Have an Idea but No Experience or Money

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by YourRaccoonUncle, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. YourRaccoonUncle

    YourRaccoonUncle New Member

    Oct 12, 2019
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    Hello, all. I suppose being straight to the point would help me communicate my current predicament to you all. I am a university student with a story that I want to see translated into the medium of an indie RPG, but have zero experience in game development and programming; to make matters worse, I have no cash and, even when I do start working again, will probably not have as much money as I would like to fund my project.

    What would you recommend that I do in order to begin learning game design and what are some economical options that I could use to practice game design?

    Any help would be more than appreciated.
    Jolan likes this.
  2. 3Dski

    3Dski New Member

    Oct 14, 2019
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    It's much like eating an elephant... You're going to have to scale down your vision and digest things in small bites. First, decide what on a platform you can learn on; Mac or Windows? I would think that since you're totally new, you should start learning how to develop on the system you have.

    There is going to be a learning curve with any, and just about every tool, you choose to work with. Godot is free and you can do just about anything you'd like with that tool, and it can be used for multiple Mac/PC or mobile. Once again, I would not think about mobile, because that will only complicate your development environment needs and get in the way of learning the fundamentals. Godot has free tutorials, it requires minimal programming and there are inexpensive paid tutorials on learning sites like Udemy.

    But, there may be free RPG making software out there that might provide some basic art assets, with little to no programming. But, many of these kinds of tools have drag-and-drop logic blocks and still considered programming. A tool that's designed to create RPGs may make it easier to bring your idea to life.

    You can find art designed for games online, or find free drawing tools to create simple placeholders for what you want in your game. Since your goal is to learn and not sell, then licensing shouldn't be an issue. But, if you do want to build on what you're creating to sell you'll need to make sure what type of licensing is applied to those assets if you're not making them yourself.

    Finally, I'm a developer, but it is still very easy to get lost in all the details, so a lot of your effort will be spent focussing on keeping a focused perspective on the simplest goals you want to achieve, then build upon those goals. So, whatever you do, chose your learning steps so that they are self-rewarding and motivate you on to the next learning step with a sense of accomplishment.

    Sure hope this helps!
    Oshawatt123 likes this.
  3. Oshawatt123

    Oshawatt123 New Member

    Nov 7, 2019
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    I will reply with being straight to the point as well :p

    You don't need heaps of cash to make a game. You need heaps of TIME.
    You need heaps of cash to pay people to make games.

    I have friends in an indie studio straight out of uni who work 40 hours a week full-time to pay for a living (and fund events now they're growing) and then 20 hours a week in the evenings on their game. They're working on their 3rd game and in talks with publishers. They had no funding going into it, just a lot of dedication and some TIME they could work on a game.

    I am also a University student (in Suffolk) so I feel your pain about no cash haha, but luckily for me I am on a Games Programming Course so I kinda pay to make games? That said, I will break this down into a few sections on how I would tell past me to start had I not done this course. I will have a reading list at the end of each section. :)

    Step One: Design
    Funnily, I would advise start with design (even though its the bane of my existence as a programmer). Start with reading a couple books and watching a lot of Youtube. People will cringe at Youtube but it is interesting and informative if you know where to look (not the media/press). The design element will be the main thing to get people to play your game which is what you want. Do some paper designs for smaller games like level layout, HUD layout, enemy types and just enjoy the process! Then, once you're happy doing paper designs, it's time for your first game!

    Theory of Fun for Game Design
    Challenges for Game Designers


    Two books, two Youtube channels. Everything you'll need to get started with design ^-^

    Step Two: Programming
    There are two routes to take here:
    1: Visual Scripting (no actual code)
    2: Real coding

    Visual Scripting will be a quicker, easier start to making games and there is nothing wrong with using visual scripting. In fact, I'd recommend it! It will grow your knowledge of logic and how to make mechanics for games. This is far more valuable than knowing how to code a language when you're starting out (IMO).

    Real coding will take longer, eating into game development time, and be much much harder. I would recommend moving onto this once you have the hang of visual scripting or have come to a point where you think the visual scripting is starting to constrict what you are doing and want more freedom with your mechanics.

    Preface over for the programming section, it is not the scary beast I may have made it sound like. It is much nicer than you may think! Still, I would highly recommend a visual scripting language for your very first game. If you want to go for the visual scripting route, try out GameMaker Studio, or for the real coding route, use GameMaker Studio (it has support for both so I will HIGHLY recommend anyone starts here). If you are feeling ballsey or you are done with 2D in GameMaker and want to try your hand at 3D, use Unity. It's great. It's hard for beginners. And it's Industry standard.

    Brackeys - Unity stuff
    HeartBeast - GameMaker stuff

    Two youtube channels. I would not recommend books for a beginner. I have found no good ones as they almost all expect a good knowledge of programming beforehand.

    Step Three: Scope
    Now you know how to make a game, lose the idea of an RPG. FOR NOW. Scope is how big your game is. Scope for an RPG > Scope for a platformer. Scope creep (where the scope for your game gets bigger as you think of new ideas) will KILL ALL GAMES. Avoid it; start small. Use a tool like Trello or post-it notes to organise your ideas and easily cull ideas that make the game too big. You will LOVE your first game no matter how big it is; it's a feeling like no other!

    The RPG will come in time. I tried making one and Scope Creep killed it :( you have been warned :3

    Step Four: Publishing
    This game you make will not make any money. The first 10 games you make will not make any money (told you I was being straight to the point). Use a site like Simmer.io or Itch.io or the GameMaker ShowCase to showcase your game to the world and bam! There it is, for everyone to play! You will get feedback from this that will be invaluable. Some of it may want you to stop (had that before *rolls eyes*) but ignore the hate.
    You did it. You rock!

    Step Five: Iterate
    Go make another game! Another 5! Another 10! You have learnt the basics. No more hand holding. You're free to go and explore! You have just scratched the VERY TIP of an iceberg bigger than any other. Have fun!

    You are now happy with making games. You have been ignoring my advice and designed your RPG anyway (I'm proud of you, this shows enthusiasm and true commitment). Go and make it.

    If you ever want any future help, more than happy to help. If I missed anything or there is anything else I should add or you want me to cover or I got wrong (god forbid I'm human) please let me know and we can update this accordingly!

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