Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Making Games On A Budget - Part 1

This is an article I wrote a few months ago for PC Powerplay, an Australian computer game magazine. I'm going to reprint it here in parts over the next few days. Enjoy!

Making Games on a Budget

We’ve all heard the stories. The days of the bedroom programmer are long gone. Now it takes a hundred or more people and tens of millions of dollars to make a game.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it ain’t true. All you need is a computer and some talent and you can make a game. Heck, you may be even able to make a buck or two while you’re at it.

Using my latest casual game, Brainiversity, I’m going to show you how you can use free tools and a little elbow grease to make games. I’ll be focusing on the tools I use to handle programming, graphics and sound as well as the digital rights management software I use to sell games online.

Getting Started
Everything I’m going to talk about is free, or close to it - but there is something you’ll need to bring to the table. That’s some ability in either the programming or graphics department. If you don’t have both skills then grab a mate or two who can draw or program and get them involved.

If you can’t draw or program and would like to learn you’ll find that there are plenty of books dedicated to beginner game creators – I recommend checking out Amazon.com and doing a search on “game development”.

Pick a Game
Okay, I’m not going to tell you what game to make, but I will suggest one thing. If this is your first game then pick something small and doable. You don’t have to invent a brand new game genre or make an epic RPG straight up. You can do that for your next game. This first game will be where you learn the ropes. In fact there’s no shame in doing a clone of another successful game. This way you can be assured that at least the gameplay will be fun leaving you to worry about the graphics and programming.

The first casual game I made was Word Shake, a simple 2D word game with a small set of graphics and a very basic game play mechanic. This allowed me to focus on learning how to program with a new game engine framework and learn my way around new software packages.

Next... How To Find Time


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