Switch Development
– Thomas EdisonThe three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense
Let’s keep this answer simple: No. Game development isn’t easy. Often, it’s far from that. And if someone tells you it’s easy, they’re probably not seeing the bigger picture. After all, there’s much to think about when building a game. Lots to go wrong. What will your story be? Who are your characters? What are your mechanics? What’s the market demand? Who’s your audience? And why are you making games at all? These are just a few questions to ask yourself right away. And every one of them opens up even more questions. Plus, if you’re an indie (that is, a lone developer or small team) then you’ve got even more questions. Questions about schedules, budgets, time-zones, and knowing your limits. These are big questions, of course, and potentially big problems. And yet despite that, making games doesn’t have to be as hard as some claim. In fact, making a living by creating awesome games is an eminently achievable goal. Anyone can do it. Really. You just need to approach it smart.

That approach begins by recognising your limits. We live in world with limited resources, time, money, goodwill, knowledge, and waking hours. We can certainly work smarter to improve our usage of what we have, but the bottom line is that we all work under limitations. This means there’s probably not enough time in the world for us to do everything we ever wanted and so we need to make careful decisions to do the best we can. Realising this is powerful. We can apply it to our learning of game development tools and technologies to maximize what we can do.

Boost your learning

When it comes to learning gamedev, the order of learning matters. It matters which things you learn first, just like learning maths. You need to walk before you run. And so too with gamedev. You need to start with an economical mind set that acknowledges the limits on your time and focuses on what matters most. Naturally, when you’re starting out, it’s difficult to know the order you should learn things. It’s easy to pick up a book or course on the wrong thing, get lost and then give up entirely. You shouldn’t do this if you want to succeed in gamedev.

To start, figure out why you want to make games at all. This is important to answer and isn’t always easy. Maybe you want to participate in a big industry and contribute to successful games played by millions. Or maybe you want to work on your own quirky games for a niche market. Both careers are possible, but you need to start right. Each one is different. Check out our article on ‘Getting a job or being indie’ here.

Going into indie development

Being an indie developer is about running your own business. You get to make the games you want, when you want and how you want. Simple. But it comes with the risk of getting it all horribly, horribly wrong; at least financially. If you’re serious about making an income from games- the kind that’ll pay your bills and let you live with financial independence, then it’s not enough to just focus on what you want to do all the time. You need to be mindful of your audience and their needs, and you’ll need to train and educate yourself to meet them effectively.

To start, check out the above YouTube tutorial, delivered by Alan Thorn at the UKIE Student Conference in 2019, on preparing yourself for learning gamedev well. Learn about effective habits, ways of thinking, sensible practice and time management for making the most of your learning time. This is about squeezing as much learning and knowledge from every opportunity you get to do the best you can.

How we can help

BeIndie.biz specializes in helping hobbyists, students and entrepreneurs become financially independent game developers. We’re the only educational resource dedicated to helping you skill up for meeting the challenges of indie living. Need to learn the technical tools? Want to be better at business? In need of organisation and planning skills? We’ve got you covered on all counts. See our comprehensive range of courses on Udemy. By following along with our courses for just one hour per day, you could be starting your profitable indie business in just six months. See our courses on Udemy here.

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Written by Alan Thorn
Alan Thorn is a Co-Founder of BeIndie.Biz and is its main gamedev instructor. He’s a game-development generalist with a passion for free and open-source software, especially Blender, Godot and Inkscape. Alan has worked on 33 games over the past 20 years using many different tools. He’s written 30 books and presented 30 video courses on gamedev, covering lots of subjects. This includes: Unity, Blender, GIMP, Unreal, Godot, GameMaker, C# Programming, animation and tons more. Basically, he loves making games and teaching the process! Alan is currently the Head of Games for the BAFTA-winning National Film and Television school, London. He leads their innovation-focussed post-graduate course in Games Design and Development. Alan also founded indie-studio Wax Lyrical Games in 2010, which developed the award-winning and best-selling adventure game Baron Wittard: Nemesis of Ragnarok. Alan enjoys sunshine, philosophy, good humour, mathematics and being indie! His personal site is: https://www.alanthorngames.com