The short answer is “practice”.
Game development is not a talent that people have, it is a skill that people learn. People have different amounts of talent that may make a skill more easy or difficult to learn, but skill matters far more than talent does. You don’t earn skill overnight, you earn it by repeating a pretty standard process many, many times:
- Build something new
- Get some players to play it
- Internalize what worked and what didn’t about the thing you built
- Use what you learned to build something new
If someone wants to improve at level design, then the best course of action is to make levels. Build a level, get some players to play it, internalize what worked and what didn’t about the level you built, and then use what you learned to build a new level. If you want to improve at system design, build a game system like a level-up system or a power-up system. If you want to improve at cinematic design, build cinematics. Write quests if you want to be a quest designer.
After repeating the build-play-internalize-learn cycle a few times, you’ll start noticing the mistakes you made on your earlier attempts. They might be all you can see when you look back and you might even feel a bit embarrassed you ever made them. This is totally normal! It’s actually a good thing! It means you’re leveling up and improving - you’re able to recognize and avoid mistakes that you weren’t before. The ability to differentiate good and bad ideas is one of the abilities you gain from practice. As Bruce Lee said once, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” The best way to improve any skill is to practice.
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