But wait! A glimmer of hope! With different gaming platforms becoming more ubiquitous (smart phones, tablets, etc), gaming becoming more mainstream, and a true "indie" market just starting to be tapped into, you could make games in your basement and actually have the opportunity to be very successful. JOY!
So, I have options! I can totally do this!...but I really haven't been going anywhere. I feel like those clouds from Family Guy...you know...the one's that will "attack tomorrow?"
However, thanks to a very inspiring meeting of the local IDGA (check out I Code By The Sea for details on the meeting) and reading a few good wikiHow articles, I finally realize what I've been lacking...
Sure, maybe now you're thinking "duh, of course you need a plan!" The true problem was I thought I DID have a plan. It was along the lines of:
- Learn to program games
- Become a hot-shot indie developer
Step 1: Set the ultimate goal
Ultimate goal: Become a Hot-shot indie game developer
This is the ultimate destination. The holy grail. This is the goal that I'm going to write on a sticky note and paste it on my bathroom mirror so I can see it every morning and be inspired. Now, to just leave it at that won't get me there...the goal is way to big and unspecific, so lets break it down.
Step 2: Take ultimate goal and break it down into sub-goals
- Become comfortable with game development
- Design a very simple game
- Develop previously designed game
- Publish simple game
- Take what you've learned and repeat steps 2-4 as needed
- Design a more complex game
- Program more complex game
- Publish more complex game
Step 3: Map out a specific path to reach each milestone
Become comfortable with game development
- Pick a platform to practice development on (Unity, pre-made engine such as UT, OpenGL, DirectX, etc). If possible, think ahead slightly to where you'd eventually like to release a game. That will help with the choice.
- Pick a simple game that you are very familiar with. One where the mechanics are easy to pick appart (Tetris, Space Invaders, Missile Command, Solitare, etc).
- Program that simple game on chosen platform using nothing but simple shapes as the avatars.
- $$Reward!!$$ Five to ten dollar game on Steam
- Upgrade the graphics of the game to include more detailed avatars, animation, etc
- Check and see if it's legal to distribute clone for free. (sourceforge, linux community, link on blog, etc)
- $$Reward!!$$ New small canister of tea from local specialty tea shop
- If still lacking in confidence, repeat steps to milestone with new game or new platform.
- Find inspiration.
- Play games from genres you don't normally play.
- Brainstorm with trusted friends
- Think about how whatever you're currently doing could be made into an interactive experience
- Design core mechanic. Base game around this mechanic. Keep things simple.
- Sketch out full design on paper
- Prototype on paper if possible and play-test before coding even begins.
- $$Reward!!$$ Twenty bucks at your favorite hobby shop
- Choose the platform that you wish to see your game released on. This will inherently narrow down the set of tools and programing languages you will use.
- Settle on a set of tools. Research cost (if any) of using tools.
- Program game using simple shapes and sounds
- $$Reward!!$$ A new art supply
- Upgrade graphics and animation of game.
- Hire friends for pizza to play-test game
- Polish until bug free
- $$Reward!!$$ Meal at a restaurant
- Seek advice from local game devs if possible
- Find out what it means to make a company / studio in Newfoundland
- Send prototypes of media to try and generate buzz
- Plan for associated costs of publishing product
- $$Reward!!$$ Release PAR-TAY!
Whew...O.K....now we're actually getting somewhere. Looks like it's going to be a long journey, but a worthwhile one. If you ever make a list like this, make sure that your rewards are meaningful to you. Also if you are in need of more constant motivation, you could even give yourself a small reward after each and every step. Really, now all I'm missing are self-imposed deadlines. I'm hoping the promise of reward will help to push me forward, but I may find that I'm still wavering and need to set deadlines.
I also know that some of these steps to the milestones may need to be broken down even further. For instance, "improving the graphics of the game" may result in me having to learn Blender, which would be a whole new set of steps. That's the beauty of setting flexible goals...they can flex!
Well, this blog post is certainly hefty enough, so I'll wrap up here. Remember, no matter how big your goals, be they to create a popular game, write an award winning novel, or creating an acclaimed work of art, they are always obtainable. You CAN do it, but you won't make it there by reveling in passivity. Fate won't make it happen. Take small steps on your journey every day. I look forward to reading all about all your successes!