Creating a game is a long, loooooong process that can take years to make depending on how big the game is. Today we are going to take a look at the process and go a bit in-depth about the stages and what they mean.
There are many things to think about at this stage. So far there is just an idea and a dream. Some of the questions that have to be answered in this stage are:
What are we building? What type of video game are we producing?
Will it be 2D or 3D?
What are some of the key features it must have?
When and where does it take place?
Which platform will it be on?
What is the genre of the game?
Who is the target audience?
Who are the characters?
What is our estimated cost to develop this game?
Will we need to hire additional team members?
How will we monetize the game?
What is our estimated timeframe for the launch?
And many more to think about. Most of the answers to these questions will be written in “The Game Design Document” or abbreviated GDD. The GDD is essentially the gold mine for the whole project. It’s a living document that evolves over time and helps everyone understand and get on board with the greater vision of the project. It includes things like the idea or concept, genre, story and characters, core game mechanics, gameplay, level design, world design, art and/or sketches, monetization strategy, art style, and many other things.
2. PRE - PRODUCTION
This stage is where you give a bit more life to the ideas from the previous stage. The brainstorming days are among us and thus all the writers, artists, designers, developers, engineers, project leads, and other crucial departments gather in the same room(or via the internet) and start discussing which piece of the puzzle fits where. Trying to get an understanding of the big picture. Some of the things that start to be developed in this stage are:
Finally the fun, tedious, effortful, and most resource-consuming stage is upon us. We get to see some creative stuff happening like:
designs of characters being modeled and sculpted to perfection according to the story
levels are being created with environments that are dynamic, immersive, and suitable for many types of playstyles
voice actors acting out to the best of their ability trying to fit in the right emotions for the right scenes
audio designers creating the right sounds for the right environment we wouldn’t want steps over ponds to sound like steps over sand would we
developers writing code so that it is as bug-less as possible
project heads watching over so that everything is on schedule, and many other things happening around them.
The order of creating the game in this phase can vary from company to company but the general rule of thumb is:
◇ Concept art
◇ Character art
◇ Environment art
◇ Technical art
◇ Character animation
◇ Sound design
◇ User interface
To save time, most of these are simultaneously. We will get more in-depth on most of these later in other articles.
4. PRE - LAUNCH
We are almost there just gotta fix some things like:
✓ Bug identifying
✓ Feature exploration
✓ Is the game too easy/hard?
✓ Is the game even fun?
✓ Alpha/Beta releases
✓ Marketing hype
✓ Gaming conventions
✓ Independent advertising
✓ Are there buggy areas or levels?
✓ Is everything rendering on the screen?
✓ Can I walk through this wall or a locked environment?
✓ Are there features I can use to exploit the game?
✓ Does my character get permanently stuck in this spot?
✓ Is the character dialogue stale and boring?
Wow, so it’s a lot of things. For all these problems not to come all at once testers don't wait till the game is finished, they start their work as soon as anything is playable. Early on, testing a game occupies a relatively small amount of time, but as development draws to a close, it requires multiple people working full-time.
Launch day is on the horizon. It is so close you can almost taste it. The upcoming months are spent on fixing the last major or minor bugs 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.
There isn’t just bug squashing, developers will also be polishing the game as well. Something along the lines of “The clouds could be denser in this area.”, “Perhaps the character’s boots can be less dirty.”, “What if we made those bushes sway aside.”. These types of changes, though minor, can be important for making a video game more immersive. And finally, we have “The master release”.
You thought the job was over? Ohhh, but it isn’t.
The game has finally launched, everyone is happy and the players seem to be enjoying the game, but after some time it might get boring, some of the characters are overpowered, some players have found new bugs or you just want to release more content for the game. This is when it is all happening in the post-launch phase.
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.
Releasing fresh content is common in today’s gaming industry because it increases the replay value and appeal of a game. New levels, storylines, and multiplayer modes are just a few of the many DLC options a gaming studio could explore.