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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions on how to make a video game

You always wanted to make video games but are not sure how to go about doing it. Here are some of the frequently asked questions. If you click on a question you will be brought down the page to the answer.

  • Do I need to learn how to program to make video games?

No. It is not a necessity. There are software applications that will allow you to make fully functional video games without any programming. But, keep in mind if you want to be really good you need to learn how to program.

  • Do I need to be an Artist to design video games?

No. You don't need to be an Artist. There is plenty of prepackaged images and art that you can use either for free or by purchasing that you can use in your video games. But if you want to get really good then you have to put in the time to develop your artistic skills. You don't have to become a Picasso but you do have to develop your skills. Your artistic skill is going to help in you expressing your individuality in video games. The look and feel of the games will be distinctly yours. So I recommend you develop your art skills.

  • Can you give me a high level, step-by-step look at what a person does when they make a video game?

Yes, this is a generalized process here by the numbers:

  1. A concept is thought up- (I want to make a role playing game where the main character has a quest to find a secret dungeon on the far side of the world). You flesh this out, make subplots and get as complicated as you want.
  2. You start with drawings on paper - What do my characters look like? what does the world look like? Houses? Caves? Dungeons? Creatures? Weapons?
  3. You use a software package to build a wire frame skeleton of the world- terrain, landscape, trees, houses etc.
  4. You use graphics software to create textures and you apply them to your wire frame world
  5. You use 3d modeling software to build objects like desks, swords, people, dragons
  6. You import your models into the world you built
  7. You assign, with programming and scripts, behaviors to you models so they act in certain ways.
  8. You market your game and make millions!
  • What software and books do I need to get started?

This depends on what kind of games you want to make and your skill as a programmer; or willingness to learn programming.. Let me break it down for you:

Absolute Beginner: Make a 2d Side Scroller Game (Good Introduction to Game Making)
You should Get the software and the book: Awesome 3d Game Development: No Programming Required
Absolute Beginner: Make a 3d, Walk around the world, RPG style Game
You should get the software and books:Ultimate Game Design: Building Game Worlds
Many game design books give you an overall view. This book actually gives you real results and help with designing levels, textures and lighting. Good book for adults.
Willing to get better and learn how to program
You should learn how to program in C++. Get these two books: The First book (Sam's Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days) is an excellent step by step guide to C++ programming which is an excellent language for game programming. The Second book (Beginning C++ Game Programming) uses your new found C++ skill and applies it to game making..You will make simple games and develop to more complex ones as you progress through the book
Want to be involved in video games professionally but not sure if I want to do design, scripts, music, art or something else
You should get: Game Design for Teens
This is a great book for learning all about game design. This isn't a book that you can use to make a game on your own. It shows you the real process for game design. If you are considering a career in games you should get this book.
Still Not sure about what I want to do?
You should go to my tutorial on video game making and start there.It shows you what software to get, where to get it for free and takes you through the steps to make a 3d adventure style game. Within two hours you will have a character and a room for him to walk around in. You will also have learned a lot about what goes into video game design.
  • How much time do I need to invest before I can start making good games?

This depends on you. If you use my game design tutorial you can have a real video game room to walk around in complete with character in an hour. If you put ten hours into this you can have a small world to explore and battle creatures in. If you want to make a game that looks halfway decent, has some good ideas, and some goals to achieve you should expect to put in at least a hundred hours. If you want to get really good at it then you have got to plan on putting hundreds of hours into it. It is just like anything else; You get out of it what you put into it.

  • Can One person do the whole thing alone?

Yes, if you want to make some video games for you and your friends to enjoy and you are satisfied with free graphics and characters you can get from software and websites. But if you want to make something that is worthy of selling then probably not. Unless you work ten hours a day for at least a year and have a great concept, great art skills, great computer skills and are truly obsessive-compulsive over getting it done right.

  • How much money is this going to cost?

If you just would like to have some fun then you can get games made for no cost (see my tutorial) Or maybe with just the investment of a book. From there you can escalate it almost as much as you want. Software, in increments, for artwork, for modeling, game generation, can cost hundreds even thousands of dollars. Oh, and you would probably want a screaming computer. Especially when you start compiling big levels and discover it is going to take hours, even overnights to do. So for now, we get away with no cost, so you can see if you really like it. Then we go up in expenditures from there. By the time you are ready to buy software you will have a good idea of what software you want.

  • Can I sell my video game or concept?

I have checked around on this a bit and it seems that this happens very rarely. Rarely does someone outside of the industry ever sell a concept to a game company. I only heard of this happening once. The company bought the game story and concept and as far as I know they never actually put it into production. Hey, if it's that good do it yourself. Raise the money and start the game design going. If it is good it will rise above the market forces.

  • I have a great idea for a game; What should I do to prevent somebody from stealing it?

I am not in a position to give you legal advice but here are some tricks to help you: Make sure you have your concept and ideas well written out along with graphics and any other relevant materials then send this in an email to a trusted friend and ask that friend to save the email. That would help a little. For better security you could put all of this material down on paper then send it to yourself in the mail in a registered/certified letter. When you receive the letter, don't open it, just store it away somewhere. The certification proves the date you received it, thus proving when you had the idea/concept.

  • I don't want anybody to steal my concepts and ideas but I still need to show it around. What should I do?

Generally, in a situation like this you would ask the people you are going to show it to to sign something called an NDA or Non Disclosure Agreement. It is a legal document that protects you from them stealing it.

  • What is the first thing I should do to start making video games?

You have already done the first thing: You have started to look into the process. Next you should actually get some free software and start actually making some stuff. Hands-on is the best way to learn. Start with my tutorial. It will show you what software to get, where to get it for free then take you through the first steps so you actually build a room or rooms that a 3d character can walk around in.

  • I like video games and would like to be involved in some way. What kind of things can I do without becoming a programmer?

There are many, many creative opportunities in the video game industry. There are people that just make textures which involves taking photos and using paint programs. There are people that do character design, people that do plots and quests, writers, level designers, game testers, musicians and composers. There are many many different ways you can be involved. There are some great books on this very subject. Game Design for Teens

  • Is video game making really fun or is it just hours of hard work?

It is both. You can have a lot of fun and you can work lots of hours; I mean LOTS of hours. But if you are having fun doing it is it really work? But, if you just want to fool around and get some basic games made just for fun you can do it without investing too much time. If you want the video game experience without the work then go buy some games.

  • Is there free software I can get?

Yes, there is software you can get for free.

  • What are some of the things that a noob game designer doesn't even think of?

I am glad to see that you are reading this question. It is good to see that you realize you don't know what you don't know. A couple of tidbits of advice: If you want to do a decent game take the time to write it out on paper. Draw the pictures and write out the plot. Draw the maps. The more you do on paper the better your game will actually come out. Making video games is a process. You are never done learning. Even the very best know this. Enjoy doing it and realize that every day you learned something. One last thing: Pay attention to the little things; They make all the difference. Getting the textures and the lighting right can make the difference between a terrible game and a great game.


  • What software can I buy to make a video game?

There are a few reasonably priced software packages that you can make games with. I recommend these:


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