Session Summary 1: Intros & Inspiration

PGI3Session1
The first session of the incubator came and went swimmingly! We had a chance to meet all ten new participants, and a few old faces from PGI1 and 2 popped by as well. Within our discussions, we were reminded by this wonderful group that Pixelles isn’t a class or a course. Most of the learning you’ll have to do on your own, and you are absolutely capable enough to do it. After all, we all did! We’ll suggest tutorials, articles, and tools to get you on your way to making a game. We’re here to provide guidance, experience, and feedback. You can always ask us or one of our mentors for help. Send us an e-mail, tweet, or carrier pigeon and we’ll do our very best!

This blog post is really long, but it’s all great info and we hope you all get through it to the end! If you feel compelled to though, scroll to the bottom to get to the homework portion.

Online Discussion!

There is a dedicated, secret-ish (shhh!) Facebook Group that you can request to join! Use it to post your game’s progress, ask for help, and get to know others who are journeying with you on this quest to make your first video-game! We’ll be posting extra tips and resources. It’s really the best place to ask questions and get feedback quickly.

Meet Ups

This time around, the Follow Along is even more social! Come out to the meetups to work on your game and support other first-time game makers. Bouncing your ideas or even talking about bugs to other people can be extremely helpful especially when others have solved that same problem. See you there! Meetups are on Saturdays, happening weekly from January 17th to February 21st, from 2-5pm.

Email Mentorship

We had a large number of very high-quality applications this year: some of which only needed that last final push in an unknown field, and others were even applying from all over the world! In response, this year you can additionally sign up for individual email mentorship. If you’re interested in this as either a mentee or a mentor, please email moms@pixelles.ca and we’ll get you all set up!

Crafting Your Game Idea

So you need an idea.. Start by thinking of what game YOU’D want to play. You should aim to make a game you’ll love and want to play over and over! Being excited by your own idea will keep you going during those hard nights, at 4am, being completely stuck. It will be YOUR game! Love it!

Decide what kind of game you’d like it to be. What do you want the player’s goal to be? How about the story’s theme? Your idea might be big and that’s okay. Try reducing the idea to key action verbs (what we call a “game mechanic”) like running, jumping, digging, matching, etc. Since there’s only six weeks to get your game up and running, you should concentrate on only one or two verbs. An elevator pitch like this is sufficient: “I want to make a [genre] game about [a topic you feel passion for] that uses [game mechanic].” (eg: “I want to make a mystery game about striped pandas that uses jumping.”)

Your game should be about 30 seconds to 3 minutes of game play. Remember that you can always add more! In the end, no matter what, your game will be fabulous. And after the incubator you can always continue working on it. In fact, we encourage it!

Mostly Free Game-Making Tools

It’s up to you to explore and find the right tool for you. We’ve listed some genre-specific ones but that doesn’t mean that something like Stencyl or GameMaker won’t do the job just as great.

NON-PROGRAMMING TOOLS
2D GameMaker (Windows only)
Stencyl
Construct 2 (Windows only)
Game Salad
3D Unity + Playmaker ($)
Text-Based Inform7
Twine
StoryNexus
Inklewriter
RPG RPG Maker VX Ace Lite (Windows only)
Stencyl‘s RPG template
Strategy Turn-based Strategy add-on for GameMaker (Windows only)
Adventure Adventure Game Studio (Windows only)
Fighting M.U.G.E.N. (Windows only?)
2d Fighter Maker 2002 (Windows only?)
CODING KNOWLEDGE REQUIRED TOOLS
3D Unity
Unreal Development Kit (Windows only)
2D Unity
Flashpunk
Flixel
LÖVE

Point ‘n Click / Adventure Adventure Game Studio (Windows only)
Puzzle Puzzlescript
Visual Novel Ren’Py

Want more tools? PixelProspector offers a pretty thorough breakdown of all the tools out there!

Still can’t decide? Try reading this Indie’s Guide to Game-Making to help narrow down your choices. (Thanks Elise for the find!)

Tips from Previous Pixelles!

Here are some handy tips from our Pixelles alumna that were present at our first session, to keep in mind throughout your six week journey.

  • For those afraid of programming, don’t be. Do what you need to trick and convince yourself to not fear it: choose a visual-editor-type game engine (Stencyl, Construct2, Twine, GameSalad) that has minimal to no typing. That being said, remind yourself that This Is Still Programming. The leap to type-scripting is getting smaller. You are Doing It.
  • Programming is a language. If you can learn English, French, elvish, Klingon, you can teach yourself C#, Python, Javascript, Processing.
  • For those afraid of art, don’t be. Look up some simple pixel art tutorials. Make a game entirely out of coloured boxes and simple shapes. Even the best of artists will find it difficult to make a super-lush environment in only six weeks, so take the pressure off!
  • Worry less about the look when you start, and use pre-made assets to your advantage. You can always switch things out later, and remind yourself “aesthetic” is not just created visually — it’s also feel, touch, sound, fun!
  • We guarantee you, if you come up to a snag as a first-time game-maker, it is a snag that someone else has hit before. We’ve all been there. Nothing is unsolvable.
  • Google is your best friend. If nothing at all, you will emerge out of Pixelles with stronger Google-fu than you ever thought you could achieve.
  • Focus on a small scope to begin with. Once you have one single action, you can continually build around it. Mechanics, Design, Aesthetics. (We will talk about this more next week.)
  • Cloning an existing game that you love, with a personal twist, is also a completely legitimate way to approach the incubator. Think about what makes you love the games that you love, but this time come at it with the game design perspective.
  • There will be moments where you will feel incredibly lost, or stuck on one simple place. That’s the ideal time to go work on something else, or just leave it alone for a while. Rest is an essential part of getting through a problem. Once you solve it, you will feel amazing!!!
  • In every case, don’t be afraid to bring your worries to us! Do it at either one of the Follow-Along meet ups, and/or by email to your dedicated mentor or to one of the coordinators at moms@pixelles.ca. Come hang around in our dedicated communities. It’s been proven that a single email can fix your entire game.
  • Never feel alone in what you’re doing. Some of the Pixelles alumna chose to continue in games and joined the industry. Some of them never made a game again, but continue being awesome in other fields. In every instance, it turned out great, and we all still share in this together. So, welcome to our community!

Get Inspired!

We’ve put together a list of small yet amazing and different games to inspire you. It’s important to remember that a great game isn’t necessarily one with mind-blowing graphics, orchestral soundtracks, or break-out-of-the-box mechanics. A great game can be simple yet evocative and fun! So take a page from these games and start thinking about your own! Remember that six weeks isn’t a whole lot of time so keep it simple and later, if you have time, you can add more!

More games. Even MORE games. MOAR GAMES. Howabout playing the Best of Twine 2013? What games do you find inspiring?

Homework

  1. Choose one of the game engines from the list above, or in your email. Do some tutorials in the same vein as your game idea.
  2. Play some games from our list.
  3. Look at the games that were made in the previous rounds (PGI1, PGI2) to get an idea of what scope of game you can expect to make.
  4. Start conceptualizing your game: what game genre, story/topic, what player’s goal will be, doodles, sketches, etc. Remember to keep your ideas simple for now (1-2 verbs). You can always extend the idea later.

Best of luck! We believe in you!

 



Posted in Pixelles Game Incubator 3
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