Designing Games: From Concept to Coding

designbasicsOver the last five years, the indie gaming industry has grown rapidly. The success of games like Dear Esther and Papers, Please have made it clear that independent game developers can produce and market games to a wide audience using a tiny budget.

Would you like to learn about developing games? Thanks to the wide variety of 3D modeling tools, game development programs, and off-the-shelf engines that game developers can access today, designing your own game is easier than ever.

In this blog post, we’ll look at how you can go from game concept to reality. From in-game artwork to selecting an engine for your game, read on to discover the stages of designing and developing a video game.

Is this your first time developing a video game? Enroll in our Brief Introduction to Game Design course to learn more about what game design is and isn’t, as well as how the game design and development industry works.

Stage 1: Developing a Game Concept

The first stage of designing a game is coming up with a concept. This is the idea you will base your design and development activity around. Picture your game and try to give it a category: is it a platformer, an adventure game, or a shooter?

If this is your first time designing and developing a game, it helps to keep your level of ambition relatively low. Games like Call of Duty and Battlefield are developed on multi-million dollar budgets; as an individual, you can’t build something similar.

When you create your game concept, keep several factors in mind. Think about vital aspects of the game, such as:

  • Is it two-dimensional (side-scroller) or three-dimensional?
  • What type of platform will it run on? iOS? PC? Game console?
  • What skills do you have that will make design and development easy?
  • What skills will you need to acquire to successfully design your game?
  • Which tools can you use to simplify and speed up development?
  • How much time and money can you afford to invest in your game?

Think of your game concept like you’d think of a business plan. If you plan to market and sell your game, it ultimately is a business plan! Consider how much it will cost to develop your game, and whether or not your concept is realistically possible.

Getting started with game design isn’t easy. Our course, Learning Game Design: As a Job or a Hobby, provides you with essential information on the process of building a game concept, the software used to make games, and finish your game projects.

Stage 2: Designing Art Assets for Your Game

Without the right art, even the most powerful game engine is wasted. Every game, from 2D platformers to 3D shooters, depends on creative art in the form of sprites, textures, and concept drawings.

Because of this, being able to develop art for your game is an essential skill for any game design and development project. From 3D models to 2D sprites, art is one of the core features of every successful game.

Our course, Professional Video Game Art School, teaches you how to create 3D in-game models, beautiful textures, and fantastic game artwork in over 238 lectures and 83 hours of content.

If you’re designing a 2D game, the process of preparing art for your game engine is significantly shorter and easier. In many cases, you can draw all of your game art in popular software like Adobe Flash and Photoshop.

Our course, Draw All Your Own Game Art with Adobe Flash, shows you exactly how to design and draw beautiful sprites, textures, and in-game graphics using Adobe’s powerful drawing and animation software.

Stage 3: Learning 3D Game Development Platforms

Over the last decade, a wide variety of game development toolkits have emerged, all of which make the process of game design and development easier. Using a toolkit is a great way to cut down your game’s development time and reduce its cost.

One of the most popular 3D game development platforms is Unity. Unity is a highly powerful development suite for creating 3D games which allows you to build maps and levels, program artificial intelligence behaviors, and more.

In short, it lets you replicate the functionality of the past decade of 3D games with none of the slow, costly development process that the previous generation of game developers had to deal with.

A free version of Unity is available for game designers, making the process of getting started with game design remarkably simple. As your game develops, you can buy a professional license and gain access to all of the software’s powerful features.

Are you new to using Unity to develop games? Enroll in our course, Introduction to Game Design with Unity3D, to learn more about developing games using this robust, powerful, and effective application.

Unity is arguably the most popular game development tool for designers interested in creating 3D games. It has a relatively steep learning curve, but the engine’s huge amount of power more than makes up for the time you’ll invest in learning how to use it.

Want to kick-start your Unity game design education? Our course, Unity 3D Game Development, rapidly teaches you the basics of Unity3D, from animation to coding, sound, and level design.

Stage 4: Learning 2D Game Development Platforms

What if your game isn’t three-dimensional? Some of the world’s most successful and acclaimed games have been 2D, from the original Super Mario Bros. to modern indie games like Papers, Please.

Creating a 2D game has numerous benefits. Since the process is a lot less costly than developing a three-dimensional game, you can release your game without spending as much – both in terms of cash and time – in development.

2D games also have a far wider audience than 3D games. While 3D games primarily run on PCs and tablets, 2D games are easy to enjoy on small mobile devices, tablets, in browsers, on PCs, and on gaming consoles.

Did you know it’s possible to develop two-dimensional games using Unity? This 3D game development engine is also a powerful toolkit for 2D game developers. From shooters to platformers, a huge range of 2D games can be developed using Unity.

Learn the fundamentals of using Unity for 2D games by enrolling in our Creating 2D Games in Unity course. Featuring over 22 lectures, it’s a great in-depth look at game development using the world’s most popular game design engine.

Stage 5: Releasing and Marketing Your Game

Is your game starting to come together? Whether you’re building a classic platform game or the next big first-person shooter, you’ll eventually reach a point where you want to switch from developing your game into marketing and promoting it.

The video game industry is incredibly competitive, with giant companies and some of the world’s top indie developers competing against each other for the next mega-hit like Minecraft or Papers, Please.

Learn how to reach the top of the video gaming industry with our blog post on how to sell your games. From Steam to the iOS App Store, there are hundreds of platforms that you can use to sell your latest gaming creations to a huge audience.

Ready to start designing games?

The game design industry has changed massively over the past decade, and you no longer need to work at a top developer like Valve or Dice in order to have a shot at building the next big game.

From art creation to coding, the courses in this guide will help you get started as a game designer and developer. Start learning today and make your creative gaming ideas the mega-hits of tomorrow!