainly for websites) and I actually did a computer science degree back in the day, I am not a developer, so coding a game would not be an easy task for me.

Fortunately, there are many game engines available which enable you to develop a game with little or no coding, and I will be relying on one of these for the development of the game.

Music/SFX

Again, this is an area where I have some experience. I’ve played a bit of guitar, piano, and drums over the years, and played around with making tracks in GarageBand, so while I’m not a professional musician, I don’t feel like making a computer game soundtrack is way beyond my the realms of possibility.

Voiceovers

Ok, this is one area where I would need to get some help. Having said that, I’ve played a lot of great games that don’t have voiceovers, so that’s always an option. I’ve also seen some really amazing things happening with AI voiceovers recently, so that is also something I could look into.


So where to begin? Perhaps it’s most logical to work on the story before anything else, since that’s the foundation of a good adventure game.

However, I decided to focus on learning some new skills first, and keep thinking of mulling over story ideas in the back of my mind for now.

So I started by learning more about animation. I’ll go into that a bit more in my next post, but here’s a couple of early tests I made in Procreate of a dog walk/trot cycle:

Over to you

What do you think? If you’ve made a game, how did you begin? Or if you plan to make one, what part do you think will be most challenging? Leave a comment and let me know.


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