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dannyaguilaa

What should I expect as a one-person hobbyist game developer?

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Hello! I'm new to this forum so I hope everything is in order :)

I'm planning on making games as a hobby by myself, and I wanted some examples of what type of games should I aspire to do? I know I won't be able to do a huge game like Mass Effect in my life, but I wanted to know if someday would I be able to make a simple 3D low poly adventure game with a similiar dialogue/choice mechanic? Is it realistic?

It wouldn't be my first game of course, I would build up my skills to it. But I also don't want to spend more than a year to a year and a half making a single game.

A little about me: Right now I'm teaching myself animation, so that would be my focus for my games. My plan is to learn basic programming, game & level design theory, and of course make super simple games as a starting point.

Any advice and critique is welcome! :D 

Edited by dannyaguilaa

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Yes, it's realistic. If your plan is to just make games right now, you should use Unity or Unreal or any other existing technology. These will help you achieve your goal of making games and will simplify things so that you can just focus on your game logic. Of course you can always start from scratch if you want to know how things behind it work, but it's not recommended for a beginner as it can be frustrating and can burn you out.

Edited by newtechnology
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10 hours ago, newtechnology said:

Yes, it's realistic. If your plan is to just make games right now, you should use Unity or Unreal or any other existing technology. These will help you achieve your goal of making games and will simplify things so that you can just focus on your game logic. Of course you can always start from scratch if you want to know how things behind it work, but it's not recommended for a beginner as it can be frustrating and can burn you out.

I second this! I started game development over 15 years ago. I started on learning the basic concepts in programming, and using a lot of tools that would help me get my ideas on the screen a fast as possible. I started out using Visual Basic 6 to make general applications, then moved on to darkBASIC because the transition was easier coming from BASIC. I also used GameMaker 3 back in 2001 to make several games, but didn't stay long because I became very serious about getting into game development. The point being it was a very good thing to use such tools because it allowed me to focus and learn about making and designing games, not about complex programming, and memory management, learning new APIs, ect...

My biggest recommendation is to start using something pre-made with a scripting language to get started, or even drag and drop for now. When I started out I almost quit many times over because I was learning C/C++ shortly after using darkBASIC and GameMaker, and I spent more time learning the language, debugging techniques, how to use the compiler, memory management, pointers from hell, APIs, GUI programming, ect... and very little time programming actual games that I could make in the prior programs I used. It's something I suggest you do on the side at your own pace so you're still able to design your games while learning. Even though it was a rough experience, it paid off in the end because I was able to transition into C#, JAVA, and many other scripting languages with ease; I just had to relearn frameworks, and libraries, but the concepts for programming transfer over very well.

Just keep in mind, there are people out there who can design and build amazing games, but programming isn't their passion. I grew up with one individual who had amazing game design ideas, and could put together very cool games in a drag and drop editor with limited scripting, but when it came to programming it just wasn't going to happen. You seem to be pretty serious about learning the fundamentals so I would suggest using a pre-made engine and learning the scripting language that is used and go from there. You're going to pick up tricks of the trade as you go through the learning stages, and there is no better way to learn than doing.

Once you've made a few games, you may want to transition over something like C++/C#, and pickup SDL or SFML to handle graphics, input, sound, and networking to begin making your own games and tools. Once you've made enough games you will have enough code to re-use for future projects, and even a game engine.

Just to answer your questions in more detail:

I'm planning on making games as a hobby by myself, and I wanted some examples of what type of games should I aspire to do? 

This depends on if you're using a tool, or coding everything from scratch. If you're using a tool, in most cases you will have enough resources and help available to make basic 2D and 3D games where you can load in a model, walk around, and preform actions. It would be best to just go through all the tutorials, and make custom changes as you learn. If you're planning on doing this from scratch, you should start with Text Based Games so you can learn the basics of the programming language and the standard library, then slowly move into games like Tic Tac Toe, Snakes, PacMan, ect... This will be a slower process because of what's required to really make a functional game. All in all, start simple and work with guides while adding on your own custom additions.

I know I won't be able to do a huge game like Mass Effect in my life, but I wanted to know if someday would I be able to make a simple 3D low poly adventure game with a similiar dialogue/choice mechanic? Is it realistic?

Again, this depends on the tool you use, or if you're doing this all from the bottom up. 3rd Party tools can handle a lot of things for you such as asset loading, animation framing, shaders, collision detection, camera views, and movement, ect...

 

Considering your background is in animations and graphics, I would go with 3rd party tools until you're sure you wish to invest the time into programming. Always feel free to post for help and advice.

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