Video Game Development Cycle

Game development is undertaken by a developer. Mainstream games are normally funded by a publisher, and take several years to develop; however, indie games can take less time, made cheaper by an individual or small dev team. Indie devs have had a rise in recent years due to online distribution and the rise in portable devices.

First video games were developed in the 60’s but were not readily available untill the 1970’s, when home computing enabled lone programmers to develop games. Approaching the millennium, ever-increasing processing power and heightened consumer expectations meant that games could not be developed by one person anymore. The average price of game production slowly rose from US$1M–4M in 2000 to over 5M in 2006 to over 20M in 2010.

Video games are developed in stages (see gantt chart above), first in pre-production, pitches, prototypes, and game design documents are written. The game is then ditched or approved. Funding is granted if successful and full development begins. A team between 20-100 usually then split to their certain responsibilities such as designers, artists, programmers, testers, etc. Games then go through their Alpha and beta stages before being before being released. Games are now heavily marketed and showcased, saying this many still do not turn a profit.

ROLES…

PRODUCER :- Like in film the producer is someone that oversee’s the production process (this can be internal and external). The producer working for the developer is known as the internal producer and manages the development team, schedules, reports progress, hires and assigns staff. The producer working for the publisher is the external producer who will watch over the budget and time constraints. A Producer’s responsibilities include PR, contract negotiation, liaising between the staff and stakeholders, schedule and budget maintenance, quality assurance, beta test management, and localisation. A producer is aka a project manager, project lead, or director.

PUBLISHER :- Is a company that publishes games(see above). They usually have some of their own in house development teams, but also use external ones also. A publisher is responsible for their product’s manufacturing and marketing, including market research and all aspects of advertising. A publisher generally pays the developer in stages when a milestone is hit in the development of a game. They keep a close eye on studios and make sure that everything is on schedule. Publishers also distribute the games. EA and Activision are prime examples, with their own internal & external studio’s.

DEVELOPMENT TEAM :- Developers can have teams that range in size depending on the scale of the project (above, Respawn Entertainment). A dev team is usually split into sub-groups, and some mebers of a team may have more than one role in different teams. The most represented are artists, followed by programmers, then designers, and finally, audio specialists, with two to three producers in management. These positions are employed full-time. Other positions, such as testers, may be employed only part-time.

DESIGNER :- Is someone the designs the gameplay. Conceiving ideas, and designs the layout, rules and structure of the game. Their is usually a lead designer who co-ordinates other teams, he is the main visionary of the game. One of the roles of a designer is being a writer, often employed part-time to conceive game’s narrative, dialogue, commentary, cutscene narrative, journals, video game packaging content, hint system, etc. In larger projects, there are often separate designer for various parts of the game, such as, game mechanics, user interface, characters, dialogue, etc.

ARTIST :- Is a visual artist who creates game art (above). The work is often overseen by an art director or lead, making sure that the initial vision is followed and that co-ordination is in place with within the development team. Te artist’s work is usually in 2D or 3D. 2D artists may produce concept art, sprites, textures, environmental backdrops or terrain images, and user interface. 3D artists may produce models or meshes, animation, 3D environment, and cinematics. Artists sometimes occupy both roles.

PROGRAMMER :- Is a software engineer who develops and use’s game development tools (above). The game’s codebase development is handled by programmers. There are usually one to several lead programmers, who implement the game’s starting codebase and overview future development and programmer allocation on individual modules. Individual programming disciplines include…

Physics – Simulating real physics in game including object movement and collision.
A.I.- Producing computer agents using game AI techniques, such as scripting, planning, rule-based decisions, etc.Graphics – the managing of graphical content utilization and memory considerations; the production of graphics engine, integration of models, textures to work along the physics engine.
Sound – integration of music, speech, effect sounds into the proper locations and times.
Gameplay – implementation of various games rules and features (sometimes called a generalist);
Scripting – development and maintenance of high-level command system for various in-game tasks, such as AI, level editor triggers, etc.
UI – production of user interface elements, like option menus, HUDs, help and feedback systems, etc.
Input processing – processing and compatibility correlation of various input devices, such as keyboard, mouse, gamepad, etc.
Network communications – the managing of data inputs and outputs for local and internet gameplay.
Game tools – the production of tools to accompany the development of the game, especially for designers and scripters.

HERE IS A LINK TO THE DAY IN THE LIFE OF A GAMES PROGRAMMER…Also see pic above (http://gameprogrammertechnicalartist.blogspot.com/2010/10/day-in-life-of-game-programmer-team.html)

LEVEL DESIGNER :- Someone who creates levels (below), challenges or missions using specific game design software. This software consists of 2D/3D design programs that are commercially available (like unity above) or specially designed and tailored level editors made for a specific game. Level designers work with both incomplete and complete versions of the game. Game programmers usually produce level editors and design tools for the designers to use. This eliminates the need for designers to access or modify game code. Level editors may involve custom high-level scripting languages for interactive environments or AIs. As opposed to the level editing tools sometimes available to the community, level designers often work with placeholders and prototypes aiming for consistency and clear layout before required artwork is completed.

SOUND ENGINEER :- Is responsible for sound effects and sound placing. They will often oversee voice acting and sound creation. Composers who create a game’s musical score also comprise a game’s sound team, though often this work is outsourced.

TESTER :- Is someone who will check the quality assurance before a game is released to the public (above). A game tester analyzes video games to document software defects as part of a quality control. It is a highly technical field requiring computing expertise, and analytic competence. The tester makes sure that a game is technically solid, by finding bugs and other problems, but also makes sure that the game is entertaining. I should know as Ive been one….

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