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Game Dev 101

Quick start guide for anyone brand new to game development who wants to become a part of it.

I get countless requests for coaching aspiring game developers into their first job. How can I break into the industry?, is what I hear constantly. Smarter people than myself have provided amazing resources to answer this, so I put together this collection to save you the effort of searching for it. Credit is due to the wonderful people behind these sites and articles. If you're new to game development, take full advantage of free resources here on the good old interwebs. (This article originally published at www.neworleansgamedev.com)

It's important to first realize that game studios come in all shapes and sizes from a single person creating all the coding, art assets, and design for a game to giant teams of more than 500, with each person working on specialized aspects ranging from lighting to user interface programming. There are many ways to make games!

MAINSTREAM GAME DEVELOPMENT

Making games is very different from playing games - and the field has become increasingly competitive - but if you're ready to go for it and you want to work on bigger teams and titles, you should first choose a discipline. Art, programming, game design, and production are common disciplines to pursue if you have the talent and would like to be very close to the creation process.

There are many other roles in the industry that you may want to consider, like community management, quality assurance testing, and even sales, PR, marketing, and legal. Some roles, such as technical artist, cross over the main game creation disciplines. You can learn more about beginning these careers in the invaluable Extra Credits career series and the Game Career Guide series How to Break Into the Industry (here's part 2 and 3).

If you've never considered where you might fit in, start by taking a look at job posts to see what skills your dream companies need. Learn about the field by reading industry news at sites like Gamasutra. Find out as much as you can about the companies that you might want to work for, the various game genres, and even issues the industry is facing. Once you are ready to choose a path, the Game Career Guide has an awesome Digital Counselor to help you consider colleges. Remember that talent is not skill - skill is what happens only when talent and education combine!

Not everyone is able to afford a formal education in game development. It is still possible to learn game development on your own either to get a job or to make that your path completely. But if you want to enter the AAA game industry you will be competing with people who have graduated from well-designed programs which systematically instructed them in development practices as well as their area of specialized skill. You will have your work cut out for you to keep up with them and not have gaping holes in your knowledge, but that brings us to...

INDIE GAME DEVELOPMENT

Looking to make a game on your own or with friends? You might want to become an indie. That can be a big challenge (we've all seen the movie, right?), but also extremely rewarding and exciting! Independent game development usually refers to the creation of a game with a small group and without the financial backing of a publisher, which means that you will need to obtain the tools and time to make your game on your own. You'll be in charge of all design, artistic, and programming tasks and decisions and have complete freedom in your choices. Most indie's start with very small projects for this reason.

Indie development comes with the additional challenge of having to establish your own goals and deadlines and handling your own marketing once your game is complete, if you want others to play it. New independent development is typically far more successful when developers keep the scope of the project modest and have support from fellow developers who can help cheer each other on and share tips, tricks and resources. You're not alone out there - Get to know your colleagues and learn from each other by attending a meetup today!

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