Getting Started with Game Development

 

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To a game fanatic with a soft spot for everything technical, the mere idea of coding a game might seem like nirvana.

No wonder developers – especially the younger ones – are jumping career paths to get into game development. Game development is a rewarding and fulfilling career choice if you have an eye for the extraordinary, and the brain of a coder. However, like everything else, these skills also can be acquired by practice. The only thing you need to start off right is a creative bent of mind. With that settled, everything else will eventually fall into place.

In this article, we’ll be talking about everything you need to know before you get started with game development.

  1. Start Small:

We cannot stress this point enough. If you’ve just begun venturing this field, you should always start with small and achievable goals.

The best way is to start building simple 2D games before you move to the more hardcore 3D games. You might feel that 2D games are outdated and there’s no point in learning how to develop them. You’re not completely wrong in thinking this, but let us tell you that the basics of game development stay the same for both 2D as well as 3D games. The only difference is that you’re using much more sophisticated tools and methods while developing 3D games. However, if you want to become a proficient game developer, it’s best to start by developing simple games like Flappy Birds, Tetris, or Match-3. Developing these basic games will not only give you ample confidence, but also set your base right.

2. Choose your platform:

The basics of programming will come in very handy during your journey of game development. However, there are tonnes of drag and drop tools having a WYSIWYG editor which eliminate most of the complexities of game development.

Before you proceed, decide on a game development platform and language. Are you comfortable with hardcore programming? If not, do you wish to learn? Or, do you want to master some drag and drop tools to build your games?

Let’s have a look at what options do you have:

  • Drag and Drop tools: Construct, Stencyl, GameMaker, etc. are names of tools that provide a drag-and-drop interface for you to build your game quickly. Mainly, if you’re using these tools, you’re performing “visual programming.” These tools allow you to completely forget the syntactic aspect and instead focus on the gameplay features. It is okay for lesser complex games, but when the complexity increases and you want some freedom, these tools are sorely lacking.
    • Classic Approach: Classic game development approach means developing games using C/C++, OpenGL/SDL. It is one of the most challenging routes but provides a lot of freedom and customizability as you write the code from scratch. However, there’s a significant plus point in taking this route – after this, you’ll be able to take any other approach heads-on and create quality games.
    • “Managed” approach: Learning C# is easier than learning C or C++ as you don’t have to worry about memory management. Using C# with Tao, SL, or XNA is a managed approach. However, for more complex games, you’ll have to solve memory optimization problems yourself later on. There are some excellent 2D libraries for game development following this route – XNA and MonoGame are some of them.
    • “Middleware” approach: Middleware approach uses tools like Unity3D, Shiva, DarkBASIC, etc. This is one of the faster ways of getting started with game development. Unity3D uses c# and has extensive support regarding documentation, plugins, and examples. DarkBasic, on the other hand, uses a variant of the BASIC language and is even more straightforward to learn that Unity3D.
    • “Specialized” game development: Tools like FPS creator, RPG maker, etc. allow you to create one specific type of games. However, with ingenuity and mods, you can customize them to some extent. Though, without control of the source code, this approach is much weaker than the others in terms of customizability and flexibility.
    • HTML5 and JavaScript engines: JavaScript gaming libraries like ImpactJS, PhaserJS, LimeJS, etc. are gaining popularity these days. The major reason for this is that these libraries are extremely easy to get and implement, and the only prerequisite to using them is knowing JavaScript.
    • Mobile games: The tools like Unity3D, Stencyl, and HTML5/JS solutions allow seamless cross-platform deployment. However, if you want to deploy native iOS games,, you may choose to learn either Cocos2D or Sparrow (for iOS). 

3. Introspect a bit:

Now that you have an idea of what tools you can use depending on your requirements, you need to introspect. Formulate your approach, and ask questions like – “what sort of games do I want to make?”, and “what is my commitment level?”

If you feel you are fully committed to facing any hurdle that falls your way, then game development is for you. Pick out any one tool from the above list and go crazy!

4. Go, make a game:

Now that you’ve picked your tool, introspected thoroughly, and formulated a plan, it’s time to get going! There are extensive tutorials for any of the tools you pick. Go through them sincerely. Learn enough to develop simple games like Tetris or Match-3. Be it Unity, C, C++, or JavaScript, the knowledge you gain by making these basic games will be very helpful when you build more complex games.

With this, the world of game development is open to you. Now, you have enough knowledge to take your first steps towards developing a kick-ass game!

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