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Tutorials/Guides/Resources & Advice for a new tiny indie team

Hey everyone,

I was unsure where to post this, so I thought the general forum would be the best.

After 20~ years playing video games and being interested in development me and some friends have finally decided to try get involved in the creation of them - All-be-it starting very small for now.

There is only three of us and it’s initially very small ideas, you know to test the waters and get skills under our belts etc.

I would like to know really what advice you guys have for us - and of course any links/guides etc to help learning on the different tools etc required to create a game (such as C++ tutorials and guides and also it would be great to get Blender/3DS Max guides/Tutorials as these seem quite a pain to find!)

How you guys got started yourselves and a list of guides/tutorials and resources you have on things like 3DS Max/Blender and C++ etc would be great!

Thanks

My advice right off the bat would be to take a serious inventory of what you know how to do and what you don’t know how to do. Write those out into two columns and then pare down your feature list as far as possible to produce as little overlap into that second column as possible. When I started out I assumed that anything “code” would be handled by my programming friend and I would run with the rest of it. I mean it was my project and I would love it enough to endure whatever I’d have to right? The result was me hitting a wall so far out of my league that I eventually threw my hands up.

Learning three new software packages, a game development engine, the entirety of the asset pipeline between all of those (3D modeling, high poly modeling, texturing, scripting, etc) while also working out how the game was even going to be designed was entirely too much to take on in the first go around. My lesson was to define my limits, and rather than try to push them so far I burst my own bubble, I dial the vision back to something that can be accomplished within my reach with just a bit of stretch. Now I look at the things I don’t know how to do and think of how I can present something in a way that doesn’t require me to become a full production studio by myself, and the result is I think way more creatively about my problem solving and the results are distinct and interesting.

I don’t actually know what your game is or what level of effort you’re putting into it, but keep in mind that a success, no matter how simple, puts enough fuel back into your tank to reach higher next time. Lets say you want to design a multi-level brawler with enemy types that force the player into interesting tactical situations. Sound good? Ok take that idea and figure out what a player will conceivably be doing almost every second of the game and then make a ****** version of that with placeholder garbage art. I’m talking like one flat gray room with one character that moves and has a camera following them around. After that think about getting one object in that will take damage, display that damage on a bar, and then dies/is removed when its damage variable has reached a specified number. Poke at the actions of those basic things until it feels good moving around and punching. Then think about adding something that might hit back.

Directly start with the game. During the development process you will have questions -> ask them here in the forum or answerhub (we are always here to help you :))
Also make sure to create a small GDD so that you know the rough goals/outliners

Good places to start:

Take your time and you have to read/watch a lot of docs and tutorials in the beginning, but you can simultaneously start working on your game but start small - just a scene or something simple. From there extend. For me this user videos were very telling when i begun Unreal Tesla Dev - YouTube

So, I’ve been working on a game for about 18 months now along with a small team - 7 people total, but only four (2 devs, 2 artists) who are regularly working on actual game development. I can offer a few suggestions.

First and absolutely foremost, come up with an idea and scope appropriate to the size of your team and your skillset. If you plan to make the next Skyrim or GTA, you are going to get frustrated and fail, even leveraging an engine like UE4 that does so much for you. Games of that scale are made by teams of hundreds of programmers and artists… thousands of people when you include everybody contributing to the final product. You can’t do a game of that scope well with three people, even if those three are super-experienced unicorns*.

If you’re just getting started, you really want to scope out something very limited for your first game. Create something that takes place in a relatively small area. Do an endless runner, platformer, or top down shooter to get your sea legs, then think about doing something more ambitious once you’ve shipped something.

Shipping is hard and it teaches you a lot and you want to get a shipped game under your belt before you try and do something too ambitious. You will make some bad decisions trying to get your first one out the door simply because you’re anxious to get your game out into the world. You don’t want to do that with your magnus opus, so start small and shoot higher with each successive game. After you’ve shipped a few, you’ll feel much less pressure to ship prematurely

Be public. Small teams don’t have the luxury of a large advertising budget, so develop your game in public as much as you can to build interest. Do a dev diary, blog posts, forum posts here, and #screenshotsaturday tweets. Answer questions when asked and engage people who are interested in what you are doing. Even consider streaming some of your game dev sessions on Twitch. Don’t try and hide your mistakes, either. Do it all warts and all. People will not judge you less for it, and the type of person who’s interested in the nitty gritty details of how your game is being built can become a champion for your game later.

Make sure you have a website, a facebook page, a twitter account, and maybe an Instagram account for the game. Don’t just use your personal accounts. Give the game its own identity online.

Learn to deal with frustration. Game dev is hard, even for experienced developers and designers. You will paint yourself into corners, You will make bad decisions that haunt you months from now. It’s all part of the game, and you can overcome it all, but if you feel defeated when things go wrong, it’s very easy to sidetrack your whole development effort.

Communicate constantly with your other team members, and don’t try to restrict people to an area of expertise. If your artist has a story idea, listen. If your programmer has a suggestion on a model, listen.

I could probably go on for days, but I’ll stop here. Best of luck with your project.

  • Unicorn - a multitalented person capable of doing multiple jobs at a professional level

Morning guys - thanks very much for the input here! I can see that a lot of thought has gone into each answer and that really is appreciated.

The initial project is only a small one - with the end outcome being a dungeon crawler that a team mate had designed a long time ago, but to begin with it’s learning the tools and getting a blank empty room with a man who can walk, that would be a good first step.

So I’ve had a red over each of your replies and also scouted through the forum ehre and other places on the ent and have started to come up with a few points to bear in mind and also to put into place when the project has started.

  • Go through the getting started in the unreal documentation and tutorial sections

  • list what we can and cannot do, what must be learnt

  • strengths and weaknesses of our team members

  • Start tiny (lets get a dude walking around a tiny blank, empty room)

  • Use the forums and don’t suffer in silence and give up

  • Learn some project management, consult team mates and communicate regularly

  • Email updates every week, even if just to myself - summaries of the week, what I’ve done and what needs to be done next

  • make milestones, no matter what the size

  • Be public, get involved with this forums more

  • Facebook/Instagram/a blog/twitter/the games own website

Open a Third Person level from the Unreal Engine launcher. Job done!:cool:

This last point is a bit further down the line than you are now. Just get developing, and MAKE something you can show to people, before you plan HOW to show it to them.

Good luck!

Yeah but that first one would be cheatin! :stuck_out_tongue: Lets replace some stuff :stuck_out_tongue:

Very far down the line yep - Just taking on advice from people is all, I just want to get started and create something! :slight_smile: