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There is no “standard process” for game development in the industry. And there shouldn’t be. Developing a creative product is a unique process dependent on the talents, resources, technical specifications, and schedule of the individual project. And companies, development houses, and hobbyists are just as varied in their skills, desires and approaches to the creative process. So there is not hard and fast rule for developing games. But there are some general models that tend to be followed in large and mid-sized organizations.
The process shown here is a gross generalization of a practice which grew out of the film industry. The process is essentially broken into three phases; pre-production, production, and post-production. Phases are often tackled by various production teams with some individuals following along for the project’s complete life cycle. The phases are further broken down into sub-phases which are generally groups by major deliverables.
Concept Development – is the process of testing a game idea. The goal is to determine if the game should be developed. To answer this question the project sponsor/creative director creates an outline of the experience, tests the concepts with the intended audience, records the findings and creates a concept document. Design – in this phase the project lead produces the design document which is given to the game development team – the actual programmers, artists and sound designers who will be working on the game. The design document will go through many changes during the cycle, but the goal is to provide the development with as many details as possible about the game world, characters, actions, mechanics, audience and platform. Many game developers have adapted software development process models to help manage the production cycle. The three most common models used are: Waterfall (see above), Prototype, and Spiral. Implementation – this is where the production work begins. Team members probably meet frequently to discuss tasks and review problems. Updates and addendums are made to the design document throughout this phase to illustrate the changing nature of the project. Testing – Although testing is listed here as a sub-phase, it is truly a crucial component of the entire process and happens in each of the phases. In this phase the goal is to uncover potential programming bugs, identify narrative inconsistencies or art, and testing gameplay. Testers are charged with determining if the game is fun and whether it’s too easy or too hard. They also must keep detailed journals and logs to report bug conditions, possible causes, and any anomalies found along the way. All problems and concerns are reported back to the production team. Deployment – Once the game is bug free, whether through fixes or dropped features, the final round of playtesting can begin. Many teams initiate a 48 hour period where modifications are halted and the game is played by as many team members and external testers as possible. If you find any more bugs that have to be fixed, they get fixed, and the 48 hour period starts again. If your mod passes the 48 hour window without any new issues, the game is ready for distribution to your audience.
Why mods fail Most mods are never completed. For one reason or another, the developer abandons the project and moves on to something else or gives up on the idea of creating their own game. Here are some ideas to keep in mind to keep your project moving forward: Keep asking yourself “why should someone play my mod?” If you can answer this question truthfully and your mod offers something new to your audience then you’re probably on the right track. Set realistic goals. Be honest with what you can and cannot do. Your players would rather have a level with 10 unique and well balanced weapons than the 30 unbalanced weapons you thought of in the concept phase. It’s common to cut 30-50% of the mod original features because they were unattainable or impossible to complete within the timeline. Read your engine’s documentation. We often use our past experiences to tackle a new problem. Because of this, you might approach develop a solution which ignores limitations of your tools. Something as simple as creating a weapon with a high fire rate or a very large map could significantly increase the network traffic of your mod. Users will blame your code for being too network intensive. Finish something. We know that shipping a product, even a small product, is hard. The endeavor requires a substantial commitment in time and resources. Most concepts start out strong and never get finished because of this. But if you truly want to create a great game, it won’t happen without a lot of effort. Valve Software has a great five week timeline for completing your mod. Take a few minutes to read their ideas and suggestions before moving forward. https://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Making_a_Mod
Unit: Production Process
To embark on the creation process, many teams utilize a
development process. The dev process used in video games
was derived from processes used across a variety of industries;
• stage and film production
• digital arts
Unit: Production Process
Many game developers have adapted software development
process models to help
manage the production
cycle. The three most
common models used are:
Game Development Process
• Not standardized
• Used by large, mid-sized, and indie teams alike
• Three main phases
• Grew out of the film industry
• Each phase has hundreds if not
thousands of subtasks, and a
Reading & Watching
There is no production assignment due next week. Instead
please continue reading the next section of the Game
Documents and Assets: Preproduction Stage (p11-16)and watch
the second part of the “Playing Like a Designer” videos.
There is a good chance a quiz on
this material will be part of your
One final thought on mods …
Most mods are never completed. For one reason or another, the
developer abandons the project and moves on to something else
or gives up on the idea of creating their own game.
Ideas for moving forward:
• Offer something new
• Set realistic goals
• Read your engine’s
• Finish something
Valve’s Mod Making Tips –