If you’re passionate about gaming or just happened to scroll through any app store, you might’ve seen how many new mobile games are released constantly. With relatively simple concepts and designs, they seem to be flooding the top spots of most downloaded apps. So much so that you could be forgiven for thinking mobile game development is so easy even you could do it. Well, it is and you can!
Or maybe not so much easy as simple, as long as you follow a few key steps. With so many tools and apps at your fingertips catering to every single possible need, you can start making your dream game even if you don’t have the best technical training. In what follows we’ll be showing you how to go from zero to hero.
Step 1: Set achievable goals.
Before even dipping your toes into the design process, you’ll need to ensure you’re not setting yourself up to fail. Developing a game can be a passion project, or it can be a calculated investment. Or it can be both. Whichever it may be, you’ll need to set the proper expectations for yourself before you even start.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your mobile game be done overnight, especially if this isn’t something you’ve had experience with before. But just like in everything, setting achievable goals and organizing is the first step in making sure you do get there with minimal hassle.
Organizing doesn’t just mean having tidy notes or good excel knowledge. As mentioned previously, with so many online tools available, a simple wireframe creator can do most of the heavy lifting for you in this regard. One of the ways in which a tool won’t be able to help though is when it comes to managing yourself: directing your efforts efficiently, reviewing results realistically, and applying feedback to ensure improvement.
The best way to start is by ensuring your set S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. An example of a goal following these principles for designing a mobile game would be:
- Specific: I want to design a mobile game. (Choose a clear goal that doesn’t leave room for misinterpretation.)
- Measurable: I’ll dedicate an hour every day during business days and 2 hours a day during the weekends to work on designing my game. (Set a way to track your progress.)
- Achievable: I can learn to design online and I have the time needed to dedicate to it. (Your goal needs to be realistic.)
- Relevant: I want to design a mobile game so that I can start a business and quit my job (Choose a single clear drive for your goal, that makes sense to you personally.)
- Timely: I’ll start next week and I want to have a design draft in 6 months. (Choose a start and an end date.)
Step 2: Research, research, and more research.
Gaming is an art form and as much as you might want to unleash your inner artist you’ll need to also be pragmatic and think of the business side of things. Your game will become a product, subject to the supply and demand of the market. You’ll need to have a basic understanding of the market before you can move forward.
Many times despite having negative comments and bad ratings some games are at the top. At the same time other games that have a solid perfect rating and are universally praised end up being taken down. These seemingly conflicting are the consequences of different design and business strategies that you’ll need to discover.
Check what’s out there and see what are the most popular mobile gaming trends right now. Look up the best games from each category, and review their features with a critical eye. Make notes of what you liked and what you didn’t. Then look at past trends and former top games and do the same until you create a big enough reference sheet.
The comment section, when filtered properly can be a gold mine. Check what are the re-occurring complaints and praises and cross-reference them with patch notes and updates to see what the developers of your competition decided to focus on. Take your time researching, this should take at least months’ worth of effort depending on your team size.
Step 3: Start designing!
If you’ve done the previous step properly, then you should have an idea of the general features and market of your future game. Now comes the best part, where you start the creative process! You’ll first need a central idea, the general concept of your game if you had to summarize it in just a few words.
Armed with a basic idea, start doing sketches of the game concept. You don’t need to be the best artist, think functionality. As long as it gets the point across, that’s all that matters since you’ll be able to either get someone on your team later to handle this or contract a freelancer. Make sure that your sketches come together into a story.
Step 4: Refine it.
What makes people return to games? Simply put they press the instant gratification buttons in our brains and lead to us wanting more. So you need to make sure your game will have appropriate rewards and attractive visuals and sounds.
Besides the logical structure and mechanics of your game, you need to ensure the UI (User Interface) is well thought out (think how you would like a game you play to be) as well as decide on 2D vs 3D elements. The first one will be easier, meaning cheaper and short production time, while the last one is more visually rewarding.
Make sure you double-check everything you have so far against the requirements of the various app stores you’ll want to publish in. Only after this, can you consider making a prototype. You’ll need to choose the platform as well well as decide to either learn the needed coding / 2D & 3D modeling design skills or contact professionals to join your project. Research available programs as well in which to make your prototype or alternatively you can jump to the next step and try to sell your idea.
Step 5. Pitch your prototype.
With a prototype in hand or just a design, you can either start securing investors or start thinking of self-financing your mobile game and releasing it yourself. Alternatively, if you’re ambitious enough, you can do all of it yourself, but you’ll need to strap in for a bit of a ride. Regardless of your choice, if you’ll follow these steps we’re confident you’ll be able to bring your dream mobile game to life.