Five things I wish I knew before I started developing games.
Developing applications and games is a passion of mine. You will know when you find your passion, because there's nothing you can do to turn it off. You will become what you love to do. Grinding long hours to finish a project no longer feels like work at all when you love it :)
With that aside, my number one on the list is that you have to want it to become a game developer. The amount of perseverance it takes to successfully put together a piece of work like that is far greater than first thought out, especially if your solo.
The second, which follows right along the first, is the time. When starting a new project, especially if it's a smaller one, I'll calculate that it will only take a small amount of time to complete and almost always you keep improving and finding more you want to implement along the way to the finish line. For example, I recently had a working demo of Tic Tac Toe Attack done in less than twenty hours. Then when I went to finish 'those little things' like adding functionality to the rest of the tiles, additional animations and many other things along the way to make it complete. That added close to a month of long hours to it, not to mention the tons more content planned for it if that silly game ever starts gaining traction.
Third, I have to warn you that some of the projects you set out to create you will most likely scrap when the next 'big idea' comes to mind. At least for me that has been the case. You work on a new program or game and make a working example, pitch it to friends and they got that thousand yard stare, then later that evening or the next day you end up raising the bar and think of the next project. Not that you won't ever finish the first. It's just that the newer one is now a better idea so you continue with the new one. That's not always the case, sometimes you know better and continue even if nobody in your circle sees it.
Bringing me to number four. Stay true to yourself and always remember your successes and failures along the way. I'd hate to say it but most likely your app or game isn't going to get a great launch without professional marketing in place. I am guilty of this also, I recently had some great pointers by a professional in the field and it really opened my eyes. Now when I see those big company advertisements, I actually see every one of those tips in place. So think of it as more of a 'winning formula' to help be seen, or to generate more leads for business.
Five is something that may help you tremendously. Coming from a guy who is self-taught through books, tutorials, free classes and constantly creating daily builds and systems I'd like to learn. I spent countless hours scripting things that I could have easily implemented using a different design pattern. Also keep in mind that sometimes you get this feeling like you want to code everything no matter what. While that is mostly good for practical experience, your racking up serious hours on something that you could have just implemented with a well written plugin. Another example is if you spend time coding up something that you could have instead used the animator or timeline to do all the heavy lifting.
Thanks for reading this article and I hope it has helped gain some insight for those about to start.
Now days there's so much great content to learn from that it is easier than ever before to begin your own journey into game development. Keep learning and applying that new knowledge as you proceed.