First Steps into Game Design

As mentioned in my last post, this week I decided to dip my toes into game design while I recovered from surgery. Amazingly, I managed to put together a basic game (I may post up builds of it if I can figure out a good hosting solution). I had a lot of fun and I definitely learnt a lot. It's definitely got the ball rolling for me and I am going to continue pursuing game development as a hobby. Here's what I learnt:

What I came up with by the end of the week.
It's really basic, but I learnt a hell of a lot.
Starting off with Game Maker was a good idea.
Originally I had planned to learn Unity this week. However, the learning curve is a little steep and my aim for the week was to get a basic game together during the week. Also, I haven't programmed for nearly a decade so GML (Game Maker's scripting language) was actually a nice way to get back into the programmer mindset. I do plan in moving over to Unity when I am a bit more comfortable with the development process and when I've brushed up on my programming skills. For now though, Game Maker is good enough.

F1 is your friend.
I've always felt that programming is something that can't really be taught properly in an academic setting. Game development is no different. At first I tried following a few lecture style tutorials on YouTube. These were great in terms of orientation, but eventually it became easier to just hit F1 and look up stuff in the index. It is impossible to learn every aspect of the environment. The best thing to do is to have a clear idea of what you want to do and then learn how to do that specific thing. You will inevitably come across larger topics that require a deeper understanding of a concept, but when those moments come, devote sufficient time to learning it.

It will never be how you imagined it to be. But that's okay.
The game I wanted to make was very basic because I wanted to be able to have something to play by the end of the week. In my mind though, I had an idea of how I wanted the movement to feel like. I ended up spending hours tweaking the controls to try and get it as close to how I imagined it to be. Eventually I settled on them being close enough which disappointed me at first. I then realised that I was tweaking other aspects of the gameplay to take into consideration how the controls work (like the speed of certain objects). In the end, whilst the controls weren't exactly as I wanted them to be like, they worked okay in the game because the other elements of the game were built around it.

There's an amazing community out there.
The indie game dev community is one of the friendliest and helpful I've ever seen. There are loads of forums, meet ups and game jams where you can meet and chat to other developers. I am really looking forward to going to one of these events at some point in the near future.

The hardest bit is starting.
I had been putting off learning game development for years. The problem is that there is genuinely a steep learning curve to begin with. It can seem so daunting at first, but once you get the hang of the basics it all starts to make sense and you begin to look forward to getting new ideas put together and not wrestling with the coding.

Overall, its been a great week. I feel really inspired to carry on with game development and I'm looking forward to putting some stuff out there for people to play.