Develop Your Own Video Game

written by Paul Reiche on Wednesday, July 05, 2000

Part 1 of 3 ----------------------------

If you want to design your own video game, the first question you should ask yourself is, "Why?"

Are you doing it for the love, or the money? Independent game developers who can fund their own products to completion are few and far between. If you're one of them, cool! Go create to your heart's desire and don't let anyone stop you.

It's more likely that to some extent you will have to create your game to suit your publisher's needs. In this case, it would behoove you to learn what your publisher wants. Designing the next great real-time strategy game is wonderful, provided your publisher hasn't just decided to abandon the genre. Keep in mind that the objectives of console publishers are very different than that of PC publishers.

Next, you should clarify your vision. Ask yourself, what key aspects of gameplay, character, setting, and/or technology put your game ahead of the pack. Try to craft a one-sentence description of your game that communicates its overall nature and uniqueness.

Some aspects of your game won't be entirely original. Go see what other people have done. Learn what they did right and what they did wrong. Make sure to check out old computer games (like Archon) and arcade games for a treasure trove of good ideas. Investigate emulators.

Part 2 of 3 ----------------------------

Before you start designing your video game, you should ask yourself these six questions:

1. How is the game going to be fun?

2. Does your game showcase some cool new technology?

3. Are your characters exciting to look at?

4. Do you facilitate great interaction among human opponents?

5. Is your environment brimming with peril and reward?

6. Does your game feature puzzles or other mental challenges?

Try to be as specific as possible, and create examples to convey the fun factors of your game to others.

Part 3 of 3 ----------------------------

A core team includes at least one designer, one programmer, and one artist. If you have only one of these skills, find friends or coworkers who can help you flesh out your core group. Hang out together, brainstorm, play frisbee golf. You should like and respect the other core members, because if your game gets funded for development you are going to spend a LOT of time with them.

Once your game's in production, you will spend much of your time recruiting and retaining talented folks to help you get all the work done. In the US, game development teams are anywhere from 10-30 people. Overseas the teams get even larger.

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