Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Designing a Video Game

Designing video games is a really interesting and different hobby. People who like playing video games probably never think about the process of creating them. If you are a video game enthusiast and have writing, art, or programming skills, then you can become a hobbyist game designer and spend your spare time doing something you love that can benefit your career, too.

You need basically three people on any design team, unless of course of the people can do two jobs. You need a writer. The writer should know the most about coming up with characters and plots. This person should be able to create the dialogue throughout the game and probably can assist with issues such as what happens if someone finds a secret passage. Because fiction writers create their own worlds in their works, they are well-suited for working on video games.

The second person on the team will be the artist. This person may opt to draw out characters and then create them through graphics, or she may want to create them from the computer from the beginning. Either way the artist on the design team should be prepared to create various characters and the scenery for all of the worlds. Be sure that you are able to take constructive criticism about your art because designing video games is a team hobby.

The final person on the team is the programming. This person is the one who is doing the coding for the game. He will be putting together how the characters move, where they go, and what happens next. The programmer should know exactly what the other team members want to happen at every stage of the game. This person has to be able to work out every possible scenario for what could happen in the game. A good programmer already will have these skills.

When you first decide to create a video game, you should have an idea of the type of game you want to create. It may be educational. It may be bloody and violent. It may be a racing game. Once you know what you want, then you can begin to put together a design team. You can find other team members by going to a local gaming lounge or to art centers. You may be able to advertise for someone there, or the owners may know of someone who may be interested in your project. You also could consider running a classified ad in a local alternative paper as these publications often have gamers among their readership.

Decide what you want from the game before you begin working with the others so that there are no problems later. While you do not have to be formal and have a contract, you should know who will own the game or if all of you will own an equal share. Also try to get an idea if the others want to sell the game, offer it as freeware, or just keep it for their portfolio.

Once you start designing a game, you will find it addicting. You will want to spend all of your time thinking about the game and what is going to happen with the characters. Be sure that you and your design team set up a time when you can get together to work on the game. Try to work on it every week or so and be sure that you know where everyone else is in the design process for the whole time you are working on the design.

Breaking into the video gaming world is tough. This sample game that you create could be the launching pad you need to show video game companies what it is that you are capable of doing. Working on this game also could become a fun release, particularly if you write or program for a living. The game could be the fun you have instead of the work that you have to do.

You will find that other people will be impressed when you tell them what it is that you do for a hobby. They will be shocked and often in awe of someone who knew what he wanted to do and then did it.

By Julia Mercer

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