Five Products to Start Your Journey into Video Game Design

Video game design isn’t as easy as it looks. Gripe and moan all you want about the latest trash game. Maybe you could do it better?

My own biases may be showing here, but I think a lot of people like the idea of ​​making games. It seems daunting at first, but remember Stardew Valley and Minecraft were both made by a single person at first. So, there’s nothing stopping you from seeking what they sought and getting your own games out into the world.

It’s easier than ever for indie devs, with places like itch.io making an easy platform to get your game in front of new eyes. But where to begin?

Look The Part

Step 1 is fashion! Always! Dress for the job you want. If I learned anything from vaguely hearing about The Secret about 10 years ago or whatever, life is all about putting your aspirations out there in the world to manifest them. Or something like that.


Learn the Part

video game design guide

Now that you look great and feel great, it’s time to learn great too. There’s a lot you’re going to need to know in order to not make the next trash fire game.

Dille and Platten’s Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design is a staple for many. It’ll cover elements like integrating gameplay and story, script writing, and even some legal stuff you might not have considered.


Learn the Part Even More

Game Theory isn’t just a popular YouTube channel, it’s a branch of math that has a pretty broad scope. But in order to make a well-balanced game, you should have some idea of ​​things like feedback loops, signaling, and bargaining theory. It’s not as tantalizing as pure video game design, but it’s still important.


More Learning, but With Focus!

video game design unity

Any game needs an engine on which to run. You probably have heard of Unreal or GameMaker Studio, or MUGEN, if you’re cool. But Unity is a very common choice and it’s not hard to see why. It’s incredibly powerful and doesn’t have that steep of a learning curve. Although there is still one. That’s where this book comes in. Unity is coded in C#, so you’ll need to have an understanding of both.


BUT WAIT! Why Not Practice First?

Okay, obviously you don’t really need this, but this product is actually very cool. I’m not even going to try to frame it as “If you have a kid”, because I like this thing so dang much.

By using different colors of markers, you can draw a fully functional 2D platforming level and scan it to play it on your phone or tablet. It’s a great way to just get started messing around and playing with ideas. Not every game has to be a fully 3D combat simulator.

Be creative in your design. Start with Baba Is You and work up to the next (and improved) Cyberpunk game.


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Matt has loved games of all kinds his whole life: board, video, war, roleplaying. He’s worked as a writer for BoLS since 2017. He’s worked as freelance editor for board game rulesbooks and has designed many of his own games as well.

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