Game industry has developed rapidly over the past decades, and it is still developing constantly these days. The evidence of this is obvious as we can easily see day by day games after games are developed and launched into the market. Not only new game concepts but also new technologies are adapted in game development.
However, developing a game is not easy work, it has its own complexity that demands discipline and collaboration in work. Now, let’s take a look at the game development process in detail.
Before the designers begin designing, and the developers begin developing, an idea for a video game has to surface. This is the very first part of the planning stage and the roots that every game will grow from.
In the planning stage, the most basic questions will need to be answered are:
What type of video game are we producing?
Will it be 2D or 3D?
What are some of the key features it must have?
Who are its characters?
When and where does it take place?
Who is our target audience?
Which platform are we building this on?
In this second stage, you brainstorm how to give life to the many ideas laid out in the planning phase. This is where writers, artists, designers, developers, engineers, project leads, and other crucial departments collaborate on the scope of the game and where each piece of the puzzle fits. A few examples of this collaboration may look like:
Writers meeting with the project leads to flesh out the narrative of the story. Who are the main characters in this tale? What are their backstories? How does each character relate to one another? Are there loose ends we’ll need to tie up later?
Artists meeting with designers to ensure visuals, color palettes, and art styles are consistent and aligned with what was laid out in the planning phase.
Developers meet with engineers to flesh out all the in-game mechanics, physics, and how objects will render on a player’s screen.
Project leads meet with multiple departments to figure out the “fun factor,” which you’ll find out later isn’t easy to pinpoint until the testing stage.
From here, it’s common for studios to prototype characters, environments, interfaces, control schemes, and other in-game elements to see how they look, feel, and interact with one another.
Most of the time, effort, and resources spent on developing video games are during the production stage. This also happens to be one of the most challenging stages of video game development. During this process:
Character models are designed, rendered, and iterated on to look exactly how they should in the story.
Audio design works tirelessly to ensure every time your character steps onto sand, gravel, or cement, it sounds authentic.
Level designers craft environments that are dynamic, immersive, and suitable for many types of playstyles.
Voice actors read large stacks of scripts, doing take after take to get the right emotion, timing, and tone.
Developers write thousands-of-lines-of-source code to bring each piece of in-game content to life.
Project leads establish milestones and sprint schedules, ensuring each department and its team members are held accountable. This is especially important if a publisher regularly checks in for status updates.
These events and many more could take years of iterating to get right, and that’s assuming only a few changes are made along the way, which is hardly the reality.
Every feature and mechanic in the game needs to be tested for quality control. A game that hasn’t been thoroughly tested is a game that’s not even ready for an Alpha release. Here are some things a playtester may point out during this stage:
Are there any locations or levels that have bugs?
Is it possible for me to pass through this barrier or a closed environment?
Are there any features that can be utilised to gain an advantage in the game?
Is it possible for my character to become locked in this location indefinitely?
Is the dialogue between the characters old and boring?
There are even different types of playtesters. Some playtesters conduct stress tests by running into walls hundreds, if not thousands of times in an attempt to “break” the game. Other playtesters conduct “fun factor” tests to see if the game is too hard or too easy, or complete the entire game to see if it was satisfying enough. Without a “fun factor,” the game won’t sell many copies. After countless hours of testing and iterating, the game should be ready for a late-Alpha or even Beta release, depending on how polished the in-game features are.
For game developers, the pre-launch phase is a difficult time. Self-doubt may creep in when you consider how the general public will react to your first working product. “Will they find our game entertaining?” Will they discover new bugs? What kind of media attention are we going to get as a result of this?”
However, before an official Beta copy is available, the game will need to be promoted. After all, how else are people going to find out about it? To get people’s attention, publishers nearly always use a hype trailer that combines cinematic and sample game play.
Independent studios do not usually have access to large marketing expenditures to promote their games. Fortunately, crowdsourcing and advertising have the potential to be equally productive. Independent companies frequently send early-access Beta copies to prominent internet gaming personalities so that they may live stream to their followers.
The months leading up to a game’s anticipated launch date is mostly spent squashing large backlogs of bugs – some old, some new found in the testing stage. For games with many bugs, a studio will create a hierarchy of bugs to squash. This hierarchy will include “game-crashing” bugs near the top and minor bugs near the bottom.
In addition to bug squashing, developers will typically polish the game as much as possible before it launches. Maybe that mountain range can have more depth. Perhaps the character’s leather straps can be more textured. Let’s finally get around to making those trees sway in the wind. These types of changes, though minor, can be important for making a video game more immersive.
Post-launch is one of the most exciting times for any gaming studio. Years of hard work has finally paid off, and video game sales are (hopefully) pouring in. But even now, there’s still work to be done.
It’s not uncommon for video games to launch with batches of minor bugs. The first few months during the post-launch stage are typically spent identifying and squashing these bugs. Gaming studios also rely on players to submit bug reports or speak up about bugs in online forums. This is all part of post-launch support.
Another part of post-launch is to provide regular software updates for the game. These updates range from game-balancing patches to new downloadable content, or DLCs.