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The Budget Game Designer

How to Create a Game: The Prototype

Welcome back! I'm happy to say I received a few messages from people after the last blog post. There are officially at least 3 new game developers in the making!

As the series continues I will keep up with these individuals, and hopefully when they get further along, I’ll be able to post some of the games they have started to create.

You would be surprised how many people have these ideas in their head, and need the smallest push to believe they can move forward. Remember if you have any questions you can find me at dieselatorgames@gmail.com.

Let’s get started with the next step: you have your idea, how are you going to make it a reality?

Of course at ‘starter’ things, we need everything to be free, or at least very cheap. Grab a bunch of paper and poster board, and write down everything you want in the game. No matter how crazy or simple, at the beginning of the process, shove it all in there.

I mentioned it before, but just in case you forgot, it will be easier to take stuff out if you decide it doesn’t work. Adding things in after you get a well running game is a little trickier.

When I decided I was going to create my own game I literally ripped open a box and wrote on it with markers. Every card was just a cut out rectangle with notes written all over, it's that simple.

I have heard way too many excuses, “I just don’t have the resources to create something” or “I don’t have any experience, and have no clue where to start”.

I have good news for you, almost anyone can draw lines on paper and use scissors. If you have internet (which you must if you are reading this), you have the best educational tool ever created. I promise there is not one thing in this world that can’t be learned on a computer, and 99% of the time it’s for free.

Maybe you even typed in “How to create a game”, and it brought you here.

While I am highly under qualified to call myself a mentor, if you are reading this right now, you have someone that is willing to help or at least point you in the right direction.

Back to the task at hand. Let’s say you already created your makeshift version of the next big game.

Now you have to be that obsessive and very annoying person, playing and visualizing through every step of the game, weeding out every little flaw and adding in hundreds of rules to get people from point A to point B.

No matter how many people you have working on the project, keep bringing in new people interested in playing the game. Every new pair of eyes can help create and fix your designs. You will have to ask people to play many more times than they will want to. Observing people play the game, and taking a backseat to watch what happens is extremely important.

Another tip I have to throw out there is to write down every rule and change you make, as soon as you make it. I tried to keep a number of things in my head, and it only complicates and slows the process. When you get to the point of designing a Rulebook of some sort, your life will be so much easier if you have concepts written down.

During this prototype phase, never bother upgrading or shelling out money for cooler looking designs. You will change how the game looks and feels 10 or 20 times, usually ending up with an entirely different game. You don’t want to look back at 10 or 20 different half built products that you flooded time or money into to get there.

Version 3
Version 8

Designing and redesigning the game like this is the longest part of the process. While you’ll be investing more time than you thought existed, the good news is this part of the process should be very cheap the whole way. I can’t think of any programs I needed to learn during this section or people I needed to get help from. Your focus can be singular.

Once you can play through the game and there is a consistent flow, then you can worry about designing it to look as good as it feels. What I call the “upgrade process”.

Upgrading the game won’t seem as scary when you get to that step. You won’t know where it comes from, but you will slowly build a confidence about the game. You will still question what the hell you are doing often, but you will also have a need to continue.

The #1 rule to remember is have fun with this whole process. Keep trying new things that could be interesting, and make sure to create a game you will enjoy. With most products, people say create what the customer is asking for, but with games it needs to be more of what you love. It’s your story, and you want to build something you will want to keep creating. Your love for it is the only thing that will keep you going through the hardest times.

What are you waiting for? I can’t think of another excuse you could come up with.

Look for $5 and the closest Target and you are ready to get started now.

One more thing.

Before I go I wanted to talk about a Facebook group I just started. It's called SK Legion, and it is a more hands on version of this blog series. I want it to be a place I can answer questions and show people the actual design process. I will dive deeper into the different programs I used to build the Scorched Kingdoms game, and give tutorials if people are interested.

Click on image to visit the new group!

I also want the group to be a place where I can work together with fans of the game. We can discuss new upcoming features, have you guys give feedback, and even work together to design new features.

I think it seems like a great way for people to learn by doing. It also gives me a chance to really see what you guys like and dislike moving forward.

Further in the future, if the group works well, I want to start a new project with the community that joins. Create an entirely new game from scratch together with the fans. It is a hefty goal, but sounds incredible to me.

Let me know what you guys think!

The group is live now, so get on FB and go check it out. The first upload will be going up within the next day or so, and your feedback could not be appreciated more.

I’ll talk to you guys soon.

If you want to hear from me even more, don’t forget to check out all the great social media links below, and of course SUBSCRIBE!

Written by
Joe Rozier
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