Starting to make Indie Games

Ok this is not related to any game or news story, but me. I have recently become a student and have access to the Microsoft Dreamspark program. This gives me access to a bunch of stuff (HERE). I just have a few questions before I go download crazy on all of their stuff.

1. I have not had much programming experience, but I am learing Java in school and I plan to start teaching myself C# shortly, which of these programs are the ones I need to just start programming in C#, not even game development.

2. Which programs would I eventually need to make a game with 2-D graphics? Not sure if 2-D or 3-D matters, but hey I am very new to all of this.

3. I plan on using a bunch of video tutorials to teach myself. Is this a good thing to do? Or is book learning better? If you know some good tutorial videos you can post links here

4. When should I start my year trial for the app hub forums? I was thinking after I learned a lot from other sources, but I am not exactly sure how helpful the forums can be for newbies.

Also just general tips will be appreciated. Thanks!!


EDIT: for anyone who needs some C# tutorials, I think I found a great list.

has 200 tutorials, put up a week ago




About Dcon
Just a 20 something dude who like to think a lot about things, sometimes even write about them.

6 Responses to Starting to make Indie Games

  1. John says:

    I’ll try to help give my two cents, hope it helps.

    1. I haven’t actually programmed in quite a while, but I’m pretty sure all of the C# programs should be in Microsoft Visual Studio (Which it looks like you’ve got access to the professional and express versions of 2010 and the professional and express versions of 2008). I had no idea that anyone outside of professional developers had access to the Kinect SDK, but that’s pretty neat I guess.

    2. For 2D graphics, the cream of the crop is Photoshop, although most old fashioned developers cry that there are too many tools they will never need, most of them just don’t know how to work them, and if you know how to use the tools, they will speed things up a ton. I personally use a combination of Photoshop and After Effects for a lot of my animations. Other than that, for just starting out with pixel art, there are plenty of other tools you can use that are free, such as GIMP, Graphics Gale and Paint.Net. You could get away with Microsoft Paint, but it’s probably a better idea to get set up in something a little more complex like GIMP, that has some basic easy to use tools that will make life so much easier (like the magic wand, for instance). There is a really awesome tutorial here that should get you started with basic pixel art

    As far as 3D is concerned, I have little expertise in that area. A lot of professionals will use either Maya, 3DSMax, and a little extra bits with Cinema 4D. There is another tool which is free called Blender, which a lot of people love/hate primarily because it’s interface is very unconventional, but it’s pretty easy to adapt to after a while. I’ve also heard things about Google SketchUp, I think there is a pretty gnarly 3D zombie game being developed for XBLIG, although the name of it escapes me at the moment, but the developer uses Google SketchUp for his art and it looks decent. When it comes to 3D programming, I hear it’s nothing special over 2D programming, you just have a different way of rendering your graphics and it adds another dimension.

    3. In terms of art, there are tons upon tons of video resources, I’m sure you can find plenty of decent ones just by throwing a rock into a search engine, some of them are really good, but then there are some that teach you how to do things the most ass backwards ways (like anyone who would dare suggest you use Microsoft Paint over Photoshop if you own Photoshop). Some sites also require you to purchase a membership, if you want to do that just be careful you don’t buy one from a site that sucks. Book learning is also fine, but it all depends on your style. Some people might excel reading things from a book, but there are others who enjoy video instead. Personally, I do like the video tutorials primarily because you can actually see what they are doing instead of trying to visualize it from a book. Now, in terms of programming, the books might be a little better to go with, I’ve watched a few video tutorials, and sometimes you get stuck with having to pause every two seconds because they are going waaay to fast, and it’s even worse if you get stuck with someone who doesn’t speak well and mumbles over a part that needs specific spelling and the video quality is so horrible you can’t even pause and read it. Check out your local library and see if they have any books on any kind of programming language, it’s more important to learn general programming and logic rather than trying to commit to a specific language if the resources aren’t there, after all if you can find a really great book that teaches you C++, no reason why you shouldn’t pick it up.

    4. Wait until you’ve got something viable that you can test, no sense in starting it, testing a few tutorial projects just to have something happen in your life that stops you from committing further (such as getting a new job or just plain being bored with it/burnout syndrome), and then wasting most of it. Either way, having access to the App Hub forums is free, even without the trial, all the trial allows you to do is test your games on the Xbox (though you’ll need to purchase a full membership in order to submit or review a game)

    Good luck to you! If you ever become a competent programmer and I’m still around, drop me a line, I always seem to have trouble getting a good programmer.

    • Dcon6393 says:

      thanks for all the input! I figured it would be best to wait on the app hub membership, but I did not know if they had some amazing tutorials or something. As of right now I am just gonna focus on actually learning how to do just the most basic of things. I hope to make something 2-D after awhile. Since I am going to school for stuff like this I hope I can learn some stuff I can use on my projects. Photoshop is awesome, I have the free trial, which has not run out after 3 months (shhhh. don’t tell anyone). I like that I have 4 years of free access to all of these professional tools. I hope by the end I will have made enough money from XBLIG to be able to buy what I need.

      I plan to focus on programming and not so much art because I feel that there is so much I can do with games with the simplest of graphics. Just look at games like Cursed Loot, Take Arms, etc. Thanks again, I will definitely look more at this when I get home. Hope to be able to publish a playable game by next summer.

      • John says:

        I wouldn’t consider take arms simplistic graphics at all. Knowing how to polish your graphics is anything but simple, in fact I know that discord games paid a pretty good amount of money to hire an artist that knew what they were doing.

        Cursed loot however, had some inconsistencies when it came to the graphics end, and relied heavily on programming effects, not to say that it makes the game any better or worse, though it is kind of obnoxious to see everything shaded, except for all of the characters. If you can’t make your graphics look great (which isn’t that important), at least make them consistent.

      • Dcon6393 says:

        well i did not mean simple as in ugly, but simple as in 2-D. I know I won’t be doing stuff like discord games in terms of art, but I know that as a college student that I will be doing it all by myself, so it has to be simple as can be haha.

      • John says:

        Oh by all means, I could care less what a game looks like so long as it’s fun.

  2. I would just download the MS Visual Studio package and start going through the tutorials and code samples on the App Hub education page. You can learn the basics of C# and how it relates to game making there.

    There are many other resources online as well, including videos. I’d try that before getting any books. You may want to read up a bit on C# before getting too far into XNA, depending on your comfort with it. is included and is good enough for doing 2-D graphics, that is what I use.

    Don’t pay for an App Hub membership until you get a little further ahead. There is plenty you can learn now without paying for anything. Good luck1

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