Can you make a video game by yourself?

For many who are first getting into video game development, it will potentially be on your own or as a hobbyist, or part of a course. Due to this fact, it is also likely that you will want to realise your own video game vision. This is the case for many budding video game developers. It is also fair to assume – can you make a video game on your own and is this even feasible?

And if you can make a video game on your own… what should you expect?

When considering whether you can make a video game by yourself, you may be happy to know that you can create a video game on your own. You can create an entire video game by yourself – be it 2D or 3D. In order to make a video game by yourself, you’ll need to utilise resources, restrict how your time is being used, and use pre-made solutions. Any prefabricated assets and models to help with your game development journey will help when creating a game. The same can be said for making a prototype of your game on your own too.

When creating a game on your own, it can be easy to get caught up in development hurdles and small detail problems, which become large problems. If obsessed over, some of these minor detail problems can derail the completion of a project. Especially if you are working on your own. You will need to decide whether to solve these problems or circumnavigate them altogether.

To avoid this, the sooner you can learn your own skills and limitations when working on your own, the better. The faster you can compromise too, the better.

Creating a video game by yourself is certainly possible, but it does come with challenges. Common challenges you will find when creating a video game on your own are; game artwork, visual design, graphic design, game development, animation, audio – managing time and actually completing the project. And last but not least, stretching your goals with too high expectations. Technically speaking you can create a game on your own, albeit probably not be a big AAA game.

Read on for more details on making a video game by yourself.

Can you make a video game by yourself – Tips

An important step when creating a game by yourself is to realistically manage your own expectations. It can be tempting to believe that you can create a 100-hour AAA epic on your own. This AAA standard epic would come with the latest 3D graphics and everything you expect to see in a AAA.

But you need to be realistic when trying to create a game by yourself. Time, expertise, skill, and teams are involved in creating these AAA games. That aside, these are some of the core steps you can take to create the best game by yourself.

“Remember to manage your own expectations.”

Pick the type of game you can create on your own

Picking the type of game you can make by yourself is an important step in managing your own project. Avoid being too ambitious with your project. Trying to create a large game that is open-world with various maps full of 3D models, cut scenes, etc etc. Is potentially too much on your own.

You need to pick the type of game which is smaller scale. If this is your first foray into creating video games – keep it small. It may be more worthwhile to create one level or two-level game to completion, than a large game that never gets made.

Planning & research

The research and planning stage for creating a game by yourself needs careful consideration. When making a game by yourself, you can save a lot of time by doing the initial planning and research at the start. Look at the resources available, assess, and engines to name a few.

Select an appropriate game engine

Once you’ve carried out your research and decided on the type of game you want to make. You’ll want to decide which engine is best suited to your project. Certain engines are better suited to certain types of games be it 2D or 3D. You will also want a game engine you can manage on your own.

Utilise Assets

If you’re creating a game by yourself – you need to work efficiently. You can do so by utilising assets and pre-made components for your game. This also applies to larger-scale projects. As an example, the Unity Asset Store, or Unity Assets has a wide range of assets you can use.

You may be interested in reading this: Useful Beginner Assets From The Unity Asset Store.

Avoid doing everything yourself – leverage

When creating a game by yourself, you need to be able to find ways of making your efforts stretch. If you can pay for or find assets or services that can help your project, consider using these services. If you can find other computer game designers or developers – speak to them for advice. Telling other creators too will hold you to account.

Don’t make it difficult for yourself, if creating a game by yourself

Don’t make the project more difficult for yourself than it already needs to be. Try to use beginner-friendly game engines or try to see if you use no-code game engines. This article covers a bit about creating a 2D video game if you can’t code. Try to be realistic with your current capabilities if you want to complete your game project on your own.

Trim the fat of your project – Scale it back

When creating a game on your own, there is a limit to what one person can do. Keep your project scale feasible. Don’t bloat the project, or pack in too many features. Remove the bells and whistles from your game project. Do you need to create 10 outfits for your main character? Do you need to have 40 levels in your game? Can it be 4? Do you need as many characters? You get the idea. Keep it lean. Don’t get carried away.

Don’t obsess over the technicalities

When making a video game on your own, it can be easy to get lost in the technicalities. Setting aside the fact that making a video game on your own is a challenge, you don’t want to make it more difficult. In all probability, you may fall into one or 2 of these camps.

You’re probably a coder – more on the technical side of game development.

An artist – that wants to exact a vision of your game. A 3D Artist, a 2D artist, or an animator. There is, most likely an area or two in which you truly specialise.

If you are on the more technical side then carry on you can build all of your game logic. But remember to create good artwork for your game. Players will look at the artwork, not the code. If you’re more on the artistic side, the technical aspect can be a hindrance and stop an indie game dead in its tracks. For the artist’s out there, you need to consider ways how to make your game work without needing to learn a new language from scratch. A static collective of artwork is not a game.

For the artists – you may be interested in reading a bit more about no-code game engines for example to help your project move along. The bottom line is, whichever camp you belong to, you need to find a way of plugging your skill gap. Look for assets, forums, groups, and more for help.

When working on your own game, get a support network

It may sound counter-intuitive, but getting a support network to help you when you’re creating a video game by yourself is helpful. Tell friends and family you are making a video making a game. Seek advice or recommendations on forums. And also look for websites that have good question-answer sections. Even game developers who work on their own need help.

It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece when making a video game by yourself

When creating a video game by yourself, you may be tempted to pull out all the stops. In your mind’s eye, your game has the high-spec visuals of a AAA studio with an epic storyline. But remember who creates these games – a ‘team’ of creatives and developers. You may not wish to hear it, but there is a limit to what one video game designer can do.

Remember to manage your own expectations.

Expect it to be low-key, expect to be fairly basic, expect it to be not as great as you hope if this is your first attempt making a game. Experiment a little before moving on to the big jobs later. You will find your skills will probably improve.

Consider doing the hard stages first

Big hurdles can arise when it comes to creating games by yourself. Something many of us are guilty of is doing the bits we enjoy first. For many, doing the bits you enjoy first is arguably the easiest for you.

It can be tempting to do the easy stages first. But, this can be counterproductive in the long term. For example, I always design and draw first. This can lead me to create all the 2D artwork for a project, only to realise that my technical limitations stopped me from using many of those assets. It has prevented me from finishing the game project.

Eventually, I learned a different process. Due to my own technical limitations and lack of budget. When I work on projects of a similar nature, it forced me to adapt my approach.

When creating a computer game on my own. I will create a ‘grey box’ version of the game to see what does and doesn’t work from a technical perspective. I will then create the assets knowing which components work technically. I learned to work on the logic – the function, and then the form.

Can you make a video game by yourself or on your own – experiences

You certainly can’t make a video game by yourself. Just remember to manage your own expectations, and your technical limitations, and know your own capabilities before getting overly involved in the project. And be prepared to change your game.

It is realistic to assume that you may need to change the complete story or how your game is played in the early stages of game development. As you’re creating this game on your own this is more than acceptable! As you may be in the learning stages – done is better than perfect.

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