Less Collaborateur

Why, Voice Of The Internet, you think you can’t contribute anything? You think you don’t have skills? Well, I have some good news for you, along with at first, a tiny little bit of bad news. So, you want to work with people on Video Games, but think you don’t have any skills?

Things You Can Already Do

  • Research: Whatever game projects exist, there are a ton of things that can be made better with research. The internet is an enormous resource, and while you might not feel you can help with art assets and level design, you can definitely help by finding free resources for the same thing. The programmer probably won’t want you to google individual code problems for them, but you can look for things on related topics, books, art and music, and see if there are ideas there that you and the programmer can use together.
  • Instruction and Documentation: This is more useful for table-top games, but some person sitting aside from the project, whose job is to try and explain how to play the game to other people, and then write that down, is very useful. Keep things organised, keep them sorted. Some programmers can take care of all of this on their own, but don’t presume it upon them. Also, explaining an idea to another person is a good way to be sure you understand it.
  • Data entry: This sucks! Sometimes there’s a large pile of information that needs to be turned into computer data so it can be used by the program. The programmer could input it, but they could ask you to do it.
  • Creating Assets: Chances are, whatever it is the programmer and you decide to do, they are going to be creating tools that interpret things. You can learn to use those tools, or even just plan ahead. Levels designed for Wolfenstein 3D started out on graph paper, before the engine was complete. You can do the same thing.

Things You Can Learn To Do

  • Twine: This system is as hard to code as Wikipedia. If you can grasp even the most basic structure of webpage design – things like how to open and close tags – you can make games in Twine. More importantly, you should.
  • Renpy: Renpy is slightly more complicated than Twine is, but it also can jump between Renpy bits and python games. You can use Renpy to create a framing device around a game. I’m not saying this is the best way to do things, but, Renpy is a useful, basic skill to acquire, it’s well documented, and if you get a handle on it, you can take load off the person making the rest of the game.

And finally, the bad news. The Idea Guy sucks. Nobody should want to be the Idea Guy. The Ideas Guy, if he’s just an Ideas Guy, means his entire job begins and ends at the start of a project and maybe gets to tell people they’re doing things wrong along the way. The contribution of an idea is a nice thing, and no doubt useful, but almost everyone is an Ideas Guy. Ideas aren’t as useful as Ideas And The Means To Implement Them. What you want to be is The Idea Guy who can Write Code or Dialogue or Sort Things or Create Plans or Structures.

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