Develop contributor Sophie Houlden outlines her top tips for getting started

HOW TO: Get started making your own video games

We know you want to make your own games. We know that you, deep down, want to create the best games in the world. It’s natural. Those fizzing imaginations that come to life as you rest to bed, as you daydream on the train; you want to give them a life.

And it’s possible. This month’s issue of Develop comes with an insightful guide for aspiring developers who want to go it alone.

Written by the promising indie maestro Sophie Houlden, the guide goes in depth on what tools you can use. “Most importantly,” she says, “all of them are free.”

Taken from the full guide here, Develop has outlined Houlden’s top three tips for creating your own works.

1) Free tools are everywhere, choose wisely

“Unity is by far my favourite tool right now. It’s a game engine/IDE that is super easy to learn and use, can publish to a crapload of platforms – including web – and has a ton of nifty features.

“If 2D is more your thing, Game Maker is an excellent choice, it gets a lot of dirty looks from some programmers because of it’s ‘drag and drop’ style scripting, but truthfully it’s a great way to learn about the fundamental building blocks of programming.

“For 3D modelling I highly recommend Blender. Whilst some people think it doesn’t compare to the big expensive alternatives, those people are wrong. For sculpting, Sculptris by Tomas Pettersson AKA DrPetter is amazing.

2) Accept that your first game will suck

“I think that’s more than enough free software for you to get started making games, but you don’t just grab a paintbrush and get to call yourself a painter.

“You need more than software if you want to be an indie dev; you need determination.

“Whenever we learn something new it can be a drag, especially if we start out sucking at what we do (and believe me; your first games will really, really suck) so you need to be the kind of person who can put all their energy into something, and throw it away, keeping only what makes you better at your craft.

Keep practicing, and don’t stop. When you feel the strain, when boredom sets in, when Friends reruns come on TV, practice harder.

3) Engage
“I can’t stress this enough, being an indie can be very, very hard. It can involve all kinds of struggles, some being the hardest of your life. But there are other indies who have been there.

“Remember, it’s easy to get started, all you need is the software, but to keep going you will need the passion and dedication to master your skills and the support and friendship of other indies in the community. A good place to start is

“So, make games and make friends, and maybe someday even make money.”

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