Pixelles isn’t a university course. Most of the learning you’ll have to do on your own. 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. This being said, that doesn’t mean you can’t 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! Use the forums!
There are forums!. Use the forums 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 on the forums. It’s really the best place to ask questions and get feedback quickly.
This time around, the Follow Along will be 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 Sundays, January 19th to February 23rd, from 2-5pm
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 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. Your game should be about 30 seconds to 3 minutes of game play. Remember that you can always add more!
For example, in my six weeks I wanted to create a typing game on my mobile phone using cats, lolspeak, and learn C++. There was no way I’d be able to accomplish all that as a first-time game maker. Concentrate only on the “typing” verb, I ended up creating a working prototype which was one endless level long. My knowledge of C++ wasn’t perfect but I did it! There was a little bit of time leftover so I added in a “clear all” bonus move.
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!
Tips from Previous Pixelles!
My advice is to follow these other fine advices and, if it goes wrong — you’re doing all-nighters, you’re in the dark dark hole of code defect, you’re crying of exasperation — take note that you’ll end up being nostalgic when it’s over. Yep ;)
–Eve Trudel-Lévesque, The Well Being (Stencyl)
A great help for me was Google! Google knows all! Don’t think you need to ask someone for help right away, don’t waste time waiting for a response unless your google searches and trial and error have left you no choice.
In that rare, no other choice moment Pixelles was awesome (and will continue to be awesome!) and gave me the email of one very kind and helpful programmer Kenneth Backus. Pixelles is great for getting your butt into gear, thank you Tanya for believing in me even when I thought I’d set myself up for an impossible task! I chose to use Unity 3D and I had a good experience with it. Unity has a big forum and lots of the questions and problems I ran into had already been partially asked by other users. Youtube has a bunch of very helpful Unity tutorials as well.
People that know programming could probably do great things with Unity, a non-programmer like me spent most of my time trying to get the code to work and neglected the art, but that was the only way I could ” finish” it in time. Art can come later, but mechanics can’t. If time is lacking, don’t be afraid to cut out unnecessary features too.
Also, another thing that really helped me is this: when you feel overwhelmed by the giant elephant of work, break that paper elephant off into little pieces of doable tasks and repeat : ” Be not afraid of going slowly; be only afraid of standing still’ (an ancient chinese proverb I take no credit for). If that doesn’t work, just say”fuck it” what’s the worse that can happen anyways, think about it, it’s not that bad, and just try again. I also take no credit for that comment, it’s a famous quote by Anthony Hopkins:”There was a Jesuit priest I knew once and somebody asked him, ‘What’s the shortest prayer in the world?’ And he said, ‘Fuck it’”.
— Nicole Aouad, “Pumpkin” (Unity)
Do something that give you a lot of fun to do.
List of creation steps and evaluate time for each (including learning time)
— Lilianne Depuis, “Garden Plants”, Unity
This gets repeated constantly, but scope is super important, and for a program like Pixelles, you want to be thinking small, not big. Maybe try picking one or two verbs or actions that you think are interesting and build from there. Even simple actions like dig and build (Minecraft), or run and jump (Super Mario World), can be used to create really interesting and complex games. The environment should also be fairly small; the smaller it is the more time you can spend testing and polishing.
If you haven’t coded before don’t be afraid to jump into it. I started by literally copying and pasting code that other people had written into my game. The more I developed the game the more I had to tweak the code, and the more comfortable I felt writing it myself. You don’t need to be an expert in computer science to figure out the basics.
— Carolyn Jong, “Invisible: I want to be the Girl” (Game Maker)
My advice would be to think carefully about which programme you choose to make your game with. Will it allow you to easily create more than one or two levels/expand the game later, or would you be stuck with hand ‘coding’ every single element for every level? In my case, Gamemaker was easy to use and great for making the first couple of levels of my game. But in order to make the later levels more complex, I would have had to place almost every element ‘by hand’, rather than being able to utilize any sort of ‘automation’.
— Alex Ruaux, “Molecules” (Construct 2)
Scale! I’ve heard Tanya mention finding your “3 seconds of fun” and I think that’s really important. Work on polishing a set amount of gameplay. Another way of thinking about this is to find a strong core mechanic and work on it really hard. Since this is your first game, I hope that one of two things will happen: you can work on making this one game longer and polishing it after the end of the incubator, or you can go on to make other awesome games.
Patience! Be patient with yourself and your chosen software. The basics may take a week or two to get down, but once you learn how to learn in your program, the rate at which you are able to learn how to do new things with the software will skyrocket.
Diligence! Do your work – you’re only accountable to yourself, so do your homework every week…plus a little more, if you can, so that you’re that much further ahead if things go wrong.
Polish! This comes back to scale: save plenty of time at the end for debugging and polish, so that your “three seconds of fun” or however long your game ends up works smoothly when you’re not there to fix it. Having to interrupt play to reboot the game isn’t very much fun.
Confidence: Trust yourself and your abilities. You have the ability to make a game. It might be a short game, but it’ll be yours.
And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help. Google is your friend, but your friends are also your friends!
— Jessica Marcotte, “Diver Quest” (Stencyl)
First off I’d like to suggest Construct 2 as a game making tool, I use it and it’s super fun and easy.
Pick a game that you want to play.
You don’t have to invent something completely new.
Get something working right away.
Don’t be shy about getting people to test.
Don’t add for the sake of adding. Actually look at what your game needs and try to modify what you have. Only add when absolutely necessary.
If it takes more than 3-4 hours to figure out, or breaks more than twice, do something else. This is after getting the hang of your game making tool.
Never code frustrated.
Seriously, go take a break
— Alicia Fortier, “Lava Launcher” (Processing)
My advice would be to not overcomplicate your game too much! Focus on a few key features that you think would be crucial to make it enjoyable and interesting and go along with it!
Never be afraid to asking for help! Not everyone will have the answer to a problem, but someone is bound to eventually. Plus, it’s great to have someone to bounce your ideas off of.
— Yeti Trudel, “Night Train” (Stencyl)
– Pick a game that you really like playing and inspire yourself with it.
– Keep it simple!! (A lot of enjoyable things in the world are made out of the simplest ideas…)
– I’d say try to make an enjoyable and fun gameplay mechanic. It is the ‘core’ of your game. Make it so that you yourself would enjoy it: if you like it, there’s a much bigger chance that other people will like it as well. And it’s no big deal if the art, story, music and sfx are not very polished or elaborate, as long as the gameplay mechanic is fun, people will still have a blast with squares and triangles. ;)
Speaking of art, music and sfx, there are a lot of free stuff out there on the web. So even if you end up not having much time left for these other aspects of game-making, there are resources that are available for non-commercial use.
— Jean Chan, “Robotto Dog” (Game Maker)
My advice is similar to everyone else, emphasis on GOOGLE. Don’t waste time trying to figure something out when you have no idea, Google is there, it is magic. Pixelles made me a better problem solver in all aspects of my life but it definitely meant some super frustrating weekend afternoons along the way.
Another tip, don’t be afraid to lean in to the skills you might not have. I had no graphic skills but I just went with it and played with that in the aesthetic of my game. Its ended up being a pretty kitschy looking game, but it was better than trying to produce graphics I had no skill for. If there is something in terms of design that you don’t know, just go with it and make a game full of stick figures or photographs or stock images of rainbows.
— Sydney Warshaw, “Sydney’s Epic Adventure” (Stencyl)
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!
- Today I Die
- Gods Will Be Watching
- Socrates Jones: Pro Philosopher
- Dominique Pamplemousse Demo
- Colour My World
- One Chance
- Crystal Warrior Ke$ha
- Howling Dogs
More games. Even MORE games. MOAR GAMES. Howabout playing the Best of Twine 2013? What games do you find inspiring?
- Play some games from our list
- Look at the games that were made in the previous round to get an idea of what level of game you can expect to make.
- 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.