The gaming industry is a crowded trade. After all, it’s one of those industries where you can work on something you actually love; so a lot of people are trying to get into it. And with a lot from rivals being successful in the industry is a difficult thing to accomplish. Here are 10 tips to help you succeed in the gaming enterprise.
Do note that these are general tips. That way, the tips should be applicable to you regardless of your position in the industry, whether you’re an indie developer working on your own games, or a programmer working for a big gaming company.
Tip 1: Be creative
The gaming industry is a creative one, so it makes perfect sense that you need to be creative to succeed. And you don’t have to be an artist or a writer to apply your creative thinking; there are many challenges that need creative solutions. For example, a particular system in the game may need some heavy computing, so you can come up with a creative solution that instead of fully computing the problem, you merely use a simpler formula and estimate the result.
Tip 2: Capable of receiving criticism
Video games are a passion for many people, probably including you. That’s why it’s easy to fall in love with your own idea; whether it’s a gameplay idea like how an enemy should behave, or a technical one like how a save file should be written. Your idea might not be perfect though, so it’s important to be able to step back and see if another person’s criticism on your idea has its merit. After all, that other person could be capable of seeing a flaw that you may have missed.
Tip 3: Be able to see the big picture
A video game’s software is full of complex, interlocking systems. Being able to see the big picture, that is, seeing how changes in one system could affect another system is a really nice skill to have when developing a video game.
Tip 4: Keep up with technology
Technology moves at a blisteringly fast speed. Technology that is relevant today may be rendered useless tomorrow, so it is very important to keep up with technology. Using the latest equipment may help your game project and the newest technology may provide opportunities for your games too. For example, newer platforms like VR and AR don’t have many games yet, so it’s easier to gain visibility there.
Tip 5: Keep up with industry trends
It’s not just technology that moves fast, but also the world. Just 10 years ago, it was unthinkable that millions of people would watch other people play games, or that mobile gaming would be bigger than console gaming. By keeping up with industry trends, we can understand the market for our games, and more importantly, understand our players’ behavior.
Tip 6: Put yourself in your player’s shoes
Being able to see your games from the viewpoint of your player is a really useful skill to be had. For example, as a developer you may feel fine looking at a black screen when your game is loading its resources because you know the game is working fine, as long as it doesn’t throw an error dialog. Whereas, your player probably doesn’t feel the same way and thought the game just hangs when it shows you a black screen without a resource loading indicator.
Tip 7: Understand your platform and your audience
This is a bit similar to the previous tip, but on a more general level. Each platform has different strengths and the audience of each platform also has different expectations. For example, games for mobile platforms are expected to be played in small time burst instead of hour long sessions, so mobile gamers expect their games to automatically save progress whenever they stop playing. Understanding this behavior is really important for developing games that satisfy players.
Tip 8: Be a team player
Unless you’re a one-man army, games usually are not developed alone. Since game development is a team effort, it’s pretty important to get along with your teammates. Whether it’s dividing tasks fairly with your programmer buddy, or explaining to the artist about the format of the art assets that your game needs.
Tip 9: Show your creation to other people
When you are deep in the process of working on your latest creation, it’s hardsometimes to take a step back and assess your creation fairly. Occasionally you may even feel like your creations aren’t up to scratch. Fortunately, showing your work to other people is a relatively easy way to get good and honest feedback. And if you’re lucky, your new audience may just show you how your creation is actually to a standard level.
Tip 10: Networking
This is probably the most generic tip ever, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. In any industry and no matter what your position is, networking is really important. If you’re an indie developer, you may connect with a development partner that shares the same vision as you. Alternatively, if you’re a programmer, maybe you will connect with someone who’s looking for a senior position to lead a new game project. Networking will open the door of opportunities for you.
About the author
Raka Mahesa is a game developer at Chocoarts: http://chocoarts.com/, who is interested in digital technology in general. Outside of work hours, he likes to work on his own projects, with Corridoom VR being his latest released game. Raka also regularly tweets as @legacy99.