This blog post first appeared on Hali Game Studios' website.
I always thought you needed programming experience in order to make video games. Whether you went to a post-secondary institution, graduated and worked your way up the corporate ladder or if you grew up making games since you were 4.
Looking at myself, I have no previous programming experience. From high school to university and beyond, I’ve always been business-minded with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Earlier this year, I was at a point where I wasn’t satisfied with my current job. Looking at prospective employers, I didn’t want to stay in the finance industry where I’ve been for the last five years. I wanted something new. Something refreshing. Although I couldn’t program, I was still good with computers. Maybe I could find a career in IT.
I started to look at some entry level jobs in IT, but found I wasn’t qualified for them because I had no programming experience. What do you do when you have no experience? Like I’ve learned from my past entrepreneurial experiences, you create your own experience.
Some of my friends were programming software for the government, but I didn’t find that too appealing. I can’t remember the keywords that I used on Google, however I found myself on the website for Unity, the 3D game engine. After looking at a few tutorial videos, making video games sounded pretty appealing to me, especially when Unity offers a free version of its multi-platform engine.
The next step in my process was to make sure it was a viable business decision and to learn the various financial models for indie games. During this time, I was reading Mike Geig’s book Unity Game Development In 24 Hours and learning the basics of video game development in Unity.
Since taking the plunge in late March by starting Hali Game Studios, I’ve been doing a lot of learning through various mediums and have been working on my first game, Dig Out, a 2D platformer set after a mine explosion.
The following are some of the resources I found very helpful:
- @MikeGeig – Mike Geig – author, designer, developer and screen caster at Unity Technologies
- @unity3d – Unity Technologies – Unity game engine
- @IndieGameGirl – Emmy Jonassen – gives step-by-step marketing tips for indie game developers
- @JesseFreeman – Jesse Freeman – game developer and author
- @HobbyGameDev – Chris DeLeon – content for video game developers of all skill levels
- Unity Game Development In 24 Hours by Mike Geig
- Level Up: The Guide To Great Video Game Design by Scott Rogers
- Unity 2D Game Development by Dave Calabrese
- Unity 4.x Game AI Programming by Aung Sithu Kyaw, Clifford Peters and Thet Naing Swe
- Beginning 3D Game Development With Unity 4 by Susan Blackman
- Weekend Code Project: Unity’s New 2D Workflow by Jesse Freeman
With no specific release date for Dig Out at this point other than the second half of 2014, I know I’ll be on a roller coaster ride for the rest of the year with this new venture. There will be times of fun and excitement while there will also be frustrating times when something doesn’t work the way you want it to.
In the end, Dig Out will be a great journey. I’m looking forward to the completed project and the process in between.
4 Things Required For Developing Your First Game
Although I’m early in my journey, these are four things required for developing your first game without any prior programming experience.
- Willingness To Learn – with a willingness to learn, you can do pretty much anything, whether it’s developing a video game, driving a car, speaking a new language, etc…
- Be Resourceful – be able to find information on your own by seeking out people with the knowledge, reading books, watching tutorial. You have to find the information because the information won’t find you.
- Perseverance - keep going when things get tough. If climbing a mountain and growing tired, take a break and then continue. The reward is at the top, not the bottom.
- Take Chance – imagine yourself as Super Mario. If you don’t take the chance to jump towards the next platform, you won’t save the Princess!
I’ve heard people say that they have a few video game ideas floating in their head, but the thing is, they’re just ideas until you put them into action! What are you waiting for?