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How to Make an Indie Game If You Can’t Draw

We aren’t supposed to be good at everything

In this article I want to give you an idea about how to make an indie game if you can’t draw.

I am a good programmer, I have a great story idea and I want to make a game! But there is one problem… I can’t draw and I can’t create game art. I’m an indie game developer and I don’t have money to hire one! Should I even try to make a game or is it hopeless?

Well, that’s exactly the question I was thinking about for years. We are just humans, we could have different skills in making something. One person could be good at programming while the other person could be good at creating game art. Unfortunately, we can’t do everything, we can only master some skills which requires a lot of time and self motivation, of course. And there is one big problem if you make a game alone: you have to be a perfect artist, a good designer and you have to write gorgeous stories.


Let’s start with some simple question: what makes a game a good game which you would play again and again? First of all, a good game has to have stunning visuals, unique gameplay and interesting story. So, if you decide to make a game without stunning visuals you have to maximize other 2 components, otherwise you will fail.

Pie Chart - Game Components

As you could see, a perfect game consists of 3 components: Visuals, Story, Gameplay. And all of them should be perfect.


Pie Chart - Game Components

Now, if you going to create a game without graphics you have to maximize Story and Gameplay components.

How could a game without graphics look like?

First idea that may come to your mind would be a game displaying some text with non-linear gameplay where the player makes a decision which will affect the future. That’s a pretty good start. However, it would be somehow boring, because it would be just like reading a book. There would be a kind of a barrier between your player and the character. So, now we have to improve the atmosphere to make our player think he’s part of the game too.

My idea of improving the atmosphere was to add background sounds or music, because with these elements we can give our player better image of the environment. Every player will interpret the environment a bit different, as a result the game could be multiple times replayed and also because of different decisions made. You don’t even imagine how you could influence players feelings and mood with music and sounds!

For example, by playing city noises with some robot sounds you give the player immediately an idea that it is a futuristic city. You could also add some mood to the city, as an example you could use bass which makes the player feel uncomfortable and shows the city as a dark place. We can also tell about the weather by playing some noises. You see, there are endless possibilities!

Examples of some background music

This is an another great example, if you want to create a horror game and you need some music that creates dark atmosphere:

So, now the player reads the text and hears some background music. Now he just has to play with his imagination, trust me he will be amazed!

But let’s take our game to the next level. We all know that colors manipulate our emotions, so by using the right color theme we can achieve some better results. We can use some background gradients.

As an example, we need to create a scene where our character is very scared and we need to feel our player uncomfortable. If someone is scared then we sometimes say we can hear someone’s heart pounding. So, we can make our text pulsating.

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