How long does it take for a beginner to make a video game from scratch? (spoiler: about 75 hours)

I completed my first game (PNG) a few months ago with the help of a Brackeys tutorial, which I blogged about previously.

For my next game, I wanted to build something without the assistance of tutorials. However, to make this task a little easier, I opted to create a Breakout clone. After all, Breakout is just Pong turned on it’s side, right?

While working on this game, I decided to track my time and be more organised with my work schedule. As well as having a full time job, I also study software development part-time, so if I were to get anywhere with my game development skills, I would have to manage my time well.

With my plans made I started work on the Breakout clone and made quick progress in building a prototype, which took me about 10-12 hours total work. Great, almost done, I’ll have it up on itch within a week. Or so I thought…

One day while taking my lunchtime stroll at work I got to thinking about a name, perhaps a play on words with the title. “Outbreak”, I thought. That’ll work. Then I imagined a game of Breakout where some of the blocks carry an infection that spread to the other blocks. Then more ideas came. And more. I’m going to need more time, I thought. Little did I know it would take as long as it did.

Outbreak works by building a play-field of blocks of two types: ‘Safe’ and ‘Infected’. Infected blocks have a chance to turn Safe blocks into ‘Sick’ blocks. Sick blocks turn into infected blocks after a time period.

If the Player hits the blocks with the ball, they change. Infected change to Sick, Sick change to Safe and Safe blocks are removed from play once hit. If Infected blocks are left alone for too long they will become ‘Dead’ blocks. Dead blocks cannot be changed.

The goal of the game is to remove a certain quota of Safe blocks to proceed to the next level. If too many Dead blocks accumulate, you can’t reach this goal and it’s Game Over.

Once I landed on this proposal for the game I knew I would require some basic sprites to illustrate what is happening. So, I signed up for a Udemy course for learning GIMP and suddenly the workload rose before me… right in the middle of coursework and impending exams for that software development course. Juggling it all was a challenge, but an enjoyable one. Below is a breakdown of the work I did.

workflow

 

As you can see, there were some weeks where the software development course won over game development.

So, all in it took me about 40 hours to make the game and about 30 hours to learn enough GIMP to make the sprite animations.

This may seem like a lot of time when looking at the end product, but there was a lot of work left on the cutting room floor. One major example was an idea I had to procedurally generate the layout of the blocks so that each level was in some way randomised. However, I could not get the function to consistent produce sensible outcomes. Sometimes the layouts were great, sometimes not so much. It feels like a shame to have to abandon it, but it definitely taught me a lot for future applications.

I also feel like the sprite art could have been better, but I was never gifted at visual art to begin with, so hopefully it is something I can improve at with practice.

To conclude, I have to say I am quite pleased with the outcome. It feels like a significant step up from my previous game and I completed it without the help of a tutorial so overall I am feeling quite positive about it. I haven’t decided on my next project yet, but it definitely won’t involve a ball and paddle!

I hope you enjoy the game as much as I enjoyed building it.

You can find it at : OUTBREAK.

 

 

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