Game Development Process

By juegoadmin | Game Development | July 20th, 2023

The Complete Guide To Game Development Process

You are playing a newly launched video game and were impressed by the graphics and the special effects — you now want to know how the game was made.

Making games is the collaborative work of many designers, artists, and game developers. Game development is not an easy process but rather a time-consuming and iterative one. 

Joy Stick

With the advent of new technology, game-making has become more innovative and the demand for realistic and creative games is high on demand now more than ever. The current gaming statistics show that the gaming industry will expand tremendously in the coming decade. 

Even the entertainment giant Netflix has recently stepped foot in the gaming industry. This is a major move done by Netflix to engage a wide range of audience and stay competitive in the entertainment business. 

And if you are planning on making a game or investing in it or maybe as a career choice, we can say it surely has a bright scope. But before that, you might need to learn about the gaming industry, game development, and its processes. 

In this article, we briefly explain the processes of game development. A game development process flowchart consists of various stages.

Keep reading to learn about them.

What Are The Stages Of Game Development?

The stages of game development are split into four phases. That includes

  1. Planning
  2. Pre-production
  3. Production
  4. Post-production

These above-mentioned phases comprise various subsets which include planning, game design, budgeting, game art, testing, marketing, and programming. 

Let us see the game development process step by step.

1. Planning

Game development starts with the planning phase where the concept of the game is finalized. In this phase, the project manager is assigned to the game. The project manager creates the concept design document and plans the flow of the game.

Planning

Concept design document help convey the game’s vision to the producers and other game developers. The document comprises the following elements.

  • A brief on the story, characters, and story development.
  • An outline of user interface design (UI), user experience (UX), level design, and environment design.
  • Research on the targeted audience and additional documents citing the customer support research. It also shows strategies to gain back lost audience to competitors.
  • If you are releasing the game on a specific platform, then the platform feedback needs to be attached to the concept document. 
  • In case you are planning to use licensed content, you need to discuss it with the licensor beforehand to avoid any legal issues in the future.

Apart from that, the concept document also includes a “Working Title” which might later be changed based on the decision of the marketing team. A working title is a temporary title given to the game for the game developers to work with until the permanent title is decided.

The planning phase decides the fate of the game. If the game producers are convinced the game is worth investing in, they will give the go-ahead. Upon which the actual game development process starts.

2. Pre-Production

In this phase, the game developers, designers, artists, and producers sit together, brainstorm ideas and plan the proceeding steps for developing the game.

Pre Production

The game’s foundation work is laid here, where the game design documents, technical design documents, staffing, budget, project milestones, confidentiality, and development agreements are decided.

Here, let us show you the various pre-production phases in detail.

Game Design Document and Technical Design Document

  • Game Design Document

The game design document pictures the entire game development process facilitating the game production to run smoothly. It is a combined effort of game developers, project managers, and producers. It also contains a game development process flowchart, diagrams, and graphs for a clear understanding of the game design.

Game design documents consist of the following

  • Characters, story, game concept, game mechanics, environment, level design, and environment design.
  • Goals, rewards, achievements, etc 
  • Overview of the game and game flow.
  • User interface (UI), the way users interact with the game
  • Modes, controls, socialization features, in-game purchases, and monetization features. 

One of the important purposes of a game design document is that it helps facilitate easier communication and collaboration between various teams.

  • Technical Design Document

Another important document similar to GDD is the technical design document. TDD points out all the programming needs for the game which includes programming languages to be used, bugs, errors, possible defects, and other technical issues that might arise during the game production phase.

GDD and TDD might go through multiple iterations before getting finalized. Once finalized the serious game development starts thereafter.

  • Team Selection

Selecting a collaborative bunch of developers, designers, artists, and testers is a very crucial step in the game development process. The staffing can be done internally or a game developer can be hired externally by the video game development company for working on the project. 

Being a game producer, you need to consider certain factors before hiring an external game developer — including the developer’s expertise, experience, skill set, portfolio, communication, and collaboration among other such skills. 

  • Scheduling

Scheduling is a process of planning, organizing, and tasking project milestones, tasks, and deadlines. This helps to check the project’s progression and ensures timely game completion.

The project manager schedules everything from the project milestones, art creation, programming deadlines, alpha and beta phases, creation of demos, licenses, and meetings. It even includes vacations and holidays during the game production.

  • Budget

Monetary decisions are made during the pre-production phase. Video game development cost includes production costs, marketing and branding costs, the cost of game development tools, licensing costs, etc. 

Not only the expenses but also the revenue after the game launch, and the profit-loss analysis are discussed in the pre-production phase.

3. Production

When a game enters the production phase, the game idea slowly takes form and progresses toward the end. The production phase takes the most time in the entire game development process. 

Let us see the production phase in brief.

  • Game Design

Game design is the initial phase in which the game concept, game mechanics, rules, goals, rewards, characters, levels, environment, and game assets are designed to provide a basic framework.

Game Design

Game design does not initiate during the production phase but much earlier in the beginning of the pre-production stages of video game development. It commences when the designer starts working on the game design document and makes its way into the production phase.

Upon entering the production phase, the game designer updates the design and makes improvements and necessary changes throughout the entire game production cycle.

The game design is of various types like game mechanics design, level design, character design, environment design, sound design, and UI/UX design.

  • Game Art

Game art includes all the visual elements in the game including the characters, environment, props, game assets, and user interface elements. Concept art, environment art, character art, prop art, etc., are some of the game art types. 

Game Art

Source: Elden Ring Official Page

With the help of game design, the concept artist starts working on creating rough sketches and illustration ideas to visualize the characters, environment, and other game elements. Following this the artists create 2D and 3D models. 

Once the models are created, they are textured, sculpted, and rigged. Then the animators create animations and add special effects (if needed) to the game. User interface elements like menus, buttons, icons, etc were also included by UI artists.

Usually, game art goes through multiple iterations before reaching the final stage. Sometimes, the games also go through last-minute changes to improve the game. For example, “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Walker” released in 2002 changed its art style to cel-shaded cartoon style upon receiving less positive feedback from the audience. Earlier, The Legend of Zelda used realistic and dark art styles.

  • Sound Effects

Sound Effects - Game Development Process

Especially when it comes to sound and audio effects, they are left to the later stage of game development. But sometimes sound effects are made simultaneously during the making of game art. It entirely depends on the game and its audio requirements.

Here, the sound artists create audio effects for characters, environments, non-player characters, explosions, weapons, and user interface elements. Many big-budget AAA games have more detailed and realistic sound effects like gun sounds in GTA V and the breathing sounds in The Last of Us Part II. Particularly, the game development company Naughty Dog is much praised for the breathing system in its game “The Last of US: Part II”. In this game, they have differentiated breathing sounds — like when the character is relaxed, running, injured, or in fear. It gives a realistic feel to this adventure-packed survival game.

In addition to that, some games use unique soundtracks — which are recorded in the studio, made especially for that particular video game. In case you are using licensed music, it is important to get proper authorization from the licensor to avoid any legal issues.

  • Programming

After the creation of game assets, it is left to the programmers to make the game work. The programmers write many lines of code in scripting languages like C++, C#, Javascript, and Nua.

When it comes to programming, everyone thinks only about game coding. Apart from that programmers also code the game engines (upon which the game runs) and game tools which are used in making the game assets. 

  • Testing

Most of the game testing is done in the final phase of game production. This does not mean that testing starts after production is completed. To put it exactly when the first few lines of code are written, the testing begins.

Game development process - Testing

Testing is done to check if the game has any bugs, errors, or technical glitches in the game. Quality assurance and quality control testing are done in games to ensure a good gaming experience.

Game testing is divided into alpha testing and beta testing. Alpha testing is done during production whereas beta testing is done post-production.

  • Alpha Testing

In the alpha phase, the testing begins when the playable elements are put together. The game testers should have strong knowledge of game mechanics and functionality to remove the major bugs or technical glitches during production. They also help facilitate the game developers to work without facing any technical difficulties when making the game.

Alpha testing removes all major bugs in the game during the initial phase, making the game ready to enter the beta phase. With alpha testing, the production phase comes to an end. 

4. Post Production

Post-production is the phase when all the production work is completed and the game moves towards launch. This phase consists of beta testing, marketing activities, launch, and post-launch activities.

Keep reading to learn about the post-production phase.

  • Beta Testing

Once alpha testing is done, the beta testing starts. Major bugs during game production will be addressed in the alpha testing. Hence, beta testing filters out minor bugs or any technical glitches in the games.

This testing tests the playability of the game. Game testers incorporate many testing techniques like functional testing, performance testing, stress testing, and playtesting, etc to 

to make sure the game does not have any issues with functioning — like problems while loading, or controls not working properly.

  • Marketing and Promotional Activities

The marketing team makes sure that the game reaches the target audience as intended by the game producers. They analyze the customer support data and create strategies like advertisements, brand sponsors, influencer marketing, and social media marketing — to promote the game.

Marketing

And at this stage, the game’s working title might be changed to a permanent title that works well with the game. 

Additionally, during this stage, any minor changes, new additions, and last-minute corrections can be made. 

And now the game is finally ready for launch.

  • Launch

The game developers release the game on the respective platforms (such as PC, Mobile, or Consoles) where they are available to the players. When the marketing is done right, the game would have reached the targeted audience and the success of the game depends on the opinion of the players.

  • Post-Launch

The game is a success among the players and now you have some post-launch work to take care of. The game developers work with the game even after release to make necessary changes and provide a better user experience based on the feedback and reviews received from the players.

1. Minor Bugs Are Addressed

You have done thorough testing, but even then minor bugs might arise because players use multiple devices for playing. So there is a high chance that small bugs might arise here and there. 

Hence, the programmers make changes and resolve the technical issues. In some open-world big-budget games, it is nearly impossible to carve out every last bug. So, they release the game to the players and collect their feedback. And resolve issues that players report. 

2. Content Update Post-Release

Content update after the game release serves certain purposes such as improving the gameplay experience, including additional content, and also as a marketing and monetization strategy.

Most of the video games update new content post-game release. 

Apart from that, if there is any version change, the coder needs to make sure that no new bug arises. So, the game developers follow up with the game post-launch to make sure the game provides a seamless gaming experience to the players at every level.

The Final Words

Game development is a time-consuming and iterative process. The game development must be planned and executed well to produce successful games. The game development process mentioned above is commonly followed for creating games. But when you enquire with a game development studio, you might find certain differences in PC or console game development and mobile game development services provided by them, as they have different infrastructure and hardware configurations.

Make Games with Juego Studios

If you have any game ideas in mind, reach out to us. At Juego Studios, we have a team of experts who have experience in making games in various genres like action-adventure, fighting games, RTS, and NFT games.

We are one of the leading game development companies using cutting-edge technology to make innovative video games for various gaming platforms.

FAQ

  • What Are the Major Processes in Video Game Development?

The major processes in video game development consist of four phases

Planning, pre-production, production, post-production.

  • What Is a ‘working Title’ in Game Development?

A working title is a temporary title given to a game that might later be changed by the marketing team during the later phase of game production.

  • Why Are Project Milestones Important in The Game Development Process?

Milestones keep track of the progress of the game and achieve deadlines. It also helps in unlocking the payment when a set milestone is achieved.

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