My favourite excuses for not getting started in game development

I have been thinking about some of the most common excuses people (including me) make for not getting started in game development. Even having some truth behind, all of them can be easily countered. The excuses below are focused on indie development, although some of them also apply to pursuing a career at a games studio.

I’m sure there are more, but here are my favourite ones:

I don’t know where to start

This could have been a valid excuse 20 years ago (well, those 3 1/4 disks attached to computer magazines..), but today we just need to search on Google and dozens solutions appear in front of your us within seconds. We live in the information overload era, so this excuse is trivial to beat.

Anyway, here are a couple of resources to get started:

It is too difficult

The tools are better than ever, and the information is available on the internet for free, or at a very cheap price. Making games is one of the hardest kind of pieces of art/software one can make, but it is more of a mental difficulty, rather than a technical one. There are even tools that don’t require a good level of programming skills to make a game.

I need an expensive computer

Unless you are making a clone of The Witcher 3 (which you shouldn’t on your own, anyway), you don’t need the latest computer out there. If you are making 2D games, you don’t even need big game engines like Unity or Unreal. I’m currently using a 2011 laptop with an integrated graphics card, to make 2D games; it’s not ideal, but definitely possible to get stuff done.

I don’t have a team

While having a team can be a great experience, it is not something required as long as you make small games that are within your capabilities – this includes managing scope as well.

I would definitely recommend to look for a team if you don’t want to work solo, or if you can find people to learn from. There are many ways to find partners (game jams, social networks, meetups, etc.), and, again, the internet makes it easier, you don’t even need to move out of your house (although attending to events in person doesn’t hurt).

I need to learn too many things

If you don’t have a team, you will have to do all by yourself. It is true that you have to learn a hell lot of things – eventually. I felt like that for very long, and spent a good amount of time learning things upfront. While I don’t regret (I learnt a lot of useful things, and had fun), I believe that the most efficient approach is “on-demand learning”: learn the thing you need next to accomplish the current task. This way, you can get started now, not after that shinny course.

At some point (specially if you want to go indie and make games for a living), you will need to learn about a bunch of different things (game design, programming, art, music and sound, business, marketing) more seriously, but to start with, you can learn just enough to get stuff done.

I’m bad at programming/art/whatever

While is true that everyone has some weaknesses, there are two ways to counter this statement.

You should believe that it is possible to learn anything (as long as you are ready to spend countless hours and effort on it). I’ve read about a good amount of people who thought that they were terrible at a particular area, but had the determination to learn, so they studied and practiced daily, for years, until they got good at it. This is not easy, and it definitely needs a strong will that not everyone has, but as long as you don’t have a specific disability that stops you from learning or performing a task, it is possible.

The other way I can think of is to look out there for the things that you can’t make by yourself, and find -reliable- people who have those skills. If you have an interesting project, there will be people happy to join you. For art and music, you can even find free assets until you develop or find the skills you are lacking.

I don’t have enough time

Making games is a huge amount of effort, and effort translates to time. If you have obligations and/or a full-time job, it is better to spend 5-10 hours per week on making small games, than not making any games at all. It will take longer, but this is the case of most indie game developers that are starting or can’t take the risk of quitting their jobs.

This is not about time, money or skills, but determination

I’m not saying that starting making games is an easy endeavour, but we tend to create more barriers than actually exist. If we really want to make games (it sounds like a pointless question, but this is something you really need to ask yourself first, excuses can reveal surprising things), you can just get started today.

You are never going to feel 100% ready (I would argue that anyone does, actually), so the longer you wait, the longer it will take you to start and get good at it. You don’t even need to make a commercial game, so using free resources that simplify your life is ok. Starting making games is the important thing here, and you are the only one who can break your -usually self-imposed- barriers.