How to Make a Game – Part 5
Written by Tim Donley
If you have been following this series of articles, you know we’ve spoken a bit about motivating yourself as well as tools you might want to look into when making your game. Let’s talk about another resource which is 100% part of your gaming equation.
People! Yes, you will need people at every step of the way to make things happen. You might be thinking, “Well, Tim, I’m running Super Mega Indie Planet from my home and I don’t need any team members. I can code, do art and I am a pretty good designer”.
You do need people. At the very least you need people to buy your game. In fact, I’d venture you need people as much or more than any other resource. Start focusing on how you can bring them into your gaming equation. Specifically:
Marketing: This is the obvious one. You will need to market your game in some way, shape or form. There are several options to bring people in and they all boil down to very basic human interaction work.
- Shut up and listen – You would do well to listen to the market you have chosen as your target audience. What do they like? What kinds of games are hot in that segment. If you don’t even know who you are making your game for, you are at a pretty big disadvantage. Knowing your marketplace helps you sell the game not just to people, but helps you explain the game to publishers if you decide to team up with one. Simple and sweet. Just listen to them for a while and understand their patterns on a basic level. You can always choose to break off from what customers may ask for, but at least know what they want. An example of knowing your customers and delivering a superior product comes in the from a quote attributed to Henry Ford, maker of the first mass produced automobile.“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
I don’t see this as Ford ignoring his customer, but rather knowing them. He gave them what they wanted (faster transportation) but in a new form (the automobile).
- Get the word out – Start getting out there with screenshots, updates or even Twitter. What you want to do is get in the habit of showing your progress. This will likely be a miserable experience at first. You won’t have much to show and you won’t want to do it, but the habit of showing your work to the audience does something to your mind and body. It forces you to look at the game and your work like a customer would and that is a good thing! Don’t believe me? Ask yourself why you get that sinking feeling when you think about writing an update or showing a screenshot. I can tell you why. It’s because the moment you prep to do this you become the customer and you become critical of your work from an entirely new and beneficial perspective. Just do it!
Game Development Proper:
- You need help even if you are alone – No one makes a game all by their lonesome. Not the guy that did Cave Story, not the guys making Missile Command in the 80’s or the guy that made Pong 10,000 years ago. They used programming languages, machinery, electronics and probably had a lot of ancillary help getting various things done. No one gets far in this world without other people’s time (OPT) or other people’s money (OPM). You might need both during your game development sojourn. I’m talking about forums for programming, sound and art. I’m also referring to local game developers in your town of perhaps developers you can talk with via email or Skype. Reach out to people doing what you do. This is game development and it’s the 21st century. The people out there you admire have scores of help working with them. You should too! Reach out and make contacts about various aspects of gameplay. If you’re strong in something – maybe you can help. If you are weaker on a subject, then it’s your time to ask for advice. Which leads to…
- How to get help – Something most people forget is the easiest way to get what you want is to help someone else get what they want. I won’t even bother to validate that with examples since you know it’s true. You’ve used it thousands of times in your life in many ways. What you really should be doing is helping others while you are making your game. I know that seems to contradict progress, but it won’t. In fact, it will probably accelerate your progress since, in helping others, you will open up doors for yourself you didn’t know about. Strange but true and I can attest from firsthand experience this does work.
That’s a wrap for this week and thank you again for stopping by! Comments or questions are always welcome!
Tim is currently working on his game Boss 101, please feel free to check out the progress at any of the links below!
Main Site (http://www.donleytimefoundation.com/)
Boss 101 on Indie DB (http://www.indiedb.com/games/boss-101)