So you’ve got a cool idea for a game, but don’t know where to start. Good news! There are a ton of resources for learning game making, and plenty of assets to use as well. I’m going to be breaking down these resources by rough skill level in different areas and trying answer some basic questions/issues I see a lot.
If you’ve never made a game before even getting the ball rolling can be a bit overwhelming. A critical part of not getting frustrated and burning out is simple, but disappointing to follow: DO NOT start with a game you want to be good. Your first game will not be good, and it will take longer than you think to get things working even a little bit. After all, no one runs a good marathon without practice, it’s the same with making a game. Starting with small practice games that will probably never see the light of day lets you be better, and more importantly faster, when you’re working on a bigger project.
Another good thing to keep in mind is that you’re going to spend a much longer time making a game than you are playing it. If you do not enjoy the process of making games, then making a game, even one you really want to be made, is going to suck. This is another reason to start with some small practice games, because if you don’t like making small games, making large games isn’t going to be better.
“What should I make the game in?”
This mostly depends on what kind of game you want to make, but here are a couple options:
Basic version is free. Can be used for 2D and 3D games, but much more geared towards 3D. Has a big advantage over a lot of engines in that it’s very widely used, so there are a lot more community resources.
Free to use, open source. Does 2D and 3D, but is better at 2D. You can use several languages to program in it (including visual scripting). Not great for larger games.
Free. For visual novels only. Can be used for basic visual novels without much coding knowledge, but you’ll need to learn a bit of python for anything more complex.
Free trial, but you’ll have to buy it if you end up wanting to use it. For 2D rpgs, good community support, and a lot of built in assets. Easy to make a super generic game, but just as much work is needed as other engines for anything unique.
“How do I practice making games?”
Make tiny games that are barely even games at all. Make a box that jumps on a single platform. Make a text adventure with one choice in it. Make an rpg with one room and one fight. Set aside these games as purely for practice, because the more you learn, the more things you’ll have to go back and fix. Having small practice games that are just to help you learn means that if you figure out a better way to do something, or realize a major flaw in your system, just throwing the whole game away and starting over isn’t an issue because there was only minimal time spent making it.
“What if I can’t write/draw/make music?”
You’ll be a little hard pressed to find a super wide selection of stock fetish assets, but for everything else (environments, UI, terrain) there are a ton of assets to use. ALWAYS check the license on any assets you use, some of them are pretty restrictive. A couple good places to look are:
Kenney Game Assets
A pretty good mix of everything, even a few sound packs, most of which is free.
A forum of user submitted assets. A bit cluttered and quality varies, but there certainly is variety.
Fonts are important! Just don’t go too wild with them, and definitely check the license on these.
Writing is a bit more difficult to slot in generically, so assets are rare to come by. Good news though! Depending on what kind of game you’re making, extensive art/writing/music may be entirely optional. Text adventures don’t need much beyond UI, and you can get by on one or two sentences (a la Super Mario Bros) and make a perfectly good game if that’s not your focus.
“What if I don’t know how to program?”
Unless you’re making a tabletop game, at least a little bit of programming knowledge is going to be required. It differs by engine to what degree, some engines even have purely visual programming languages (think drag and drop instead of typing everything out). Luckily there are a ton of tutorials out there! All the engines I listed above, and most of the ones I didn’t, have forums that you can look for solutions to common problems in.
“What if I don’t want to learn how to program?”
There’s always tabletop games! Making a supplement for an existing system can be pretty fun, and making one from scratch, while harder, is definitely doable. If your heart is set on a video game though, looking around for someone that can program but needs help with art/sound/writing can be a good option if you still want to work on a game without doing the “game” aspect.
"I'm more of an ideas guy."
Unfortunately, the amount of time and effort it takes to come up with an idea is pretty little. It’s going to be hard to find anyone that can make a game but will work on something you want to play instead of something they want to play.
"How do I get people interested in helping with my project?"The best pitch you can have is something to show, i.e. making a game with stock/placeholder assets. It not only shows that you can follow through on your concept, but that you're willing to put in the work. Money is also a great motivator.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I admittedly only have personal experience with a few of these engines, so you guys let me know if there’s anything I missed, or if there are any other questions/issues that should be answered here.