An excellent video series from Extra Credits on how to go about making (and marketing) your first computer game…
Making your first game can be difficult. Remember that your goal is to make a game, any game, not necessarily a complex game like the ones professional teams of game developers in a studio can produce. By starting small and focusing on the basic gameplay, a new game designer can learn a lot about their skills and build on that for their next game (or the next version of their first game). That way, you can actually complete a playable game instead of getting stuck on the details as so many first time game makers do.
Now that you know the basic principles of how to make your first game (remember: start small!), it’s time to break that down into a process you can follow to finish your first game. These tips will move into the details: how to plan your production schedule for your game, what to do when those plans go haywire, and more. Above all, it’s important to understand that every step of making your first game will teach you something important, and that the learning process doesn’t stop when development ends: show your finished game to other people, get their feedback, and be proud of what you made!
When you’re making your first game, we’ve told you to start small, but that may leave you wondering: just how small should you be planning for? This brings us to the concept of minimum viable product: figuring out exactly which features your game needs to be fun. It’s often fewer than you think! Paring a game down to its basic mechanics has many advantages. It stops you from getting stuck in development, working on features too complex for your skill level. It ensures that you make visible progress towards a concrete end goal. And best of all, it allows you to focus on the core mechanics to make sure your gameplay alone is engaging.
Before you finish your first game, even before you’re ready to publish it, you should plan your marketing and PR campaign. Being an independent game designer means it’s up to you to get word out about your game! Start by thinking about what makes your game great and finding a way to say that. Once you’ve figured out your pitch, put together a short trailer and website so you can contact every news site, big and small. Remember, they want content, too! Entering your game into contests like the Independent Games Festival can help you get additional press if your game does well. Don’t be afraid to call on favors, reach out to influential game designers, and join podcasts or livestreams to help you find your audience. And finally, think broadly about where you will publish your game. There are more digital distributors than ever, and they’re more accessible than you may think!