Write about games

Why I Write About Games. Why I started writing about games, and… | by Gavin Annand

Why I started writing about games, and why I’ll never stop, whether I have a million readers or three

Alley Cat (1984)

If you’re reading this, then you are probably one of a handful of people who are. If you don’t personally know me, you’ve probably come across this article because I made the effort to share it to a gaming-related group I’m part of on social media. Even though you might be reading this initial paragraph, chances are, you won’t read to the end — or you might skim across it, get the general gist of what I’ve written, and then go on with your day.

I don’t say any of this trying to evoke sympathy, or pity. I’m merely stating facts. I am — at best — an amateur writer, with an almost non-existent public writing profile. It would be arrogant of me to assume I command any more attention that I do.

Maybe one day I will achieve some great degree of success as a writer; either by effort, luck or some combination of the two. Or, maybe I will continue to draw an audience of no more than a dozen or so family and friends, and will forever remain a hobbyist writer — my words destined to fade into obscurity like legions of amateur writers before me.

None of that matters to me, and I’m not just saying that. That isn’t to say I don’t appreciate praise or compliments, or that I don’t wish for my writing to reach a wider audience. I dream for that. But if it never happens, I will still be happy to keep doing what I’m doing, for one very good reason:

I love writing about games.

As long as I can remember, I’ve had a deep fascination with games as a medium. If I had to come up with a hypothesis as to why, I would say that it is a combination of a creative mind (I’ve always had an active imagination) and the fact that I was exposed to games at a critical developmental point in childhood (possibly related to the concept of childhood intense interest).

The wildly imaginative sandboxes created by game designers are the ultimate playground for a child’s inquisitive mind.

Games are not like other entertainment media. You don’t just passively absorb them, but you immerse yourself in them and enjoy them in your own way.

Pong (1972)

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am and have always been obsessive about games. I’m not big on small talk, or idle conversation — its just not something that has ever come naturally. Likewise, I’m not as well versed in TV shows or movies as many others — neither played a particularly large role in my life. But when the topic of games comes up, in any context at all, I feel like I can talk for hours. I am fascinated with everything about them — the design process, the art, the players, the themes, writing, structure, effect on popular culture, opinions, discussions about morality, controversy and influence.

I will continue to talk about games long after the person I’m speaking to has stopped listening, and I’ll take any opportunity to segway back to the topic if the conversation diverges from it.

When you feel truly passionate about something, you derive pleasure from sharing that passion with others. Few things give me greater joy than mentioning some obscure game from twenty years ago, and a person I’m speaking to recognizes it. An instant bond is formed. Games are not like other entertainment media. You don’t just passively absorb them, but you immerse yourself in them and enjoy them in your own way.

Every player’s experience is unique, and you might spend hundreds or thousands of hours enjoying a game, compared with the dozen or so that you might with a TV or film series, or a collection of books. It is for this reason that I believe gamers form such a bond with the games they play, stronger than fans of any other medium. When you are an active participant in something, you inevitably form a sense of ownership. It goes a long way to describe why gamers will aggressively defend a series against all criticism — or why they (unfortunately) often display despicable behavior towards those same critics, or against developers of sequels and remakes who they deem to have ruined “their” game.

Doom (1993)

In mid-2018, a chain of events in my personal life led me to somewhat “formalize” my fascination with games. My wife is quite prolific on Instagram with her artistic eye, and she inspired me to use the platform to showcase the artistic side of games, which I accompanied with a short blurb detailing what they meant to me. As I continued using my Instagram account (fat_studios), these “short blurbs” became longer and longer, eventually hitting the character limit for Instagram posts. I’m fairly certain many viewers didn’t really read the posts — Instagram is primarily a visual medium — but occasionally I did receive comments on posts that gave me the little shot of validation that inspired me to write the next post. One of those comments was from Cliff Bleszinski, creator of the Unreal series, and another from Tom Hall, creator of Commander Keen — big shots of validation in these cases.

And yes, I’m name-dropping.

As much as I valued and thrived on the little adrenaline hits of positive feedback from friends, family, strangers, this was mostly short-term motivation. What kept me going then, and continues to drive me to write more and more, was to watch my little project grow. I had started doing this as a little hobby, but my obsession with games had led to longer and longer posts. By the end of 2018, the combined word count (for lack of a better metric) of my little hobby had begun to enter the tens of thousands of words. While at university, I often struggled to muster the motivation to complete a mere two or three thousand word essay, let alone the twenty thousand words I was rapidly approaching.

The creative process is a snowball — productivity begets productivity. Passion for the topic was driving my writing, and my writing was inspiring more ideas for further writing. Almost every idea that I come up with comes to me while I am writing or planning something else. As I write these very words, I’m already thinking of my next piece.

The character limit of Instagram, although impractical for what I was trying to convey, did provide some valuable experience; it required me to practice expressing myself in a concise manner, condensing and prioritizing my opinions on a particular game into bite-size chunks. However, the incredible work of games writers like Felipe Pepe (The CRPG Book Project), Jimmy Maher (The Digital Antiquarian) and Shamus Young (Twenty Sided), inspired me to do more with my writing, and the limitations of Instagram prevented me from pursuing these bigger ideas. So, I turned to Medium.com.

Rocket Jockey (1996)

Being Evil was my first article on Medium, initially conceived in April 2018 when I was writing an Instagram post about the game Tyranny (Obsidian Entertainment, 2016). In Tyranny, the protagonist isn’t some morally incorruptible hero like Mass Effect’s Commander Shepherd. The protagonist is a senior enforcer of a malevolent tyrant who has subjugated the known world, and using the player, seeks to eradicate the final bastion of resistance. You are one of the “bad guys”, but as anyone who has played it knows, morality in the game is far more complex than the simplistic good/evil dichotomy of so many other games, books and films.

Being Evil

What can a game about being evil teach us about the importance of being good?

medium. com

If the statistics on Medium are to be believed, then only about 15 people read the article, of the 38 who viewed it. My following article was even worse — seven readers out of a total 32 viewers. But by this point, the numbers had begun to feel irrelevant to me. Pressing “publish” on those stories gave me an immense surge of satisfaction and release. I was expressing my love for something that I was passionate about, and that was motivation in itself.

Though many people might not have been reading my articles, they could see that I was writing them, and before long I found that friends, coworkers and family were approaching me to talk about games, rather than the other way around, as had been the historical case. People were talking to me about games they had grown up with, and wanting to share their stories.

For most of my life up to this point, my love of games had always been something I was quite shy about sharing — a dorky habit for losers who are bad at sports and have poor social skills. And while that still might be true in my case, I was no longer ashamed of it. If writing about games has taught me anything, it is that people respect genuine passion, no matter what it is.

Everyone has their kink, so to speak, and that’s fine.

The next step, and the biggest so far, came about as a result of one of the friendships forged by a shared love of games. This friend highlighted to me that a new games website was launching, and they were looking for freelance writers. By this point, I had a fairly sizable portfolio of writing that demonstrated how much I loved writing about games, so I gave it a crack. I submitted my pitch to ExclusivelyGames.com in December 2018.

I’d been waiting about a month, and had sort of given up on the idea — I was hopeful of getting the opportunity to be paid for my writing, as it seemed like formal validation for what I had spent so much of my spare time on for the past eight months. But at the same time, I was a nobody in the games journalism world, and there would no doubt be hundreds of applicants for the job. My chances were pretty slim, I thought. Well, either by luck or a successful pitch, or both — I woke one morning to find an email from an Exclusively Games editor welcoming me on board.

Writing for Exclusively Games has been an amazing experience — I was sharing my passion with more people than ever before — but it was also somewhat of a reality check. Exclusively Games was the small fry going up against games journalism giants like Rock Paper Shotgun, Kotaku, Polygon and GiantBomb. They needed to pull readers, and not all of my pitches were approved. I soon found myself writing “Top 5” and “Top 10” lists — hardly the sort of writing that I had dreamed of doing. But it wasn’t all bad, and to their credit they were surprisingly receptive to some of the more outlandish pitches such as The Devil’s Advocate series, or Brock Stroganoff’s Finest Bytes (full credit to Matt for this amazing idea, and the name Brock Stroganoff).

Portal (2007)

I have continued writing on Medium occasionally, and have also continued to pull a fairly abysmal readership. I’ve also made some notable progress towards a book on the games I’ve played throughout my life, a long-term dream. And when I am not busy with life or more writing, I’m doing the thing I love that has inspired all of this — playing games. In every game, there is the seed of inspiration for more writing.

As I’ve said, I’m a long way from being called a “writer” by any stretch of the imagination, so I hope it isn’t too presumptuous to give advice to those who are aspiring to become games writers themselves. But if the past two years has taught me anything, it is that passion is the engine that drives output. I highly doubt that I would have been able to do what I’ve done so far if I didn’t care so deeply about what I was doing. Just start writing about something you love, and use each checkpoint as a springboard to the next checkpoint. Before you know it, you will have enough momentum that you won’t even realize how much you’ve actually done. Sometimes, when I look back at how much I’ve written so far, I’m boggled by the fact that a lazy gamer like me was even able to do it in the first place.

My love of games, and the momentum that has gradually built up of the past two years, has also served as a valuable shield. Very recently, I was informed by my editor that, unfortunately, Exclusively Games would be closing its doors, and they would be accepting no further articles. It’s the sort of setback that, at other times in my life for other things, has rattled me to the point of giving up. Straight into the “too hard” basket, time to try something else.

Not this time.

Of course I’m disappointed — after all, I was doing something that many gamers only dream of getting the opportunity to do, and now it’s all over. But I have never written about games because I want to be published, or paid, or known. I write about games because I love them.

Games have given me amazing memories — not just the games themselves, but all the peripheral experiences. Spending time with my older brother while he sets up the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Dad coming home with a chunky old IBM with Alley Cat installed. Staying up late at sleepover playing Super Mario Bros. 3. Opening a Christmas present from my parents and finding a copy of one of my favorite games ever, Star Wars Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight. Installing my first 3dfx Voodoo graphics card. Wiping the KFC grease off my hands before returning to the three-day LAN party playing Freelancer with my best friends. Standing outside an internet café with a bunch of strangers, laughing about that hilarious headshot in the last round of Counter-strike. The overwhelming emotion of The Nameless One’s final confrontation at the end of Planescape: Torment. Mentoring my non-gamer wife as we defeat the legions of Diablo together. The tears welling in my eyes for the fate of Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2. The joy in my children’s eyes when I bring out the Super Nintendo.

Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)

For me, games have always been about a lot more than just gameplay. They have been like bookmarks for my life, and an endless source of fond memories and nostalgia. When I think of a certain game, I don’t just think about whether or not I beat the boss, or what my score was. I think of the people I played it with, the music I was listening to at the time, what I was experiencing in life. In games, I have found a wealth of positive experiences that can never be replicated, and I want to share that experience in anyway that I can, because I want to encourage others to experience the same thing.

I’ll keep writing about games, and who knows, maybe I’ll get another freelance gig. Or maybe I’ll just continue on as a hobbyist. In the end, I don’t really care. I love what I’m doing, regardless of whether I have thousands of readers, or just a handful of friends politely ignoring all my typos and reuse of words.

So, if you made it this far, thank you for reading. I really appreciate it, and I’m glad I got to share why I’m passionate about what I do. And if you didn’t read the article, that’s okay too. I just enjoyed writing it.

A brief guide to writing for video games

A lot of people learn scriptwriting, try things out on Twine, or major in English in the hope to become, one day, a games writer. There is no straight path to games writing and very few courses solely dedicated to this part of the industry.

GamesIndustry.biz UK editor James Batchelor hosted an EGX Rezzed Digital panel discussing the topic. It featured freelance scriptwriter and narrative designer Rhianna Pratchett, known for penning the recent Tomb Raider entries, Inkle co-founder Jon Ingold, who created a brand new language for Heaven's Vault, Mediatonic's senior creative designer Ed Fear, who recently directed Murder by Numbers, and Failbetter Games' writer, narrative designer and editor Olivia Wood.

  • How do you get a job as a games writer?
  • What are the different writing jobs in the games industry?
  • How much creative freedom is there as a games writer?
  • What are the advantages of being an in-house writer versus a freelance writer?
  • Advice for aspiring game writers

How do you get a job as a games writer?

The panellists all had different paths into the industry, illustrating the many possible options when trying to become a games writer. Rhianna Pratchett and Ed Fear both came from a journalism background.

"I never set out to be a video games writer," Pratchett said. "[I worked] at PC Zone and Larian contacted me because they were looking for a native English speaker to polish up their script for Beyond Divinity.

"I [then] literally went to companies whose games I liked and said: 'Hey, I'm doing this now, do you have any work for me?' I did everything I could to get a little bit of experience, a little bit of credit, and that worked really well."

Fear explained that journalism is a good way to train as a writer, because it forces you to write regularly and consistently.

"I knew I wanted to make games, I knew I also wanted to write, and I ended up getting a job at Develop magazine," he said. "Magazine writing is a good way of [writing at a regular cadence]. I thought it might help me become more productive, and silence my inner critic."

Crime drama Murder by Numbers came out earlier this March

After doing that for a couple of years, he joined publisher Curve Digital as a production technician -- nothing to do with writing then, but a great way to get a foot in the industry and "weasel [his] way into writing," he said.

Starting in a role that doesn't reflect what you actually want to do is a common way into games, with QA and game testing often at the forefront of this. But writing as a hobby can lead to career opportunities as well -- a path that mimics Olivia Wood and Jon Ingold's approach.

"I was in a job as an editor [when] I started writing a game called Lethophobia with a friend I made on Twitter," Wood said. "And it was using Failbetter's StoryNexus system."

“No one would pay me to write for games, so I was forced to set up my own company”Jon Ingold, Inkle

This started a conversation with Failbetter, which then hired her as a freelance editor. From there, she made her way into a writing position. Ingold started his career by making text adventure games in the '00s with what he called a "community of hackers and artists" -- this is also how Sam Barlow and Emily Short started. From there, he was hired at Sony Cambridge as a level designer, where he didn't do any writing work, but met Joe Humfrey, with whom he ended up creating Inkle.

"We set up Inkle together so we could do the kind of games that we actually wanted to do," he added. "Until I set up my own company, no one would pay me to write for games, so I was forced to set up my own company."

What are the different writing jobs in the games industry?

"Games writer" can imply many different things, and it's not the only writing work available in the industry. Narrative designer is also a common position, though its meaning varies vastly from company to company.

"One of the problems is no one knows what a narrative design actually is," Wood said. "At Failbetter you cannot write without being a narrative designer, just because of the way our stories are told. In other companies, the narrative design might be handled entirely separately from the person who sits down and writes. So it's a very weird title, that if you see a job application for, you have to read what they're asking for rather than the title."

Narrative-driven RPG Sunless Skies, developed by Failbetter Games

Pratchett added: "If you think about writers as doing the traditional story bits, largely governing script, character, plot, and development, narrative designers are more concerned with the ways in which the story is told, the way the story is communicated to the player. So they have one foot in the camp of writing and one foot in the camp of design. That's how it broadly falls."

Then there's specialties within these positions -- not all writers just sit down and write the main story of the game.

"Level dialogue [is] the moment to moment narrative that you might have, for example Lara [Croft] talking to herself during a level," Pratchett said. "Bark is the short lines of dialogue that come from usually AI, sometimes party members, and they're just really telling you about what's going on in the world around you, maybe what's going on in a fight."

Ingold warned panel viewers that being a games writer involves less writing than you imagine -- don't go into the job thinking that your words will be the star of the show.

"It's really rare to be allowed to do any words, and not just be squeezing things into boxes"Jon Ingold, Inkle

"There isn't really that much writing actually going on, because everything is so distributed and integrated with everything else," he said. "If you work on a big game, somebody really very important gets to design the major story beats and what the characters are about, because all of that is so tied up with what the game fundamentally is.

"And then right down at the bottom are people filling in the lore book entries -- quite remote contractors who don't necessarily get very much input into the game at all.

"In the middle, there's this huge spectrum ranging from people who write cutscenes to people who integrate the bark with the level. Writing and storytelling pop in all over the place and in all different aspects, and everyone gets a handle on it somewhere. Even the programmers designing the interface for the level designers have an impact on how that story is told -- they wouldn't think of themselves as writers, but ultimately they're fundamentally how the narrative comes out.

"It's actually really rare and very precious to be allowed to be able to do any words at all, and not just be squeezing things into boxes that are a funny shape. "

How much creative freedom is there as a games writer?

If you're lucky enough to actually write words as your job, that doesn't mean you will be writing the words you want either. Your creative freedom will, once again, vary vastly depending on the job.

"The game designer makes spaces, and then the writers come in and fill in those spaces," Ingold said. "Sometimes those spaces are very straightforward, and sometimes they're very complicated, but it totally depends on the size of the company and the complexity of the thing that you're working on."

Heaven's Vault revolved around the player deciphering a language crafted from scratch by Inkle

Wood added: "At an indie [developer] you're probably going to have a lot more input, but you'll also be doing a lot more jobs. While Chris [Gardiner, head writer at Failbetter] does the whole overview of where Sunless Skies [is] going, you discuss the plot you're writing and then go away and write it. Within that plot, you'd have immense freedom, as long as you aren't doing anything that conflicts with the lore or the style. So there are pockets of complete freedom. I don't think you'd get that at a larger company, unless you're very senior."

In AAA, having your say in the story is not as simple as it is in indie development, especially for established franchises. But you may be able to impact the lore in other ways than via the main plot.

"There's no way you're going to give Lara Croft a sibling who gets to run around in the game, unless you own the whole franchise," Ingold said. "But maybe you can have Lara write a letter in which you casually mention that she has a sibling and then hide [it] on a shelf somewhere -- you might even get away with that. It's all political: the fewer people between you and getting your story idea out, the more likely you are to have control over it."

"Writers live around the edges. You get to sneak in little bits of you through the secondary narrative"Rhianna Pratchett

Pratchett worked on the bark system for Bioshock Infinite, and explained that secondary narratives are usually a good way for the writer to show their personality.

"I didn't have anything to do with the main storyline," she explained. "I had my own little space and I was doing my own thing. It may seem like they're not the sexy part of the game, not like the shiny cinematics, [but] it can be a lot of fun and you can get a lot of jobs supporting other writers doing that kind of thing.

"In games, writers live around the edges. So you get to sneak in little bits that feel more you through the secondary narrative. I did a little bit with Rise the Tomb Raider [too]. I put a story about my dad's experiences on the night I was born. I sort of rolled that into Lara's dad and that was quite a nice thing to do."

What are the advantages of being an in-house writer versus a freelance writer?

Like a lot of jobs in the industry, games writing can be done in-house at a studio or as a remote freelancer. Both have advantages and downsides, and one may be better for you depending on what kind of person you are and how you like to work.

"I found that I like working in a team, very full-on, but the problem with that is that it becomes all encompassing," Fear said. "When I work on a project [in a team], I'm working on that project and only that project for two years. And it becomes kind of my everything and that can take a toll on you a little bit.

Rise of the Tomb Raider was praised for its writing

"In the periods where I have done freelance, I've enjoyed being able to work on multiple things at the same time. They can act as a refresher, if you're doing a different role or if the game is a different genre. [But] I felt a little bit less attachment to them, because there was a slight distance. So it's very much a double-edged sword."

Wood currently does both in-house writing at Failbetter, and freelance jobs on the side.

"Unless you're incredibly disciplined, freelance on its own could be very hard"Olivia Wood, Failbetter

"While I love the security of Failbetter, freelance keeps me sane because I get to work on more than one thing," she said. "But there is a risk that you can become quite lonely when you freelance [full-time]. I should also flag that being permanent is really, really relaxing because you get sick pay and you get holidays, which you don't as a freelancer.

"When I was purely a freelancer I went a little bit mad because I would just work for months on end, even on weekends. So unless you're incredibly disciplined, freelance on its own could be very hard."

Advice for aspiring game writers

Downloading Twine, or Inkle's own scriptwriting system Ink, can be a good place to start for aspiring games writers. Getting a narrative degree or doing a writing course is not mandatory, as it ultimately doesn't say whether or not you're a good writer. Wood said she prefers seeing short finished games attached to applications rather than what school you've been to.

"Finished, because finishing is the hardest thing you can ever do, and short because if I'm looking at things at my lunch and I can see whether someone is interesting in five to ten minutes, I'm happy to commit," she explained. "If it's eight hours, I'm gonna play a different game. I don't have time. And it also shows you can do a build up and a good ending in a short piece."

Don't forget to post your projects online, on Itch.io for instance, or just publicise them using platforms like Twitter. Entering competitions like IFComp, dedicated to "text-driven digital games", is also a good idea. Pratchett added that you need to be constantly improving your skills as a writer.

"Whether that's doing courses or just your own experimental writing, find a peer group to give feedback, just keep writing and honing your skills as a writer," she said. "[Then it's about] networking. Obviously it's not a great time for networking at the moment, but in a normal world, [attend] conferences like GDC, Reboot, Nordic Game. They usually have some kind of narrative component to them, and show floors where you can actually meet developers face-to-face and see the game they're working on.

"And [then it's also about] just playing a lot of games and broadening out [your scope]. Read books, go to the theater, listen to the radio, watch TV, watch movies -- don't just make games your source of understanding of the narrative world. You need to broaden your narrative scope to all kinds of storytelling, because they all have their own unique skills, and they can all be borrowed and adapted for games. You just need to be interested in the world as a writer, you need to be open-minded, you need to be a sponge for stories and for people."

You can rewatch this panel about becoming a games writer below. To catch up with everything GamesIndustry.biz did at EGX Rezzed Digital, head over to the event's website.

How to become an author — Igromania

We are constantly recruiting authors for Igromania. You can become one of the authors! It is enough to write 1-2 test texts, tell about yourself (ideally, make a full resume) and send a letter to our permanent address [email protected] .

How to write a test article?

  • With maximum commitment. There may not be a second chance.
  • Himself. nine0004 The help of a philologist friend is appropriate only if he will always help you.

If your article has already been published somewhere, please send the original that has not gone through the editor and proofreader. Optionally, you can add a link to the publication.

  • After reading how articles are written in a publication or on a website. Re-read the articles you like the most, perhaps several times. Your task: to understand the features of the style. The structure of the article. The order of presentation of ideas. And in general, how we write. nine0014
  • After studying the sources. If the article is about a game, complete it. If an MMORPG, at least play for a few days. Watch a movie, read a book, etc. Go to the official site. Read the wiki. Scroll through existing publications in other places.
  • Imagine your reader. Write fun, dynamic, exciting. Objectively. Heartily. And all the time imagine how other people, having bought a magazine or coming to a website, will read an article written by you. What will they say when they read it? What do they want to see in it? The answer to the question will be your test article. nine0014

What is the structure of the article?

In general, first followed by . Then - perhaps briefly about plot , background. Further - general description . Then - divide what needs to be told into parts , and state it sequentially.

Useful tips:

  1. One thought should flow into another as smoothly as possible. Avoid jumping from fifth to tenth.
  2. Not only tell what you saw, but also parse . This is journalism, not landscape painting.
  3. Balance. Each part or thought gets exactly as much space in the article as it deserves.
  4. Short sentences and red stitching. Notice how the text you are currently reading is written.
  5. Reread after yourself. You can say it out loud. It is normal to reread a written paragraph of text twenty times and correct it the same number of times. Only some gurus with many years of experience or those who do not work in Igromania write cleanly right away. nine0014

How to format the text?

The way it is designed in the magazine or on the website. Subtitles. Bold and italic where required. Etc.

For typing use standard Microsoft Office Word of any version. You can use the completely free Google Docs.

The text should be only the text . No videos or pictures.

What to write in a letter?

You can say hello. In addition, we would like to know the following about you:

  1. Basic data. Your first and last name. Age. Married (married), children. The city where you live. What computer. What consoles are at your disposal - from home to portable. Whether you work, study at school or institute. Speciality.
  2. Contacts. Telegram (required!), Skype, mobile phone. And e-mail, if the one from which the letter comes is not the main one.
  3. Experience on topics within which you want to become an author. nine0004 For example, how long have you been playing games, what genres do you prefer, what games do you like.
  4. If you are fond of online games — indicate which of them you played a little (several hours), medium (middle levels or up to the initial stages of a high-level game) and a lot (experienced high level).
  5. Experience in articles. Whether it was necessary to write to other publications, official or amateur. Which ones, for how long. Editorial experience. Just professional experience in areas related to the chosen topic (for example, a level designer). nine0014
  6. Available gaming platforms .

Special note that work experience and writing articles is NOT a prerequisite . The determining factor is your talent.

  1. Don't forget to include "New Author" in the subject line.
  2. Consider what else might be important add .

And what's next?

Recall once again the treasured mailbox: [email protected]

We do not review articles. We rarely answer, even three letters "n-e-t", and we apologize in advance to everyone who does not receive an answer. But we read every letter sent. And if we like what you sent, we will respond. Maybe right away. Maybe in a week or even a couple of months (yes, it happened like that).

If you want the letter exactly to come to us, you can send it from mailboxes on different domains. However, as a rule, letters are successfully reached. nine0007

Finally, let's add some obvious things. Deadlines must be perfectly adhered to. Responsibility for the work undertaken - to the maximum. But you already knew all about it, didn't you? :)

We are waiting for you in our ranks!

How to start writing games / Habr

Original: Starting out on Game Programming

The path to the game development industry is not close. This article is intended to help you understand where to start this journey.

You just finished your first C++ course and want to start making games. Someone pointed you to this site and you may have experimented a bit with the guide. You've gone through a few concise examples but haven't found a guide on how to make an entire game. And there is a reason for that. nine0007

Tutorials are good for learning something step by step, such as how to move a point image around the screen. In order to put the game together, you need problem-solving skills that come with experience. It's not something you can learn from manuals. The best way to learn how to make games is to start making them.

Project selection

So where do you start? It is easier to answer where not to start, namely with large projects, such as a full-fledged 3D FPS, MMO, or even a long platformer of the 16-bit era. The most common mistake new developers make is to start with a big project based on a Cool Idea, or take a project that seems simple and end up with a half-finished bunch of spaghetti code. Start with small projects first. nine0007

In early projects, your main focus is learning, not implementing Cool Ideas. By keeping the project small, you can focus on learning new techniques instead of spending a lot of time on code management and refactoring. While your Big Idea may be awesome, the reality of the development industry is that the bigger the project, the more likely it is to make an architectural mistake. And the larger the project, the more expensive this mistake is. Remember the story of Daedalus and his son Icarus? Daedalus created wings from wax and feathers for his son. He warned Icarus not to fly them too close to the sun. But Icarus ignored the warning and the wings melted, and that's when gravity caught up with him. nine0167
So remember: don't fly too close to the sun with your new programming wings.

With all that said, here are a couple of tips to get you started.

Graphics and event handling

If you've never programmed anything graphics or GUI related, you should start with something small to get your feet wet. My first project was tic-tac-toe, so even I had humble beginnings. A couple of ideas for the first project:

  • One Armed Bandit Simulator

  • Black Jack

  • Tic-tac-toe

  • Four in a row

The goal of your first project is to move from console development to development of event-driven graphical applications. It will also teach you the fundamentals of game logic and architecture. I recommend something turn-based because motion games are a whole other beast.

Try to keep the project simple so that you can complete it and not lose interest halfway through and never finish the game. It's important to finish a game because you don't learn how to develop if you have a few unfinished games on your hard drive.

There is one point that I want to point out to those who will be doing tic-tac-toe or four in a row. Don't worry too much about artificial intelligence right now. Making the game only for two players, or playing with a computer that makes random moves is enough to get you started. nine0007

If you've dealt with graphics and event handling before and feel comfortable in that area, you can go straight to the next step.

Synchronization, motion, collision, animation

Now that you've played around with the graphics, it's time to do something in real time. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Duck Hunt

  • Pong

  • Space Invaders

  • Galaga

  • Tetris

Here you will learn about motion, timing, animation, collision detection, game loop, scoring, win/loss calculations and other important basic concepts used in every game.

Duck Hunt and Pong are good projects for those who already have experience in graphics and events programming. They have simple collision detection and all the essential basics of real-time gaming. nine0007

Space Invaders and Galaga are good choices for a second/third project. They have levels, so you will need to learn how to move from level to level using a state machine. You can read about state machines here. Shoot 'em up games also require you to create simple behavior patterns for your enemies, which is a step towards artificial intelligence.

Tetris is good for the second/third project. It has very little logic needed to create a puzzle game. It's a decently sized game, so you'll have to learn how to split your program into multiple source files, which you can read more about here. Don't underestimate Tetris. I underestimated and just look at this terrible mess in the Lazy Blocks code. nine0167


A typical rookie mistake is trying to make the Greatest Game of All Time, ending up in over-engineering. That is, when he tries to write the best game / engine and it all ends up using only a small part of what was written.

When I was a beginner I reengineered the AI ​​for tic-tac-toe. I wanted to make a game with invincible AI. I managed to achieve this by programming the computer to know all possible traps. Sounds cool doesn't it? It took almost 40,000 lines of mostly copied code and a month of my free time. nine0167 Later, I learned data structures and learned about the Minimax algorithm, which, with a smaller code size, not only did the right thing, but also did it better.

So learn from my mistakes and don't be too ambitious. Focus on learning how to make games instead of just making them.

Planning, collision analysis, physics, levels, artificial intelligence

Now that you have two or three small games under your belt, it's time to make your first big project. nine0007

So far, you've probably been programming as you please. It will end at this point. In the real world, most development processes are completed before the first line of code is written. Nothing can be worse than realizing that in order to add what you want to your game, you have to throw out all the code you wrote, because you didn’t plan everything in advance. Now that you have some experience in making games, you know what the development process is all about. Now you can plan games before you start making them. nine0007

Now about your next game. Break Out and Puzzle Bobble are good for a third project because they include advanced collision detection and physics. Physics is important because it gives the game a realistic feel. Even Super Mario Brothers has a sense of gravity and momentum. Billiards is an excellent project for those who want to strain their brains with physics.

In games like billiards, you not only need to detect collisions, but also process them in a specific order. Collision handling is very different from collision detection. While creating a pool table or a 2D platformer may seem like a simple matter, analyzing collisions in the right order is a tricky process and shouldn't be underestimated. nine0007

Break out and Puzzle Bobble also include level design and require their resources to be loaded and freed. It would be a good experience to create a level editor for the game. Editors allow you to easily create levels without having to solder them into the application. I have an article about creating a level editor.

You might also want to practice writing artificial intelligence (AI). One option is to go back to tic-tac-toe or four in a row and write an invincible AI. By now you should already know data structures and will be able to use your knowledge of trees to use the Minimax algorithm. With this algorithm, you can calculate all possible outcomes of tic-tac-toe and create an invincible AI. It's fun to upset your friends with it. You may also want to make different levels of difficulty. A game isn't fun if it can't be won. nine0007

Pac Man is a great way to practice writing AI. You will need to know tree/graph structures and search algorithms like A* in order for the ghosts to get through the maze. You will also need to make the ghosts work in a team. All this will come in handy when you make games with complex AI, such as real-time strategy games. You can read about the basics of AI here.

Platformers, Action/Adventure, RPG, RTS, Engines

Now that you've had experience creating a well-planned game, you're ready to create an Action/Adventure/Platformer. It will be the culmination of graphics, motion, animation, collision analysis/detection, physics, AI, software architecture, and everything else you've learned up to this point. Those who are more ambitious can be offered to make a real-time strategy (RTS) or role-playing game (RPG). Be careful because RPG and RTS are really huge projects.

RPGs have a complex architecture and require a lot of planning. You will need to plan every weapon, armor, trinket, attack, item, spell, summon, enemy, map, boss, dungeon, etc. down to the smallest detail. It all has to work smoothly, and, to put it mildly, this is not an easy task. So if your design project looks like a script or a comic, you need to do 9 more0003 many work.

RTS are also architecturally complex and require a lot of AI. You will need to do pathfinding for units, receiving commands, different behavior depending on the received commands. If you've never done AI before, it's best to start with a Pac Man clone to start with.

This is probably the first time you'll have to build an engine for your game. What should be avoided is creating a generic engine. When creating an engine, do not try to make it suitable for any game. If your game requires x, y, and z, make an engine that can x, y, and z. Engines are created based on what is needed for a particular game, and not on the basis of what any game could potentially need. nine0007

Another common mistake among beginners is trying to create an engine as a first project. And usually it is a universal engine. You don't need a fancy graphics engine to make Pong or Space Invaders. When programming, it's easy to dig into the details. Focus on the big picture and complete your games.


Everyone seems to want to make the next big MMO. Making online games is not something you can quickly grasp. I figured this out when I tried to do online poker right after finishing tic-tac-toe. nine0007

Adding a net makes the game much more difficult. When one player does something, you must send information about it to everyone else. It's like your right hand doesn't know what your left hand is doing. You will also have to choose between server load and what it can control. The more the backend does, the less chance the client has to cheat, but it also means more load on the server. For action and other high paced games, you'll have to worry about network latency and packet loss. nine0007

You should complete at least one well-planned game before attempting a multiplayer game. As your first networking project, try doing something that is not speed critical. For example, a simple chat server/client would be good practice. You can also return to tic-tac-toe / four in a row and add the ability to play online to them. Alternatively, try making an online card or board game.

After your first network project is ready, try doing something in real time. In your first networking application, you probably used TCP to make sure that the data you received arrived in the order you sent it. For games with a lot of action, the delays introduced by TCP will probably be too high, so you will have to use UDP. UDP does not guarantee the order of delivery, nor does it guarantee delivery at all. Because UDP doesn't do extra integrity checks, it's faster. You have to sacrifice the ease of use of TCP in exchange for the speed of UDP and the need to check data integrity yourself when creating a game. nine0167

3D games

Before making 3D games, you should make at least one well planned game and have a good understanding of 3D vector math, linear and Newtonian physics. Here you have to deal with vertices, textures, lighting, shadows, defining interaction with objects in three-dimensional space, loading models and other complex sounding things.

The good news is that if you've already made 4 or 5 games, you already know the basics needed to create a game. You are already familiar with the development process and know your capabilities as a programmer. Whether it's a 3D shooter or a 2D shooter, it's still a shooter. 2D RPG or 3D RPG is still RPG. nine0007

Don't take this as an excuse to skip 2D and go straight to 3D. Before you can learn to run, you must learn to walk.

Fast way

Are you saying that you learn faster if you jump right in and just write your 3D MMOFPSRTSRPG and learn what you need as needed? Well, here are a couple of tips to help you:

  1. Go to the local market
  2. Buy a whole fish. I recommend taking salmon or cod, although catfish is also suitable. Trout, by the way, is also quite effective
  3. Go home and turn on the computer
  4. Launch your favorite IDE
  5. Now take the fish you bought and hit yourself in the head
  6. Repeat step 5 until thoughts of a quick way leave you

You don't learn algebra by solving computational problems.

Learn more