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Hobbyist Game Developer Manifesto
by Soren Nowak on 01/06/10 05:47:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Heavily inspired by Edmund McMillen's recent manifesto for independent game developers I set out to create a manifesto for beginners and hobbyist game developers who do not worry about creating art or the most innovative games. This list is mostly intended for those who dream of making their own game and will be proud to create a simple FPS or platform game.

1. Make a small game
Don't aim to make the next World of WarCraft. At least complete some small games before moving on to some of your grand ideas.


2. Be open about your game
Don't be shy about developing games as a hobby. Upload your game to a website as soon as the first playable version is ready and share the link with friends. If you have concept art then share that even earlier in the process. Create videos, take screenshots and release early demos for the world to see.

3. Let your game evolve
Your game will never end up quite as you expected. If something does not work or feels annoying then change or remove it and maybe add something else to the game if it needs to be improved.

4. It is YOUR game
While input from friends can be useful don't forget that it is your time being spent developing it. If you love space themed games then set it in space. The target audience is probably you and it is really just a bonus if other people happen to like it.

5. Find help when you are stuck
Join communities and forums to find people who can help you when things get over your head. This can also lead you to a possible collaboration with someone who is talented in areas you are not.

6. Learn when creating your game
Game development allows you to learn a lot of things. Improve your skills in design, programming, graphics, sound, music and even creativity. Game development will naturally make you more creative.

7. Learn from other games
Play games that are comparable to what you are creating and draw inspiration from them without simply copying them. Even board games can be an inspiration. Improve their formula if possible or create something entirely new the world has never seen before.

8. Finish your game
Ten unfinished games will not make you half as proud as actually completing one game. Always strive to finish the game you are working on.

9. Give your game away
Free is the keyword here. Don't charge people for wanting to play your game and make it easy for them to share the game with their friends.

10. Have fun
Do it because you love it, you want to do it and because you have fun doing it.


Over time one will learn what works best so change the rules when they no longer work for you.

This article is also posted on my site:

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Rafael Vazquez
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Excelent list. Specially point 10. One can tell when a game is made out of love and not as a chore. If you are getting bored doing your game, its time to: a) Radically redisgn the game or b) do something else.

Bart Stewart
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It's the inherent conflict between Rule 8 and Rule 10 that's a problem for the hobbiest game developer.

Everything can't always be fun... so how much grinding should a hobbiest be willing to endure in order to bring a game up to the "complete" state?

Eric Carr
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@Bart: If you don't worry about deadlines or anything like that, then you're up late working because you enjoy what you're doing. It totally different when you're doing something for kicks and the occasional giggle.

robert toone
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I totally agree with this point you made. It cannot possibly All be fun i don't care how commited you are. But i always stress to my friends that are starting out, that finishing a game is the big one. so start simple and work ya way to bigger things.

Chris Sykora
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@Eric: From my experiences with student work and hobby collabs; discipline is very important. All of the projects that had no deadline always failed. Deadlines do not need to be so strict either. Just a general milestone guideline helps quite a bit. Everyone rejects the notion at first but towards the end everyone has the same goal.

Glenn Storm
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@Bart: I sort of agree. I can also see Rule 8 (finish) being a result of Rule 6 (learn); polish and refinement being the deceptive beast that it is. I actually see much more of a conflict between Rules 8 (finish) and 3 (evolve). This is where the assertion of Rule 4 (mine!) comes into play and pushes through, I suppose.

Good list. Nice icons. :)

Kristian Carazo
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@Chris: I agree with your point about having a deadline. I started having much more success on my projects once I started setting deadlines for myself. Personally, I use Trac. Trac is a great tool and I think it really helps to get project done.

@Soren: Nice post :)

Adam Bishop
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I'd add a suggestion which would help with many of these (especially 1,6, and 8), which is to try and take part in the Experimental Gameplay Project ( in as many months as you're able to. You'll learn a lot very quickly, and you'll have a number of finished projects to show for it. I can't take part anymore because of my current employment contract, unfortunately, but when I was able to take part it was a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

I'd also say that #1 on your list really is the most important one. It's amazing how many people trying to get into game creation will show up on forums and ask "How do I make a game like Halo?" or "Is it hard to make an MMO?"

Soren Nowak
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Thanks for all the feedback! :)

It's great to see all the discusion here. Especially nr. 8 seems be be controversial but I stand by it and still claim it to be a highly important thing to strive for. I know how hard it sometimes is to actually finish a project. About half of my own sparetime-developed games haven't reached a state I consider complete and they probably never will. But that's ok for me since I still learned a lot from them and that made way for other games that were completed.

My personal favorites on the list are nr. 1 and 10 (maybe that's why they are placed where they are). Nr. 1 because it's the single most important advice I believe any new game developer and nr. 10 because I think it's d*mn important that you bring some passion into it.