10 Milestones to Building a First Video Game

Work flow is important to keep in mind when designing a new game. Trello is a free web-based project management application that you can use like a corkboard where you can pin up index cards. The index cards correspond to task lists. The cards progress from one column to the next (via drag-and-drop), mirroring the flow of a feature from idea to implementation. This is especially useful for working in teams, as users can be assigned to cards, and users & boards can be grouped into organizations. Here is a Trello board that lists my 10 milestones to building a first video game. https://trello.com/b/e6MkuPsk (I find it fastest to log in using Google, so I don’t have to remember any extra passwords.)

My 10 milestones for building a simple first game are outlined below:

  1. Choose your program, organize your folders.
  2. Collect assets & artwork (Placeholder art is perfectly fine).
  3. Build a level environment (and create Prefabs)
  4. Add the player character
  5. Create animations (and scripts)
  6. Place GameObjects, Set up the camera
  7. Build User Interface tools and Heads-Up-Display
  8. Calculate scoring points
  9. Game Over and/or Title screen
  10. Publish to the store. 

Let’s break it down in more detail now.

  1. Preparing your workspace. This is will depend on what program you are using to make your game, such as Unity, Construct 2, or Game Maker Studio.
  2. Importing assets is easy with the Unity Asset Store (free packs are available everywhere) and Construct 2’s “Kenney: Donation Pack.”
  3. Building your environment with level arrangement involves properly arranging your LAYERS:
    1. Background layer, where assets in the background are placed.
    2. Character layer, where your playable, moving characters live.
    3. Foreground layer, where doorways and assets that your character passes behind are placed.
    4. Default layer automatically generated by the program.
  4. Here is how to add a player character using Unity after you’ve imported the assets:
    1. Locate the player character in the folder labeled Models, then click on the Characters folder of the Project panel (in Unity)
    2. Drag and drop the character into either the Scene panel or the Hierarchy panel.
    3. Set the position to (0, 0, 0).
    4. Set the Tag to Player in the drop-down in the Inspector.
  5. Creating animations and scripts all depends on what you want your characters to do:
    1. Idle, Move, Jump, Die, etc.
    2. Make animations by creating Booleans, triggers, transitions, setting conditions, etc.
    3. Set RigidBody physics to give your player gravity, set constraints, set collision boundaries to make it collide with the environment.
  6. Placing GameObjects and setting up the camera is easy. http://docs.unity3d.com/Manual/CreatingScenes.html
  7. User Interface Tools and Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) take a little more time to perfect. Unity
  8. Scoring points and (below)
  9. Making a Game Over screen happens after you’ve built your HUD. Here are more resources for learning about all these things and more:

Unity’s official site: http://docs.unity3d.com/Manual/CreatingScenes.html

Microsoft Games Evangelist David Crook: http://indiedevspot.azurewebsites.net/2014/04/25/build-a-2d-top-down-game-zero-to-published-part-1/

Microsoft Evangelist Shahed Chowdhuri: http://wakeupandcode.com/unity/

Comments (2)

  1. Dev says:

    What about Microsoft's game framework – XNA and it's open-source alternative – MonoGame?



  2. Sarah Jeanne Sexton says:

    Support for C# development will be coming to Xbox. The .NETBlog (http://blogs.msdn.com/dotnet) is the best way to stay up to date with the latest in .NET.

    Let me ask you an honest question, Dev: Have you built a game in, say, Unity? I've seen a game with TONS of code to do basic game framework scaffolding using XNA. With Unity you don't need any of that. I just want to know what you've tried. Thanks.

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