Game Development 1 : Game Making Process
Tue, 07/22/2008 - 08:43 — rosedragon
Right now game had become one of primary entertainment, especially for young generation. But how the process of game making, rarely mentioned. At this moment, Amethyst Orchard would explain about how a game made, which we will start with definition of publisher and developer.
Developer and Publisher
Usually a game created from a collaboration of two separate companies, which one is dublisher and one other is developer. While developer create the game, publisher promote it and deliver it to gamers, also providing consumer service. Connection between developer and publisher itself divided to three types, based on their's participation on making a game.
- First-Party Developer
- Second-Party Developer
- Third-Party Developer
Developer is a part of publisher company, totally below their's control. Example Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda created by Nitendo, published by Nitendo, and so only appear in Nitendo.
Developer separated from publisher, but they had make contract to only produce for publisher, which usually handle a console. For example, Naughty Dog signs contract with Sony, so every games they made only appear in Play Station (Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxster).
Most developers fall into this form. They make contract with publisher per one game. With this form, developer free to put a game on various console. Example, Warthog makes Harry Potter game for many console, they colab with Electronic Arts for distribute it.
Beginning of Process: Concept
A game always have a concept. This concept can came from various sources and decided by the owners of developer company. Developer crew doesn't take hand on picking which concept they will make, they only will take assignments from an appointed producer. There are eight type of concept origins.
- Brilliant Inspiration from the Crew
- Filling the Gap
- Following Others Success
- Will of Owner
- Publisher's Decision
There are rare times when an executive decide a crew's idea worth to try, usually if the idea is revolusionic and have chance to success on the market. Keep remember, this is rarely happen.
A succesful movie or book usually attract game developer to take part on the success by asking a license and make a game according to it. Example, game Harry Potter or Batman.
When a new feature added to a hardware (example: 3d shading added to graphic card)or when the game engine team invent a new technology, decision makers will consider to make a game that using that technology. With market competition concentrated towards graphic, techonology could be a main factor to create a concept. Or at least, a concept should be able to use the technology.
Marketing crew might see a genre or a platform that not filled properly by game industry. Marketing crew usually came from publisher company, which will give their's survey data to the publisher so the decision makers can review what happened at the market. The sum of the review might become consideration to fill the gap of a genre or platform and grab a chance to attract gamers on that genre/platform.
A success of a game usually make other companies sniff gamers interest toward a similar game. Making a game with this concept is easier, developer only need to polish the idea with better technology and more features. Example, most online games come from similar concept.
Stakeholders or CEO might have an idea they want to implement. This idea would be forwarded to game designers for making the details.
A sequel of a previous game the company made. Example, Final Fantasy II is a sequel of Final Fantasy I.
If developer is on First and Second-Party category, usually Publisher involve or in charge of making a concept. Publisher's Concept might came from sources we had mentioned before, but usually they concentrate on market's demand.
When a decision had decided, decision makers point a producer to lead the project. If the concept come from an insider, decision makers point a designer to pick the project team. After that, designer will make a complete descriptions of the game. This description handed to decision makers to be reviewed. If the game would be run on a console like PlayStation, GameCube, Xbox, these description should be accepted by the console companies. If the game involving a copyright, like a game based on movie or book, they should get permission from the author. After every entity affected agree, then the game process can start.
The game designer start expanding the descriptions into a game design. This means all factors and details of the game from technical elements, mapping, to list of characters' skill. This design separate into certain category and given to different game designer, depends on how big is the game company. Making a complete design can took into six months.
If the game made in the company, producer will start by deciding who will lead the programming and who will lead the artist. After that, producer can recruit insider or outsider for the project. It is producer duty to survey developer and art house he/she would use. If the game need an actor, producer should find one, calculate expense, and start the casting. Searching audio team usually become last priority, although expense still calculated from begining. Producer recruiting new people on contract, so it won't give pressure to current employee. These new people only recruited once, except if they showing a significant performance. For making story and dialogues at the game, producer might recruit a writer to help the designer. A writer never stay at game industry.
After the design finished, techincal team will discuss it and write process, engine, and technology that would be used for the game. They would identify aspects that might become a challenge and giving solutions to those aspects.
Producer will plan production phases, making schedule, and calculating expense as clear as possible. These documents and technicians report would be given to the decision makers. If they agree, team will start the production. But in certain situation when deadline is stritch, programmers will start the coding even before the design document finished.
The main big part of making a game is programming. One game project need a lot of programmers to handle separate aspects. One or few programmers will work on user interface, other on AI, to online system.
Graphic designers start on making concept art, which is 2d sketches of the world and characters. From those skteches, they make models and textures which would be combined into a living world with its characters. After that, the world polished again with lightning and rendering.
Sound Engineer will make sound effects while musician make musics. Comparred to others, audio crews have more freedom to recreate, as long as fit to the game's theme. In certain games, there also actors to fill the voices, even movie actors recruited for the game. These actors hired for the project and producer also need to rent a studio for the casting. Sound engineer and art director should attend the casting to make sure the cinema appropriate with the game theme and format.
While the digital process running at the developer headquarter, marketing (usually from publisher)will attend trade show, press tours, and game conferences. They will start making survey towards game magazines and other medias.
After the production process end and game able to run, game will be given to decision makers to get another review. At this phase, the graphic of the game might still not finished or even not avaiable. All the features exist although still not smooth and the audio still not placed properly. At least, this game had given a view how fun it would be when it done. This review phase is called Alpha phase.
Producer will appoint a person to lead beta testing phase. The group that executing beta testing is called Quality Assurance. Unlike a public beta testers, QA required to catch every details, finding every bugs in a short test time. Their's reports given to technicians, which will forward them to coresponding area. Most of these bugs came from programming part, although not closing possibility towards other bugs such as wrong-placed graphic or broken sound. If the game having a deadline, some minor bugs might lefted aside. After the game repaired, second beta testing performed. This second beta testing usually faster than the first one, because QA doesn't need to check small details or test every possibilities.
After the game ready, game would be handed to console company (if it would be produced for a console)and license owner (if the game taking license from other product) while production team can start to get a rest. After console company and/or license owner agree, producer and design manager will met sales team to discuss the features of the game. After the discussion, marketing and sales start promoting the game as creative as possible while game start to be mass produced. This phase and next phase usually handed by publisher.
Sales will ask marketing or producer about questions asked by gamers or reporting game communities respond to the game performance. Company should also provide consumer service to answer questions about the game. Consumer service should have good communication skill and able to play game so they can play the game by themselves and answer the answers properly. In PC game, most questions involved about configuration and instalation while at console usually about how to pass a puzzle. Sometimes there are broken game and it need to be replaced.
This article is just an outlook. Every game companies or even individual games, had their's own way or definition. Time demand game companies to evolve their's way of game making equal with evolution of technology.