Become an Independent Game Developer

Every week, we receive many resumes and letters of motivation. We don’t have the time to respond personally to everyone, which is why I thought it would be useful to explain the criteria that we think are important when we recruit someone.

Attention, this guide is not meant to be Universal

There are several paths that lead to Game Development, several ways to do this job on a daily basis. So I will try to describe, in terms of my own experience, what seems to me to be the best possible path for those who want to become a game developer in an independent studio like Shiro. Other people may have other opinions that differ from mine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that either one is wrong.

That being said, Let’s start by defining our subject a little.

What is a game developer?

The answer is pretty easy; it’s in the question: a game developer is someone … who creates games.

But let’s try to explain a little bit more what is meant by “creating games”, because if you have never created one, it may still seem blurry to you.

At the origin of every game there is an idea, be not really original (“What if we made a Minecraft but with more blocks ?”) or on the contrary very-sometimes too much? – original (“we’re going to play a chihuahua who travels through time to reproduce with dinosaurs, it’s going to be great !”).

Once the initial idea is found, it will be necessary to define the rules of the game, The Game Design as we say in the business. There are many aspects to implementing a DP, but the following questions must be answered as a matter of priority:  :

What is the experience I want the players to have by playing my game ? Is it a super hardcore shoot’em up that only those with the most skills will be able to finish, or a contemplative game in a valley populated by colorful ponies ?

  • how do we get to this experience? What is important to succeed for it to work?
  • what will the game look like: 2D, 3D, top view? sideways ? from behind ? With or without scrolling ?
  • what are the controls (keyboard? the mouse? pad? can we jump? run? etc)
  • what is the theme of the game ? are the different elements of The Game Design in tune and reinforce this theme ?
  • what is unique about my game compared to other games? Is that enough? How to put it forward to the maximum ? How to communicate on this?

The idea of Game Design is to get as accurate an idea as possible of the game we want to make. One important thing to know is that the GD is not engraved in the marble, but will evolve together with the realization of the game.

Once we have completed the GD, we will proceed to build a prototype, and depending on the results we obtain with this prototype we will have to modify both the GD and the prototype.

One could say that GD makes assumptions and that we use the prototype to verify them, and — as in particle physics — if the experiment invalidates our assumptions we either have to revise the theory or correct the prototype if it is not correct

Of course, the more innovation we make, the more hypothetical The Game Design is going to be, and so the more likely it is to be modified in depth during the making of the game.

But how exactly do we make this prototype?

There are many tools that allow you to learn how to create games without programming or with simplified programming, the most famous being Game Maker, Stencyl, Construct2.

These are all very good tools that are perfect for you to familiarize yourself with game creation. They have the advantage of taking your hand from the start and allowing very quickly to have something nice that displays and works, which allows you to keep your motivation. If you’re the kind of guy who easily gives up what you’re starting, it’s probably the best choice to start.

But in any case, if you want to work in creating games, I advise you to either start or move quickly to the next step, which is to learn to program.

I’m not going to expand on that since this is not the subject of this post, but there are many programming languages available that will allow you to create games and even more tools that will make much of your work easier.

I will still cite the Haxe language (which I created) as well as the HaxeFlixel library which gives many examples that you can modify afterward.

In the video game industry — the industry that creates high — cost games with teams of several hundred people-programming and game design are very often separated.

As far as I’m concerned, I think we should keep them together as much as possible, especially when we’re trying to train ourselves.

Indeed, how do you know that game design is good before you can test it? And how can we train in Game Programming if we don’t have a game to make?

By trying to make a specific game, you improve your technical abilities. And by playing your own sound/sound games — and listening to the feedback from the people who are testing them-you can improve your game design skills. By mastering both aspects, one can improve continuously just by spending one’s free time creating games.

Now that we’ve figured out what a game developer was let’s try to answer the following question.