How does the game development process go?

The game development process varies depending on the company and project. However, the development of a commercial game usually includes the following stages.

Pre-production

The early stages of game development are often characterized by low graphics quality. This is especially true for various game prototypes.

Usually, before starting the development of any game, an idea should be formed, the publisher/developer should give a “green light”.

In a more common case, if the developer and publisher are different companies, the idea should be proposed to management, approved and put before publishers. A working demo can help in this case, but it is not mandatory for an authoritative publisher with a good reputation. If an interested publisher is found, you can start production. Today, the idea of the game rarely convinces if the publisher is not interested in it.

If the developer is also a publisher or, if both are divisions of a one company, only top management should give approval. However, depending on the size of the publisher, several attempts may be required until the idea rises up through all layers of management.

The representative of the project is usually a game designer, but he can also be a person from the gaming industry or any other position. Before starting full-scale production, the game designer must write a design document – a detailed document describing the concept and gameplay. It may also contain some preliminary sketches of various aspects of the game. A 3d game art studio includes in the design document even an approximate working prototype demonstrating one or more sides of the game. 

Usually, a design document combines all or most of the materials of the initial design. The main feature of the design document is its “liveliness” – in fact, it will not be completed as long as the game is under development. It can change every week, sometimes every day. Therefore, even if a design document must exist in some form before starting full-scale production, it is almost never a complete design, although it can describe many aspects of all stages of a fully designed game.

Before the approved design appears, the main team of programmers of their artists can start working on ideas. Programmers can develop initial prototypes to demonstrate one or more features that some intermediaries want to see in the game. Or they can start developing a frame that will eventually be used by the game. Artists can draw sketches as a springboard for developing real game resources. At first, the producer can work part-time on the game, but increase his employment in order to promote development.

Production

At the stage of the main production, a huge amount of work is carried out. Programmers write the source code, artists develop game resources, such as sprites or 3D models of game elements. Sound engineers develop sound effects, and composers write music for the game. Level designers create attractive levels, and writers write dialogues for script scenes and non-player characters.

All this time, the game designer complements and changes the game design to reflect the ongoing vision of the game. Some features or levels can be removed, some added. The artistic interpretation can evolve, and the plot (prehistory) may change. All these changes must be documented and most of them should appear in the design document.

In terms of time, the first level of the game is developed longer than everyone else. Since level designers and artists use tools to create levels, they need capabilities and changes to internal tools. With the emergence of new features, some levels may become obsolete, so various corrections can be made to the first level of the game. In addition, due to the dynamic nature of game development, the design vision of the first level may change over time. Any gamification company will confirm that it is quite common to spend more than 12 months on the first level with the general three-year development of the game. Subsequent levels can be developed much faster, as the list of features becomes more complete and the vision of the game becomes clearer.

Testers connect to the game when something playable appears. It can be one level or subset of the game that can be used within any intelligible limits. At an early stage, testing the game takes a relatively small amount of time from one tester; at any time, testers can be immediately responsible for several games. As development approaches the end, one game can start taking away all his time from the tester – and even overtime – as they try to test new features for which there are regression tests. Today, testing is vital for games, because, due to the complexity of most of them, a single change can lead to disaster consequences.

By Hemant Kumar

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