How To Make Video Games for Fun or Profit

Yes, you can make your own video games, and you don’t even have to know computer programming!

There are software packages to help you make video games, but you’ll need to come up with the idea for a video game yourself.

It may be really simple ”“ creature eats dots. It may be very complex ”“ over several millennia, humankind builds a civilization.

The reason you want to tell your story ”“ the reason you want to make a video game ”“ is your own, but it should engage or entertain other people to be fun and successful.

1. Develop the storyline for the video game you are making.

Your idea for making a video game should have a story or plot to follow; some characters or roles to play; and a setting, place or atmosphere.

A video game, like storytelling itself, can be linear with a recognizable beginning, middle and end; or it can be nonlinear, in that the story or gaming action jumps around in the future, present, or past.

Stories can fit existing types or genres, and so can the video game you are making. It can be science fiction or fantasy; crime or adventure; role-playing, educational or skill-testing.

Any story will have some action and events that happen. When making a video game, build in actions that occur or challenges that arise to make it an engaging experience.

Think about the characters these events happen to. Are they people, animals, space creatures? How do they respond to the challenge or action? When making a video game, build in some reason to connect with the characters.

Where does story take place? When making a video game, think about the setting or type of atmosphere it has. You will be able to use images, pictures, colors, sounds or voices in your video game.

2. Get your video game idea down.

In making a video game, you will want to get the story and the game in the form of a storyboard and flowchart. It really helps write down the storyline and even to draw out the gaming experience first, even with rudimentary sketches you jot down.

Don’t worry if you can’t draw ”“ you can do it on the PC. There are plenty of free drawing or storyboard programs on the Web, many with pictures, symbols and other pre-made drawings you can drag-and-drop around.

The storyboard is a way of descriptively visualizing what happens in your video game, using a combination of words, pictures and images. It should show simply what the player will see on screen, and it can describe what they might hear while playing.

Treat it like a movie, so you can ”˜watch’ the game in the storyboard, scene by scene. Think of yourself as a player, and describe or draw in the storyboard what you do as you ”˜play’ the game, screen by screen.

Then, create a flowchart as a way to organize the action that takes place in the video game you are making.

The flowchart can be more organizational than visual. It often uses squares, ovals, triangles and other shapes to list game events or processes, and then lines and arrows to show logical reactions or results. There can be a flowchart for each level of the video game you are making.

It, too, can be hand drawn on paper, or again there are software programs ”“ even Excel ”“ you can use to make flowcharts.

3 Make your game with video game-creation software.

Now, you get to input those storyboard and flowchart ideas into a computer-based software program for developing and making video games.

To get the right program, you need to decide on which platform or device you want to play the game you are making ”“ PC, console, mobile, etc.

Each device has its own game playing capabilities and limitations. There are specific game making tools for each platform, too. The PC is the easiest platform to begin making video games. Game design software and tutorials can be found on the Web, or purchased off-the-shelf. Reality and Genesis 3D are two game design software programs you can use on the PC.

Some game designers target the next-generation consoles (like the Xbox 360 or the Nintendo Wii). A program like XNA Game Studio Express is used to make video game for the Xbox. To make video games for the Wii, there’s WiiWare, an expensive program you only get with the OK of Nintendo itself.

To make video games for mobile devices, like the iPad or iPod, there are iOS software developer kits (SDKs) available, but these are programming intensive tools that expect you to know a lot about computer code.

There’s also something called emulation technology, like programs that run on PCs and get the computer to act just like a gaming console, so you can design and test the video game you are making that way.

4. Add Multimedia to the Video Game you are Making

Most of the game design software allows you to add multimedia elements to really enhance the look and feel of the video game you’re making.

Visual elements can include video, animation, pictures, drawings and artwork you make yourself, or that you find on the Web (make sure you not violating anyone’s copyright), or that is created for you by skilled animators and illustrators.

Aural elements like music, voices, sound effects and so on can also be created, found as royalty-free content on the Web, or commissioned specially for the video game you are making, and then imported into game building software programs.

EXTRA ADVICE

· There are lots of design clubs, training facilities and development classes available where you could get advice, assistance and active participation while making your video game.

· Consider working with a professional when making a video game. Your great original idea coupled with the design, development, testing and distribution expertise of an experienced pro could be a very successful combination.

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