I feel like there is a lot of excitement involving the initial steps towards developing games. Kids (myself younger self included) get very excited about making games and talk for hours about the games in their imaginations. Then comes the initial game making experience. A lot can happen there. It feels like a no-man's land where many enthusiasts fall away. It seems to me that there are a lot of good, talented people out there who end up stuck in the mud. Is that just the nature of competition and a necessary hurtle to greatness or should something be done to avoid it? I feel that experienced game designers with a history of success could offer a lot of help, but then again, sometimes people are punished for our kindness. However, I feel that having the right mentality would both help a person get through the hard times and make it easer to approach professionals. Could I get some tips on crafting a positive and effective mentality regarding these issues during the early staged of a game design career?
That is a very tough question. The only advice I can offer is to procrastinate as little as humanly possible. If you are impulsive and often procrastinate and get tempted easily into doing other things with your time, you might want to learn how to limit your procrastination.
Another piece of advice is to think about your game as tiny atomic pieces that are joined together to make a game and then throw them all in a bad and pick one shiny atom and focus only on that specific piece and make that work great! Afterwards if you make it that far, decide if another piece is needed and work about adding that too.
For instance, if you wish to make a 2d adventure game, your higher level list may look like this:
- Procedurally generated maps
- Procedurally generated weapons
- Procedurally generated monsters
- Epic boss fights
- Item shops
- Huge towns
- NPC companions
- Advanced combat system
So lets see, what is in the core of all this, what is absolutely needed to get started? Your low level list might be more this:
- You need a square that moves around in an empty area.
- Add a simple (preferably existing collision system) and some obstacles
- Add moving destroyable obstacles (with hp)
- Make the square attack whatever is in-front of it when the player hits "A".
- Make a moving obstacle that attacks back.
- Put a tiny image on top of the square.
- Add a sound when the player hit successfully.
People often get caught up with ideas they think are great but making those things happen in the game the right way is lots of work and if they don't see results, they lose all focus and stop working. You need to set simple (almost idiotic) goals and do at least one every week or you will never finish.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to take it slow, one step at a time. There are many areas where a new game developer can make himself noticed. Focusing on the elites and their activity while at the beginning will only make you seem small, while making the workplace seem daunting, and that's not a good way to go.
Aim at smaller companies, smaller projects and smaller goals at the start. Competition there won't be extreme, you won't be surrounded by elites, and you'll be able to develop yourself at an appropriate pace. Most importantly, these opportunities will help you appear trustworthy and experienced while advancing through your career.
You will see that the more you go through, the easier it is to approach other professionals in their work. It's all part of "going through" after all: dealing with people. And to deal with people you have to be there. To be there, you have to start somewhere. Don't build up preconceptions about how that somewhere will look. You'll most likely be surprised in the end.