10 Lessons I Learned From Making My First Game With No Experience

10 Lessons I Learned From Making My First Game With No Experience

I made my first game!

I’m pleased to announce that I finished making my first game, Horror Block Breaker.  The coding, level design, artwork and playtesting are finished.  All that remains is securing permission to use certain soundtracks for the levels which is easy to implement.  Now that the journey is nearly complete and I can almost share the project with my fellow subscribers, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect and talk about what I learned in the process.

If you haven’t guessed from my blog posts, I’ve always wanted to make games and eventually go pro.  At the advice of game developers I look up to, I enrolled in a course on Udemy.com teaching how to design games in Unity using C#. (I know it sounds like a bad pun, but bear with me).  After learning how to make an Arkanoid mini-game, I decided to take the next step and expand on what I learned.  What I thought would take a week ended up taking several months since I had to learn different coding mechanisms and how to draw pixel art.  I never had any professional training in art or coding so everything I wanted to implement I had to teach myself on the fly.  After a long four months of trying to make a small game while writing an E-book, I finally finished the game.

Admittedly it’s not ground-breaking, but it’s a step in the right direction.  While making this project I’ve learned a few things that I thought might be helpful to people wanting to make video games.  As you read this keep in mind that I’ve never had professional training and my advanced degree was in Japanese literature and translation, so I’m the last person who should be making something, but I did it!  And if I did it, that means anyone can do it.

10 Lessons I learned while making a game

1. You must make everything and take responsibility for implementing your ideas.

If you ever made a mod or a game using a map editor or world builder such as what you find in Age of Empires, or Warcraft 3, you were spoiled.  The beauty of those level designers is that the images and sprites have mainly been provided for you so you can instantly start placing units on a map and feel as though you’ve accomplished something within minutes.  When it comes to Unity, you have to make every aspect from button presses, user interface, background images, the level editor itself, sounds, special effects, music, and gravity.  It takes a lot of work, but once you’ve accomplished building the editor inside Unity and getting your prefabs all taken care of with a sprite canvas, you’re ready to hit the road.  By the end of it, you’ll get this immense feeling of accomplishment.

2. Making a game by yourself can be very time consuming if you don’t have a plan or lack certain skills.

How many levels are there?  How many different objects will be added?  Do those objects need a sprite or image attached to them?  How long do you want the game to be?  How will the player interact with objects?  What is the build order and how the player will get from the start screen of your game to the credits?  What kind of scripts will you need to make?  Do those scripts need adjustments?

Asking these questions and getting organized with how many levels you want, what you want to exist and identifying the components you need to code can really help.   When I was designing Horror Block Breaker, I made a checklist of assets (monster sprites for the balls and paddles, scripts, game objects, and music) I planned to incorporate in the game and designed them one at a time.

Overall everything turned out to work well until I needed to learn how to code a life system, a timer, and other assets to make my game different from what I learned in the Udemy course.  Learning how to draw and makeup for my lack of skills also took time.  You can bring outside help, but that will likely cost money.  Since this was a fun project I wanted to make for my YouTube subscribers and myself, I decided to make everything except the music due to the theme of the game.

3. Make a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and share it with people to get some feedback.

While I only made a few videos on my project, getting feedback from my YouTube subscribers really helped since they were honest.  They told me whether or not the game was original, if the art was good or bad, and what they wanted to see changed.  In the beginning I had an idea for the game, but wasn’t sure what people thought about it, so I asked my audience on YouTube for their thoughts based on showing them a level.  I received nothing but positive feedback and went from there.  If you have any sort of online audience, definitely get their feedback.

4. When starting out, keep your game design projects small.

Start smaller….Smaller than you think.  I mean like 1 or 2 levels small if you’re a beginner when it comes to coding and art.  I’ll be honest when I say that although my game only takes about 30 minutes to complete, I bit off more than I could chew for my first attempt.  In my goal of trying to make my game unique with different shaped paddles, blood effects, monster-themed sprite balls, a life system, and a timer, I was jumping all over the place in my Udemy course.  I was learning, but it was aspects of game design that were meant for the very end of the course.  When I did learn it, I felt lost, confused, and out of place.  Learning from my mistake, I plan to my next game much smaller and will focus on executing certain game mechanics well.

5. 1 hour of gameplay = about 100 hours’ worth of work.

I’ve heard this expression from developers many times. After struggling to make a basic arkanoid clone with unique aspects, I can say with confidence they were right.  I worked on my game for about two hours per day sometimes more, and although my game is about 30 minutes in length, it took around 200 hours+ of work.  This was because I had to design sprites, teach myself how to draw pixel art, research coding and make guesses outside of my course work.  It also didn’t help that Unity’s game development documents weren’t complete, causing me to search in the depths of the internet for an answer regarding two lines of code.

 

6. No matter how good your code may seem, sometimes it just won’t work.

Originally, I had this idea of adding a game timer that would make a player score based on how quickly players would beat a level or die in the game. To accompany this, I also wanted to make a life system where players would gain a life after beating each level.  After scouring the internet for documents and video tutorials, everything seemed to be going okay, but for some reason the clock would jump ahead between 20 – 45 seconds when you beat a level and your life counter would multiply by two!  After a week of fiddling around not knowing or understanding what I was learning, and not progressing at all towards a finished product, I disposed of the timer and score system.  I think that eventually I’ll get good enough to make those kinds of changes, but for now I’m pleased with where the game is at.

7. You have to be willing to let go.

Remember that time when you were working on something and you never felt satisfied with it?  Maybe it was a term paper, a project, a piece of art, or a fun hobby where you’ll always find something you wish you could add to make your project better.  But at some point you just have to let go.  Had I kept my game smaller in scope by reducing the levels in half and not adding any form of a life system, the game would’ve been finished in two months instead of four.

8. Finding a social balance when you make games is important.

Making a game requires you sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end and it can be lonely.  It’s really helpful to have a social outlet, particularly an active one to get you recharged and to just escape from your dorm room, apartment, or house.   Thankfully I had my frisbee group, board game group, and friends I could spend time with.  Make sure you are getting exercise and social interaction.

9. There is no sole method to solve a problem or implement an idea in your game.

When I was trying to get my ball to position on the paddle when the player lost a life, I found what was close to 10 different ways of accomplishing the same thing.  In this sense, coding can be compared to a spoken language where there are multiple ways to communicate a particular point across.  In the end it is just a matter of preference.  Some ways are easier and others are more difficult.

10. Remember to have fun!

At the end of the day, no matter how frustrated you become or how long it takes to implement something, you need to have fun making your game.  When I got stuck working on a gravity glitch, I started fiddling around with different paddle shapes and 2D colliders.  That fun little distraction gave me the idea of making unique paddles in each level.  You never know when a spur of the moment experiment could lead to a new game mechanic.

I hope this article brought some insight for people wanting to make their first game whether its as a hobby or perhaps a professional app that makes money.

 

Mad-Eye Games 2.0 Relaunch and Update

Mad-Eye Games 2.0 Relaunch and Update

It has been awhile since I last updated the blog, but I’ve been keeping my head down and working away.  The hard work paid off and I can finally say I finished my E-book!  It’ll be out this January on Amazon. I also earned the Content Creator of The Week award on f13game.com.  Hooray for victories!  Now that I’ve got more free time, I’m pleased to share some updates to the blog and what I call Mad-Eye Games 2.0.   Time for a relaunch!

What has been changed:

  • Changed the about me section to reflect the current status in my entrepreneurial journey.
  • Cleaned up the video section so it contains all of my recently made videos.
  • NEW Services Page: I’m excited to announce that I’m taking the business to the next level and offering video editing services.  In the Services tab on the website you’ll find a portfolio of my videos that showcase different editing skills.  If you or anyone you know needs video editing done in Adobe Premiere, I’m happy to do it.  For business inquiries you can reach me at my email [email protected]

Updates: 

I’ve finally figured out how to separate all of the content between game development, my YouTube channel and the website and am excited to show you what I’ve got to offer in the coming weeks.  Horror Block Breaker is coming along well and I’ll be posting the final video once it is finished and then moving on to make a new game.

The new updates for Friday The 13th: The Game have caused a dramatic shift in how the game is played.  Rest assured, I will updating all of the strategy guides.

With so many great games coming out now, I plan to make a lot of different videos and review these games.  Stay tuned!

Entrepreneurial Reflection #3 – The Journey and Pivoting

Entrepreneurial Reflection #3 – The Journey and Pivoting

Reflection on my entrepreneurial journey

I haven’t written a business update in a while, and due to recent events, I figured now was a good time to write.  I’ve learned a lot in the process of trying to build a business from scratch and although I haven’t made much of a profit yet, I’m learning a lot.  For the past 4 months I’ve been working on different skill sets:  Writing an E book, C# programming, Game Development on Unity, Video Editing on Adobe Premiere, Pixel Art for game development, 2D Art, SEO, Managing a blog, Content Creation, all the meanwhile keeping up my Japanese language skills, taking care of my family, and developing a new social life after being out of the country for so long.  Due to the low competition in the topic of my book, I’ve been primarily focusing on the E-book which I’m pleased to say will be finished by late October.  Once that is done I can focus more on my other projects and start cranking things out.  I’ll admit this is a slower road compared to a 9-5 job, but I love it.

The latest obstacle in my goal to run my own game development company and break into the industry as a professional is the new algorithm introduced by YouTube.  Many video makers in the YouTube Gaming area have transferred completely to Twitch, an online streaming platform due to google’s new algorithm.  This robot has recently been categorizing most gaming videos as “Not Appropriate for Advertisers”. The only way to get around this is to either constantly request appeals on your videos or have a representative at YouTube Headquarters who can swing some deals for you.

I will be honest when I say that I haven’t been uploading as much due to the news and witnessing first hand all of my friends’ channels impacted by this new change.  There have also been reports of a supposed YouTube blacklist which when enough of your videos are flagged, you get added to the list which will prevent anyone from finding your videos in YouTube’s search engine.  It is safe to say that this is the dark ages of YouTube Gaming and that although the advertisers are back and supposedly all of the content categories are thriving (daily life, vlogs, and music,) the gaming category is not.

What is also slightly troubling and has recently come to my attention is how some of YouTube’s rules no longer apply to major corporations.  A few days ago YouTube Star Casey Neistat made a video announcing a charity to raise money for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.  Casey has over 7 million YouTube subscribers and is well known in the YouTube community.  He also announced that any ad revenue generated from the video would also go to the fundraiser.  This way if people can’t donate, they can at least help by watching the ads on the video.  Shortly after posting this, YouTube’s algorithm flagged the video saying it wasn’t suitable for advertisers.  Casey brought up the issue on twitter and got the support of several large content creators demanding an answer. YouTube later responded stating:

“We love what you’re doing to help, but no matter the intent, it is our policy to not run ads on videos about tragedies.”

You’d think this would be a fair statement, but if you look at Jimmy Kimmel’s YouTube channel which showed the comedian making a similar statement and pledge on the shooting, you’ll see a few differences.  Not only was it on YouTube’s trending page despite having fewer views than similar videos on the subject, but it also had several ads.  After having this pointed out to me by dozens of content creators and seeing the discussions on YouTube and Twitch, I’ve also had to do some thinking.

So I’ve been asking myself these questions:

  1. Is YouTube still worth pursuing even as a hobby?
  2. What kind of content is safe to upload?

I believe that YouTube is definitely still worth continuing because of how uncertain the market is.  The YouTube algorithm has changed so much within the past three months and the business of content creation has shifted with other platforms such as Twitch, Vidme, Beam, and Vimeo.  I don’t want to jinx the system, but what’s to prevent Twitch from falling into the same problem and shift towards a more television based corporate audience as YouTube is experiencing?  YouTube could perhaps find a way to become the glorious site it once was.  Anything can happen, so I still think people shouldn’t throw out their channels.   Long story short, I’m still planning to make YouTube gaming videos.

So what can be uploaded safely and monetized?  With the current A.I. system in place for checking videos, it is clear that anything violent is not going to work.  That’s the problem with games.  Most games have some sort of cartoon violence involved which will likely trigger the A.I. system to block the associated video from reaching advertisers.  What YouTube is becoming now is more of a platform for corporations, television stations, music, T.V. personalities, well-known sponsors, and individuals who can represent those brands effectively.  The advertisers are what bring in the money for YouTube so the system is going to prefer videos that involve no form of cursing, violence, or anything with sexual content.  YouTube is similar to a second version of television run by corporations, for corporations, with the help of content creators.

After giving it some thought and seeing my dilemma of needing more time to learn how to make games and somehow bring money into this business, I’ve decided to take a new approach to YouTube and do things differently.  The way I see it, I’m really proud of my YouTube channel and how far it has come.  I still plan to do YouTube and make videos.  But… I don’t think the ad revenue generated from YouTube videos is important anymore or even necessary for what I’m doing.  With all of the changes taking place, it looks like the advertisers do not want to be associated with gaming channels at this time.  So starting today I plan to remove monetization and advertisements from all of my videos.  Next the focus on my YouTube channel is going to be on more edited, high-quality videos that can serve as a portfolio.

I’ve recently discovered several contract opportunities for video editors that I’m qualified for.  But in order to take on high-level jobs, I need to prove I can make a wide variety of content.  So while my YouTube channel won’t be playing by the same rules as those trying to monetize videos and use Google’s algorithm, it will still serve a purpose for my business.  While I work on the videos for clients, I’ll still be teaching myself game development and other skills.  After I make a couple free games, I’ll try to sell a game that I know people will want to buy.

Plans for the business: (Note: I’m still teaching myself game development while I do this)

–       Finish writing my E-book and get it ready for publication.  (October)

–       Finish my first free game: Horror Block Breaker (October)

–     Finish the Friday The 13th guide on my blog / post game reviews.   (November)

–       1 month to build my portfolio:  Game Review, A Let’s Play series that’s heavily edited from start to finish, 30-second Commercials, an Unboxing, tip videos, highlight reel, learn Adobe After Effects.    (November)

Note:  Even after I finish getting the videos done in November, I’ll still be uploading videos after that.  I’m not quitting YouTube.  

–       Start taking on projects that have come my way and build an income while making games.  (December)

–       If I get good enough in game development and people give me good feedback on what I have, I’ll start charging for games I make.

–    Downstream after I start bringing in money from projects and getting clients: I’d love to launch a podcast.

Battlesloths 2025 Review!

Battlesloths 2025 Review!

What is Battlesloths?

Welcome to Battlesloths2025!  The land of pizza, sloths, crazy hats, and pure pixel carnage!  Battlesloths is an example of a return to the Retro Gaming Era that has been executed well by veterans in the industry.  Battlesloths is a 1-4 player game with its core gameplay focusing on multiplayer. You can play online with friends and strangers or alone with bots that have surprisingly impressive aim and skill across all the maps.

The multiplayer segment has 4 modes:

  1. Slice Hunt. You bring back pizza slices that drop from fallen sloths to your base. First to a certain score wins.
  2. Golden Slice. A golden slice of pizza will spawn in a random location and your job is to bring that slice back without getting killed.
  3. Sloth Hunt. Basically a death match where the first to a certain number of kills wins.
  4. Last Sloth Standing. Death match with lives where you want to be the last sloth remaining.

What Makes The Game Standout


What makes this game standout for me are the little things. For example you’ll have arrows, blood, and burn marks remaining on the map so you’ll transform the map from a clean surface to a battlefield.

Over 1000 collectible hats you can use to customize your sloth!

Note:   If you want to be immortalized in the game you can join the Invisible Collective livestream on Twitch.  The lead artist will design you a sloth hat of your choosing.  Streams are every Wednesday night.  You can follow @slys on twitter or @Randygbk on twitter for up to date information and get in on the hat creation.  

The skill of the bots when it comes to completing objectives and blocking shots with swords and lightsabers is first rate and often times will make you curse out loud and forget you’re even playing against bots.

Every map has a theme to it. So one area designed in the shape of a continent will have three different sized levels with unique layouts and environmental hazards. You might have giant snowballs falling from the sky while you’re trying to shoot your friends or perhaps Mayan tablets, that when put combined form a gigantic stone guardian you can control and stomp your enemies with. No matter how many times you play Battlesloths, you’re going to get a unique experience.

On the rare occasion you’ll have a strange looking hat appear that when shot enough times, will suck everyone into a vortex leading to a secret game mode called the Golden Hat. In this mode you’ll have to keep control of the Golden Hat for 30 seconds in a level with tight spaces and little room for error.

Definitely play this game with friends on your LAN Game Nights. The matches are quick and easy and will provide a good laugh for everyone. More than 4 people at your party? No problem! With the fast pace of games you’ll be switching off every two minutes or so.

Challenge Mode

Two months ago the game launched a challenge mode that teaches you how to improve your skills across all weapons and maps. It’s challenging on the maximum difficulty level, and if you can pass all of them, I guarantee your friends will stand very little chance against you.

Issues

My only complaint so far with the game is that there is currently no story mode. I know designing games takes hours and lots of people, but if a story mode or single-player campaign were introduced down the line, it’d make the game feel more complete and provide additional reasons to return to it after you’ve played all of the levels and beaten the challenges. I’m looking forward to what Invisible Collective has in store for the game’s future. Great game everyone.

Horror Block Breaker Video Update #2

Horror Block Breaker Video Update #2

Horror Block Breaker Update Video #2

I feel like I’m slowly getting back to normal after recovering from moving and just being sick.  So I took it easy this week and focused on artwork for Horror Block Breaker.  I’m still working on a couple of the sprites for paddles and balls such as Freddy’s glove, but progress is good.  While I can’t show everything since it’d spoil the game, I’ve shown a couple of sprites and a new weapon in this video update below.

 

 

100-Day Game Dev Blog Challenge #6 – Learning to Draw

100-Day Game Dev Blog Challenge #6 – Learning to Draw

Learning to Draw

Today’s post will likely be short, since I don’t want to reveal too much about the game.  What I can say though is that the artwork is coming along well.  At this rate I should have some cool things to show on this Tuesday’s Game Dev video update and perhaps even one of the new levels if I feel it’s ready.  I also discovered some additional tweaks to add for the Jason level.  Such as blood to the machete, and a brighter background so players can see the black blocks easier.

One of the main issues I’ve come across is distinguishing between two characters because they both have similar facial features.  I’m not going to reveal them, but I think you’ll see why once the final version of the game is done.  While I don’t think the full version of the game will be done by this Tuesday, I think I can get it ready to have my friends and family test it by next week.  Below is the before and after shots of the Scream-themed ball I was working on.  I tried to get a general outline of what I wanted to use and then I focused on angling the mask to match the film.  Since I’m only using two colors, it didn’t take too long to create, but I’m proud of how the second version came out.

(Before) Getting a general outline of the face

(After) Working on angles, polishing, and adding some shadow where the hood is.

To improve my art skills I’ve joined some online pixel art courses, so hopefully the art will improve in the next games I make.

Looking forward to Tuesday!