I immediately know what you’re thinking. No way did you teach yourself to write video games in one night Thomas, I don’t believe that for one minute.
In order for you to have done that you:
- Must of had prior programming knowledge
- Must of been taught by a programmer at NaughtyDog (They made Crash Bandicoot)
- Must be a genius and got straight A’s at school
The answer to all of the above is of course, no.
This will in fact lay the foundation for this entire blog. You need zero prior knowledge to start making video games for iOS, Android, PC, Playstation, Xbox – You name it, it’s possible.
I was not a smart kid at school, I wasn’t the top of the class. Sure I was always passionate about computers, played world of warcraft and set up the occasional Unreal Tournament LAN match in the school IT room. I had always wanted to make video games but never knew where to start – back then we used Flash and it was a nightmare to get started before youtube came around with a wealth of tutorials.
Fast forward 10 years and I would be able to teach myself in one night, what I had been dreaming of being able to do since I was a kid.
In 24 hours, I finished Zombie 1984, a that won a GameJolt Jam with over 150 entries.
Making games isn’t what is once was. My father was famous in the 1980’s for being the ‘kid genius’. He programmed games like Outrun, Road Blasters, even titles with the Codemasters guys back when they operated out of their garden shed. Back then, you had to write in machine code, save the code onto ticker tape (that’s like tape with lots of dots on it), load it using giant cassettes, and even then it would only work on one console.
But today, things are so, so much easier.
You can write code once and then convert it to any platform. Yes you heard me – write one bit of code and it will work on a Playstation or a iPhone 5.
I entered the GameJolt Glitch Jam in 2014.
I stayed up all night, watching a tutorial video and implementing features – this game was literally the foundation of another tutorial rebuilt in my own awfully complicated and broken way.
It came 6th.
Back onto youTube to search for a new tutorial, I was about 2 weeks into programming at this point. I found a great racing game tutorial from Rmk2Dev, basically a car that drives around a track and has a few other cars chasing you. I say chasing, they are attached onto the back of your car by an elastic rope so you can imagine how awful the AI was. This would lay the groundwork for DRIFT 84 – the drifting game I had greenlit on steam just 6 months later.
This game would end up being the unfinished project that haunted my dreams and aspirations. It was a huge task, I bit off far more than I could chew for my first ‘actual’ commercial game. Not to mention I built it pretty much single handedly and everything was a first experience met with a tremendously steep learning curve. I made a lot of mistakes in the two years that it consumed.
Broken and lacking any real enthusiasm I decided it would be best to create a game in a couple of weeks with the intention it would be completed in less than a month.
This birthed Viking Zombie Apocalypse. A game that pushed me as a programmer and refined my vision of what I was capable of – building really sweet looking/feeling games.
It’s a 5 star rated game on the app store and it got lots of praise for being simple and athletically pleasing.
So I did that again, this time with Save The Planet.
This game took a little longer because it was smarter, it had clever code, using third party APIs to feature cloud based data files and all sorts of fancy bells and whistles.
This game got me feature on the GameMaker official Tech Blog. In case you don’t read it – I was at the time the only person to have a guest post on it. I think there’s a couple of us now.
SO Tom, what now?
Well now I’ve built a few decent games, I have a few more on the way, it’s a great process especially when you’re not really tied into the financial side of it. To be honest I just love programming games.
You get to create this entire world in which players can jump into. You play the god of your artistic imagination.
As a game developer, anything is possible.
Now my goal is to inspire some of you, hopefully you can learn a lot from me and in a very short amount of time understand how to begin the journey to releasing your first game.