In June of 2012, I launched my first game Math Control, an educational game to help kids learn math, under the brand Mega Dino. I plan to keep posting about my game development experience and the overall process of building a game company.
If you are making games and want to read more about my experience you can follow me on Twitter or sign up for my newsletter at the end of this post.
Below are five things I learned in the process of making my first game.
1. Buy Books and READ them
Everyone has a weak point right?
Be honest with yourself and understand what your weaknesses are. Start shoring up those weaknesses by reading EVERYTHING.
Don’t have time, MAKE time!
Leave books by your bedside, on the dinner table, in the bathroom or by the tv remote!
Invest time in educating yourself, it’s the best investment ever!
You say, “why should I learn about something I will hire someone else to do?”
My friend, in that question is your answer.
At some point you will need to hire someone to do what you CAN’T do.
Fact is, you wont know how to spot a great asset when you see it, if you don’t first understand what greatness should be or look like.
2.) Forget Flash and HTML5, learn Objective C
You been getting some of those emails or ads on how to make games without coding?
Even Facebook learned the hard way (Read: http://www.macrumors.com/2012/06/27/facebook-abandoning-html5-to-speed-up-ios-app/), to have the best performing app and thus happy customers, you always write code using the devices native language.
Assuming that you want to make cooler games than Tic-Tac-Toe, take the time to learn about Cocoa Touch / Objective C.
Also learn about Cocos2d: http://www.cocos2d-iphone.org/
And Box2d: http://box2d.org/
3.) Plant Seeds of Marketing Now!
Are you waiting to tell people about your new App the day it comes out?
Then you are in for a huge up hill battle!
As of this writing, Tiny Wings 2 and Animal Mall by Trey Smith just launched.
What do they have in common?
Both started talking about their app releases months ahead of time.
Here is the teaser trailer for Tiny Wings, pretty damn creative:
And Trey Smith (a well established internet marketer transitioning to game development) has a huge email base of fans that are following his app empire building. After 9 months of development, he can now send out an email and make a blog post to reach thousands about his new game release:
Start planting the seeds of marketing now!
Learn from my mistake, although I believe Math Control is a great educational math game, very few people even know it exists!
Trust me, it hurts to say that!
4.) Build a GREAT Team
Having everything available to you, would you build a car for yourself with the cheapest car parts, duct tape and glue?
Good enough is not worth the trouble and pain you will suffer later.
Never compromise your standards.
Even if you don’t have the money now, its best to wait and save up to get the best team players available.
It’s never about not having enough money… it’s always about having the discipline to save enough money to hire the best team that meets your high standards.
Trust me, the hourly or project rate you pay may seem high, but in the end will seem like pennies, you will feel confident that you put forth the very best.
And that confidence will carry forward when marketing your game!
5.) Mind Your Business
Unless you already have a thriving business, most of us have to work a job or existing business to fund game development.
I am no different, I am a contract coder by day and game developer by night.
Sleep, pfffttt, whatever… forget about that!
Burning the candle at both ends will run you ragged unless you set a schedule.
As the saying goes, “Mind Your Business”, don’t forget about what puts food on the table.
Keep a clear time schedule so that you can give work your full attention and game development your full attention.
Emails, Twitter and blogs have sucked away many of my days until I made a schedule.
Now, I have a day shift where I work only on client tasks and a night shift where I read blog posts, research and make games.
It’s easy to get carried away with game development, after all it’s lot’s of fun!
Don’t forget what puts food on the table!
Mind Your Business!