Tuesday 5 December 2017


The sad truth of game development and a lot of creative pursuits is that practically nobody is born good at what they do. It can take years for somebody to get good at something, let alone great, let alone significant in the field as a whole.

This can be discouraging, since in the worst cases it can be years and years of work before you see any kind of improvement. I have some experience with this, since two years ago I was truly terrible at pretty much anything related to drawing, including sprite work and especially animation. I wasn't good at it so up until I started making games, I never really tried that hard. I was good at coding, so why bother?

Ultimately, I got to a point where I had to make placeholder graphics for my games and so, I got into pixel art. Two years later, I'm approaching being competent in pixel art- it's still nothing to write home about, but I've clearly improved from only being able to poorly re-colour Terraria sprites.

Similarly, my first game (excluding the one I made when I was like 8 years old) was released August 10th, 2016. It was called "Don't Be Still" and the idea was just that you couldn't stay still too long or you'd lose, and you'd maneuver some levels populated with enemies that I think would shoot at you. It was pretty bad, buggy, unfinished, unpolished, pointless and honestly pretty horrible to play.

Looking back on it, it's incredible that I made that game only about a year ago. However, with what I believe to be fairly high amounts of practice and dedication to becoming good at making video games, I've improved by several orders of magnitude.

The point of this video is probably a bit hazy at this point. I'm just rambling on about my experiences with improving in artistic fields and I think it's all getting a bit disjointed, so I'll just assert something now.

I believe that practice is pretty much the only way you can get better at game development. Reading old design documents from Nintendo and watching Extra Credits videos will get you to some degree of knowledge, but knowledge isn't skill. Knowledge is knowing what to do whereas skill is being able to actually do it.

It can be difficult for someone to step back and view their own creation as something that they're not working on. By creating something, you have a preconception of what your creation should be in your mind. This preconception can muddy your actual perception of what your game is really like. Other people won't have the initial spark that inspired your game, nor will they have knowledge of the thousands of builds that you tested just prior. Your audience will only ever know what is in front of them and I think it's impossible to fully view your game from an outside perspective.

This is relevant because knowledge allows you to think of something that should be fun on an intellectual level. Something that should extract the correct amount of dopamine from a potential player at all the right times and something that on paper would be a best-selling game.

Skill is a persons ability to execute on this knowledge and actually be able to deal with it. Taking my recent Ludum Dare submission as an example, I know only from experience how much screen-shake is fun and how much makes the player feel shaken and nauseous. The minimalistic "growing circle" effect when a bullet hits the boundary was one of the first things I thought of when planning out my game because I had experimented with that effect in a previous game.

It didn't fit in that game, but I tried it and from having tried it I have a better understanding of under what circumstances that specific effect would be nice to have.

So by having practiced game development, I became a more able and competent game developer.

You just wasted 3 or so minutes of your life watching someone tell you that practice makes perfect. Well done.

Thanks for watching and stay tuned for videos like "water is wet", "the sky is blue" and "games are objectively bad in every sense of the word"- goodbye!

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