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Scope of your first game

Scope of your first game 2018-02-24 21:21:00
Est. read time: 2 minutes, 52 seconds

I have an awesome idea for RPG game! It’s gonna have a great trading system and NPCs will have lives of their own, and the grass will grow and the river will procedurally split in half and...

Whoa, hold your horses. RPG game is a big endeavor and if you don’t have enough experience you should at least entertain an idea of starting with a project of much smaller scope.

Pong as an example of a game with small scope

Yeah, it’s Pong, you can make it in a few hours following one of the many tutorials on the internet. You will learn how to put something on the screen and how to move it. Just don’t go crazy yet, leave that multiplayer online part for later.

Ok, Pong is not really necessary if you programmed anything in your life before. So maybe you want to go straight into your RPG game, collectible card game, or maybe breathe new life into a 2d strategy game genre.

What you might want to figure out is MVP (Minimum Viable Product). What is an absolutely easiest idea for a game that you would consider fun? Example scope would be a chrome browser dinosaur game that you can play when the network connection is down. The character walks forward on its own and player can jump over things with increasing difficulty. Perfect to kill some time, quick to make.

After countless prototypes that went down the drain because of a multitude of reasons, I felt I needed to do something simple like this to gain confidence boost. It didn’t matter at this point if anyone would find this game interesting, I needed to release something just to prove to myself that I can actually finish something for a change. It also makes for ideal opportunity to test new toolset before setting up for a bigger project.

Shields up! quick game of small scope

This is how I came up with Shields up! which is just a simple web game I needed to test my custom C++ engine, where you defend your spaceship from asteroids, the difficulty increases until the inevitable doom and the goal is just to get the highest score possible. You use arrow keys to point your shield and destroy approaching asteroids. No shooting, no moving, no multiplayer, no powerups, no amazing animations, no skill trees, no 3D. Two weeks of work and the game is done - at this point, you can decide if your idea is worth improving or move on to the next project with more experience and actually having something finished, even if not polished.

You might have heard some pixel artists saying that you can create much more compelling images when you put color constraints on yourself. A similar approach can be used when designing your game, by constraining yourself to only a few different mechanics that are interesting you might come up with a unique and creative concept!

By starting with something very small, you gain new experience, it will become a lot easier to evaluate how much work it will actually take to finish your bigger ideas and better prepare you for it. You will also have something to show to potential employers, gaining more opportunities in life and finally - satiate that craving of yours to make your very own Magnum Opus.

If you don't know what your game could be about, check out this list of game ideas.

Good luck and don't forget to have some fun in the process!

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