Robert Tamayo

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How I Got into Making Video Games

Full disclosure: I haven't created anything that could be considered a "success." However, I have created many things in my time, and I've gone through many creative and obsessive cycles. My current cycle has me creating video games. 

I don't work for a video game studio, and my games are virtually unknown. For this reason, it's impossible for me to offer advice on breaking into the video game industry. However, I can provide a background of how I got into making video games. I also have some insight into why I believe certain people perpetually want to make games, but never do.

Making Comic Books


Creating video games is the culmination of all of my various interests and skills acquired over the years, and drawing comic books was the first skill I remember having an impact on my life. 

I would spend hours and hours making tons of comic books. I really focused on learning to draw. I studied anatomy and comic book style drawing technique, and I wrote dozens of small comic books with various characters from everything I loved.

Around 11 years old or so, I stopped making comic books. I would continue to draw for some time, but I never got back into the groove. Perhaps my early dreams of being a comic book artist were seeming to difficult to achieve? I'm not sure, but my experience with drawing was one of the most critical for making games later on.

Writing


I think I remember why I stopped making comic books. Around a certain age, I started writing a ton of stories. I believe it was around the time the Lord of the Rings movie was announced. I had been given The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy as a kid, and I had taken an early interest in reading. After comic books, I started trying to write entire novels. I never actually got past a few pages, though, but I did draw up maps for my fantasy world. Inspired by Tolkien, I even started creating a whole new language. In the end, other interests took over.

Music


By far the most impactful interest in my life was music. I never had a musical instrument growing up, only getting my first guitar at the age of 14. But once I had discovered music, nothing else mattered. I spent the next 10 years learning music, writing music, playing bass, guitar, saxophone, piano, anything.

I've written literally hundreds of songs, somewhere between 500 and 1000, I'd say. Again -- I haven't had success with any of them. No one besides my family and friends have heard my songs. I also never formally studied music, so my knowledge of music theory does not include talking about classical music intellectually.

The important thing was that after years and years of writing music, I had added another skill to my list: songwriting. In particular, I always enjoyed video game music.

Game Design


Yes, I have always been interested in video games. But Game Design is different. I had an interest in game design before I had an interest in making games.

My game design interest came first from reading the Magic: The Gathering game dev blog. I would read about how the designers made decisions about balance, how they considered the various types of players interested in the game, and how they incorporated flavor into the game design. This gave me early exposure into the mind of a game designer.

Foreign Languages


I'm not fluent in Spanish, but I can read fluently in Spanish. I can also read French, and I can barely read some Italian. I took an interest in foreign languages, mostly for their grammatical patterns and the similarity in vocabulary.

Finally, Making Video Games


Putting all of these things together, I decided to make a video game.

I set out a goal to create a video game, for Android, all by myself. I didn't want to create a typical "mobile" game, either. I wanted a full 2D action platformer in the style of Mega Man and with the difficulty of Super Ghouls and Ghosts.

I didn't want to make a pixelated game. I wanted it to look like a cartoon. And since I knew I had created comic books as a kid, I knew that was possible.

And I wanted to write all of the music.

Maybe I would have stopped at making one game. But it turned out that I loved coding. So I kept making more games. And I'm still making games.

But games take a lot of effort to make. Without all of my experiences and skills mentioned earlier, it would not have been possible for me to create a game, much less one at the level my first game is. I got into games not because I liked games, but because my life was rich with other skills and abilities elsewhere. Those abilities enabled me to make video games.

Tomorrow


I'm wrapping this up abruptly because I need to go back to working on my game, so I'll continue my thoughts making games and why I believe some people never make games in tomorrow's post.




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