A downloadable Manifesto

Sometimes I have a hard time making a game. Coming up with ideas, or how to start, how to proceed. I get bogged down by small things, and I feel as if I should know better. You know how you can dispense clever advice when somebody asks for your help, but when it comes to following it yourself, you just don't think of it? That's me.

So I figured I'd sit down with myself and ask for advice on how to make a game.

These are some of the points from that discussion...

  • Make a game for yourself. Specifically for yourself. Don’t think about how other people will feel about it, it's not a game for them, it's for you. Don’t explain yourself. Don’t excuse yourself. Never apologize. Just be yourself.

  • Make a game for your friends. Make it personal. Explore how you feel about them, how you think they feel, what they like, what shocks them, what drives them. We humans tend to find meaning and personality in all things everywhere, and we connect to it, even though it's not directed towards us.

  • Just make a game for anyone, about anything. Be funny, be sad, be dramatic, be explorative, don’t make a game. Do what you like, there aren’t any rules, only opinions. All we all want is something to experience, no matter how unremarkable you might think the experience might be.

  • Stop and explore your “trash” ideas, that you so easily throw away as being “silly”. They could be gold, a diamond in the rough. And stop calling your ideas “trash” or “silly”, for the very same reason.

  • Explore the most complex version of your idea. Explore the most simplest version of your idea. Settle on prototyping the second most simplest version of your idea and accept that you’ll probably end up complicating it as you go along.

  • Prepare. Running head first into a project without preparation is like driving a car through a brick wall: You’ll get through it, but it’ll be a painful mess. A little pre-production, a little planning, a scribble on a piece of paper, some drawings, maps, pictures, references, adjectives even. It all goes a long way of making the entire ride smooth.

  • Make a prototype as if you’re in a game jam. Create the core feature of the game over a long weekend. Don’t think about reusing anything you make, it’ll only get in your way and slow you down. Spend time polishing it before the end, 5 poor functions will never be as good as 3 polished ones.

  • Don’t spend time second guessing yourself. Just stop. There’s no time for “no, this is stupid”, leave it in as it is and keep going. Think of it as a running marathon: at no point are you going to return a few steps back to redo them because your shoe didn't make the right sound.

  • Just create an experience, don’t create the most amazing artwork or the cleanest code, nobody will stop and stare at any of it. But the right mood, the perfect atmosphere, the harmony of sight, sound and actions, that's where the queen lives. The experience is queen and she reigns.

  • Add sounds. Just... dude, for once, add sounds!

  • Let people play test it and get their feedback. Take the positive comments to heart and find a learning from the negative comments. Don't dwell on the negatives. Negative comments aren't a sign of failure, and it isn't necessarily valid just because it's negative.

  • And just be a human. Just make a game as a human being. We’re all humans, all of us, and none of us expect anything more from one another. If you make something amazing, great! Set it free! If you didn't make something amazing, great! Set it free! Be free and start over.

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Just Make a Game (PDF download) 51 kB

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