Most gamers have dreamed about creating their own game at one time or another, but for those truly serious about a career in the industry, they soon discover that the road to becoming a game developer can be a long and challenging one.
It takes years of hard work to master any skill, and game development is no exception. Whether you want to become a programmer, design artist, or level designer, you’ll need to spend countless hours honing your skills.
There are several paths to a career in game development, from University education to apprenticeships at game studios - but regardless of the course you take, modding is a fantastic way to get real-world experience in game design and development;
- Experience with engines and tools such as Unreal Engine or Unity
- Pick a project that’s small or large without the worry of a deadline
- Modding is a sandbox to experiment with unique ideas and concepts
- Express your creativity, decide if development is the right career path for you
- Get immediate validation and feedback from an engaged player-base
Get hands-on experience
Many game studios release the same development tools they use in-house freely for modding communities to use. The most common game engines and tools in use today are Unity and Unreal Engine - and the tools for both are freely available on the web.
This is a great way to get actual hands-on experience with the software and workflows that game studios use, at home and in your own time - and can help you decide which engine or area of game development you want to specialise in.
Get creative and experiment
Playing and experimenting with any development toolkit is a great way to learn and gain a real understanding of how things work, and how games are built. You can start small by merely replacing a texture or piece of audio - modding is a sandbox to express your creativity, without the worry of deadlines or targets.
Develop your skills
Releasing your mods to the gaming community is a fantastic way to get immediate feedback and validation of your work - modders are, by definition, passionate and enthusiastic about creating content for their favourite games.
The modding community is an excellent resource for sharing knowledge and learning how to create content for video games. With every mod you release, you’ll learn new lessons and refine your skills!
It’s great for your résumé
Having a background as a modder is appealing to game developers, especially when you’re first breaking into the industry. Game studios, large and small, have hired developers directly from the modding scene - Epic Games, the creators of Unreal Engine, often hire new developers from their modding communities.
And if your mod is truly exceptional, it could even become a game in its own right - notable examples of mods that have become fully-fledged games include Counter-Strike, PUBG, and League of Legends. Indie Developers have often taken concepts they first created as a mod and refined them into their own, stand-alone games.
While modding isn’t a guarantee you’ll land a job in the games industry, it’s a great way to discover your passion for game development, and refine your skills - all while bolstering your résumé and building a portfolio of work.