Blog Series - Stop Pining and Get Game Designing!

Every profession has its own set of highly predictable questions. For retail workers, it’s: “If it doesn’t have a price tag it’s free, right?” For game designers, it’s: “How did you do it?”

The question makes all the sense in the world. Games can be designed in all manners of ways, and each way has its share of unique difficulties. The tricky thing is that even though the multitude of approaches to game designs makes this question—“How did you do it?”—necessary, it also makes the question virtually unanswerable.

“How did you do it?” The question is just vague enough to almost guarantee an overwhelming answer. If the person asking the question is an aspiring game designer who doesn’t quite know what kind of game they would like to make—only that they would like to make a game—then the answer to this question will likely be more discouraging than helpful.

It will probably be discouraging not because game design is some sort of arcane skill that is only accessible to the cleverest individuals, but because (again) the question “How did you do it?” is incredibly broad. The process of making a platformer is going to look much different from the process of making an open-world role-playing game. Do you want to use a program like Gamemaker, or do you want to use Unity? This is yet another point of divergence.

One of the most important skills, then, is being able to take that big, broad question—“How do you do it?”—and turn it into a question (or series of questions) that is more manageable.

This series of blog posts is dedicated to that age old question: What do I need to do to bring my game idea from dream to reality? In order to avoid the overwhelming answers that usually accompany this sort of question, we’re not going to try to sell you on the merits of one programming language over another or the advantages of using this software or that software. Those kinds of approaches would be useful if this were a blog series on how to design a specific type of game, sure, but that’s not our goal here.

Our goal is to give you the tools to design a game. Period. Full stop.

Each of the blog posts in this series will focus on a single piece of advice. This advice is designed to be generally useful to the development of your very first game, no matter the type. As such, the tips will pertain to mindsets, approaches, or strategies that are essential to game development.

This is our bare-bones, high-velocity guide to stop pining and get game designing:

1.      Start participating in a design community

  1. Columbus communities and short-term design groups
  2. The benefits of joining a long-term design group

2.     Take stock of your skills and skill gaps

  1. How do you know what skills you'll need? 
  2. How do you fill in those skill gaps?

3.     See it through to the end

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve spent hours interviewing the fine folks of Multivarious—asking them what things they wished they had known when they were just starting out, what advice they would give to aspiring developers, what resources bring about the most drastic improvement in the shortest amount of time. In that short amount of time, I learned more about the design process than I did in months of self-study.

Just stay tuned, and I’m sure that’ll be the case for you too.

- Lindsay