How Hard Is It To Make A Video Game?
Creating anything is hard. The famous video game developers you’ve heard of in the news or online are the ones who kept trying despite their roadblocks. Those who persevered in the face of defeat.
Is it hard to make a video game? Making a video game is a challenging endeavor, but the difficulty level can be adjusted to suit your abilities depending on the project you choose to work on. Making a video game can be incredibly frustrating, but also very rewarding if you stick with it and create a finished game.
If you’re interested in making a video game but you’re not sure if it’ll be too difficult for you, read on.
How To Make Creating A Video Game Easier
Outline the Main Features of the Story
Start by outlining the main story idea. If you already have some ideas in mind, write those down now before reading on. This is recommended because if you flood your brain with these questions and possible answers, other things you’ve already thought of might get lost in the back of your mind. Write down what you already have, then come back for further inspiration.
Who is/are the main character(s) of your story? What are they trying to do? Are there supporting characters, or just the MC(s)? What is the primary objective for these characters? How does the story world affect the plot? What kinds of things will get in the characters’ way and need to be overcome? Even though there could be a variety of paths and endings, you’ll need some idea of the main story plot.
Don’t go off on all the rabbit trails yet. Start with these basics and then complete the next couple of steps before delving into greater detail. It will save you a lot of time in the long run if you consider these next few things first.
Determine the Game Type
Before going any further, determine what type of game it will be. Is it a first person shooter? An RPG? An action-adventure? Without this framework in mind, your plan will be missing an important dimension. Choose what type of game it will be before making any other big decisions about it. This could affect how many main characters you need, how many different plot paths, and what kinds of weapons and other small details you’ll need to plan for.
Develop the Story World
Next, start worldbuilding. Is this a fantasy world with magic? If so, are we in a Harry Potter type ancient castle, or a deep forest? Are there talking animals? Do people cast spells with wands or hand gestures, or both? How will that translate into controller commands?
Or is this a science-fiction world with advanced, futuristic tech? Maybe in space? It probably has a lot of metal walls and blinking lights. Does it take place primarily inside a space station, or outside, on foreign planets?
Or maybe this is a story about regular people in some version of our world that has really existed. Are they in the jungle? In a castle? In an old-timey village? A modern city? Underground? Consider how the landscape will affect the main characters and their mission. What can you design into the world to help or hinder them on their way to keep things interesting?
Design the Characters
Once all these things are drafted, start thinking about your MC and other supporting characters, if there are any, such as villains, friends, random barkeepers, etc. What motivates them in their everyday lives? Do the supporting characters have the same goal as the MC or their own secret plans? What do they look like?
How does the landscape affect what kinds of clothes they wear (ie, snow boots and coats, or bare feet and animal skins, or astronaut suits, etc.)? What accents do they have? Is a foreign accent an important detail that the MC might not notice at first, but that will be a clue later? Do any of them wear jewelry or have notable tattoos? Are the characters human? Humanoid? Robots? Animals? A mix?
Will the main characters change at all throughout the story? Do they become more mature with the information they learn along the way? Will they grow harder after being betrayed by another character? Will they fall in love? Are they already in love? How do these and other emotions affect them and their decisions in the story?
Write the Major Story
With all these video game story features ironed out, it’s time to start writing the story in more detail. If there are deviations based on decisions that the player will be able to make, only write one version at a time, then start at the point of deviation and write another version of what could happen next.
This might get a little complicated. But just take your time and do the best job you can. You’ve come this far. Do not give up. Remember, the game designers who are successful and famous didn’t get that way through overnight success. It may have looked like it to most people, but what you didn’t see were weeks and months and years of figuring things out, failing sometimes, and trying again until they made it. It takes a lot of work, but you can do it too.
Now for further details to be added. Start thinking about side quests, NPCs, and important items like weapons, magical artifacts, or tradable objects such as coins or crystals. Which of these will be particularly effective in your story? Will there be a special weapon more important than the others, or a letter with vital information that your character must find? Or that could be beneficial and save time, but isn’t required?
Make a list of these kinds of things and work them into your branches of story deviations as you go.
Get Feedback On Your Video Game
This is the most vital step. How can you be sure that your new game will be exciting enough for players to buy and truly enjoy more than the average game? Get feedback from other gamers.
Obviously, you won’t have the whole game programmed yet but start by having some gamer friends read the scripts you’ve come up with. If your gamer friends are mostly not the type to share constructive criticism, seek out other video game creators to get their feedback.
Ask trusted critiquers where your story is weak and if they have any suggestions for making it stronger. Ask how your characters could be more relatable and memorable. And how your small details could be even better. Be prepared to hear some hard critiques and to accept them professionally. These people aren’t there to destroy your game. The feedback they’re giving you now if you take it to heart and use it to improve your game, is priceless. It will save you from hearing about these problems in reviews later when it’s too late to make changes.
Start Programming Now
Once you’ve got everything written out and you’ve received and implemented constructive critique, you can finally start programming. If you’re going to start the programming yourself, then pick a place to start and just jump in. Whatever you don’t know you’ll figure out with trial and error or a google search along the way.
If you are a better game concept writer than a programmer, consider hiring a programmer or a team of programmers to begin doing the digital building.
There will be several more stages of feedback-seeking and implementation throughout the programming process. For the times you are frustrated with how much longer it’s taking than you expected, keep the following in mind:
Making A Video Game Is Hard, But You Should Still Do It
Remember to strive for excellence rather than perfection. If you try to make things perfect, you’ll become overwhelmed by the sheer scope of such an impossible task. Do your due diligence for your future players and make your game fantastic, delightful, epic, terrific, and incredible. While you’re doing that to the best of your ability, also do yourself a favor and don’t try to make anything perfect.
Get good at accepting feedback, even when it’s more of a critique than a praise. Every work that gets tons of praise in the press had to go through tons of tweaks behind the scenes. It’s normal to create things that aren’t perfect and fortunately, there are lots of people available to give useful feedback. It’s up to you whether you’ll accept it and get stronger because of it, or let it get to you and cause you to give up like all the other game developers you haven’t heard of.
For all those times you get discouraged, remember this quote by Cliff Bleszinski, a video game developer for Epic Games: “Nobody in this industry knows what they’re doing, we just have a gut assumption.” The industry is growing and changing so fast that no one really knows what is going on or what is really possible.
So keep that in mind when inspiration takes an extended vacation or you feel like all you can think about is what is wrong with the game and the black void occupying the space where solutions should be. Remember that no other developer really knows what they’re doing either, so you’re just as good as they are. And just as likely to finish this game and make it great if you decide to.
Lastly, take care to enjoy the journey. There will be frustrations, sure, and you should be prepared to handle those. But there will also be so many exciting moments and long-awaited achievements. Be sure to celebrate all those wins, even the little ones, to help make the harder days easier to bear. If you want to make video game developing a significant part of your life, remember that you still only have the one, so you should make a point of enjoying it as much as you can.