One thing that really bothers me about amateur games is that they often lack the little details that make a game seem professional. Now, I'm fully aware that amateur means "not professional," but that doesn't make it impossible to make slick-looking and smooth-playing games.

PART 1: Title Screens

Put some effort into them. Take, for example, Speed Freak by the immortal Blackeye Software: a decidedly simple game, but it has a beautiful menu selection screen. It's simple, but not boring. One thing to remember is keep it simple: you don't want to have a cluttered screen. The best ones I've seen almost always have the same components: a nice background picture, a cool heading (but don't go overboard with the PaintShop effects, I mean really- isn't there enough lense flare in the world?) and a short-but-sweet menu system. If at all possible, have it keyboard controlled: mouse-selection is the easy way out, and it often looks shoddy. Keep it innovative, though- stuff like a little indicator sprite is always nice.

PART 2: Sound & Music

I'm going to put this as bluntly as possible: don't show off your musical talents in games. Make the music good, but not flamboyant, it's distracting. The music should compliment the game and it's mood, so don't use Metallica midis in a Mario-style platformer. As far as sounds are concerned, choose them wisely... and if you can't find good ones, don't even bother. There's nothing worse than a game with horrible, loud, obnoxious sounds. The sounds in your game should be low-key and stylish. One game with excellent use of sound and music is SEIGE! by Fallen Angel. Uless the graphics are photo-realistic 3D, use synthesised sounds, not a low-quality wav of somebody screaming or a gunshot. Try to match your sounds with the music, too. They shouldn't interrupt eachother.

PART 3: The Whole Approach

Look at games creation from an "imitating" point of view. I don't mean copy other people's games, but, look at what they're doing, what attracts you to their games, and try to do similar things. It's the little details that count: screen resolution is a biggie: as soon as your game is in a window, it looks amateurish. Full-screen games make people forget they're playing a Klik game, like Aurora Dibularos by Virtually Real. Also, don't release a million alphas and betas of your game to the public... that will slow down the process and makes you seem a little insecure. Keep people in suspense... I mean, look what that's doing for Ben Bernsten's The Chaos Gate- when that game is released, there'll be a bandwidth overload on his site. There are many things like this that can make the difference between just another Klik game and a freeware masterpiece.

Well, that concludes my article about keeping your games "professional." Now I know I'll recieve criticism because I myself have only ever released one game, and it was extremely amateurish, but think of this as my way of compensating for my notable lack of actual klikking. Peace out.