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"But How Do I Actually Start?" Making Games on Your Own as an Engineer. In the Unity for Software Engineers series, I give an accelerated introduction to game development in Unity. Subscribers have been following this series over the past few months, often suggesting areas to cover or elaborate on. A few months ago, a reader—also a software engineer—reached out to me (lightly edited, emphasis mine):

The biggest unknown for me is: How do I start? What does the process of creating a game look like? Should I build the scenes first? Should I design the gameplay mechanics first? With business software, it’s much more familiar. It’s easy to think, “Well, okay, I need to write the DAO or controller, etc.” But with games, I’m lost.

While there is no single correct answer, we can still make some distinctions that can help get us oriented. The answer will also undoubtedly depend on who is doing the development: an individual, small indie team, or larger studio? If an individual, the answer will also depend on their primary skillset: a developer, artist, or designer?

Here, I’ll give heuristics especially helpful for individual Software Engineers building a game on their own as a side project, hobby, or proof-of-concept.