Lessons in Game Development

Today I got a message from a fellow on the GameDev.net message boards. He had previously randomly contacted me and was asking for help on a project, to which I replied that he needs to use the proper channels to do so. Looking at his posting history showed me that he had attempted twice to post, asking for help. Both times no one had responded. He then responded to my message with this:

Why should I stop asking for help when I real need help I have ben working on this game for real long time now I get help form [edited] they referred me to this websit now I’m asking for so more help and the olny thing you can say is STOP this is my DREAM to make video game [edited] I want square enix to published my game

Here’s how I replied (edited to make a little more sense out of context):

I’m not saying give up on your dream – I’m saying go about accomplishing it in a proper fashion.

1. Use proper grammar and punctuation. If this means typing up your replies/posts/threads/PMs in something like Microsoft Word and spell checking them first, do it. If you can’t write seriously, how do you expect to be taken seriously?

2. Everyone has dreams. Dreams are cheap. Reality is expensive. Show you are willing to pay the price by following #1, following the forum rules, and being a good community member. Your posting history shows me that you’ve tried twice, and no one has taken the bait. If it hasn’t worked twice, that either tells me that something is wrong with the way you are doing things or something is wrong with what you are doing. Posting, asking for help when you haven’t put in any visible effort is exactly that.

3. You need to be willing to put real time and effort into your own project before anyone will take you seriously. I’ve been around on [GameDev.net] for 10 years or so. In that time I’ve seen a ton of people, just like you come and go because they weren’t willing to do the actual work themselves. Be prepared to do the entire project yourself, and put in as many hours as it takes. If people see that you can’t even be bothered to write up a proper design document, or at least have a proper plan, they won’t be willing to donate their time and energy to a lost cause.

Game programming and development is really no different than any other industry. You not only need to be willing to work your hardest/smartest, but you actually need to do so. People won’t take you seriously until you actually produce some results. Here’s my recommendation:

1. Start by reformatting your post in the [correct] forum. Follow the template mentioned in the FAQ, and if a moderator tells you to do something, do it.

2. Get some skills by either writing up a design document, learning a programming language (and making a few small game demos), or producing some art. Decide what you want to do -do you want to be a producer/designer, a programmer, or an artist (or something else)?

3. Start off with something smaller than your ‘dream’ project. Again, we all have dream projects, but unless you actually learn to do the small things first, you won’t accomplish your dream project. I can pretty much guarantee that if you can’t finish something small, you won’t finish something big.

4. Adjust your dream. The likelihood that you actually get something published by Square Enix is really really really slim. Like 1,000,000,000:1. Major companies like that don’t take external projects – they work with their internal teams. They certainly won’t take on a project from someone who has failed to produce anything up to this point. Heck, even some game companies that have produced previous games still have difficulty finding publishers who are willing to take on ‘high risk’ projects.

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