GameDev Protips: How To Finish And Ship Your First Few Games

It’s a known problem that new developers struggle with how exactly to go about putting their first game out on the market. Here are some tips to make that struggle a little less intimidating. First off, your first projects shouldn’t be long projects. You will improve as a developer over time, and your first projects likely won’t even be worth using within a few months. Because of this, plan for shorter projects (optimally about a month each) so that you don’t pigeonhole yourself into using poor coding or something that you did as a novice developer. Similarly, don’t sweat it if your project does take too long. New developers have no frame of reference and will often think projects take less time than they actually do. If you want a general rule, add about 50% onto your estimated project time.

Next, don’t worry too much about your first game’s design. As long as it is functional, it is helping you gain experience which is necessary for making anything worthwhile in the future. It simply won’t be possible to build something incredible as your first project. On a similar note, don’t worry about production values. As long as the game is fun, you can add the polish later. Focus on gaining your experience unless that polish is critical for learning something new in the future. Also, you should get other people to play your game. Letting other people play your game will help you realize any potential flaws or improvements that can be made that you wouldn’t have realized otherwise — the more the merrier!

Lastly, and most importantly, ensure that you’re continually making progress on your game. Set milestones for each quarter of your planned development time, and break those into even smaller tasks that can be reasonably worked towards and won’t be intimidating. Instead of saying “finish the game’s art,” break that single milestone into “finish the character’s art,” “finish the world’s art,” and so on so that you don’t lose track of what to do. To also help with keeping on track, you should review your game weekly, even if you don’t plan on working on it. If you go for too long without looking at your game, you won’t remember what you were doing or how to do it and are much more likely to lose your motivation and quit.

Important Takeaways: New developers often struggle getting their first project out, so here are some tips to help do so. First, plan short, approachable projects that you can quickly get out onto the market. This lets you gain experience and helps you avoid being forced to use novice developer coding mistakes in a final product due to how quickly your past skills become obsolete compared to newly improved skills. Focus on finishing and shipping your prototypes. Don’t spend all of your time focusing on how polished your game looks if you’re just trying to get something out there for feedback. As long as the game is functional, reasonably fun, and has some kind of art, it’ll be fine as a prototype. You need that experience as soon as possible and focusing on polish will slow that process. Save it for later on down the line. If you want some advice, letting other people play your game will show you some potential flaws or improvements that could be made that you would’ve failed to notice otherwise and how to go about implementing or fixing them. Finally, make sure that you’re continually making progress on your game. Set milestones then break those into smaller tasks that you can easily approach without being intimidated.