I’m making a game!

But I don’t know how to make games.

For a pretty long time I’ve been curious about making video games. I’ve loved games since I was a kid, and have admired the work of many game designers for years. There’s something special about interactive art that really excites me it’s similar to the feeling I get from animating and bringing pictures to life. It’s magical! 儭

But here’s the thing: I’m an artist/illustrator/animator/designer/creative person who, for a very long time, thought that making games was something I just couldn’t do. Largely because I got a 51 in grade 11 math and don’t know how to “code”.

Portrait of a robot trying to fit in. We all feel like impostors from time to time.

The thing is, I didn’t know how to do anything until I learned how to do it. Recently, I’ve really embraced the discomfort of learning new things. I’m learning Chinese (very slowly) and bought a skateboard and fell off of it a bunch of times. It’s a magical kind of thrill to do something with the certainty that it won’t go perfectly because you’ve never done it before. There are insurmountable feelings of impostor-syndrome associated with it, too (I’m still working up the nerve to hit the skate park), but maybe just admitting publicly that I have no idea what I’m doing is a good way of getting over that.

So I’m gonna figure out how to make a game. And this blog will be a record of that process.

I’ve decided to commit to making, finishing, and releasing a game. That’s just about all I know about how I’m going to do it, too. I’m hoping that part of the value of sharing this learning process in public will be to show that you really can just decide to do things. We manage to self-sabotage a lot we decide that our ideas are dumb before they’ve even fallen out of our heads so I’m just going to decide that this is a good idea and do it.

What I’m bringing to the table.

In case someone else finds this and wants to use it as a bit of a guide for making a game, I thought it would be useful to go over the things I already know.

Professionally, I’m an artist who primarily works in illustration, animation and graphic design. Games have a big artistic component to them that I know these skills will contribute to. From character design to animation, UI design to environment art the part of figuring out how things are going to look is something I know I have the skills (and the tools) to manage.

I also have a good amount of experience working with 3D software (3Ds Max, Blender and a bit of Maya) which will come in handy, too.

In university, I took a Game Design course where you were put into a small team and told to make a game over the duration of the semester. That course was kind of awful for the artists, though. It was meant to be an exciting collaboration between a group of art school kids and a group of computer science kids, but in the end it was very self-directed and I didn’t learn much about actually making games.

The main character of our game was a firefighter with a sort of lamp for a face. There was supposed to be some fire in his face but I don’t think that ever got figured out in-game since you always saw them from the back.

I used a peer’s character design to make a really basic character model, rigged it and made a few animations for that character. This was my first introduction to the Unity game engine, and I learned how to import animations into the editor (though I never got the chance to actually learn how to hook up and trigger those animations). The majority of that project was run by the programming students, which made sense since the artists had no idea what we were doing. It was kind of a discouraging experience.

Despite feeling kind of negative about that game design course overall, I was always really happy with this idle animation.

Since then, it took me a while to get the game-making itch again. University burnt me out on art making and learning in general, and only recently have I once again found myself interested in either.

About a year ago I experimented with making a prototype for a game, but my heart wasn’t really in it and I abandoned it after a couple days.

This is a screenshot from this abandoned prototype. I don’t really understand what I was trying to do, and some navigation plugin that I didn’t understand how to use at the time is broken now.

I’ve since spent some of my spare time working with tutorials from Unity’s learning platform (which is free right now, and a really wonderful resource), as well as getting a bit of an intro to Unity’s programming language, C#, from different channels on YouTube (like Sebastian Lague’s Intro to Game Development course, which is insanely good and free).

At this point, I feel like I could keep trying to learn from tutorials alone, but I’m feeling empowered enough to dive into the deep end and learn by trying to make my own thing (and messing up a lot).

So that’s my introduction post! Thanks so much for reading this, if you did. I’m going to go start now and I’ll be back when I’ve done something I can show! Let’s do it!

Learning can be painful but it can also be thrilling!

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