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Amateur game design for the technically impaired

Indie Development – Prototyping

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Indie developers don’t get discouraged!

David Marsh over at Gamasutra wrote an excellent post related to indie game development. It’s worth a read. I agree with a lot of his points, and would like to expand upon a few things from my own experiences.


Developing games has become easier and easier over the past couple of years thanks to a widespread independent games boom. Independent games are becoming more popular every day and they are easily available and distributed over the Internet. Most importantly independent games are usually available for free. Since indie developers have no restrictions in terms of content or deadlines, most indie developers try to push the boundaries and create original game play ideas, art styles and content.



Now, you don’t have to be a master programmer or artist to create cool and unique games. I actually believe that in some cases it is better to use a game maker type program or editor, because it is an easy way to prototype your ideas and see them in action quickly. Then, you can adjust your game design decisions on the fly, without having to be boggled down by code or even rewriting an engine. There are a wide number of free development tools and resources available throughout the Internet. Heck, you may even already own a game that comes with a toolset to create original content. These tools are a great way to experiment and get your ideas online with ease and tested by others.


As Justin posted before about the Warcraft III editor, I have to mention my favorite Warcraft III mod, Defenders of the Ancients. DOTA has become so popular clans and leagues have formed around the world. DOTA has a hardcore underground following and is even a featured game in the Cyberathelete Amateur League. Since the developers were obviously just a couple of guys without any restrictions on what they could do, they had the ability to listen to their community and make the mod as solid as possible. This just goes to show you that just because you are using an editor, or preconstructed scripting engine, you are only limited by your creativity and ambitions.


Here are a few quick and dirty tips into prototyping your game ideas:


1) Don t just rush into an editor.

Even though you may have this great idea in your head, you may not have thought of all the pitfalls or limitations of your editor. Rather than choosing an editor and designing a game based around that, you should first create a game idea and then choose an editor that will suit you best. This allows you to be as creative and original as possible without succumbing to the limitations of your development environment.


2) Grab a notebook.

By simply doodling or writing any ideas that come to mind you may come up with ideas that you would have not seen before. You may look at a sketch at a later time in a completely different way. The notebook is one of the most important parts of the game design process. After you come up with a couple quick ideas you can start combining the best ones and eventually polish them out in a design document.


3) Develop a simple design document.

After you have a good idea create a design document. The design document helps you keep focused on the development of your project. It also provides good documentation for yourself and others in the thought processes and steps you took to achieve the end result.


3) Pick a development environment that best suits your game idea

It may sound obvious but if you want to make an FPS you probably don’t want to be using a Warcraft III editor or Game Maker. Source comes with all the development tools you need to create any FPS you want.


4) Play test, Play test, Play test

Get your friends to play your game. 100% of the time they will find glitches and bugs that you may overlook during your development process. If you can, submit your game on line as a beta to be tested by others. There are many Indie game sites that offer the ability to upload your game. The Game Maker community even has a YouTube like interface for commenting and rating games.



Indie developers are a thriving community that continues on growing each day. We build off each others ideas, provide feedback and support and most importantly, play games. Even if you don’t consider yourself a game designer go ahead and share your ideas.




A few of you may be wondering about the editors and websites I mentioned in this post. I will go over each of them in detail on a later date, but for now:


Game Maker

Half-Life Source


Defenders of the Ancients

More Indie game websites.

TIG Source

Indygamer blog


Written by brunokruse

February 27, 2008 at 1:30 am

One Response

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  1. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.


    September 10, 2009 at 10:55 pm

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