Hello! In this section we will be covering the very basics of the things you should consider before starting your very first project. The first thing you will probably be looking for is the foundation to build your game on, the Game Engine.

Probing for Game Engine

There are lots and lots of Game Engines out there available for you to choose from. And all of them are very powerful tools that you can use to create truly amazing games with all of the modern features and perks. However, how do you pick the one you want if you never had any experience in game development? Which features should become a priority for you?

When I was doing my research, the priority for me was the Community! For someone who does not have any game development experience, or have very little experience with coding in general, the support from the community is probably the most important thing. You need to be able to ask questions and get actual answers from experienced game developers. You might want the game engine to be a little more user friendly, be modular, have a strong community of developers you share their tools that you can download and implement into your game engine to use with your project. Such as advanced shader features, complete ready to use complicated physics system (think car physics for example),
and other gameplay features that you can implement and edit to suit your project. Another important aspect is the programming language that you plan on using and is it supported by the game engine?

So, after days of digging through the net, I have finally made a decision that I felt solid with. the engine I have chosen for my first project was Unity. It allowed for multiple programming language support that I could learn and have help with, C# and Java, that could be used together in the project. It had a massive community based HUBs where I could get help from other developers, and lots of tutorials that I could reference and learn from.

Click to download
Click the Unity logo to visit their website and download the Engine.

On top of everything that I have mentioned above, Unity Engine has a completely free to use version that you can download and start using immediately, and it's royalty free.

Game Assets

Now that we have our game engine downloaded and ready for us to learn, what else do we need to start our first game project? We need game assets! As an independent developer you will most likely have no motion capture studio, no team of 3D artists to create the game world from your imagination, at best you will have a lot of time on your hands. So, where do we start?

Unity comes with some basic asset packs that you can play around and build your game foundation, but it not enough to complete your game world and make it a fun place to explore. And this is where the Asset Store comes in.

Unity Asset Store is a place where 3D artists, Composers, other Developers sell their game assets. You can find game models, music, sound effects and much more game ready assets that you can start using immediately after importing them into your project. And there are lots of free assets available on the store as well.

Here are just a few examples that were created using the Asset Store purchased asset packs. The screenshots were taken from our game called "The Withering" that is currently available on Steam in Early Access.

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A city 8 years after the infection

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Scavenging the city

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Town of Abbotsford

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Abandoned underground tunnel mission

The scenes in The Withering will take players from vast open spaces like, plains, forests and mountains to a ruined cities, abandoned factories and other urban places. The variety of assets allowed us to build all of those scenes without a dedicated team of 3D artists.

While asset store offers a good variety of in game characters and animations, we decided to expand these assets a little further and use Mixamo Fuse for character models and Mixamo Animation store for additional character animations. Both Fuse and Animation assets are game ready and easy to import into Unity project.

Mixamo Official Website
Visit Mixamo Website

To summarize, with Unity Game Engine it is a one stop for everything you need to start your very first project. The asset store will help you with 3D models, 2D sprites if you are making a 2D platformer, Audio effects including music, animations and very useful Unity Engine editor extensions. Free version of Unity Game engine is more than enough for your first project and it is easy to upgrade to the Pro version even if you are in the middle of the development.

If you have any questions you would like to ask please feel free to do so in comments.

In the next part #2 of the series, I will be talking about how to prepare your project for public exposure and what to expect.