Becoming a Game Developer in Your Spare Time

I’ve published games and apps in both the iTunes and Android stores, but in some ways, I really don’t consider myself a game developer.  Maybe that’s because I wear many hats and have many different jobs that I do full or part time to pay the bills.  Or perhaps it’s because I still have a few “big” projects in my head that I want to complete before I will consider myself a real game developer.  Maybe because of this, and my lack of time, the book “Secrets to Rapid Game Development” by Cloudy Heaven Games appealed to me.

Like me – and let’s be honest, most of us – the author was not a full time game developer.  Like many of us, they had a full time job that “paid the bills” and yet their passion was creating games.  Secrets to Rapid Game Development breaks down the author’s experiences into bite size, easy to read and easy to understand chunks. The book is an excellent read and isn’t too lengthy so it’s easy to get through in a single evening and is definitely worth it the read as the author goes into detail on the struggle that we all go through when trying to publish our first (or second or third, etc game).

Chapter 1 starts out with the author’s motivation for getting started, but quickly goes into some of the challenges that we all face when trying to take those first steps.  They cover setting unrealistic goals, dealing with fear – fear of failure, fear of success.. even fear of lack – and even deciding on the game idea itself.  It’s a good read because you realize you’re not alone in these feelings and it shows you how they overcame them.

In Chapter 2, the author jumps into nitty-gritty of setting up a business.  Believe it or not, this is an often overlooked step that people struggle with as they typically are coders and creators, not businessmen or businesswomen.  When it actually comes to the A-Z’s of setting up the business from which to run their games, they don’t even know where to start.  Luckily, the author covers things like types of business (sole proprietorship, partnership, llc, etc), setting up a business address, website and even tips on getting help to start your business.  It’s actually information that anyone starting any type of business can use.

Once we get to Chapter 3, they start covering some very important concepts on the actual development.  It’s not language specific, so it’s applicable for those of us who use cross-platform tools like GameSalad or even something like RPGMaker.  The author tackles topics like determining and prioritizing tasks, picking the development tool, fixing bugs and even getting help with your game.  While they choose GameMaker as their development tool of choice, the concepts are still applicable as there are correlations between GameMaker and other development tools – forums, tutorials, etc.  In this chapter they also cover things like how to accommodating the inevitable changes that come up, as well as how to deal with and troubleshoot issues.

Chapter 4 gets into outsourcing.  Let’s face it, we can’t all do everything.  And even if we could, that doesn’t mean we should.  As the developer, our focus should be on GAME development, not necessarily on asset development.  This chapter goes into contracting out the parts of your game – like music, art, etc. to people who have more talent (or more time) than you do.  The suggestions are sound and mirror some of my own suggestions on outsourcing.

Then comes Chapter 5.  Chapter 5 covers game monetization, which is something developers can sometimes struggle with.  We may have a great idea for a game, but knowing how to capitalize on that to actually make money – let alone a profit is something that we’re not born with.  Well… most of us aren’t.  It’s something you have to learn either from someone else or through success and failures.  Read and re-read this chapter if you actually want to make money with your game!

Chapter 6 and 7 cover marketing, release and the aftermath of releasing your game.  The author really doesn’t hold anything back and there’s some real gems of experience in there that any game developer can benefit from – especially if you’re not a marketing guru.  Because let’s face it, just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come and getting noticed in a sea of other games and apps is the name of the game.

In conclusion, this is a great book for those of you who are aspiring game developers or those who just want to learn more on the subject so you can polish your own process and approach. Secrets to Rapid Game Development is a steal for only $3.99 and you can read it in an evening – or a long commute to work.  Check it out on Amazon:

Tags: book development game review

    John Cressman the Editor-in-Chief at He is also a web programmer, game programmer, instructor, and a big proponent of cross platform development tools for mobile game development.

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