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I'm an artist who wants to make my own game, what should I do?

Hello!

My question is similar to this post I found after googling and was hoping I could get some advice on a bit of "dillema" I'm in. Any reply would be much appreciated.

So basically, I'm an artist whose dream it is to be able to make my own game one day, and I'm just wondering

Is it possible to learn to program and code in my free time, while attending a 3 year course in creative technologies (game art)??

I already have a diploma in applied animation and digital media, maybe game art degree isn't necessary?? Maybe I should get a programming degree instead? The scary thing is the idea of coding/programming for a living doesn't sound attractive to me as someone who's natural talent is drawing.. BUT I have no experience at all in coding, and my dream is ultimately be able to make my own game one day and put my art in it. Maybe that would all change if I began coding and I would fall in love with it?

Or with strong dedication and hard work could I learn to make my own game in my free time, and try to make a living as what I'm best at?



I know it sounds ridiculous but just really wanted to put on display the circle my brain is running around in. Again any reply is truly appreciated.

Cheers!

Replies

  • Vallar
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    Vallar polycounter lvl 8
    So you have a few questions in the post and I'll try to address them separately:

    Is it possible to learn to program and code in my free time, while attending a 3 year course in creative technologies (game art)??

    Yes, you can of course. I studied architecture in school, learned coding while working a 9 to 5 job. So I was in a somewhat similar boat to you. The only thing you need to learn coding is time and patience. That time can be condensed (8 hours a day everyday) or stretched (an hour every day or two or three days or even weekends only). 

    The only thing you need to realize is that, you won't be making your own dream game from the get go. It will take time because you need to know what is programming and then later you start making your own game. You can start off trying but 90% of the time you'll end up realizing you bit more than you chew and you'll just abandon it midway for something less complex (unless your dream game is pong for example).


    maybe game art degree isn't necessary?? Maybe I should get a programming degree instead?

    That depends on what you want. A degree (whatever it is) is useful. However to work in games you rarely need any degrees. I don't have a degree in computer science or software engineering and I worked as a programmer for the past 5 years. I also don't have a degree in "art" (architecture is a bit far from games) and I landed some work before as a 3D artist 10 years ago when I first learned 3D art. 


    The scary thing is the idea of coding/programming for a living doesn't sound attractive to me as someone who's natural talent is drawing..

    Then you've answered the question, there is no need for a degree to learn programming. It just needs time as mentioned above. Do what you love, but learn what you need -- if that makes sense. 


    Maybe that would all change if I began coding and I would fall in love with it?

    I hated and avoided programming for years till I learned it in 2013 then I hated it again and got demotivated to bother with it till 2015. Ever since 2015 I have been coding almost everyday (work + personal projects). I no longer hate it, I understand what it is and I actually like it and its challenges most of the time. 


    Now, let's take a detour before I mention my "outro" piece. If your goal is to make games and focus on the 3D art aspect of said games, then programming is a means to an end. In that case, there are a few things to make that road easy. Example, you don't have to write actual code. You can use visual scripting (which is basically something like taking blocks of logic and connecting them together to form sentences that computer can understand). It is less intimidating and takes off the load of worrying about "how to write something" and focuses on "how do I say something". Let me share an example:

    In C# (specifically Unity) you might write code that looks like this:

    <p>if(Input.GetMouseButtonDown(0))
    {
         Ray ray = mainCamera.ScreenPointToRay(Input.mousePosition);
    
         bool hitFloor = Physics.Raycast(ray, out var hit, 10f, floorMask);
    
         if(hitFloor)
         {
               transform.position = hit.point;
         }
    }<br></p>


    The above code basically tells Unity to take where the player clicks with their mouse then teleports the current object to that position provided there is a floor. Fairly basic and simple stuff but it could look terrifying with all the symbols and weird words. 

    Visual scripting takes the same thing and turns it into something like:

    https://i.imgur.com/RJpw11O.png


    Ultimately it is the same thing more or less. 

    Using visual scripting as you can see would reduce the learning curve a bit and if you're focusing on making games and/or art, no need to waste time learning something else's intricacies rather than the concepts. However, sometimes these tools are limiting (for example not so easy to organize like written code). 

    There are plenty of games that were made using visual scripting only. Example the developer of Klang is a 3D artist -- think they came from Film or so (I can't remember) and they have made the entire game using Construct 2. It is a 2D game engine so he pre-rendered all the models and turned them into sprites. Cutscenes were made in his 3D tool (think it was Maya) and then added as a movie later to the game. 

    There is no limit to what you can do really as you can see and depending on your idea something like Construct 2 may suffice or maybe something like Unity and buying a visual scripting language (till they release Bolt for free, should probably happen in a couple of weeks or months) and using that. 

    Or with strong dedication and hard work could I learn to make my own game in my free time, and try to make a living as what I'm best at?

    That is ultimately up to you what you want and can learn. My suggestion? Give it a try, you won't lose anything. An hour or two a day and see if you even like it. If so keep going -- you got nothing to lose. If you feel that you're straying away from your goal (making games) and you rather do that, just simply stop, pick one of those visual scripting tools (or engines if you will) and start making your game. 

    Either way, good luck, hope you get started quickly and find the best solution that works for you :)

  • crossroads2020
    Dude... thank you SO SO much! Everything you said is exactly what I needed to hear and I 100% was not expecting a response like this on the same day I posted it. So I've decided to enroll in creative technologies and will dedicate a few hours or so everyday to learning the basics of coding after school. Thanks so much again for taking time again to answer every one of my questions, would buy you a beer if I could hahaha. Have a great day! 
  • Tiles
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    Tiles polycounter lvl 8
    Hi crossroads 2020,

    Before you dive into programming, the big two, Unity and Unreal, have visual scripting available. In Unreal it is Blueprints. And for Unity a not this expensive addon exists. Playmaker. You can come pretty far with those two solutions without to write a single line of code. So the first decision that you may want to do is, do you want to write code, or do you want to develop a game. That's two completely different approaches.

    Don't underestimate the time that you need to develop and finish a game. It is first and foremost lots of work. Even small and easy looking games like a bejeweled clone can take weeks or months. And the first ten games will be crap. This was true before 20 years, and is still true nowadays. There is this much to learn, there is simply no way to make it right in the first try already.

    So my advice is to start very small. And not already with the big AAA title that you might dream of. Complete a dozen very small games including everything before you proceed to something more advanced. This has several advantages. It's the small games where you learn the basics. Things like a good UI UX design takes several approaches until you understand what you have to care of. And finishing these projects has the advantages that you have now something to show when you search for collaborators.

    A warning at the end. I would not hold my breath to make lots of money with a game anymore. The game market is flooded. On the other hand, it's of course fun to develop a game. And when that's your goal, go for it :)

    Kind regards
    Tiles
  • crossroads2020
    Tiles said:
    Hi crossroads 2020,

    Before you dive into programming, the big two, Unity and Unreal, have visual scripting available. In Unreal it is Blueprints. And for Unity a not this expensive addon exists. Playmaker. You can come pretty far with those two solutions without to write a single line of code. So the first decision that you may want to do is, do you want to write code, or do you want to develop a game. That's two completely different approaches.

    Don't underestimate the time that you need to develop and finish a game. It is first and foremost lots of work. Even small and easy looking games like a bejeweled clone can take weeks or months. And the first ten games will be crap. This was true before 20 years, and is still true nowadays. There is this much to learn, there is simply no way to make it right in the first try already.

    So my advice is to start very small. And not already with the big AAA title that you might dream of. Complete a dozen very small games including everything before you proceed to something more advanced. This has several advantages. It's the small games where you learn the basics. Things like a good UI UX design takes several approaches until you understand what you have to care of. And finishing these projects has the advantages that you have now something to show when you search for collaborators.

    A warning at the end. I would not hold my breath to make lots of money with a game anymore. The game market is flooded. On the other hand, it's of course fun to develop a game. And when that's your goal, go for it :)

    Kind regards
    Tiles
    Thank you so much for taking time to respond to me!

    Absolutely, I have experience in animation and making short films so I totally understand that, definitely not expecting to make my first demon souls or anything lol will master the basics first which I'm expecting will take many many years.. but I'm willing to do what it takes. And would absolutely be just passion projects. Only interested in money as a means to creating more stuff :D 

    Thanks so much again! Can't believe how good advice given to me on this site has been so far. 

    Cheers
  • Alex_J
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    Alex_J high dynamic range
    I'd say give learning programming a serious shot but don't try to force it if it's not your thing. It is possible to learn to do all parts of making a game but putting all of that together to make even a small game is too much brain drain - you'll spread yourself too thin and burn out.

    As others stated, don't expect to get rich and if you want to make a living I'd plan for 5-10 years of little or no income from it, however... my first game which took 3 months to make has made $13k so far with zero marketing, plus it's in a tiny niche so, do your best too. You can make some money if you put in the effort. Key things that helped there, I think, is just go for a distinctive artstyle, and to that end keep it really simple.

    btw, the guy who made "the first tree" (that indie game with the fox) has some video on youtube about how he used playmaker to make that game. It was his second or third title. He doesn't give much detail in the video but gives you an idea his overall process and is motivational. Looks to me like he didn't make the art himself and used visual scripting to make a bare bones walking simulator, but he chose good art, presented it well, and did the leg work marketing. So that's one approach - know just a little bit about everything and purchase most of your content.
  • defragger
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    defragger sublime tool
    Just to add something a bit philosophical to the good information already given. Almost anything is possible, it's just a matter of dedication and motivation. Don't fall for easy and tempting shortcuts, because they are almost always dead ends. Set a goal and work towards it. Even when its endless hard work, it pays off in the long run.

    “Do what is easy and your life will be hard. Do what is hard and your life will become easy.”
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