Today DinoByte Labs is at KidZania at the Kidpreneur festival teaching workshops on how to create a game idea. The number 1 advice we always give on how to break into the games industry is MAKE GAMES! Often when you apply for games jobs, companies will want to see your portfolio, so the more games you have made, the better.
Finding all the right tools to become a game dev can be tough, so we want to share some free tools you can use to start building up your game portfolio!
If you want to get into the coding side of things you should pick an engine to become familiar with. Here at DinoByte we love Unity, not only is it a really powerful tool to make games, but there are also so many tutorials out there to teach you how to get started! Our personal favorite is Brackeys, as their tutorials are at a good pace and easy to understand, plus you can chose from hundreds of videos to learn exactly the part of development you are interested in. Another very popular engine is Unreal.
For younger developers, or those who want to make games without learning much coding, there are some engines that can make things easier. Stencyl is an amazing free program which let's you make games with no coding needed. If you have a WiiU or 3DS, you might also want to consider Super Mario Maker, which lets you design your own Mario levels, which is a great way to explore game design.
There is a lot to learn about game design, and honestly one of the best ways to get started is to play a lot of different games. Try playing games from multiple genres (shooters, RPGs, puzzle etc) and make notes about what things you think are fun. At DinoByte we usually start with a brain map to come up with cool ideas for our games, like who is your character, what is the goal, where is the game set, etc.
Once you have your game idea you want to think a bit about how it will all look (even if you are not the artist) so look for inspiration from pictures. Pick out colors you think suit it, get images from games, movies or paintings which have a style you like. We often use Pinterest to gather all our images and find inspiration, but if you are a little younger, you should ask an adult to help you out with this.
Before you start designing your game digitally, you might want to make something called a paper prototype, this way you can test out if your game is actually fun. This video is a great example of a detailed paper prototype. You don't need to make the whole game, but you can make parts of it to test certain mechanics or menu layouts by using paper and dice. It's even better if you can test with someone who isn't involved in making the game. This is called user testing, and testing with users is the best way to insure you are on the right track to making a fun and interesting game!
Game design is one of the biggest areas where there is a lot to learn, and not enough resources, especially for kids. We definitely want to help in that area, so if you are interested in hearing about future articles and videos to teach kids game design, make sure to sign up to our news letter (we don't spam or send out often!).
There are many art related jobs in the games industry. You might want to be a 3D modeler, or you might want to create 2D assets, or even special effects and animations. Art is one of those things that requires a lot of practice, especially if you aren't naturally talented at it, but if you persevere you can become really amazing! Most game developers will use expensive software such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, or Maya, however there are some great free alternatives, especially for people just starting out. If you are not an artist you can find a lot of free graphics on Open Game Art which you can use for your games!
Sound design is an important part of any game development! There are lots of free resources out there if you don't want to create your own music and sounds. If you are interested in mixing your own sound effects Audacity is a great program to edit sounds, we actually use it a lot here at DinoByte! If you have a smartphone, you can often use the inbuilt microphone to record sounds and dialogue for your games, and the quality is pretty decent!
It's always really important to keep in mind copyright rules whenever you are using something which is not your own, from sounds to art and even game scripts. Creative Commons 0 or "Public Domain" means that you can use the assets without needing to pay or credit the original artist, however some creation may require a different type of credit to be given. This is mostly important when you are creating something which you will be making public, for example on the app store or online, but in general it is always a good rule to include credits in your game for anything you have used which you did not make!
Those are pretty much the basic tools you will need to start making your own games! Remember, creating games is even easier if you have a team of people so you don't have to do everything yourself. Try to get your friends together for a games jam, and delegate tasks to each person, so someone is in charge of art, another of sound etc. Just try to keep your game small to begin with, because the most important part of making a game, is actually completing it!