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Andy Zhao (he/him)
Andy Zhao (he/him)

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What's the quickest path into game development for a curious webdev?

Personally, I've always been into game development. I'm pretty happy with where I am now, but have some "grass is greener on the other side" sort of thoughts. Is web development similar enough where transitioning would be easy? What's the industry like in terms of hiring someone with a web development background?

Top comments (17)

andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ • Edited

The easiest entry into the video game industry for the AAA companies is a Level Designer or Product Manager.

In terms of coding ecosystem its very different from web-development.
I hope you like Windows, IDEs and primitive testing suites.

There are web-dev game companies and easy entry is through DevOps or DataModeling.
Expect to be good at algorithms and math as you'll see those as common qualifiers if you want to be a Developer.

If you want to satisfy your game development itch but apply your web-dev knowledge you can always contribute to my open-source Tetris-attack like clone:

One thing I was meaning to do was to abstract and fully test the multiplayer engine.
My game has been a bit neglected since I've been busy working on my startups.

My buddy Alex is web-dev turned indie game-dev. He even made his own studio
Funny enough he builds his game using web-dev stack.

What I really like about his game is that is grand strategy using economics and politics.
I had introduced him to CK2 to which he became addicted to.

The kind of games I always wanted to make:

  • my own Zelda-like game similar to Oracle, Seasons, Link's Awakening
  • competitive tetris-attack clone and/or a new puzzle game with competitive play
  • a rhythm game
  • grand strategy
  • rts
omrisama profile image
Omri Gabay

Great post + subtle self promotion, I like it.

andrewbrown profile image
Andrew Brown πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

I plugged in more to the post, so not so subtle now.

Thread Thread
seanmclem profile image

On your friends site, on mobile, there's no way to hide the hamburger menu once open without clicking on something inside of it. Tried to use the contact form to send a message about this - there's no place in the contact form for a message body.

taillogs profile image
Ryland G • Edited

First, take any salary you're making in another tech field and halve it. Then take the number of hours you work and double them. That's what working in the game industry is like. Oh, also it has the highest math and physics requirements of almost any dev industry too! From age 16-20 I pretty much only worked on games/game engines. I spent 10 hours a day, every day, working on my own engine. But the moment it was time to start working for money (instead of enjoyment), I went into a much more lucrative sector where I don't get treated like a human slave.

Building a game on the other hand... Highly recommend Godot engine, it's a nice open source project that is getting close to Unity-level features (mostly for 2d ATM). Just make sure you understand, building a full fledged game is a lot of work, and not just in terms of code. It's not meant to discourage you, I've just seen a lot of starry eyed people give up on making games.

antogarand profile image
Antony Garand

I kind of felt the same for a while, but ended up doing games as a hobby instead of following the domain as a job.

Things I like to do to keep up with the industry are:

  • Game jams! Taking a bit of time to make a small game in a short timeframe. There are tons of them you can find on, but the most popular one is Ludum Dare, where twice a year people make a game in a weekend.
  • Follow few youtubers and bloggers and their progress! Here are few of my favorite ressources:
  • Podcasts are also a great way of keeping up with the industry and gaining general knowledge regarding game dev. I personally recommend the debug log, but there are many good ones out there.

Finally, there are few great JS game engines such as Phaser and Pixi which can let you make a good prototype quickly, when you're feeling like making something quick and easy to share!

Now, who wants to make a amateur game jam?

seanmclem profile image

❀️ For Phaser and Pixi

niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

There are lots of browser-based games.
Not talking about 3D-shooters in canvas, but interface-based games like OGame, ad2460, or even some online-poker.
Maybe look at those.
I don't see how this would be fundamentally different than any other web-app.
My point being: Unless it's some fancy action-game, you can certainly develop it using web-dev-tech.

mikkpr profile image
Mikk Pristavka

Speaking from my limited experience here. I'm a professional front-end developer with a gamedev hobby. Making games is what sparked my interest in programming in the first place, actually.

Before considering jumping ship, try working on a game project. Oddly enough, creating games isn't, well, fun and games. Where the front-end project lifecycle is fairly similar from project to project, regardless of the technologies used, the whole game development workflow is highly dependent on the actual engine and target platform. Of course, with a competent team you can make anything work, but the whole process is still quite different. Then again, front-end and gamedev projects have different inputs and different expected outputs, so the process is bound to differ.

I have no first-hand experience in the gamedev industry itself, so I won't comment on that.

Like @antogarand said, game jams are a great way to pursue gamedev as a hobby. I have taken part in five game jams (mostly Ludum Dares and one Global Game Jam) and all of them have been an amazing experience. Given your background, you can do your first jam with your favourite front-end stack so you get a taste without leaving your comfort zone. Who knows, maybe a jam game turns out great and will turn into a real project after the event?

When looking for actual game engines to learn and use, @taillogs and I recommend giving Godot a look. It's a completely open-source game engine with a suprising amount of features and is quite comparable to Unity. I absolutely love working with Godot and prefer it to any other engine (I have tried Unity, UE4, Phaser.js and pygame).

seanmclem profile image

So you can code in "GDScript, C#, C++"? Is GDScript like a JS type syntax?

mikkpr profile image
Mikk Pristavka

The syntax is very similar to Python, but the language itself is specifically designed for Godot. It also has an optional type system, nice syntactic sugar to access and interact with game objects and if you use the built-in code editor, you also get context-aware autocompletion and documentation, real-time static analysis and debug tools. A really nice developer experience in my opinion.

justinwash profile image
Justin Wash • Edited

More python-like than js. I switched to it from C# on my current game project and likely will never go back. It's a pleasure to use once you get the hang of it (though my project is simple and performance isn't a concern really, so YMMV)

petarov profile image
Petar G. Petrov

I applied for a job at a big gamedev studio once. They kind of liked me, but they wanted me to work on the company website instead on any games. So yeah, getting into the industry might not be too hard, but working on a game, that's another story.

In any case, gamedev is rough and the market is tough, read oversaturated.

georgeoffley profile image
George Offley • Edited

I found this while looking through graphics programming. It's tutorials around Unity which is an awesome game development engine. Check it out when you get a chance. It might be a good jumping off point to learn some of the fundamentals:

Can't say much about the industry as I personally would stay as far away from it as possible, but I don't have personal experience. Only the horror stories. I've been wanting to explore gamedev more through the graphics and animation side of it. So far it's pretty cool.

shindakun profile image
Steve Layton

It'd certainly help that you have a grasp on development as a whole but, I don't know if it'd make it easier. The quickest path would probably be to grab Unity (or Gamemaker) and start working with it.

The games industry is awash with burnout and "endless" crunch. I don't think I would ever go back into it, not that I was there that long but, seeing it from the inside kinda ruined the mystique I guess.

Personally, I've taken to doing gamedev-type stuff as a hobby. Haven't released much but still get to scratch that itch from time to time.

andy profile image
Andy Zhao (he/him)

Yeah, Unity seems to be the best option for that transition. The industry seems too rough for me though.

kayis profile image

I started with Crafty.js and switched to Phaser.

All very code heavy, but that's my thing haha