How I Made My First Video Game in 4 Weeks While Working Full Time!

How hard is it to make a game?

When I was a kid in Elementary School, I would always answer "What do you want to be when you grow up?" with "I want to make video games". My hero at the time was Shigeru Miyamoto. The creator of Mario, Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, and many more of my most favorite video games. 

Later, that idea warped into "I want to work on computers". And so, with this singular idea, I got training and certifications while in High School to become an IT guy. And immediately after graduating High School, I got a tech job and have been in the tech industry for over ten years now.

Along the way, I married a super hot wife and we made a super hot baby. 

But I've always had a creative drive in me. A little engine in my heart that kept me writing stories, painting brush art, and just an overall need to MAKE something.

And that's where Indie Games entered the scene and changed everything. An industry of game creators exploring and creating games that were steeped in style, classic game design, and experimental. I learned that many of these games were the product of a small team of just a few people. Some of them were a product of just ONE GUY!

Video Games, combined everything I enjoyed doing into one product. Art, writing, and design. Making video games requires one to be a modern-day Davinci. 

Now over the years, I've experimented with different game engines and made a couple of short prototypes. But nothing ever came from them because I had lacked the discipline. Making video games as it turned out was a monumental task that required a ton of time.

But, it's 2018 and I am more disciplined now than I've ever been in my life. So it's time to set a goal and achieve it.

Goal: Publish a casual, easy to pick up and play video game on January 30th, 2018 for the Android Play Store.

I set that goal on December 22nd, 2017. That was during the holidays so I would have time to experiment and explore my options.

Eventually, I landed on a game engine known as Game Maker Studio. It allowed me to code using a simple scripting language called GML and most importantly, it allowed me to export to the Android Play Store with little work.

Now I've run into my first obstacle. Game Maker Studio and GML were both new to me so I had to learn how to use this tool before I could do anything else. The solution was simple, go to Udemy.com and search for a course that taught A. How to use Game Maker Studio and GML. B. How to publish on the Android Play Store. and C. How to add monetization. Luckily, I found a course with that exact description and it only costs $20! 

I quickly went through the course during the week that I had off for Christmas and absorbed as much of the info as I could. Going through this course so quickly proved that making something in a short amount of time, was possible.

The second part was actually easy for me. Prototype a gameplay idea. You see, I have a designer mindset and keep a notebook full of game ideas. So I pulled one from my notebook and started working on a prototype.

The idea was simple. The player is trapped in a building with hordes of zombies approaching her. Every zombie would require two shots to kill. I call it Double-Tap the Dead. I got the idea from Zombieland, a movie in which the main character makes up rules on how to survive the apocalypse and one of the rules was to always Double-Tap. 

The next obstacle I encountered was art. My usual style of brush painting would not be easy to translate to a simple mobile game. But I knew that tons of Indie Developers used Pixel Art because it was quick to create and iterate. I spent a few days making the Player and the Zombie. Over the weeks I would also make icons and buttons for the Game Menu. It was a fun part of the development and one that I would really like to get good at. But for now, the art in my first game is just "good enough". There was one part of the art I did not compromise and that was with the banner for the Android Play Store. I knew that that was the art that needed to be eye-catching so I went on Reddit and messaged a pixel artist and commissioned him for a banner. He worked fast and I am more than happy with the final result.

 The Commisioned Banner! Check out the artist on Instagram!  https://www.instagram.com/brandonjamesgreer/

The Commisioned Banner! Check out the artist on Instagram! https://www.instagram.com/brandonjamesgreer/

 

With the idea, art, and tools out of the way, I found my groove and the weeks went flying by!

So how exactly did I managed to get so much done whilst working a full-time job and spending all of my spare time with my family?

By waking up at 3:50 am every morning. I'd wake up, shower and shave. Then make coffee and got to work on my game. My day job started at 6am so I had from 4-5:30 to work on my game. Often I'd sit down to work and when I glanced at the clock, it was time to get ready for work. I thought to myself "I must be on to something if I'm losing track of time like this".

Now its January 30th and I am hitting Publish on my game, Double-Tap the Dead. Game Development has been extremely rewarding for me. The fact that I was able to accomplish something so monumental and achieve my childhood dream of being a Game Designer has given me a great sense of joy. I'm already thinking of my next game. A game for my daughter, Caroline.

If you have an Android device and would like to check out my game then please click here and download it. Your support is greatly appreciated!

If you don't have an Android device and would still like to support me then please share this article with your friends and family.

Thank You All for reading!