How Do You Know When You’re Ready To Start Making Games?
Today we’re going to talk about a question that I receive in an email that basically was asking how do you know when you’re ready to start making games. I see this question in a couple of different formats but they’re basically asking the same thing. There are a lot of people that spend a lot of time learning about game development. I’ve got a lot of questions that said, “I’ve been studying game design. I’ve been learning and watching Unity tutorials. When do I start making games? How do I know when I’m ready?”
The answer is you’re never ready man. You know what you need to do you got to start sorry as it is you just get a start you’re never going to be ready the perfect time is never going to come. No matter where you think you’re at in game development even if you haven’t ever downloaded an engine or you haven’t touched a piece of code, start now. It doesn’t matter what you know. It doesn’t matter what piece of knowledge you downloaded. Download a game engine such as Unity, Game Maker, Construct—pick one, download it, and make a game.
When you watch tutorials, don’t just watch them. Follow the steps, complete the end product that are in the tutorials. Stop learning okay. If you are one of the people that has consumed a bunch of knowledge and you haven’t started yet, you need to stop learning and start doing. That is how you make games. That’s how you know when you’re ready to start—you just start. And THEN you say I was ready to start.
There are always going to be challenges that you encounter. There are always going to be things that you have to learn. Those things that you aren’t quite ready for, but come up only when you start, when you’re in the project, when you’re actually developing the shit—- YOU LEARN IT AND YOU OVERCOME IT.
You can’t learn that stuff from tutorials. You have to have to actually do the thing. You have to go through the process of making something to understand all the little aspects of it. You’re not going to get it your first game either. You’re going have to make a couple of different projects and the projects are going to probably be shit at first. But they’re going to get better and better over time.
You just have to keep at it. If you’ve been studying games and you’ve been reading about it, watching tutorials and all that, you’re probably suffering from information overload. You probably don’t know where to start. You’re probably wondering like, “Hey, I’ve learned all this stuff but I don’t know where I should put my beginning point, where do I actually go?” And the answer to that is you pick an engine, you download it, and you start. You just start making games.
A lot of times, information overload can lead to analysis paralysis. It’s gathering too much information and becoming paralyzed by it because you don’t know what to do with all the information you’ve gathered or in which direction you should move. For example, which engine I should choose, what kind of game should I make—these are questions that are asked repeatedly. I know what phase of game development they’re in without them even telling me because these questions only come up in information overload or in analysis paralysis.
Everybody goes through this. Everybody feels like they’re not quite ready. Everybody, especially programmers, who tend to be introverts. We’re very analytical, mathematical, and logical. We analyze things, we spend a lot of time taking information, we don’t like to take risks, we don’t like to dive in the water. Maybe we’ll stick our toe in a tiny little bit but we won’t just dive in. What you really have to do is dive in. That’s the fastest way to get used to the water. Yes, you can go in little by little, but it won’t be as fast as jumping in.
I remember when I was little, my family and I would go on road trips and we’d go to hotels with pools and stuff. My brother and I were 8 and 12 or something like that, and he would always dive in. I would be the one to stick my toe in first, then my foot, my ankle, and then go in up to my waist. The waist was always the hardest part. That was that was because the pool is freezing cold and he would just dive in and I’d be like, “Dude, why do you do it?” and he’s like, “You should do it.” And that’s a really perfect metaphor for our relationship.
I’ve learned so much from him. That’s how life is. There are a lot of key benefits to being analytical and having that perspective of not taking risks. There are places for that. But not when you’re learning a new skill or not when you’re doing something that can’t cause harm to you. How can starting to make a game be harmful to you? What’s the worst that can happen? You can’t figure it out so you google it. There’s no real harm, there’s no real danger so just start making games.
It doesn’t matter if you think that you’re not ready. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to fully make the game yet. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what engine to choose, just pick one and start. That’s how you know when you’re ready, when you do it.
Life is not going to hold a giant sign in your face and say now you are ready to start. If you wait for the perfect moment, you’re going to be waiting forever. I’ve learned this lesson in so many different ways. I was going to start a YouTube channel when Game Dev Underground started in 2013. I waited 4 years to start the YouTube channel.
Why didn’t I start it back in 2013? If I did, do you know how far along I would have been? I didn’t think I was ready. I didn’t have camera equipment, I didn’t have a mic, I didn’t know how to do the lighting. I didn’t need any of that. I’ve done videos on my webcam, I’ve done videos out of my porch, I’ve done videos in a mall with my phone.
Waiting ‘til you’re ready is the worst possible decision that you can make. You are ready right now. You can jump in and figure this out. You’re smart. And again, especially since there’s no downside to this because in game development the worst that can happen is you end up with a product that doesn’t work or a crummy half tutorial video game. There’s no downside, so start now.
That’s how you know when you’re ready. You should start right now.
If you have started, please leave a comment below, and let me know where you’re at in your current game. If you haven’t started, don’t comment, don’t post excuses, there’s no excuse. I won’t tolerate excuses. There’s no excuse for not starting, so start now