The First Steps To Starting Your Own Game Company And Making Games

One reader asked me:

I want to start my own company and make games. And there is the problem: I am using all my free time to learn about everything, I have lots of interests. And I can see, that making games is hard as hell :) I need graphic person (I cant find any around here) and I need people that would work on it as on their dream (I cant find anyone else but me).
So I am stuck with dream, with my will to invest everything in it, and with lack of people. I dont know what to do.

I’ll try to answer these questions. For the first challenge (having lots of interests), there is pretty much only one solution:

If you have too many interests, you need to drop something away.
I’m a sucker for doing everything and anything. I’m curious about how different stuff works. I have many interests, I watch all kinds of television shows and movies (ranging from Dr. Phil to Jurassic Park to Saw movies to Terence Hill movies to Gandhi documents to Jackie Chan cartoons to whatnot). I like to read quite a lot (anything from fiction books to all kinds of programming, business, marketing, project management etc. literacy). I have interest for pen & paper RPGs, I like playing consoles, PC, and so on. I jog and exercise regularly. The list goes on (and certainly doesn’t include all my activities and interests).

I suppose this is quite common for us people: we have many different interests. And at some point we gotta do a bit of prioritizing here. We gotta choose what we really want to do.

Eliminate or reduce the non-important.
That’s how I’ve done it. I realized that if I want to make games, it means that I will need to drop something away. Since reading is still much of my interest, and supports learning new stuff I’ve kept that on top of my interest list (in reality I simply just like reading, so that’s the real reason. My brain tries to give me a logical reason for why I read, even though the real reason is mainly emotional). Anyway, I’ve kept reading in my list. I’ve dropped the amount of time I spend watching television and movies (I still do that too). For example, I’ve dropped the time I spend playing games (recently I’ve played more than “normally”). These give me extra hours. Since physical exercises are good for health (and support not only game development but also life in general) I’ve kept those too.

Bottom line is: something must go. I’ve always suggested people considering if they could do less work (like for every 3 weeks, take 1 week off from work and develop your game that week). I suggest that you don’t try to “wear too many developer hats” (to some extent). If you are good at programming, I think it might not be very useful try to become an artist too. Instead, program a game using no art (or use content packs) and you can attract artists in your project if it’s fun to play (but lacks art). If you have a demo done, you have more chances convincing other people’s that you can finish a game.

Become more productive
An additional way to get more stuff done is to become more productive. I’ve written a lengthy blog post that has list of 100 tips to be more productive. That could be worth checking out.

What’s relevant knowledge
You also mentioned that you have quite a lot of experience in programming, and say that “making games is hard as hell”. In reality, making games can be quite simple. If I managed to write a piece of game using C64, I’m sure you can write a game. Perhaps you might be lacking the right tools. There’s loads of different game engines that can help you get moving. Engines like Leadwerks, Blitz 3D/Max/Basic, Game Maker, Torque Engines and more can be found via DevMaster.net

What if you lack people?
The simple truth is: nobody is going to create game for you. Idea is… merely an idea. Rest of the stuff (bringing that idea into reality) is the “hard” part. Techdojo wrote such an excellent forum thread about this subject, so I recommend you take a look at it: I’ve got this idea for a video game – what do I do next…

In addition, I recommend reading this blog entry: How to create your first game. It should give some tips as well.

And the company part…
Just set it up. Call some people and set the company up. Hardest part is not the paperwork, it’s the step making the call. Just do it.

Good luck and don’t give up.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I’d like to add one thing: don’t be overly ambitious for your first game. Make a simple freeware game with simple graphics, just as long as it’s fun and complete. Too often in cases like these perfectionism gets in the way, preventing anything from being done at all. If you want to make your perfect “dream game” you’re not going to do it. You’re just not. If you want to make a small, fun game and learn some skills and grow and gradually make better and better games, you will. Take a look at my own games (or at least the ones I’m not too ashamed of to post on my site), they started out simple and got gradually more complex and more ambitious. That’s the right way to go, not to try to get your “dream game” done your first time making one.

  2. Good stuff as usual here ;)
    Take your time is also a good advice, i saw a lot of young (or not) people who wanted to rush, and try to make a game in 1month, with most of the time no idea of what they’re doing.
    Take the time to think about your idea, of what it needs to make it, of the skills it require to be done, and when you have a clear overview of what have to be done, think about creating a company.

  3. Yeah just get started and build up from there, learn as you go along. The important bit is to *do something*.

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