The Story of a 16 Year Old Developer
Published 2 years ago
How I got from being a small child only dreaming of designing a game to finally making one that I'm proud of.
Hi folks, I'm Toby Hendricks and this is about my game, Neon tanks. Before I delve into the process of making the game I'd like to talk about my history in game development.
It all started in 2011 before going into secondary school (or middle school if you're in the states), after a summer of heavily binging on gaming. At the time I was trying to complete Ratchet and Clank: A Crack In Time, one of my favorites to this day. After completing the game on challenge mode I realized that I still had several weeks of summer left so I decided to research the game that I loved, found out about its developer, the different roles that people played and all these google searches eventually lead to "how to make a game". One of the first results was game maker, so I instinctively downloaded that and started tinkering, a few tutorials later and I had grasped the concept of an algorithm, so I set out to make my first game. The Epic Space Tale of a Side Scrolling Battle Droid. 
In reality the very short buggy and nigh impossible side scroller ended up being a flop in the eyes of others but still a gem to me (at the time anyway). I kept the game to my self and largely forgot about game development untill I started doing computing in year 7 and for one term we did game maker. While the teacher was still trying to spell out the basics of game maker to the rest of the class she just let me create what ever I wanted, so I made all sorts of stuff. A small platformer, a card game (based a little bit off the mini game from mario) and even a sequel to my side scroller that was less buggy but still impossible to beat. There was one problem though, the games that I was making were nothing compared to what I was playing on the PS3 (Yeah, that sounds stupid now) so I needed to find out how to make 3D games, after finding out that game maker doesn't support 3D (not out of the box) I asked my teacher for help. She said that for now I should really just stick to gamemaker, but obviously I didn't listen and after asking around a bit I heard about unity. After downloading it and watching a tutorial or two I had fully grasped C#, game design and creating a realistic scope and went on to make my version of Ratchet and Clank...Is what I hoped would happen. In reality I spent so long working on the same project that after about a year and a half I just started over and made a game about running around and collecting crystals on two levels with many items ripped from the asset store and turbosquid. If you really want to you can check it out here:
Now you're porbably wondering things like how I managed to get it on the play store and what is gameplex, that's another story all together but in short during the development of Crystal Zen (the name has changed many times) I met someon called Toby who was also interested in game development and he came up with the idea of working on games together, so we formed gameplex and I eventually "finished" Crystal Zen and released it under a play store account that he set up.Now that that's covered, back to the main story.
So, lesson learnt, instead of going for another ambitious project straight away I instead decided to do unitys game tutorials, you know lerpz or something from ages ago about that alien getting back to his ship (that game was awesome once it was complete). So after completing that I was finally begining to understand programming and how unity works so my first instinct was to... go for another overly ambitious project. "Why isn't there a version of planetside 2 on mobile" I cleverly though to my self, "it shouldn't be too hard to create a big map with hundreds of AIs roaming around." If you wanna know how that went...
There, (and by the way TNT games is the new name for our company (despite the fact that we haven't made a game together yet) it stands for Toby 'N' Toby (which will make sense if you've been paying attention (bracketception)) 
Now it did take a while for me to realise that trying to make these massive games clearly wasn't working but I got there eventually and that was when I created a game called skeleton dungeon, it was effectively like putting together the tutorial games but that's what I needed. I downloaded some monster characters and a modular dungeon from the asset store, put together one simple level, programmed some basic AI and called it a day... well a week. It felt far too easy, too safe, so afterwards I started designing another FPS for mobile but 2 months in I realised I was treading the same ground again. So instead of trying to throw together an FPS I stopped and I studied. I studied programming, I studied game design itself (mostly from a YouTube channel called Extra Credits, brilliant for learning the artsy side of game dev), I studied unity and blender with some more tutorials, and most of all I learnt about creating a realistic scope. When all this studying had concluded I knew it was time to actually make a game, but what to make, I really wanted to make a shooter but what type of shooter could I manage...The idea of Neon Tanks came from the game Tank Hero by clap foot (which I believe came from some game on the Wii), but I wasn't copying it because they went for a puzzle approach, so in an attempt to show the world that a tank game on mobile could also be a bullet hell game (which there aren't enough of on mobile) I started knocking together some tank models on blender and after a very efficient 5 months, Neon tanks emerged, and that was it, yeah it wasn't that polished but gameplay always comes before polish anyway. I figured that if the game was could people wouldn't care about polish. "Well that was anticlimactic" you might say. You were probably expecting it to be another story of mismanagement, or a story perseverence depending on what type of person you are. Well it wasn't. Everything was on schedule and it went perfectly :P . If you really want a moral for the story it'd be start small but you probably know that otherwise you wouldn't be here, so instead I'm going to tell you to not underestimate teenagers.
If you want to check out Neon Tanks it's available on google play:
Toby Hendricks
Programmer/Musician - Other