The dummy’s guide to making games

Have you ever wanted to establish a lifelong career in game development? It’s actually a remarkably easy thing to do, and you don’t even have to be a reclusive, basement-dwelling sociopath to do it properly. Take a look-see at the suggestions below.

1) Get a rapid game development kit.

One of the best starts you can make in game development is … well, developing games. Use whatever tools you can to generate unique titles quickly and easily. Yes, you may not get the awesome 3D particle effects of Ridiculous Rubbish version threeventeen-blorgh, but you’ll receive something far more valuable: experience and a set of finished products. Start small. Start easy. Try out something like Game Maker and have a little fun.

2) Try modding

If you feel more secure attaching yourself to particular games and generating custom user content, then you’re welcome to try that too! Heck, don’t even worry about making full-blown stuff like Counter-Strike and UT mutators. Just pick up your favourite game, go into the level editor and create some fun and engaging challenges for your friends. At the end of the day, even DotA is just a fancy Warcraft III map.

Damnation by Blue Omega, which began as mod for UT2004.
Damnation by Blue Omega, which began as a mod for UT2004.

3) Code your own engine, get snapped up by EA and release the ‘Next Big Thing’.

To be honest, this probably isn’t going to happen. But it would be really cool if it did.

4) Get schooled

South African universities are starting to present exciting new opportunities for students interested in game design, offering development-oriented courses for those aspiring towards the lofty heights occupied by the likes of John Carmack and Jonathan Blow. UCT and Rhodes are already offering game development courses, and others are quickly jumping onto the bandwagon – keep this in mind if you plan on studying next year.

5) Join a community

We all go a bit nutty in isolation, so share the crazy with a bunch of other lunatics who share the game development vibe. Have a look at joining local communities such as Game.Dev – not only will you be surrounded by people in more or less the same boat as you, but they’ll be able to give loads of advice that this 400-something word article would never be able to cover. So sign up, get chatty, and start devving!

No matter which route you take, always remember that making a good game is something that takes practice – much like learning how to ride a bike. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to make a simple project, and every random prototype that you construct will give you more experience and ideas to work with in future endeavours. Give game development a go. It’s an easy start, we promise!

Be sure to keep an eye on NAG Online for weekly articles about improving your game development skills.