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How to Craft a Video Game You're Proud of

Updated on August 26, 2015
Shigeru Miyamoto shakes hands with arguebly his greatest contribution to gaming: Mario.
Shigeru Miyamoto shakes hands with arguebly his greatest contribution to gaming: Mario. | Source

1. Pick something you love

This should be a no-brainer, but many developers end up making games in genres they despise. If you don't like "Call of Duty", don't make a game like "Call of Duty." Pick something you have passion in and understand.

2. Make a game you want to play

This ties in very closely with point 1. Make a game you'd want to buy, because chances are others will want to buy a game just like it.

3. Don't slack off in the design document

Remember, more is always better than less. As we say in the world of writing, a bad page can be edited, but a blank page just can't. Let your passion shine through in your design document. Don't worry about what will sell or what is popular. Be yourself. When you're writing about something you love, the work goes by fast.

Few successful game studios are comprised of two people, like Team Meat.
Few successful game studios are comprised of two people, like Team Meat. | Source

4. Push through when you can and allocate tasks when you can't

This industry has a lot of tedium in it. Chances are you will not be passionate about every aspect of game design. For example, I love working with concepts and dialogue, but hate dealing with code and modeling.

Some things you can (and should!) do yourself, but somethings others can handle.

5. Surround yourself with individuals just as passionate as you are

Unless you're Team Meat, you will kill yourself trying to make a quality game with a staff of one or two people. Don't be afraid to contact animators and modelers if you don't feel like you can do an adequate job yourself. As long as everyone is on the same page, you can create a quality product in reasonable time.


6. Learn from the industry

The bowels of Steam Greenlight and the failures of the triple A industry are a great place to learn what not to do as a developer. Don't abuse your customers with always-online DRM, season passes, and most importantly, don't sell broken and buggy games. Even a fantastic game like "Batman: Arkham Knight" can't shake the bad press of a disastrous launch.

As such, don't be afraid to copy what works. Bernie Sanders has a wonderful ideology of "stealing good ideas," and this can apply to your game. I suggest following Nintendo. The Wii U aside, they've been doing phenomenally well as a games company, and have handled things like DLC with considerable skill.

7. Be practical

As much as we would all like 4k CGI cutscenes, not everyone has the budget for such things. Remember how I told you to let your passion shine through in the design document? When you actually start making the game, it's time to murder your darlings. Some things will work, some won't, for various different reasons. A popular reason tends to be money.

Even good games can lose focus. Such is the case of 2013's "Tomb Raider," a critically-acclaimed game that under produced due to a bloated budget.
Even good games can lose focus. Such is the case of 2013's "Tomb Raider," a critically-acclaimed game that under produced due to a bloated budget. | Source

8. How bad do you want this thing?

Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. This is especially true for your first game. Are you willing to wade through the bullshit to see this thing happen? How far are you willing to go to see your game become a completed product?

9. Let many eyes see it

If you truly love this thing, you will want to see your dream realized. Sometimes that involves letting a great deal of people poke at it to tell you what's wrong. Be humble, be strong, be responsive. If your audience sees that you are actively improving your game based off of feedback, there is little they can complain about.

10. Know when to let your children out in the world

This typically is when a large consensus agrees that it is up to standards. As a developer, you will always be your worst critic, for better or for worse.

There is nothing wrong with holding onto an average game until it's great, but holding onto a great game until it's perfect is insanity. You can't correct everything.

11. If issues persist, fix them

Do everything in your power to make sure your game is worth a purchase. Even if it's not game-breaking, technical errors should always be fixed, and creative ones can be remedied in a sequel or DLC if you wish. What can be fixed, fix, what can't, leave it.

12. Indulge

You just created a kick-ass game. Treat yourself! You've earned it.

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