Updated: Jun 16, 2020
Today’s blog post will be a little different. It will outline the process of how a game is developed, right from its origins to its release date.
All games start with an idea or concept. This could be just an image in the designer’s head or a more defined objective like ‘I want to make an rpg set in Renaissance era Venice’. The game might change but this initial idea is what sets the whole process rolling.
Work can begin from there on a game design document, commonly referred to as a bible. This contains all the details for the game, covering points such as
- The plot
- Characters featured in the game
- Level design
- Story ideas
- Game mechanics
Not everything in the bible will be used but it serves as a reference point for the developers while they work on the game. Concept art will help bring the developers’ vision to life, serving as a benchmark for those who are going to have to model it in game.
It’s rare for a game to be made in isolation. Smaller scale projects are frequently done by a one person team and there have been even some surprisingly complex releases such as Executive Assault; but generally it’s something a team is needed for.
A video game requires artists, coders, designers, writers, testers, managers, voice actors, animators, and many more. A huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes to bring together a finished product.
No game will ever get it right on the first go. Concept will be redrawn. Character motivations and biographies will be rewritten. Bugs will inevitably raise their head, no matter how talented the development team is. An object that works fine in one level might glitch for no apparent reason in another. This is where the testing stage comes in.
Alpha testing is the first stage of testing a game and generally conducted in-house by the development company. It’s a more primitive version of the game. Bugs are expected and the testers will do their best to address them immediately. Alpha testers are familiar with the game and can quickly focus on any issues that arise.
Beta testing is usually conducted externally, by volunteers or backers. It’s generally the last test of the game before it’s released to the wider public. It has another advantage in that testers are not affiliated with the developer and are representative of the target audience.
Of course, just completing the game isn’t enough. Often the most challenging hurdle can be the final one, that of marketing the game and getting it out there to the public. We live in a great era for game development but the sheer size of the market means that consumers can at times feel overwhelmed. It’s up to the marketing team to make the end product stick out and appeal to the target audience.
We hope this has shed a little light on the general process used to develop a video game. Remember, if you’re interested in this type of work, it’s never too early to start. Jot down ideas you have, practice your coding skills, or sketch chart.