Do more press ups. Yep that’s the secret. If you want to get good at something, don’t do something else – do the thing you are trying to get good at!
If you want to get better at making games, spend more time making games! I nearly wrote a list of DON’Ts, but I’ll turn it into a list of DOs instead:
- Decide on a language and stick to it. Some people keep changing language and never make a game.
- Make a simple engine and then get straight on with making a game. Your engine can improve as you write the game. If you spend all your time making a mega engine filled with obscure features that you may never use, you game will never get started.
- Concentrate on programming the game instead of making graphics and sound/music, otherwise the game will take twice as long. Find someone else to do the non-programming (including marketing) for you. You should still take an “interest” in the graphics and sound for your game because you will have to direct the artist/musician in what you want and ask them to fix/improve it if it’s not right.
- If you’ve never made a “finished” game before, then start with a really simple small project because I guarantee it will take longer and be harder than you realised. Make sure it really is finished in the sense that it has a loading screen, title screen, options screen, high scores, game screen with lots of levels, level complete screen, and a game finished sequence at the very least. Professional games have more screens like credits, trophies/awards, introduction, instructions/hints, story, map, level complete stats etc. These all take a long time to program. Once you’ve finished a small project, make another, and another gradually increasing the size and complexity until you feel confident that your game is good enough to be sold (if that’s your aim).
- Play games for research in moderation. You could play lots of games and say that you are doing “research”; well some research is good, essential in fact, but get the balance right. By the way, watching TV is not research. However, I do condone sport or healthy activities as anything that keeps your body healthy keeps your mind healthy and so you’ll be more productive when you are programming games.
- Only read blogs/forums/articles about stuff directly related to game programming in the sector you are aiming for. There’s no point in reading stuff about AAA games if you are making casual games for example. There’s no point reading loads of stuff about Internet Marketing if you are not going to sell the game on your own website anyway because you are going to use a portal.
- Get friends and family and forum members to test your games and give you feedback. Then listen to the feedback and implement it. You need external feedback to improve your games instead of being stuck in your own little world.
If you are reading this now then I hope you are just taking a break from programming games and will get back to it soon. At least it was motivational and not totally unrelated