games

Guest Post: How and Why I Got Into Game Dev? | Akselmo

Since I’ve been super busy with university and it’s also my birthday today I decided to leave blogging for someone else today and invited my dear Akselmo back to do a guest post again! Last time he talked about his favorite FPS games, so now it’s time to let him talk about his another favorite thing: making games!

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I’ve tried many, many creative outlets and other hobbies. I’ve tried writing, drawing, painting, playing guitar, playing piano and some more. I’ve tried many hobbies among gaming, such as football (not handegg) and airsoft (which I actually really liked).

But every time, I’ve quit those things. I’ve maybe tried to pick them up later, but end up quitting. I just never got that something out of them. So I only had gaming as my hobby.

Before I explain how I got into actual gamedev, I’ve actually been making “games” for long time. In fact, I made my first “game” when I was around 5-6 years old. This “game” didn’t include programming or anything like that. And no, it wasn’t a board-game nor a card-game, although I made couple of those too.

It was, what I like to call, a PowerPoint-game.

A what?! Yeah, hear me out.

Let’s go back to sometime during 1999-2002, I was about 6 – 11 years old. We used to visit my grandparents often, since they had a PC with internet access: 56kbps modem that let out the screech of the damned when it connected. We didn’t have a PC during that time. Our parents used it to pay bills, and my grandparents got the PC for work e-mail. And I got to use it too, mostly for DOS games, such as Mad Dog 2, NASCAR, Tomb Raider, Descent, Jazz Jackrabbit… Can’t forget the Windows classic either, like Chip’s Challenge, Rodent’s Revenge and SkiFree. Many goodies. Most of them were shareware though, but I had so much fun playing them.

But I always found the MS Office software interesting too, possibly because the words “document” (“Asiakirja” in Finnish, translates directly to “case-book” or something like that) etc. sounded cool to me. So I made often all kinds of stupid documents and PowerPoint -presentations, Excel sheets, even MS Access things.

I figured out eventually that in PowerPoint you could assign certain elements do certain things. You could insert buttons that change slides or even animate images. You can see where this is going.

My first “game” was basically a PowerPoint presentation, where the player could move an image of a car around by pressing buttons that were arranged as direction keys. I thought it was super cool and enjoyed playing with it a lot. Sometimes even more than playing games. But I didn’t really realise what I was doing, I only realised this many years after that hey, I actually did some sort of game.

“But that’s not a game!” Yeah, I agree with you, that’s why I quoted it. But it was close to one. It was interactive thing, where you could move an object by pressing direction buttons.

I just want to mention that I also made my first webpage during that age. I had a crappy old Win 95 PC that took literally 10 minutes to boot up. I installed some free games on it from random discs we got with computer magazines, but I spent a lot of time just making things with MS Frontpage.

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This is the only thing I’ve saved from that time. I had it on some old floppy disk and saved those files on my external hard drive, where they are to this day. Anyway, of course none of those forms work. But, the “Tyhjennys” (clear) button does! And the “Aloita etsintä” (search) button tries to search something.

I also had a more elaborate site, that had sidebar where user could login and such, and it had multiple pages. Most of them were nonsense about things I liked. Wish I still had that site, I remember talking about it at school and my classmates mostly laughed at me. I don’t think my parents really understood what was so cool about just a page full of text and forms either, heh.

Anyway, I found this kind of thing super fun. Especially the PowerPoint “games.”

Now let’s go to around year 2005 – 2007. I make my first Morrowind mod during those times, that was a mod for a gaming forum I used to frequent on. I asked the people there what kind of characters they have and recreated them all around a campsite, and gave them their own dialogue. Seeing characters talk in Finnish in Morrowind was kinda funny. I loved making that mod, too bad I don’t have it anymore.. I also made somekind of house mod later, adding a new house for my character.

2008, I made my first game. I used an engine called FPSCreator, that let anyone make first-person shooter games very easily. My first game was called “Ammu tai Kuole” (Shoot or Die), where you spawn in a room full of guns, then go through a door to an open field and you have to keep killing respawning enemies as long as you can. You can’t go back into the room where you spawned in.

The game was based on some inside joke my friend told me, I can’t really remember that well, but I thought the game was hilarious. Especially the menu graphics made in 5 min with Paint. It wasn’t a super seriously done game, even back then. I knew it was shite. But I was still kinda happy that I had made a game.. So I tried to make a more serious one, about you waking up in a laboratory full of zombies, and you had just a pistol. It was pretty much inspired by Half-Life. You had to crawl in ventilation ducts and hallways, shoot things etc. But I never got it fully done, I think I just made the first level. But I remember it really well, and it was the thing that sparked my interest into game development.

I also made a text-adventure with C++, which was just basically bunch of if-statements and choices that end in a way or another. It wasn’t very long, but it was fun to do.

When it comes to webpages, I played around with JavaScript and made those dumb “What’s your name? Oh your name is X, your name is stupid.” things and clocks. It was entertaining at least.

Anyway, fast forward to 2013. I got into an art-school that had also gamedev stuff. But no programming. So I had to learn that myself. Anyway, during that time, I made my first Unity-games and other prototype/demo things. This was when I actually got really into gamedev, and it became my thing.

I finally had a thing. Not drawing, writing, music.. It was gamedev. It’s basically all of those, plus programming. I always enjoyed making things difficult to myself, I guess. Luckily I have Tecsie to help me with the artsy side, and friends to help me with other sides, so I can concentrate mostly on programming.

That’s how I got into gamedev.

So, how do I like it so far?

It’s fucking awesome. Seriously.

The excitement of making a thing moveable. Then adding physics to it. Then making a world for it. Then adding other moving things to that world. Then making the things interact with each other. It’s like making whole worlds. But it’s really, REALLY difficult!

I’m not a pro at this by all means. I’m very amateurish still, even after 5 years of gamedev. It’s a constant learning process, and most of the things you have to learn yourself. The games I’ve made so far are quite bad when compared to others, but I am still proud of every single one of them I’ve done. And as long as they make someone, even one person smile, I’m happy. Sounds very cliche, but that’s how I honestly feel about it.

I was told someone wanted to know how I come up with concept for a game. It all just simply pops up in my head, when I’m trying to sleep or concentrate on something else. “Oh, this idea sounds fun.” I think, then start writing things down. What is the core of the game, what makes it fun, what does it need and so on. At that point, the concept possibly dies because “I don’t have skills/resources for it” or “It doesn’t sound that good after all.” But sometimes, the concept lives on forward and it joins my neverending list of game ideas, that I hopefully tackle on someday.

Right now, at the moment of writing this, I’ve been working on a demo of First Person Shooter called Ironscale, where you play as a cyborg anthro lizard who goes around fast by jumping and walljumping while shooting baddies. It’s a very simple concept, but I hope people find the core gameplay fun. I enjoy playing similar games and to me it feels like fun proof-of-concept, so if enough people are interested, I will make a proper campaign for it and try to make it a full game.

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Tecsie: This is from Ironscale, our friend already scored crazy high in it!

Some tips for people who want to get into gamedev:

First off, I’m not a pro. I’m still very much a newbie, 5 years is basically nothing, and it hasn’t been nonstop gamedev anyway. So, someone else might be better for giving advice.

1. Decide what you want to make and plan it.

So you want to make a game. What kind of game? What does it look like? Genre? Gameplay? Etc. You’ll have to plan a lot. If you don’t have a clear vision, make some sort of prototype on paper. If you’re new, start small. Make a simple 2D sidescroller, or 3D game where you just walk around. If the game project feels too big to handle, don’t be afraid to scale it down or just make a new one. You can always go back later.

2. KISS: Keep it simple, stupid.

Keep things simple at first. KISS rule is really good rule to follow. I follow with every game I’ve made. When you have laid the simple foundations and have a fun core loop for the game, you can then start adding extra features, which you should also keep simple and build on later.

3. Learn to use search engines and research.

Often people come to some social media or Discord server or whatever to ask “hey, I want to make a game! Where do I start?” Every time I’m tempted to say that “You have failed the first step already: Research.” You have to learn to research. People can’t throw you answers all the time, especially not for free. StackOverflow and Google are my research tools. Sometimes I search Reddit too. Use simple terms for looking answers, instead of full sentences. You’ll also most likely have to suit the answers you find to your needs. Copy pasting rarely works.

4. Take breaks. Walk. Move. Drink water. Eat.

Honestly this is something I constantly forget. Your brains work better if you have breaks and walk around to let your blood flow properly. And drink water to keep yourself refreshed. Very basic thing, but still worth to remind people about it.

5. Have fun! And don’t stress about money.

Gamedev is pretty similar to other creative things in this regard. You have to be interested and have fun writing/drawing too, and gamedev isn’t any different. If you feel like you’re not having fun making games, try to think why. Is it the project? Or is it just that gamedev isn’t your thing? And don’t expect to make games and suddenly make loads of money, that’s not how this works at all. Don’t leave your dayjob if you’re just starting.

In conclusion, gamedev is my thing. I love it and I hope to make games till the end. If you haven’t felt at home with drawing, writing, video making or other creative outlets, give gamedev a try!

Feel free to ask any questions!


Since Akselmo just finished his Ironscale demo this week go give it a try! Download it here!

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2 thoughts on “Guest Post: How and Why I Got Into Game Dev? | Akselmo”

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