‘Games’ and ‘Gaming’ are often looked down upon especially by the elder folks of the society, but the virtual gaming industry is worth 29 crores just in India, so you can imagine what the case must be worldwide. So there’s no need to prove that gaming is not only a multi-million dollar industry but it also takes a lot of skill and talent to get into gaming. But guess what takes more skill than that? Actually building these games! Only professional game designers and developers can tell you how tedious (but fun) it is to design a game that will be stress relieving but at the same time brain racking and complicated. Deadlines, production bottlenecks, game designing, publishing pressure, long working states, etc., are just a couple of hurdles that the designers face within the operational cycle of developing a game. The few brave people that have entered the computer game industry know the culture and customs of testing people’s courage and determination but when the game is played by thousands of people it all becomes worth it.
Today we will walk you through the various stages that go behind developing your favorite game. Video game production can come across as confusing, but it has some rules and basic frameworks that allow you to run your studio efficiently and keep your project going. Let’s get into it.
Stage 1: Planning & Visualizing the Video Game
The very first stage involves a lot of creative outflow, and visualization about how you want the game to look and feel like. As a part of the planning phase, you would also like to brainstorm and find answers to the most basic structural questions about the game.
For instance, what is the basic genre of the game?
Do you want to use 2D and 3D?
What features do you think should be included within the game?
Who will play the role within the game?
How many roles can one play in the game?
Is it a multiplayer or single player game?
Who is the perfect target customer?
When and where will you be able to play the game?
Can this game be played offline as well?
These are just the basic questions the developers start with, eventually during the discussion, a lot more questions come up which helps the team to get an idea about the process.
It may not seem like it but deciding the basic concept of the game is often the hardest part of developing the game. When the gambling business emerged, the idea was to introduce it as a sport. This stage is also about setting the basic groundwork of the game for everybody involved in the production and providing a high-level picture of the publisher’s expectations. This may lead us to the subsequent stage of development, the proof of concept.
For teams operating games under the sponsorship of publishers, ideas must be verified before pre-production and should require vertical editing. This is often because the publisher must approve the submission regarding your time, budget, and marketing activities. Independent studios that can’t control them have some flexibility. The disadvantage of publication is that it’s difficult to get development and marketing budgets supported by websites like Kickstarter and Fig. Simultaneously, popular games like Pillars of Eternity and Shovel Knight are fully funded through crowdfunding. In some ways, proof of concept is vital for game development because it provides a perspective on what might happen.
Stage 2: Pre-Production
The next step after brainstorming is to work through the concepts discussed in the planning stages. Here, writers, artists, designers, developers, engineers, project managers, and other key stakeholders come together to discuss roles and build the separate elements of the game. Prototypes are created to ascertain how characters, environments, skins, control circuits, and other in-game elements look, feel, and interact. Before developing the game, we have to make sure what resources we have to deal with our plans. Delegation is a big part of this stage, everyone from the team now knows what is going to be their share of the work that they will be putting in.
Stage 3: Production
Most of the time, energy, and expense of developing video games are spent within the production stage. This is often also one of the foremost demanding stages in computer game development. In this process, we have to ensure –
- The character model seems to be accurately created, produced, repeated, and displayed within the story.
- Whenever a character walks on sand, gravel, or concrete, the sound design tries to make things sound natural, so we have to work on all the sound effects required.
- Level Designer creates a dynamic and immersive environment for various playing styles.
- Developers create many lines of ASCII codes to bring all the game elements to life.
- Project managers check if the milestones are being achieved as estimated and the sprints are working smoothly. This is often especially important if the publisher regularly checks for status updates.
Assuming small changes within the process, these and other dates may take years to perfect.
There is no point if you are spending months of hard work on the game, and nobody ends up playing the game due to certain glitches the game has. You can imagine how provocative this is often to the people involved. This need takes us to the next phase of game development- the testing phase.
Stage 4: Testing
All features and structures of the game should be tested to make sure that the quality and flow is perfect. A game that hasn’t been thoroughly tested doesn’t even get an Alpha launch. Gaming experts test the rounds in various aspects.
The testing can happen in a lot of different ways. Some testers/ players attempt to ‘break’ the game by going overboard with certain aspects of the game, for example if there is a wall that the player comes across, what happens if the player hits the wall hundreds of times, what happens to the wall? And even psychologically what kind of stress does this create in the gamer. Other experts evaluate whether the game is just too difficult or easy by running the “Happiness” test or determine whether completing the game is satisfactory enough. And also, if the game lacks a “fun factor”.After several hours of trials and iterations, consistent with the maturity of the game features, the game should be ready for beta release or alpha version.
Stage 5: Pre-Launch
For game creators, the lead-up to launch may be a very anxious period. Once you consider how ordinary people react to your first product, doubt can take over.
“Will people have fun while playing? Will they find any new bugs? Will the game attract media”? are some of the questions that might come to the developer’s mind before pre-launch. But if we would like to enter the official beta version, we’ve to market the game. After all, marketing is the only way people are going to know about the game.
The publishers exaggerated advancements, and in most cases, these advancements combine video editing and sample snippets to draw people’s attention. You can reserve your booth at any significant gaming conference, like E3 or PAX, to supply your visitors with the simplest exclusive games.
Independent studios generally don’t get large marketing budgets to market their game. Fortunately, the probabilities of success for cloud procurement and advertising are equivalent. Independent companies regularly provide early access betas to celebrities of popular online games to broadcast them live to fans.
Stage 6: Launch
Now the entire process is nearly coming to an end. So, there is a lightweight at the top of the tunnel because of the closer launch date.The months preceding up to the game’s release date primarily combat the massive backlog of bugs found in testing, from old to new. For games with tons of problems, the studio creates a layer of bugs to deal with them. Minor bugs are at rock bottom of the hierarchy, and “game block” issues are the highest.
During a general situation, the developer tweaks everything that has to be done before the game’s release. When the game is freed from errors and bugs, you may start with further proceedings to launch the game! Launching is basically clicking a few buttons here and there to make the game live on selected platforms but it is one of the major steps because this is when people will actually be able to play your game!
Stage 7: Post Launch
Post-launch is an exciting time in any industry and specifically in game development. At this time, you get to know if years of your diligence have paid off or not and if the game sales are growing or not?
But it is not just about that curiosity, there’s still more work to be done. It is common for video games to possess minor issues and small bugs. After the game’s launch, the starting few months are generally used to identify and resolve issues that newly arise once players start using the game. Players can also submit bug reports or discuss their concerns in online forums employed by game developers, as this is often a part of all subsequent support.
Another element of support after the launch is to supply regular game software updates. The game’s balance fix is updated, and new content and DLC are available for download; this is the most crucial step after the launch.
In today’s gaming industry, new content is often released to extend games’ replay value and appeal. Downloadable content options for game developers include new levels, scenes, and multiplayer game modes.
Even the original veteran game developing companies with many employees can find developing new video games a dazzling process. Meanwhile, to make a delightful game, it’s essential to know the increase and fall of every stage.
It is also essential to acknowledge that no two games are created equal, only developed by an equivalent company. Moreover, disruptions during game development are unavoidable, and even sometimes, deadlines aren’t met, and the tools are limited. However, that is the character of the industry, and regardless of the dimensions of the corporation, some leaders and managers can solve problems, which make it possible to differentiate good research from flawed research. Thus, before developing the games, you should understand the simplest game programming languages to the complex ones available today to make video games and improve your skills. If you have read this far, can I assume that you are interested in game development? As a bonus, there is a flash sale happening right now for Eduonix’s Game Development E-Degree, grab it before it ends.
Also Read: A Complete Career Guide in Game Development