Basic Guide: How To Make A Video Game From Scratch?

Video Game Development Guide

So you are a budding game developer or maybe have an amazing idea that can be converted into a kick-ass video game raking massive downloads and purchases? Either way, you need a functional knowledge of how video games are made and if you are an aspiring game dev then you need to learn how to code as well. (Duh!)

One thing is for certain, however – the video game industry is booming, especially mobile gaming apps. Just take Animal Crossing for example. The game is EVERYWHERE. Now with COVID-19, more and more users are gravitating towards mobile app gaming to pass their time.

Work those fingers!

You cannot ignore the fact that with the accessibility factor amplified with smartphones, mobile gaming has taken the lead leaving PC gaming behind. Now before becoming a keyboard warrior to prove me wrong as a PC gamer, consider these statistics first.

Mobile Gaming Statistics for 2020

  • By the year 2020, the global gaming market is projected to reach $196B, while the mobile gaming market will rise to $95.4B.
  • Mobile phones are the most popular platform for gaming. Time spent playing mobile games is 1.89 as an average on a scale of 0-4. As for PC gaming, it is at 1.82. (Close enough!)
  • In 2018, mobile games accounted for 33% of all mobile downloads, worldwide.
  • Mobile games also account for 74% of all consumer spending in an app store.
  • A whopping 95% of app store revenue comes from gaming apps’ in-app purchases.
  • 63% of mobile gamers are women.
  • 78% of mobile gamers are Android users.

Coming to the contents that we will be discussing, it will be wrapped around the main principles of video game development, where I will touch the areas concerning developing a video game yourself, the programming languages used, and much more.

However, before diving into the guide, you need to be very clear on the difference between ‘game development’ and ‘game design’.

Game Development and Game Design

Both these terms are different but required to make a video game. And if you are someone who is planning on doing this solo, then you would need to learn both of these crafts. So shall we?

Video game design: Consider them the UX designer equivalent. They are responsible for conceptualizing new elements, aspects, and features of their game. What does the game need, how should it behave under a said number of circumstances (the entire plot and storyline), and what does it require to become the ultimate winning game. Everything is brainstormed, discussed, and conceptualized by them. Now that the idea and every minute detail has been sorted, in comes the game developers that ‘materialize’ these ideas into a functional video game.

Core Skills of a Game Designer

  • Creativity
  • Technological skills
  • Problem Solving
  • Time management
  • Attention to detail

Video game developers: These are the software developers specializing in video game development. They are responsible for writing the code and bring the game to life.

Now, you could choose to excel in one of these career paths, or very well be both; as a game designer, and game developer can be the same. However, since we are talking about the development of video games from scratch, let us focus on the 5 steps that you need to follow.

5 Step Journey To Creating A Video Game

If you have a CS background then trying out video game development for the first time wouldn’t be as daunting as it would be to a complete beginner who is starting his software development challenge straight from video games. Nonetheless, it is not hard or requires you to be a math wiz.

What does require, is lots of learning of basics, watching tutorials, aggressively asking communities for answers and help, and a dash of self-confidence. If you are into the 2D role-playing game or RPG games, then search for relevant courses.

Note: This process isn’t written in stone as there are many platforms and several kinds of games influencing the process of your video game development.

Step#1: Research and Brainstorm Your Game

Planning and research are the foundation of every project. You simply cannot ‘think’ and develop at the same time. It is time-consuming and unproductive.

First, decide on exactly what sort of game you plan on developing. Then do adequate research on which skills are required to create this game and what features should it have the trends, and the best practices (like a reward system, ranks, upgrades, and whatnot).

Step#2: Write a Design Document

Whether you like it or not, it is important to put down a brief outline of a game that covers how it should look and behave, and what needs to be done to create it. Call it ‘the overview’ of your game. This document will also help you hunt down a mobile app development company that can fulfill your requirements if you choose to become a client rather than a creator yourself.

Here’s what you need to talk about in your design document:

  • What it needs to look like.
  • How it should behave.
  • Long-term goals: Whether you would include further updates, additional features, and new releases? If yes, then a roadmap of when and how are you planning to achieve this.
  • The languages you or your hired team of video game developers will use and other technical details regarding the platform and more.

Step#3: Decide on a Software

Before you start, have a clear budget in mind so you do not exceed it, as some software are expensive that cater to advance game development. However, if you are planning on making a mobile video game then you do not require elaborate software; depending on your game, you can simply be done with a code editor and a compiler. Just make sure you are using a powerful machine with a good amount of RAM and high-speed processor.

Step#4: Let the Coding Begin

Mobile video games are fairly easy and less time consuming to develop. You can create simple games using just JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Impressive right? It is doable and has a greater impact then complicated PC or console games.

Now the question is what programming languages in specific you can use for video game development? A few that you can use to create your own game include:


JavaScript itself is a simple scripting language and is quite easy to learn. You can use PhoneGap as a platform for developing mobile games using JS, HTML, and CSS. There are several online courses and videos available for you to learn from. In case these tutorials aren’t for you, then you can search for code game apps that will teach you the language through an interactive game.


Java and Android games go hand-in-hand. It is the most popular and widely-used programming language for creating Android video games. You can use Android Studio and Java to create customizable games that are fast, efficient, and personalizable.


A new programming language in the game for the iOS operating system that is gaining popularity and fame. Swift was specifically created for iOS app and game development. If you are not well-versed with this language, then Swift is highly recommended for your iOS mobile video game development. Its community is growing and so are the tutorials that you can avail.

C Language Pool

C, C#, and C++ are languages that have long been used for software development and for advanced game development. Although they can prove to be a challenge when you are learning them, they are still rewarding nonetheless; since most console and desktop-based computer games are created using one of these languages. If you have a strong passion for video game development and this is where you are gravitated to, then go ahead and search for adequate tutorials.

Now we come to our last step.

Step#5: Test, Test, and Test Your Game

Like every other software product, you need to make sure your video game is a bug, glitch, and error-free. Not only this, but you also need to test your game on a number of metrics that may include usability, level of user-engagement, any loop-holes within your video game plot or story-line, any feature that needs to be improved, removed, or added.

On a lighter-note

Video Game Development
Via Dorkly

In order to get the best insight is allowing your video game to be tested by a real user. Once you’re confident in your app, make sure you do its marketing before and after launch. If you have hired a software development firm that provides marketing services as well, then you do not need to worry about this part. Otherwise, it is best to avail marketing services that would make sure your video game is noticed, downloaded, and purchased even.

Either way, you should know the workings of mobile app marketing yourself. Since as a developer or a client you know your video game app the best.

Feeling confident?

Video game development is a rewarding career and more so, is an enjoyable niche. Then again, anything that you are passionate about is fun. The journey to create a video game from scratch won’t be easy, but when you see the end result, it will all be worth it.

If you have more of an entrepreneurial spirit within you and would rather have your vision developed for you, then AppVerticals can be of great assistance with their expertise in the gaming domain.

Just take the first step forward and stay persistent. Good luck!

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Muniza Ashraf

Muniza Ashraf is a software engineer turned technical writer with extensive experience in various niches, especially all-things-tech. If she isn’t writing, she is researching to bring information in the best way possible.

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