Tales of the Rampant Coyote

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Making Games Is Easy! And Kinda Like Playing a JRPG…

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 7, 2010

This is a few months old, but still a fun and motivational blog post from Sophie Houlden:

Making Games Is Easy, and I Won Apparently…

She makes a few analogies to playing through a JRPG (and not just the amount of necessary grinding). Her point really is that if you have the desire to make games, there’s nothing stopping you. You have to start somewhere, and nowadays its easier than ever to get started. No,  you won’t be making the epic blockbuster supergame of your dreams right off the bat, but making *a* game and getting the ball rolling isn’t really that big of a deal.

So get started.

Good advice.

Filed Under: Indie Evangelism - Comments: 8 Comments to Read

  • Brian 'Psychochild' Green said,

    While I agree with the underlying message, I think she does gloss over the specialized knowledge you need. Yes, most people can learn the skills with time. But, I’ve seen people who are hopeless with anything involving programming. And, taking the time to develop my doodling ability into real art creation might not be the best use of my time.

    But, ultimately, if you want to make games you should do it. I really loved one of the comments to that post, where someone who runs a mid-sized studio said he (or she) interviews a lot of people who would love to make games, “but don’t have the time.” One offender in particular then told the interviewer that he wouldn’t be available immediately for the job because he was going to spend 2 weeks skiing! Too funny.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Yeah, I’m constantly whining about how hard game development is. I thought it would be good to put up a decent counterpoint. Fundamentally, it isn’t. With a halfway decent engine / API nowadays (or even a crappy one) whipping together a 1980-era style arcade game can be done by anybody in a few days with no experience (or by a veteran in an afternoon).

    It’s making the games of the level of complexity, depth, and technology levels that we want that is so hard.

  • McTeddy said,

    Err… Honestly… I think it’s just me but that article came off as satire.

    I mean… I do agree with her points that making a game involves alot of learning and you can learn on the job.

    But phrases like “planning is for people who don’t have undo buttons” and “Making Games is easy” really strike me as the wrong message to be sending to people who don’t know what making a real game consists of.

    Following tutorials doesn’t teach you how to program a working game unless you are taking the time and effort to learn how it works and applying it in other ways. That’s like having someone stand over you and tell you the answers. I use tutorials all the time, but quotes like “why not ask someone to level your character (that’s you)” is just begging for those amazing copy-paste solutions.

    I can agree that making a game is a like a JRPG because it’s full of grinding, wasting time, trying to plan your assault, realizing your plan failed, loading the game and trying again until one day in the future you finish and say… “My god, I did that!”

    Yeah, it’s good advice that you should sit down and make things in order to learn. But more importantly, these people should take the time to learn the RIGHT way to make games and not how to hack something together at a moments notice.

    Could just be me though…

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    She makes it look easy.

    But I think – for her target audience – she’s dead on. I don’t know that there’s a true “right way” and “wrong way” to make a game. And I’m quite sure that there’s no better way to learn to make games than by doing it. Maybe that’s just my teenaged experiences coming back, but I pretty much learned programming by making games. And I’ve learned a lot more skills recently by simply making games. So the best way to do it is to roll up your sleeves and get started.

  • Psychochild's Blog » Indie games as a business said,

    […] in Develop magazine by Sophie Houlden entitled You Can Do It (pages 18-19). (Tip of the hat to the Rampant Coyote for the link.) In the article, she argues that you can get started making indie games with low […]

  • Felix Pleșoianu said,

    Heh. Getting new people into game development is such a popular topic nowadays, and for good reason. As Ms. Houlden wrote, not enough people are making games. I wrote about it at the end of August (shameless plug: http://notimetoplay.org/2010/08/31/walk-before-you-run/), then Derek Yu chipped in (http://makegames.tumblr.com/post/1136623767/finishing-a-game), and now yet another voice — and we didn’t even know about each other!

    Also, I can’t fault her for being over-enthusiastic. It’s better to have too much of that than too little, ’cause it whittles away so fast.

  • Calibrator said,

    Those “games programming is easy” pamphlets really only serve one purpose: Getting enough people to try it so that a small percentage actually stays with it and can become recruitment candidates for the industry.

    Not that this is a bad or even immoral tactic but it’s like false advertising: Programming is *not* easy. Never has been and probably never will be. It only appears to be easy to those that have taken the beginner hurdles and are mentally structured to dissect problems into their parts. Building the necessary parts and putting them together to form something bigger than the sum of the parts is just not something for everyone.
    People are simply not alike – some are more talented than others and some will never succeed at it.

    An opinion piece like that in a “developer magazine” will only attract those non-programmers already playing with the thought to dip into it. Some of them will “fail” and step back but others will enjoy it and therefore succeed – and we get a flood of retro-clones in the process. Now that’s a win-win situation…

  • Brian 'Psychochild' Green said,

    Rampant Coyote wrote:
    …whipping together a 1980-era style arcade game can be done by anybody in a few days…

    Yes, but that doesn’t comment on the quality of said game…

    I also think that a vast majority of the time such a game is going to be simply an aping of an existing game. The creative insight required to completely deconstruct the linear (J)RPG genre isn’t quite as common as Ms. Houlden wrote in that article.