About game production

The gaming industry is in constant growth, unchanged by the pandemic: the film industry has outgrown and still has to topple the television industry to become the most “successful” form of entertainment. Video games are a huge space to talk about indefinitely (games on phones, consoles, computers, mobile devices, free or paid, experience alone or connected with other players, made independently or commercially), so I’m not trying to delve into that In a lot of detail or covering all aspects, but rather a quick explanation before, in general, the video game production process.

In general, the games are created by development studios, most of which are large and multinational companies, some of which are located in the Romanian market. In addition to the big developers, there are also independent developers, much smaller teams with tight budgets – but with very high adaptability and market reaction, who can experiment and innovate much more. Development teams range from one person to hundreds and even thousands, for a large project. The development period varies greatly depending on the type of game, monetization model and project size – something very simple and without a commercial purpose can take several months, and mass production takes several years.

Game developers specialize in many disciplines – programming, art, design, production, quality control, localization, data analysis, marketing, user acquisition, as well as many other disciplines and departments. As training, mostly coming from the IT field, generally programmers, but not exclusively – I’ve met from singers and psychologists to doctoral students in microbiology – a passion for games is exclusively important.

Game production is first and foremost a team effort, it involves multiple disciplines that must collaborate and align to make the game. The actual process is pretty much standardized and tidy, I would like to mention that each developer adopts their own methodologies depending on the project, platform, audience, budget and many other criteria.

The first stage is called pre-production and is the period of searching, exploring, refining and estimating ideas (cost/duration/resources required), similar to the movie universe.

Ideas sometimes come as a reaction to the emergence of a new environment or a new audience (virtual or augmented reality, smartphones, touch screens, GPS), as a business opportunity or as a response to a global market.

In general, brainstorming comes in the form of brainstorming sessions, perhaps sometimes spontaneously, at a moment of inspiration (but more applicable to small independent teams) or in the form of brainstorming sessions. Variations and improvements of existing games, which is something special for the developer. To test the conceptual part, a prototype is usually developed and iterated – a very simple and fast version of the game, which aims to prove that the idea really works and is fun, and “feels good” in the interaction; Also at this point, opinions from multiple regions are required.

Game development is by no means cheap, budgets range from tens of thousands to tens of millions of dollars, which is why there is so much emphasis on prior validation, estimates as accurate as possible, and data-based assumptions, due to which a major failure can mean a project that is late or not Profitable studio bankruptcy, the potential rewards come with high risks.

Some details about the game market players: there is the development team responsible for developing the game (from idea, programming, design, art, testing, publishing to the final product), the platform on which the game will be published for sale (AppStore, GooglePlay, Steam) and a third party is The “publisher” or publisher that comes with a portion of the funding and marketing budget, separate (mainly in the case of “free” games) and service sections that small teams don’t have access to.

After the concept is found, approval and budgeting, the production period begins (divided into several stages – Alpha, Beta, Launch), during which the whole team begins work on the project, programming creates new systems or adapts existing systems to new game specifications, adding the prototype. If the game is played online, then we are also talking about the server side, security and functionality required after launch, the design team creates documents, specifications, rules for the virtual world, balance of power and values ​​​​(for example, the speed of a car or a personal life). Level designers also create tasks and sites.

The art department begins to work on groups, objects, characters and animations, whether they are 2D or 3D, the game interface is created, and at the end it starts adding texts, dialogues, sounds, music and effects. They are left in line to avoid situations where the game needs changes and materials that are no longer suitable. Until the end, they work with temporary resources that only replace them, until they are replaced by final resources.

Along the way, testing sessions are organized, opinions are collected, new ideas emerge – changes and improvements are made. In the beta stage, when the game has almost all the required functions, an intensive testing process begins, it is desirable to find and solve all the problems encountered, and this process continues until the approaching launch of the game. Also at this stage marketing materials, trailers, advertising materials and media presence are prepared. After the launch everything is very carefully monitored, and in case of any problems or dissatisfaction the team is ready to step in and release new versions to solve them. Some games remain that way, and others continue to evolve over time, with new content or in-game events.

When it comes to commercial games, first of all, their purpose is not only commercial (revenue generation), but at the same time it must be financially viable or have a subsequent purpose, such as experimenting or entering a new market – otherwise you will not More so. approved within the company). They are made up of large dedicated teams, consisting exclusively of professionals from many fields, capable of achieving almost anything, and always working, otherwise they will not be able to reach a high level of quality or deliver them in a timely manner. This makes it work with fairly large budgets and funding is needed for every project. For those who can fund themselves and choose to do so, of course no problem, but if you are being funded by a third party, here is a question who has the creative direction of the project – the one paying or the person who realizes that? The good news is that there are also independent, self-funded developers who can do exactly what they want – or be funded by a publisher, while still maintaining their creative freedom.

In terms of related arts, I believe that as games matured as a medium, they learned and borrowed heavily from the world of movies and books, which is not the case and vice versa (movies made after games like Doom, Mortal Combat, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Warcraft, with Metacritic scores very low). The games, in addition to experiencing the visual narrative, have a major interactive part, with possibilities for exploration and decision making that affect the development of the world and characters, and although most players will go through common points of the story, the way they end up overcoming the situation varies from player to another.

Some examples of good games created after movie franchises: Alien, Spiderman, Batman, Star Wars – of course, there are many other games, in general, there is a tendency for franchisees to create a game related to the latest movie, going in a wave of interest . There are also games that take place in the universes of some books, for example the Witcher series which is very popular with the audience.

Between frustration and reward

Games are usually seen as positive experiences, a delicate balance between frustration and reward – it can’t be too easy, you will get bored, it can’t be too hard, it will make you crazy and you will give up. They can teach you a lot of skills, applicable in real life, for example a strategy game, regardless of its form (virtual or physical), it can teach you perspective thinking, planning, situation analysis and risk calculation, an online game that can learn to work in a team, And you can meet friends to play a console game, and games can convey moods, emotions, thoughts and stories.

Passion for games generates friends and strengthens relationships (I remember a father and son participating together every week in Magic the Gathering competitions, both of whom were passionate about the game and spent the entire weekend together, from hour one to conclusion), and gamer communities are alive, they organize meetings, events and competitions In short, it is a very beautiful world.

There are esports and professional gamers – individuals or teams – making millions of dollars, there is an entire broadcasting industry, playing and presenting games, with communities of tens of thousands of players/viewers, the most successful being having live collaboration, developers getting paid – in short, games come with many of employment opportunities in this field, completely separate from those who make them.

But the games come bundled and with some associated risks, I won’t even talk about the Skinner Box and the addiction and gambling that fall into their moral category. The risks can be physical and can occur over time (eyes, back, lack of physical activity, or the effects of a neglected diet). On a personal level, it is much easier and less stressful/not risky to play something versus doing something, and this can prioritize gaming over other social activities (which can sometimes be very important) – it can lead to a kind of alienation Self – there are people who play or live on the Internet almost exclusively. And psychologically, ignoring addiction can make reality seem boring and depressing at times.

There is data and analysis on what types of players are, what motivates them, and how their interests vary according to age and gender (motives and priorities change throughout life depending on age, but it is also about testosterone levels).

Depending on individual motivation, players will focus on certain types of games – for example, those who are socially motivated will be drawn to competitive online games – where you can play against other real players, where status/ranking is important – or online cooperative games – Where interaction with other players is most important. For action-oriented individuals – surprise, speed and destruction. For those looking for immersion, it is important where you are taken, who you are and where you are, how exciting the characters are, the story, and the mysteries of that world. Creators will want to be able to express themselves, customize every aspect, or discover and experiment.

There are many other triggers, and depending on the type of player, there is definitely a type of game that fits like a gauntlet. Are you social – play sports / shooters / moba competitively or with a group of friends. Do you want to immerse? – Play a role-playing game or an action-adventure game. Do you enjoy planning, forecasting or making decisions? Strategy games for you.

Bogdan Rabi is a manufacturer and designer of games.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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