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12 Essential Tips For Game Developers and Designers

Designing games for both the mobile market and online games platforms can be tough…

Games are fast becoming the most popular medium for entertainment catching up to TV and film in terms of revenue. In this this technology-driven era of tablets and smartphones, more and more people are showing an interest in video game design and development. The increase in useful code bases online and ‘drag and drop’ tools such as Gamesalad and Stencyl game development is much more accessible than it used to be. Before you start the design process however, designers should try to research the games market and look at what the competitors are doing to see if you see what is working and what is not. Designing and developing a simple game can be easy if you follow a few essential tips. With the help of such tips and techniques you increase your chances of creating games that people will enjoy. And who knows, you might even achieve gaming fame and glory.

1. The platform: Before designing and developing a game, you need to be very clear whether the game will be on smartphones, desktops or consoles and whether it will be self contained game or an online game. Once chosen try and built for the largest screen sizes as its easier to shrink elements with good results than increase them.

2. The Genre: There are numerous video games genres which include adventurous games, racing games, puzzle games, RPGs, platformers and many others. Choose your path, look at successful games in the space and research what makes it a good example.

3. Keep it simple: Games that are easy to play but hard to the master are the ones that do well. Casual gaming is a huge market now so you want people to be able to pick up your game and run with it. Those gamers who want more from their game such as online games also need to be catered for so adding depth is key to a game longevity. Start of with a simple premise and build on it; Doodle Jump, Jetpack Joyride, Fruit Ninja all have a simple core feature, jump, hover, or slash.

4. Graphics: The first taste is in the eye and although great graphics are a pre-requisite of a great game they do help sell them. There are many freelance graphic designers and some game graphic online stores which can give your game that extra polish in order to drive sales (with mobile games) or increase sign ups (for online games).

5. Don’t forget its a game: Design a game that you want to play and if its fun for you then its more likely to be fun for others. Have a look at game theory articles to ensure you follow the recommended steps like having a ‘introduction to controls’ level to start and then introduce different skills and actions through subsequent levels. No one wants to read a huge instruction manual so take the user through baby steps until they have a handle on the game.

6. Play with sound: There is a wealth of sound effects and music libraries online these days which can give your game an instant lift but don’t overlook the independent music and sound effect creators as they might be cheaper than you think. The latter will also mean you get original work, that fits exactly with your game whilst differentiating it to others.

7. Choose your audience: Targeting the particular level of gamer is also the good idea. Once you decide on your target market then this should help determine the structure, depth, imagery, dialogue. Also check the app stores rules on game gradings as if you want your game to be accessible to all then you can’t have blood show or any kind of violence no matter how small.

8. Keep learning: Understanding the key concepts of scripting, particle effects, and load speeds is great but try to read something new everyday whether its game industry news, how to guides or forum stories in order to continually hone your skills. RSS to email is a great way to get website content delivered to your inbox making it as easy to keep on the pulse of gaming as it is to check your emails.

9. Tell everyone: Keeping a development blog has three main advantages. It forces you to keep updating your game so you have something to post about, it helps organise your thoughts as you write them down instead of trying to keep them all locked up in your melon and finally it serves as a marketing tool raiding awareness of your project which could aid future sales and sign ups.

10. Test, test, test and also test: Once the game designing and development is completed then particular attention should be paid to testing. No gamer likes finding bugs, having games crash on them and generally being interrupted whilst playing. Earmark time for testing and send it to friends, family, peers and other developers (you can trust). After you have spent all that time and money crafting you game it seems silly to fall at the final hurdle and ruin your chances of fame and fortune.

11. Ask for feedback: By setting up feedback options like comment boxes that give the chance for gamers to offer their suggestions, appreciations, criticisms give you show that you are listening whilst seeing where you can improve your game. This can also give you a user base to contact for future games.

12. Set your imagination free: Game designers need a good imagination so unplug once in a while, take a walk, go to the gym and try and let your imagination wander. When inside try getting an huge piece of paper and doing a spider diagram of ideas around a set theme and see what comes.

Game design is very ‘in’ at the moment and although the gold rush of a couple of years ago has now passed there is still money to be made and fun to be had in this hugely exciting industry. So if you fancy having a go a game design and development then these tips are a good starting point.

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