Coding your own games… is not as easy as you think! Only the brave and the bold would decide to become a game developer in six months.
So let’s be honest: six months is a daring goal. Unless you’ve had prior experience making interesting software projects, whether as a personal hobby or as a professional, making games is a tough gig that takes a long time to get good at.
Fortunately, your options are open and the rewards are attractive. Hyper casual games offer an accessible route into the industry. So, if you’re looking to make interesting mobile games that:
- can be played on any mobile device,
- can be played by virtually everyone,
- and can be made in short spans of time,
then this article can be the north star you need for your gamedev journey.
We’ve also got a range of coaching resources on a range of game development topics when you sign up to our Publishing Portal. Here you can also submit your games and request free game testing, get feedback and understand if your Hyper Casual games are ready for the App Stores.
First thing’s first — learn programming basics
Games are essentially software. For software to run on a computer, it must read a list of commands. A programmer is someone who writes those commands. If you want to become a game developer, expect to be the programmer 90% of the time.
These commands can come in different forms; programming languages, as they are called. You can choose between languages including C#, C++, Python, Java, Lua or even engine-specific languages such as GDScript or GML. But if you need a mainstream answer, you will generally see game developers make games in either C# or C++. (We’ll explain why in a moment.)
Learning the fundamentals of programming doesn’t take a lot of time. In fact, you can find many resources online offering free tutorials on C#, including FreeCodeCamp, Brackeys, or even the official 8-hour course on C# fundamentals by Microsoft.
The basics of programming shouldn’t take you longer than a week to learn. Since most game programming languages are object-oriented, the fundamentals are largely the same. Ideally, you shouldn’t have issues shifting from one programming language to another for that reason.
We know what you’re thinking. ‘How will I know what programming language is right for me?’
It depends entirely on the game engine you choose to make your Hyper Casual games.
Familiarise yourself with a game engine
Choosing the right programming language depends on your game engine of choice. And choosing the right game engine can mean looking at some factors such as popularity, ease of use, licensing, and so on.
Most folks wanting to make Hyper Casual games use Unity when they choose to become a game developer. It’s largely due to its popularity and wide community support, making C# the other dominant language in the industry. However, you can still choose between other game engines such as:
- Unreal Engine (C++, Blueprints)
- Godot (C#, GDScript, VisualScript)
- GameMaker Studio (GameMaker Language, GML Visual)
What matters more is which game engine you’re comfortable using to make games. Familiarising yourself with the engine is key, and pays off in the longer term. Most developers use Unity because it’s the most robust game engine for indie developers. Unreal is a great option if 1) you want to learn C++, and 2) you want to break into triple-A game development.
Here’s a breakdown of how long it’d take to learn the core components in a game engine (ideally Unity):
- Basic user interface: 1-2 hours.
- Introducing behaviours to GameObjects: A week.
- Making interactive user interfaces: A week.
Learning the entire game engine is unrealistic, not to mention unnecessary. You can learn the extra parts as you make games in the six months you spend with it, or even long after you’ve entered a publishing deal.
How many times have you heard someone say to you, ‘I’ve been thinking of making a small but interesting RPG’?
Chances are they are new to game development. The idea to make our dream game or a game inspired by our favourite games is a common rookie trap.
You have to start with the smallest ideas first to get a grip on how your tools and your programming knowledge come together. The tiny games you make in the initial stages act as the training wheels you need to understand different aspects of game development.
Are you learning about materials and shaders? Make a game about matching different objects with each other based on their colours. Figuring out how movement in an isometric game works? Make a game where a ball moves to the destination that you click on.
Prototyping these small ideas quickly can take you just a week or less. And as you make more and more prototypes, you’ll realise what exactly to do each time and inevitably shorten the time and reuse assets wherever possible.
These are tiny ideas that slowly teach you how the engine and the code work in tandem to deliver an experience.
Speaking of experience…
Understand how a fun experience is designed
Designing and creating an engaging game experience is fun. But it’s also got its own set of principles and fundamentals that varies from game to game. Hyper Casual games are renowned for their bite-sized gameplay, short-term stickiness, and mass appeal. There’s an entire guide on these principles you can check out.
Making basic games is easy, but making then fun is the challenging part that takes time, patience, and knowledge on what makes players tick. We can help with that if you’re having trouble with it.
We have various tried-and-tested Hyper Casual resources that produced the 45+ #1 games launched by Kwalee. You can access them for free after joining our official Kwalee Publishing Portal.
Connect with fellow game developers
All work and no play make you a dull game developer. One of the best ways to establish yourself in the industry, when you become a game developer, is by connecting with people who make games for a living.
If you’re fresh off the university boat, make a new LinkedIn profile and feature a couple of work history tidbits and gamedev projects you’ve made. Then add a link to it on your portfolio. Whenever you meet new people in the industry, you can exchange details, connect, and get to know them as mentors. Eventually, you’ll find opportunities drifting towards you, which you can take up and get more experience.
Do the same with other community spaces, especially those populated by other game developers, including Reddit and Discord. It’s a great way to make some new friends, get feedback on your projects, and build more skills to get more high-quality opportunities. Never stop connecting during these events!
Consider a degree or a bootcamp in game development
Do you want a well-rounded education on software development? Feel free to take it up in a university! Although you don’t need a degree to become a game developer, it’s good to have it, especially if you want to work for games in another country. You’ll also meet like-minded classmates and professors who can offer you the support you need to make projects to develop a sense of understanding.
It’s generally preferred if you can get a degree on software development or another science-related field than a specialised degree on game development. But if you want game development certifications, gamedev bootcamps can help.
Depending on how a bootcamp structured, it can take you anywhere between one day to four/six weeks to finish it and earn a certification.
Use the ‘secret’ feedback
There’s one way you can get some immediately effective feedback. And not many talk about this ‘secret’ feedback.
You can’t know if you made enough progress until you’ve got that feedback on your work. And if you do, it can help you overcome the need to whittle your portfolio over and over.
We’re talking about interviews.
When you hover the mouse button over the Apply button, your impostor syndrome looms over you like a giant tower that wouldn’t let you click through. We understand why.
People don’t take rejections well, so applying to jobs suddenly becomes daunting. But that’s okay – you can’t know if you’ve made progress until you’ve got the feedback you need. And one of the most effective yet ‘unspoken’ ways to get feedback is to apply to jobs and see if you get them.
So look out for internships and junior roles at game development studios, and start applying anyway. Securing the interviews and doing them can give you a working mental model of what recruiters look for in the best candidates and the questions they ask. If you get rejected, you can ask them for feedback on your application. They’ll oblige if you get in their good graces. Our guide on building the right application for the job can make that easier for you.
Using this newfound knowledge, you can tailor your portfolios and your applications to get closer to that role you’ve been dreaming about. (Or start pitching it to game publishers like us!)
And do it all over again!
It takes only seven simple yet consistent steps to build your path into the industry. To become a game developer, it’ll take a lot of time and a lot of self-learning. Sometimes, you might not find six months to be enough. Or you’re embarking on a course over multiple years. And that’s okay – the point is to keep learning and experimenting.
And eventually, you’ll have a good enough portfolio you can pitch to game publishers like us, or use in your job applications to land interviews.
Keep yourself updated with what’s happening in the industry and don’t stop adding high-quality projects to your portfolio. This is how you can make it into the games industry eventually.
We have a diverse range of job roles available for everyone, including remote opportunities! Head over to our jobs page and see what’s in store at Kwalee for passionate folks like yourself. You can also reach out to us and our recruitment team on LinkedIn to ask about roles that fit you. Follow us on social media (Twitter | Instagram | Facebook) to get the latest deets on our fun culture and news.