Ever wondered how breakthrough games such as Grand Theft Auto or Tomb Raider got off the ground? Do you know your Metal Gear Solid from your Splinter Cell? Do you have an idea and want to learn easy game development? Well, if so, fear not, as here is our guide on how to become a game designer.
1. Tell a story
As with most things, if you want to make someone stick around you have to keep it creative. Like with adverts, children’s programs or even wildlife shows, it’s all about telling stories. Learning to create a narrative, whether it’s blasting the heads off zombies or toddler’s drawing app (try not to confuse the two), is the secret in great design. So, if you have an exciting idea based on an even greater plot, that you think will capture the imagination of your friends and other gamers, then start learning.
2. Keep Playing
So you like to play huh? Think you know a thing or two about what makes a good game? Great! But remember, keep playing, except this time take a closer look at how and why you enjoyed it. Was it the the story line, or graphics, was it the exploding heads or playability? Figure out why you love the games, what makes them your favorites? Write it down. Does your story have these elements? If not, look closely as to what’s missing. Don’t mimic, simply be inspired at finding and creating your own vision.
3. Start Simple
Okay, so your idea is great, isn’t it? We believe you, but like any artist or craftsperson you’ll need to start small before you can take over the world. Take your idea; can you write it down in a few sentences? Does it roll off the tongue, like ‘zealous zombies take over your neighborhood’, or ‘WW2 pilot travels through time to fight alien Fascists” Get it? If not, then get your idea polished. Be objective, does your idea sell to you? Learn from a pro how to become the ultimate game designer and see how it’s done.
4. Have the skills you need?
Traditionally, game designers needed degrees in computer science and programming, yet recently with user designer software like Game Maker, these sometimes free platforms allow first timers to create games without ever having to write any code. These easy to use programs are great for those who are taking their first tentative steps to game creation, or can show others that it simply may not be for them. Which leads to the next step…
5. Build a prototype.
But with what tools? There are plenty of beginner programming platforms and courses in game development with user friendly software like Unity 3D, or for those familiar with HTML there are game creation engines just for your mobile. These programs will provide some of the initial pieces in creating your baby. They may not create your dream vision, but they’ll help you get that prototype built and ready to play.
Do you have a running prototype? Well, test it on friends, family, and other gamers. Go online and join gaming forums to get critical feedback. Remember, like with all projects be prepared for some cut throat criticism. It might make you weep but it will make you stronger. You will learn more, and it will prepare you for the real competitive world of game design.
7. Keep going.
Whatever you do, don’t lose heart. You just created your first game right? It might not look or play exactly like you wanted, but remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. So, if you’re not happy with your first project, make another, and another!
Sometimes that extra edge you are looking for in creative design is by working with someone who can share your vision and together you can create something truly unique. Find a partner, whether in your local town or online. Talk, play and discuss what makes a great gaming experience, and together fine tune that breakthrough idea.
9. Can anyone learn to create a game?
Not all game designers are men, constant snack eaters or friendless geeks who dedicate all their time to that perfect game. This stereotype is fast becoming a thing of the past. Currently 12% of game designers are women, and are creative artists who love working with cutting edge technologies in fun companies. These companies will always look for flexible and concept driven people who can work with teams on collaborative projects. Yes, the hours are still long, and the work is challenging but think of the reward; you’re a game designer fulfilling your goal.
10. Communication and Selling.
Part of being a designer in any area of work is being able to articulate your concept and showing others how, with your talent and contribution, this can be easily realized. Standing up in front of a group of people may be your idea of some kind of nightmare but this is integral to being a great designer. Flexibility, contribution and working to tight deadlines. It’s not all slouching at your desk sucking on sodas. Being an active member of a creative team who can work, compromise and deliver the highest quality work is going to make you and your work sell. Whether independent or part of a creative team, communication is as important in itself as design.
So, there it is, ten useful insights on how to become a game designer. Still daunted? Well don’t be. If you made it through this post without turning away, then you’re on your way to taking those baby steps of realizing your idea. And remember like with with all games, if first you don’t succeed, save your level and try, try again.