Preparing for game development
Before starting with some actual work I spend a lot of time on preparing myself to get started.
In this post I will discuss the things that I’ve done to get ready to start some real game development.
Think and plan
The idea to seriously focus on game development came some time back and it took some time before I got to clear my schedule and make the switch.
This has given me a lot of opportunity to think about what I am getting myself into.
If you want to succeed at something you first need to work out what exactly it is you want to do and how you are going to do it.
Thinking and planning goes together with the other steps; reading and making notes.
Make notes of everything
I’m using Evernote to write down everything I can think of in somewhat of a structured manner.
It started out with one big bullet list of what I want to achieve as a game developer and has evolved into more individual notes about certain topics.
I found that it’s very useful to ask yourself a question and use that as title of the note:
- What technology stack do I need?
- What game ideas do I want to work on?
- How will I acquire a user base (in general)?
- How will I grow my user base (in general)?
- Where will I get my game graphics?
- Who will test my games?
- What is the development schedule?
As time goes by I investigate more topics and try to answer all the questions.
Eventually all those answered questions will lead to what you could call a business plan for Rumar Gaming.
What is important to me is that writing everything down clears my mind; when something is written down I don’t have to constantly remember it.
Read! Read blogs, articles and books.
A lot of time has been spent on reading and trying to suck up as much useful information as possible.
I read about successful indie game companies and – more importantly – about failed indie game companies.
What have they done wrong? How could they have prevent it? What are others doing so well?
Other important topics for me were game programming patterns, cloud hosting, API security, mobile game marketing, revenue models, growth hacking and the list goes one.
Anything that has to do with setting up and running an indie game company is a welcome read.
There are also a few books that I’ve read and want to highlight:
- Game programming patterns
A very well-written book by a veteran game developer with valuable design patterns for game development.
You can also read all the contents for free on his website.
- The indie game developer handbook
This handbook is full of great tips for indie game developers.
It was a good test for me to see if I had thought about everything and is also a nice reference guide for later if I need to find certain services or resources (like freelance designers, marketing resources, etc.)
- Hooked: how to build habit-forming products
Explains how to use patterns in user behavior and use learning from psychology to engage people to use – and keep using! – your (online) product.
- Design patterns
A classic which I had obviously read before, but I took out again to refresh my memory.
If you never heard of this as a developer you should drop everything else right now and get this book.
- The clean coder
Excellent book about how to treat software development as a true craft.
It’s described as “a code of conduct for developers”.
- The four hour workweek
This book has nothing to do with software development, a little with building companies, but mostly about how to escape the 9 to 5 / 40 hour work week.
Although most of the practices described in the book do not really apply to how I envision game development to be (e.g. I won’t outsource my work and will need more than those 40 hours a week to get shit done), the book has inspired me a lot since I read it a few years ago. That’s why I thought it was worth mentioning here.
Clean out my work space
I’ll be doing most of my work from the comfort of my own house.
This means working from my man cave that is also being (ab)used as storage for all sorts of things that otherwise lay around in the house.
It works much better if you have a clean work space with nothing in sight except for the things you need: a desk, chair and hardware.
So I’ve cleaned out my man cave and tried to leave it as neat as possible.
Besides my physical work space I also cleaned out my digital ones.
I upgraded my desktop PC (which will be the main workstation) with some extra RAM and extra SSD.
It runs a fresh installation of Mac OS in VMWare from the SSD with an abundance of RAM so I never really notice that it’s not a real Mac.
I’ll be using Mac OS to develop everything for the mobile platform using Xamarin Studio.
The API will be built on Windows using Visual Studio.
Ready to rock!
That wraps it up for now.
In just a little over a week it’s go time; my schedule will be cleared and I’ll start working on Rumar full-time for the first two weeks and nearly full-time after that.
Keep an eye on this blog to stay updated on my progress.