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What skills do you need to become a professional game developer?

by Dan Reut on 10/29/20 10:39:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Everyone can go and buy a shovel, but not everyone is going to build a house.

Big thanks to game engines like Unity, Unreal, Godot and etc. They showed us that good games aren’t about technology, teams, or stories. It is all about a good game experience for players.

A good game experience is a combination of every visual and non-visual element of a game that works together and delivers fun, memorable moments during a game’s session.

To become a professional game developer, I’m advocating that it is important to have an understanding of how each element works, and the best way is to master 7 major game development skills.

1. Concept Art Skill

As a creative person myself, I never struggle to come up with ideas. But the problem is to make sure that it is the right one. It is important to understand that you are making a game for others to play and enjoy, and this is why the idea of a game should be relevant to the player’s need.

A person is greeted by clothes and escorted by the mind. And this is true for any games.

How your game visually looks plays an essential part in a player’s mind to choose if he is going to play your game.

This is the main reason why you have to know how to render your ideas to any physician format (paper or digital). For example, you can draw concept art of characters, environment, and even scenes from the game, share it, get feedback, and then you can judge if the reactions of art align with your expectation. If yes, move forward with that idea.

Also, a basic understanding of colors and camera angles will never hurt.

2. Game & Narrative Design

A game design skill is the most important skill. It will help you better understand what elements should be in your game. It will also help you troubleshoot your game, see what parts of it are fun or not, and know how to replace those parts.

Narrative design. We all love stories. I think this is the main reason why I am so in love with games. A good story can be one of the motivators to finish a game. Good examples of games are Alane Wake, Last of Us (Part 1), and Firewatch.

But the game’s narrative design is different from any other narrative in media because when adding interactivity to your story, it is becoming an unpredictable variable. You don’t know how the player will be acting and interacting with a story.

3. Coding & Learn Game’s engine features

Yes, I know that some of you were very excited about visual coding. But still, you have to understand how code flows inside your game.

Sometimes you have to make the decision to change something about the game because of performance issues.

It is important to know how to code and what the game’s engine is capable of, so in the early stages, you can avoid extra developer’s loops.

4. 3D Modeling

By 3D modeling, I mean not only modeling but also texturing, creating shaders, pretty much every stage of creating, implementing, and rendering 3D models in a game.

It will help you understand what models you want to include and even help you become better at using any assets.

5. Animation Skills

It is hard to imagine any games without animation, from simple mobile games to even loading screens.

By the way, do you know that you have to use animation during the loading screen, so players will know if the game is stuck?

Understanding the basics of animation will help you animate everything from simple characters to complex 3D models.

6. Music and Sound Management

 

Oh yes, this is something that many developers just skip, and the reason is that they think it is super easy and simple. Just drop some music samples and play them when the object is triggered.

But, with raytracing technology and Sony’s 3D sound, everything can change. NPC can literally start hearing you because raytracing can simply emulate sound waves, and you will get another way to trigger your NPC’s behavior.

7. Marketing & Market analysis

You are making games for other players to enjoy, and it is vital to understand your market.

Most of the big game development companies are already using it to develop better games. During an interview, Robin Hunicke, one of the Journey’s creators, mentioned that during development, Sony provided them with big data on players.

This is why it is important to understand how to collect data and what questions to include.

And, of course, how to market your game in the right way. According to statista.com, around 8,290 games were released on Steam.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/552623/number-games-released-steam/

Can you imagine how loud you should scream in order to attract attention? This is why smarter is better than louder. And to do in a smart way, you need to learn it.


So, it does not matter if you want to become an indie, solo developer, or even work for the company. Understanding and mastering these skills will help to make better games, and this is what every player needs right now!


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