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Advice on Starting out

Hi All! I just wanted to gain some advice on starting out. My brother and I have our own business in the trade industry, however to us this is just a job to pay the bills. As we have grown up as gamers, our passion and dream would be to have a career in game development. My main question would be, what would be the best way to start out? As we have gained basic skills in the last year, we have huge ideas for a huge mmo but obviously dont have the funding or team to create it as we currently work full time. So we are currently working on a small game, however are there any ideas out there that helped you start out as a developer? E.g did you do online courses first or just self teach yourself along the way with youtube tutorials etc.
Did you apply on sites to get funding to help create the game or hire someone to help on a contract basis? Was there a particular site with free courses or resources that helped you kickstart your development career? Is there a site where you can find investors to invest and help build these games? Any tips and ideas to help a couple of full time, fathers who have families and want to persue this dream would be very much appreciated?

It’s going to be tough to get funding without a very good demo if it’s your first project. Publishers are wary because there are so many games in development. It’s possible though if you have a fun prototype. But I’d assume that you are on your own there. Crowdfunding is an option though without an established name you’ll need a very good video and an idea that excites people.

Probably the best advice I could give to a new developer is just to focus first on making a fully functional game, and start with something smaller scale. If you’re dream is to make an MMO, start with a single player or co-op RPG first. It’s unlikely your first game is going to be a masterpiece. Use it as a learning tool. Focus on finishing it and making it as good as you can. Promote it on social media and by reaching out to gaming sites as best as you can. Don’t spend a lot of money on it. Put it out there on Steam Early Access and get some feedback. In all likelihood it won’t do nearly as well as you might have hoped but the experience of that will be vital. Use that experience and then hop into the game you really want to build.

If that end goal game is an MMO be prepared for a long haul. You are probably looking at 5+ years in development. You definitely don’t want that to be your first game because in all likelihood you are going to make mistakes early on. Those are just part of the process. But by the time you have are ready to have a decent number of outside eyes on your project in an MMO you are often going to be years into development and you may discover that part of the core that you’ve built on is rotten and it won’t be easy to undo. That’s just part of the process but the larger the scope (and thus the development time) the more painful those mistakes will be.

It’s a great time to be a game developer though. There is so much useful free information out there from companies like Epic, and from youtubers or others which really makes the process a lot easier. Not to mention some useful products in the marketplace. Those things weren’t available in the past. Books and sites like Udemy can also have some useful information, particularly early on. Nothing beats experience though, just temper your expectations and don’t allow yourself to be disappointed if your first game doesn’t pan out. In all likelihood it won’t do as well as you hope it will. Just view that as part of the process.

My advice is to start as small as possible. Everyone has a dream game, but unfortunately game development for AAA quality titles (if you are talking MMO, open world games, etc.) is both costly and time consuming. Just look at the credits for one of your favorite games, there are probably hundreds of people (or more) that worked on that game for years. So a single developer or small team will have a huge unsurmountable task ahead of them to bring out something of similar quality. So pick something that is achievable for 1 or 2 people. You can look back at older games, maybe 16-bit or 32-bit titles, for ways to make good games with more limited resources and smaller budgets. I have this problem too, and it’s tough to pick something small when you want a big game but take things one step at a time.

In terms of funding, it will be really hard without a good track record. If you see the kinds of games that did well on Kickstarter, most of them were from industry veterans with pedigree, and the reason they were popular was because people liked their older games. As an unknown, especially if you are still learning, you have a very slim chance of anyone funding your game. So, at least for the first few titles, you’re probably on your own. That is, unless your first game is a huge hit, something like Minecraft, but that is very hard to do and you still need a certain level of skill to pull that off. But if you can make a few solid games, even if they aren’t financial successes, that could help with your credentials to eventually get funding. Also, you could consider doing freelance/contract work once you learn enough. This is a good way to beef up your resume and also stay afloat while you work on your own game.

Best way to learn is to just start developing. Pick some classic titles like Asteroids, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, etc. and try to recreate them in your engine of choice. This will teach you a lot, and also allow you to learn since the art and coding requirements are relatively easy. Reading books have been helpful to me, there are quite a number of books on Amazon about Unreal and related tools. I’ve seen some courses on Udemy which look good, but I haven’t tried them yet. Depends if you learn better from written material or videos, it’s your choice. Check Udemy when they have sales, you can usually get a course for $10 or $15. Don’t pay the full price. Hope that helps.

Hey thanks heaps for the feedback.
sounds like we are on the right track, we will be starting on small basic games to get the idea of launching games etc.
ive also started a udemy course specifically on blueprints so once that complete it should give me a better understanding on the coding and could also offer some free to low charge services to help other developers, which will help us gain a portfolio and some experience.
thanks again for your replys, and yes we will deff be starting off basic and small.