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Wikipedia

Video game development

"Game development" redirects here. It is not to be confused with board game development.

Video game development is the process of developing a video game. The effort is undertaken by a developer, ranging from a single person to an international team dispersed across the globe. Development of traditional commercial PC and console games is normally funded by a publisher, and can take several years to reach completion. Indie games usually take less time and money and can be produced by individuals and smaller developers. The independent game industry has been on the rise, facilitated by the growth of accessible game development software such as Unity platform and Unreal Engine and new online distribution systems such as Steam and Uplay, as well as the mobile game market for Android and iOS devices.

The first video games, developed in the 1960s, were not usually commercialised. They required mainframe computers to run and were not available to the general public. Commercial game development began in the '70s with the advent of first-generation video game consoles and early home computers like the Apple I. At that time, owing to low costs and low capabilities of computers, a lone programmer could develop a full and complete game. However, in the late '80s and '90s, ever-increasing computer processing power and heightened expectations from gamers made it difficult for a single person to produce a mainstream console or PC game. The average cost of producing a triple-A video game slowly rose, fromUS$1–4 million in 2000, to over $5 million in 2006, then to over $20 million by 2010[citation needed].

Mainstream commercial PC and console games are generally developed in phases: first, in pre-production, pitches, prototypes, and game design documents are written; if the idea is approved and the developer receives funding, then full-scale development begins. The development of a complete game usually involves a team of 20–100 individuals with various responsibilities, including designers, artists, programmers, and testers.

Contents

Games are produced through the software development process. Games are developed as a creative outlet and to generate profit. Game making is considered both art and science. Development is normally funded by a publisher. Well-made games bring profit more readily. However, it is important to estimate a game's financial requirements, such as development costs of individual features. Failing to provide clear implications of game's expectations may result in exceeding allocated budget. In fact, the majority of commercial games do not produce profit. Most developers cannot afford changing their development schedule mid-way, and require estimating their capabilities with available resources before production.

The game industry requires innovations, as publishers cannot profit from constant release of repetitive sequels and imitations.[neutrality is disputed] Every year new independent development companies open and some manage to develop hit titles. Similarly, many developers close down because they cannot find a publishing contract or their production is not profitable. It is difficult to start a new company due to high initial investment required. Nevertheless, growth of casual and mobile game market has allowed developers with smaller teams to enter the market. Once the companies become financially stable, they may expand to develop larger games. Most developers start small and gradually expand their business. A developer receiving profit from a successful title may store up capital to expand and re-factor their company, as well as tolerate more failed deadlines.

An average development budget for a multiplatform game is US$18-28M, with high-profile games often exceeding $40M.

In the early era of home computers and video game consoles in the early 1980s, a single programmer could handle almost all the tasks of developing a game — programming, graphical design, sound effects, etc. It could take as little as six weeks to develop a game. However, the high user expectations and requirements of modern commercial games far exceed the capabilities of a single developer and require the splitting of responsibilities. A team of over a hundred people can be employed full-time for a single project.

Game development, production, or design is a process that starts from an idea or concept. Often the idea is based on a modification of an existing game concept. The game idea may fall within one or several genres. Designers often experiment with different combinations of genres. A game designer generally writes an initial game proposal document, that describes the basic concept, gameplay, feature list, setting and story, target audience, requirements and schedule, and finally staff and budget estimates. Different companies have different formal procedures and philosophies regarding game design and development. There is no standardized development method; however commonalities exist.

A game developer may range from a single individual to a large multinational company. There are both independent and publisher-owned studios. Independent developers rely on financial support from a game publisher. They usually have to develop a game from concept to prototype without external funding. The formal game proposal is then submitted to publishers, who may finance the game development from several months to years. The publisher would retain exclusive rights to distribute and market the game and would often own the intellectual property rights for the game franchise. Publisher's company may also own the developer's company, or it may have internal development studio(s). Generally the publisher is the one who owns the game's intellectual property rights.

All but the smallest developer companies work on several titles at once. This is necessary because of the time taken between shipping a game and receiving royalty payments, which may be between 6 and 18 months. Small companies may structure contracts, ask for advances on royalties, use shareware distribution, employ part-time workers and use other methods to meet payroll demands.

Console manufacturers, such as Microsoft, Nintendo, or Sony, have a standard set of technical requirements that a game must conform to in order to be approved. Additionally, the game concept must be approved by the manufacturer, who may refuse to approve certain titles.

Most modern PC or console games take from three to five years to complete.[citation needed], where as a mobile game can be developed in a few months. The length of development is influenced by a number of factors, such as genre, scale, development platform and number of assets.[citation needed]

Some games can take much longer than the average time frame to complete. An infamous example is 3D Realms' Duke Nukem Forever, announced to be in production in April 1997 and released fourteen years later in June 2011. Planning for Maxis' game Spore began in late 1999; the game was released nine years later in September 2008.[citation needed] The game Prey was briefly profiled in a 1997 issue of PC Gamer, but was not released until 2006, and only then in highly altered form. Finally, Team Fortress 2 was in development from 1998 until its 2007 release, and emerged from a convoluted development process involving "probably three or four different games", according to Gabe Newell.

The game revenue from retails is divided among the parties along the distribution chain, such as — developer, publisher, retail, manufacturer and console royalty. Many developers fail to profit from this and go bankrupt. Many developers seek alternative economic models through Internet marketing and distribution channels to improve returns., as through a mobile distribution channel the share of a developer can be up to 70% of the total revenue and through an online distribution channel owned by the developer almost 100%.[citation needed]

The history of game making begins with the development of the first video games, although which video game is the first depends on the definition of video game. The first games created had little entertainment value, and their development focus was separate from user experience—in fact, these games required mainframe computers to play them. OXO, written by Alexander S. Douglas in 1952, was the first computer game to use a digital display. In 1958, a game called Tennis for Two, which displayed its output on an oscilloscope, was made by Willy Higinbotham, a physicist working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. In 1961, a mainframe computer game called Spacewar! was developed by a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students led by Steve Russell.

True commercial design and development of games began in the 1970s, when arcade video games and first-generation consoles were marketed. In 1971, Computer Space was the first commercially sold, coin-operated video game. It used a black-and-white television for its display, and the computer system was made of 74 series TTL chips. In 1972, the first home console system was released called Magnavox Odyssey, developed by Ralph H. Baer. That same year, Atari released Pong, an arcade game that increased video game popularity. The commercial success of Pong led other companies to develop Pong clones, spawning the video game industry.

Programmers worked within the big companies to produce games for these devices. The industry did not see huge innovation in game design and a large number of consoles had very similar games. Many of these early games were often Pong clones. Some games were different, however, such as Gun Fight, which was significant for several reasons: an early 1975 on-foot, multi-directional shooter, which depicted game characters, game violence, and human-to-human combat. Tomohiro Nishikado's original version was based on discrete logic, which Dave Nutting adapted using the Intel 8080, making it the first video game to use a microprocessor. Console manufacturers soon started to produce consoles that were able to play independently developed games, and ran on microprocessors, marking the beginning of second-generation consoles, beginning with the release of the Fairchild Channel F in 1976.[citation needed]

The flood of Pong clones led to the video game crash of 1977, which eventually came to an end with the mainstream success of Taito's 1978 arcade shooter game Space Invaders, marking the beginning of the golden age of arcade video games and inspiring dozens of manufacturers to enter the market. Its creator Nishikado not only designed and programmed the game, but also did the artwork, engineered the arcade hardware, and put together a microcomputer from scratch. It was soon ported to the Atari 2600, becoming the first "killer app" and quadrupling the console's sales. At the same time, home computers appeared on the market, allowing individual programmers and hobbyists to develop games. This allowed hardware manufacturer and software manufacturers to act separately. A very large number of games could be produced by an individual, as games were easy to make because graphical and memory limitation did not allow for much content. Larger companies developed, who focused selected teams to work on a title. The developers of many early home video games, such as Zork, Baseball, Air Warrior, and Adventure, later transitioned their work as products of the early video game industry.[citation needed]

I wouldn't recommend [designing computer games] for someone with a weak heart or a large appetite

Jon Freeman, 1984

The industry expanded significantly at the time, with the arcade video game sector alone (representing the largest share of the gaming industry) generating higher revenues than both pop music and Hollywood films combined. The home video game industry, however, suffered major losses following the video game crash of 1983. In 1984 Jon Freeman warned in Computer Gaming World:

Q: Are computer games the way to fame and fortune? A: No. Not unless your idea of fame is having your name recognized by one or two astute individuals at Origins ... I've been making a living (after a fashion) designing games for most of the last six years. I wouldn't recommend it for someone with a weak heart or a large appetite, though.

Chris Crawford and Don Daglow in 1987 similarly advised prospective designers to write games as a hobby first, and to not quit their existing jobs early. The home video game industry was revitalized soon after by the widespread success of the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Compute!'s Gazette in 1986 stated that although individuals developed most early video games, "It's impossible for one person to have the multiple talents necessary to create a good game". By 1987 a video game required 12 months to develop and another six to plan marketing. Projects remained usually solo efforts, with single developers delivering finished games to their publishers. With the ever-increasing processing and graphical capabilities of arcade, console and computer products, along with an increase in user expectations, game design moved beyond the scope of a single developer to produce a marketable game. The Gazette stated, "The process of writing a game involves coming up with an original, entertaining concept, having the skill to bring it to fruition through good, efficient programming, and also being a fairly respectable artist". This sparked the beginning of team-based development.[citation needed] In broad terms, during the 1980s, pre-production involved sketches and test routines of the only developer. In the 1990s, pre-production consisted mostly of game art previews. In the early 2000s, pre-production usually produced a playable demo.

In 2000 a 12 to 36 month development project was funded by a publisher for US$1M–3M. Additionally, $250k–1.5M were spent on marketing and sales development. In 2001, over 3000 games were released for PC; and from about 100 games turning profit only about 50 made significant profit. In the early 2000s it became increasingly common to use middleware game engines, such as Quake engine or Unreal engine.

In the early 2000s, also mobile games started to gain popularity. However, mobile games distributed by mobile operators remained a marginal form of gaming until the Apple App Store was launched in 2008.

In 2005, a mainstream console video game cost from US$3M to $6M to develop. Some games cost as much as $20M to develop. In 2006 the profit from a console game sold at retail was divided among parties of distribution chain as follows: developer (13%), publisher (32%), retail (32%), manufacturer (5%), console royalty (18%). In 2008 a developer would retain around 17% of retail price and around 85% if sold online.

Since the third generation of consoles, the home video game industry has constantly increased and expanded. The industry revenue has increased at least five-fold since the 1990s. In 2007, the software portion of video game revenue was $9.5 billion, exceeding that of the movie industry.

The Apple App Store, introduced in 2008, was the first mobile application store operated directly by the mobile platform holder. It significantly changed the consumer behaviour more favourable for downloading mobile content and quickly broadened the markets of mobile games.

In 2009 games' market annual value was estimated between $7–30 billion, depending on which sales figures are included. This is on par with films' box office market. A publisher would typically fund an independent developer for $500k–$5M for a development of a title. In 2012, the total value had already reached $66.3 billion and by then the video game markets were no longer dominated by console games. According to Newzoo, the share of MMO's was 19.8%, PC/MAC's 9.8%, tablets' 3.2%, smartphones 10.6%, handhelds' 9.8%, consoles' only 36.7% and online casual games 10.2%. The fastest growing market segments being mobile games with an average annual rate of 19% for smartphones and 48% for tablets.

In the past several years, many developers opened and many closed down. Each year a number of developers are acquired by larger companies or merge with existing companies. For example, in 2007 Blizzard Entertainment's parent company, Vivendi Games merged with Activision. In 2008 Electronic Arts nearly acquired Take-Two Interactive. In 2009 Midway Games was acquired by Time-Warner and Eidos Interactive merged with Square Enix.

Producer

Main article: Video game producer

Development is overseen by internal and external producers. The producer working for the developer is known as the internal producer and manages the development team, schedules, reports progress, hires and assigns staff, and so on. The producer working for the publisher is known as the external producer and oversees developer progress and budget. Producer's responsibilities include PR, contract negotiation, liaising between the staff and stakeholders, schedule and budget maintenance, quality assurance, beta test management, and localization. This role may also be referred to as project manager, project lead, or director.

Publisher

Main article: Video game publisher
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A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by an external video game developer. As with book publishers or publishers of DVD movies, video game publishers are responsible for their product's manufacturing and marketing, including market research and all aspects of advertising.

They usually finance the development, sometimes by paying a video game developer (the publisher calls this external development) and sometimes by paying an internal staff of developers called a studio. Consequently, they also typically own the IP of the game. Large video game publishers also distribute the games they publish, while some smaller publishers instead hire distribution companies (or larger video game publishers) to distribute the games they publish.

Other functions usually performed by the publisher include deciding on and paying for any license that the game may utilize; paying for localization; layout, printing, and possibly the writing of the user manual; and the creation of graphic design elements such as the box design.

Large publishers may also attempt to boost efficiency across all internal and external development teams by providing services such as sound design and code packages for commonly needed functionality.

Because the publisher usually finances development, it usually tries to manage development risk with a staff of producers or project managers to monitor the progress of the developer, critique ongoing development, and assist as necessary. Most video games created by an external video game developer are paid for with periodic advances on royalties. These advances are paid when the developer reaches certain stages of development, called milestones.

Independent video game developers create games without a publisher and may choose to digitally distribute their games.[citation needed]

Development team

Developers can range in size from small groups making casual games to housing hundreds of employees and producing several large titles. Companies divide their subtasks of game's development. Individual job titles may vary; however, roles are the same within the industry. The development team consists of several members. Some members of the team may handle more than one role; similarly more than one task may be handled by the same member. Team size can vary from 20 to 100 or more members, depending on the game's scope. 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. Salaries for these positions vary depending on both the experience and the location of the employee. An entry-level programmer can make, on average, around $70,000 annually and an experienced programmer can make, on average, around $125,000 annually.

A development team includes these roles or disciplines:

Designer

Further information: Video game design

A game designer is a person who designs gameplay, conceiving and designing the rules and structure of a game. Development teams usually have a lead designer who coordinates the work of other designers. They are 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 designers for various parts of the game, such as, game mechanics, user interface, characters, dialogue, graphics, etc.[citation needed]

Artist

Further information: Game art design

A game artist is a visual artist who creates video game art. The art production is usually overseen by an art director or art lead, making sure their vision is followed. The art director manages the art team, scheduling and coordinating within the development team.

The artist's job may be 2D oriented or 3D oriented. 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.[citation needed]

Programmer

Main article: Game programmer

A game programmer is a software engineer who primarily develops video games or related software (such as game development tools). 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 roles include:

  • Physics – the programming of the game engine, including simulating physics, collision, object movement, etc.;
  • AI – 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.

Level designer

Further information: Level design

A level designer is a person who creates levels, challenges or missions for video games using a specific set of programs. These programs may be commonly available commercial 3D or 2D design programs, 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

Sound engineers are technical professionals responsible for sound effects and sound positioning. They sometimes oversee voice acting and other sound asset creation. Composers who create a game's musical score also comprise a game's sound team, though often this work is outsourced.

Tester

Further information: Game testing

The quality assurance is carried out by game testers. A game tester analyzes video games to document software defects as part of a quality control. Testing is a highly technical field requiring computing expertise, and analytic competence.

The testers ensure that the game falls within the proposed design: it both works and is entertaining.This involves testing of all features, compatibility, localization, etc. Although, necessary throughout the whole development process, testing is expensive and is often actively utilized only towards the completion of the project.

Game development is a software development process, as a video game is software with art, audio, and gameplay. Formal software development methods are often overlooked. Games with poor development methodology are likely to run over budget and time estimates, as well as contain a large number of bugs. Planning is important for individual and group projects alike.

Overall game development is not suited for typical software life cycle methods, such as the waterfall model.

One method employed for game development is agile development. It is based on iterative prototyping, a subset of software prototyping. Agile development depends on feedback and refinement of game's iterations with gradually increasing feature set. This method is effective because most projects do not start with a clear requirement outline. A popular method of agile software development is Scrum.

Another successful method is Personal Software Process (PSP) requiring additional training for staff to increase awareness of project's planning. This method is more expensive and requires commitment of team members. PSP can be extended to Team Software Process, where the whole team is self-directing.

Game development usually involves an overlap of these methods. For example, asset creation may be done via waterfall model, because requirements and specification are clear, but gameplay design might be done using iterative prototyping.

Development of a commercial game usually includes the following stages:

Pre-production

Pre-production or design phase is a planning phase of the project focused on idea and concept development and production of initial design documents. The goal of concept development is to produce clear and easy to understand documentation, which describes all the tasks, schedules and estimates for the development team. The suite of documents produced in this phase is called production plan. This phase is usually not funded by a publisher, however good publishers may require developers to produce plans during pre-production.

The concept documentation can be separated into three stages or documents—high concept, pitch and concept; however, there is no industry standard naming convention, for example, both Bethke (2003) and Bates (2004) refer to pitch document as "game proposal", yet Moore, Novak (2010) refers to concept document as "game proposal".

The late stage of pre-production may also be referred to as proof of concept, or technical review when more detailed game documents are produced.

Publishers have started to expect broader game proposals even featuring playable prototypes.

High concept

High concept is a brief description of a game. The high concept is the one-or two-sentence response to the question, "What is your game about?".

Pitch

A pitch, concept document, proposal document, or game proposal is a short summary document intended to present the game's selling points and detail why the game would be profitable to develop.

Verbal pitches may be made to management within the developer company, and then presented to publishers. A written document may need to be shown to publishers before funding is approved. A game proposal may undergo one to several green-light meetings with publisher executives who determine if the game is to be developed. The presentation of the project is often given by the game designers. Demos may be created for the pitch; however may be unnecessary for established developers with good track records.

If the developer acts as its own publisher, or both companies are subsidiaries of a single company, then only the upper management needs to give approval.

Concept

Concept document, game proposal, or game plan is a more detailed document than the pitch document. This includes all the information produced about the game. This includes the high concept, game's genre, gameplay description, features, setting, story, target audience, hardware platforms, estimated schedule, marketing analysis, team requirements, and risk analysis.

Before an approved design is completed, a skeleton crew of programmers and artists usually begins work. Programmers may develop quick-and-dirty prototypes showcasing one or more features that stakeholders would like to see incorporated in the final product. Artists may develop concept art and asset sketches as a springboard for developing real game assets. Producers may work part-time on the game at this point, scaling up for full-time commitment as development progresses. Game producers work during pre-production is related to planning the schedule, budget and estimating tasks with the team. The producer aims to create a solid production plan so that no delays are experienced at the start of the production.

Game design document

Main article: Game design document

Before a full-scale production can begin, the development team produces the first version of a game design document incorporating all or most of the material from the initial pitch. The design document describes the game's concept and major gameplay elements in detail. It may also include preliminary sketches of various aspects of the game. The design document is sometimes accompanied by functional prototypes of some sections of the game.[citation needed] The design document remains a living document throughout the development—often changed weekly or even daily.

Compiling a list of game's needs is called "requirement capture".

Prototype

Placeholder graphics are characteristic of early game prototypes.

Writing prototypes of gameplay ideas and features is an important activity that allows programmers and game designers to experiment with different algorithms and usability scenarios for a game. A great deal of prototyping may take place during pre-production before the design document is complete and may, in fact, help determine what features the design specifies. Prototyping at this stage is often done manually, (paper prototyping), not digitally[citation needed], as this is often easier and faster to test and make changes before wasting time and resources into what could be a canceled idea or project. Prototyping may also take place during active development to test new ideas as the game emerges.

Prototypes are often meant only to act as a proof of concept or to test ideas, by adding, modifying or removing some of the features. Most algorithms and features debuted in a prototype may be ported to the game once they have been completed.

Often prototypes need to be developed quickly with very little time for up-front design (around 15 to 20 minutes of testing)[citation needed]. Therefore, usually very prolific programmers are called upon to quickly code these testbed tools. RAD tools may be used to aid in the quick development of these programs. In case the prototype is in a physical form, programmers and designers alike will make the game with paper, dice, and other easy to access tools in order to make the prototype faster.

A successful development model is iterative prototyping, where design is refined based on current progress. There are various technology available for video game development

Production

Production is the main stage of development, when assets and source code for the game are produced.

Mainstream production is usually defined as the period of time when the project is fully staffed.[citation needed] Programmers write new source code, artists develop game assets, such as, sprites or 3D models. Sound engineers develop sound effects and composers develop music for the game. Level designers create levels, and writers write dialogue for cutscenes and NPCs.[original research?] Game designers continue to develop the game's design throughout production.

Design

Main article: Game design

Game design is an essential and collaborative process of designing the content and rules of a game, requiring artistic and technical competence as well as writing skills. Creativity and an open mind is vital for the completion of a successful video game.

During development, the game designer implements and modifies the game design to reflect the current vision of the game. Features and levels are often removed or added. The art treatment may evolve and the backstory may change. A new platform may be targeted as well as a new demographic. All these changes need to be documented and disseminated to the rest of the team. Most changes occur as updates to the design document.

Programming

Main article: Game programming

The programming of the game is handled by one or more game programmers. They develop prototypes to test ideas, many of which may never make it into the final game. The programmers incorporate new features demanded by the game design and fix any bugs introduced during the development process. Even if an off-the-shelf game engine is used, a great deal of programming is required to customize almost every game.

Level creation

Main article: Level design

From a time standpoint, the game's first level takes the longest to develop. As level designers and artists use the tools for level building, they request features and changes to the in-house tools that allow for quicker and higher quality development. Newly introduced features may cause old levels to become obsolete, so the levels developed early on may be repeatedly developed and discarded. Because of the dynamic environment of game development, the design of early levels may also change over time. It is not uncommon to spend upwards of twelve months on one level of a game developed over the course of three years. Later levels can be developed much more quickly as the feature set is more complete and the game vision is clearer and more stable.

Art production

Main article: Game art design
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.(April 2010)

Audio production

Game audio may be separated into three categories—sound effects, music, and voice-over.

Sound effect production is the production of sounds by either tweaking a sample to a desired effect or replicating it with real objects. Sound effects are important and impact the game's delivery.

Music may be synthesized or performed live.

There are several ways in which music is presented in a game.

  • Music may be ambient, especially for slow periods of game, where the music aims to reinforce the aesthetic mood and game setting.
  • Music may be triggered by in-game events. For example, in such games as Pac-Man or Mario, player picking up power-ups triggered respective musical scores.
  • Action music, such as chase, battle or hunting sequences is fast-paced, hard-changing score.
  • Menu music, similar to credits music, creates aural impact while relatively little action is taking place.

A game title with 20 hours of single-player gameplay may feature around 1 hour.

Voice-overs and voice acting creates character gameplay interactivity. Voice acting adds personality to the game's characters.

Testing

Main article: Game testing

Quality assurance of a video game product plays a significant role throughout the development cycle of a game, though comes more significantly into play as the game nears completion. Unlike other software products or productivity applications, video games are fundamentally meant to entertain, and thus the testing of video games is more focused on the end-user experience rather than the accuracy of the software code's performance, which leads to differences in how game software is developed.

Because game development is focused on the presentation and gameplay as seen by the player, there often is little rigor in maintaining and testing backend code in early stages of development since such code may be readily disregarded if there are changes found in gameplay. Some automated testing may be used to assure the core game engine operates as expected, but most game testing comes via game tester, who enter the testing process once a playable prototype is available. This may be one level or subset of the game software that can be used to any reasonable extent. The use of testers may be lightweight at the early stages of development, but the testers' role becomes more predominant as the game nears completion, becoming a full-time role alongside development. Early testing is considered a key part of game design; the most common issue raised in several published post-mortems on game developer was the failure to start the testing process early.

As code matures and the gameplay features solidify, then development typically includes more rigorous test controls such as regression testing to make sure new updates to the code base do not change working parts of the game. Games are complex software systems, and changes in one code area may unexpected cause a seemingly unrelated part of the game to fail. Testers are tasked to repeated play through updated versions of games in these later stages to look for any issues or bugs not otherwise found from automated testing. Because this can be a monotonous task of playing the same game over and over, this process can lead to games frequently being released with uncaught bugs or glitches.

There are other factors simply inherit to video games that can make testing difficult. This includes the use of randomized gameplay systems, which require more testing for both game balance and bug tracking than more linearized games, the balance of cost and time to devote to testing as part of the development budget, and assuring that the game still remains fun and entertaining to play as changes are made to it.

Despite the dangers of overlooking regression testing, some game developers and publishers fail to test the full feature suite of the game and ship a game with bugs. This can result in customers dissatisfaction and failure to meet sales goals. When this does happen, most developers and publishers quickly release patches that fix the bugs and make the game fully playable again. More recent, certain publishing models are designed specifically to accommodate the fact that first releases of games may be bug-ridden but will be fixed post-release. The early access model invites players to pay into a game before its planned release and help to provide feedback and bug reports. Mobile games and games with live services are also anticipated to be updated on a frequent basis, offset pre-release testing with live feedback and bug reports.

Milestones

Video game development milestones follow a similar process as with other software development.

Commercial game development projects may be required to meet milestones set by publisher. Milestones mark major events during game development and are used to track game's progress. Such milestones may be, for example, first playable, alpha, or beta game versions. Project milestones depend on the developer schedules.

Milestones are usually based on multiple short descriptions for functionality; examples may be "Player roaming around in game environment" or "Physics working, collisions, vehicle" etc. (numerous descriptions are possible). These milestones are usually how the developer gets paid; sometimes as "an advance against royalty". These milestones are listed, anywhere from three to twenty depending on developer and publisher. The milestone list is usually a collaborative agreement between the publisher and developer. The developer usually advocates for making the milestone descriptions as simple as possible; depending on the specific publisher - the milestone agreements may get very detailed for a specific game. When working with a good publisher, the "spirit of the law" is usually adhered to regarding milestone completion... in other words if the milestone is 90% complete the milestone is usually paid with the understanding that it will be 100% complete by the next due milestone. It is a collaborative agreement between publisher and developer, and usually (but not always) the developer is constrained by heavy monthly development expenses that need to be met. Also, sometimes milestones are "swapped", the developer or publisher may mutually agree to amend the agreement and rearrange milestone goals depending on changing requirements and development resources available. Milestone agreements are usually included as part of the legal development contracts. After each "milestone" there is usually a payment arrangement. Some very established developers may simply have a milestone agreement based on the amount of time the game is in development (monthly / quarterly) and not specific game functionality - this is not as common as detailed functionality "milestone lists".

There is no industry standard for defining milestones, and such vary depending on publisher, year, or project. Some common milestones for two-year development cycle are as follows:

First playable

The first playable is the game version containing representative gameplay and assets, this is the first version with functional major gameplay elements. It is often based on the prototype created in pre-production. Alpha and first playable are sometimes used to refer to a single milestone, however large projects require first playable before feature complete alpha. First playable occurs 12 to 18 months before code release. It is sometimes referred to as the "Pre-Alpha" stage.

Alpha

See also: Alpha release

Alpha is the stage when key gameplay functionality is implemented, and assets are partially finished. A game in alpha is feature complete, that is, game is playable and contains all the major features. These features may be further revised based on testing and feedback. Additional small, new features may be added, similarly planned, but unimplemented features may be dropped. Programmers focus mainly on finishing the codebase, rather than implementing additions.

Code freeze

Code freeze is the stage when new code is no longer added to the game and only bugs are being corrected. Code freeze occurs three to four months before code release.

Beta

See also: Beta release

Beta is feature and asset complete version of the game, when only bugs are being fixed. This version contains no bugs that prevent the game from being shippable. No changes are made to the game features, assets, or code. Beta occurs two to three months before code release.

Code release

Code release is the stage when many bugs are fixed and game is ready to be shipped or submitted for console manufacturer review. This version is tested against QA test plan. First code release candidate is usually ready three to four weeks before code release.

Gold master

Gold master is the final game's build that is used as a master for production of the game.

Release schedules and "crunch time"

In most AAA game development, games are announced a year or more and given a planned release date or approximate window so that they can promote and market the game, establish orders with retailers, and entice consumers to pre-order the game. Delaying the release of a video game can have negative financial impact for publishers and developers, and extensive delays may lead to project cancellation and employee layoffs. To assure a game makes a set release date, publishers and developers may require their employees to work overtime to complete the game, which is considered common in the industry. This overtime is often referred to it as "crunch time" or "crunch mode". In 2004 and afterwards, the culture of crunch time in the industry came under scrutiny, leading to many publishers and developers to reduce the expectation on developers for overtime work and better schedule management, though crunch time still can occur.

Post-production

After the game goes gold and ships, some developers will give team members comp time (perhaps up to a week or two) to compensate for the overtime put in to complete the game, though this compensation is not standard.[citation needed]

Maintenance

Once a game ships, the maintenance phase for the video game begins.

Games developed for video game consoles have had almost no maintenance period in the past. The shipped game would forever house as many bugs and features as when released. This was common for consoles since all consoles had identical or nearly identical hardware; making incompatibility, the cause of many bugs, a non-issue. In this case, maintenance would only occur in the case of a port, sequel, or enhanced remake that reuses a large portion of the engine and assets.[citation needed]

In recent times popularity of online console games has grown, and online capable video game consoles and online services such as Xbox Live for the Xbox have developed. Developers can maintain their software through downloadable patches. These changes would not have been possible in the past without the widespread availability of the Internet.[citation needed]

PC development is different. Game developers try to account for majority of configurations and hardware. However, the number of possible configurations of hardware and software inevitably leads to discovery of game-breaking circumstances that the programmers and testers didn't account for.[citation needed]

Programmers wait for a period to get as many bug reports as possible. Once the developer thinks they've obtained enough feedback, the programmers start working on a patch. The patch may take weeks or months to develop, but it's intended to fix most accounted bugs and problems with the game that were overlooked past code release, or in rare cases, fix unintended problems caused by previous patches. Occasionally a patch may include extra features or content or may even alter gameplay.[citation needed]

In the case of a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG), such as a MMORPG or MMORTS, the shipment of the game is the starting phase of maintenance. Such online games are in continuous maintenance as the gameworld is continuously changed and iterated and new features are added. The maintenance staff for a popular MMOG can number in the dozens, sometimes including members of the original programming team.[citation needed]

Several development disciplines, such as audio, dialogue, or motion capture, occur for relatively short periods of time. Efficient employment of these roles requires either large development house with multiple simultaneous title production or outsourcing from third-party vendors. Employing personnel for these tasks full-time is expensive, so a majority of developers outsource a portion of the work. Outsourcing plans are conceived during the pre-production stage; where the time and finances required for outsourced work are estimated.

  • The music cost ranges based on length of composition, method of performance (live or synthesized), and composer experience. In 2003 a minute of high quality synthesized music cost between US$600-1.5k. A title with 20 hours of gameplay and 60 minutes of music may have cost $50k-60k for its musical score.
  • Voice acting is well-suited for outsourcing as it requires a set of specialized skills. Only large publishers employ in-house voice actors.
  • Sound effects can also be outsourced.
  • Programming is generally outsourced less than other disciplines, such as art or music. However, outsourcing for extra programming work or savings in salaries has become more common in recent years.

The game production has similar distribution methods to those of music and film industries.

The publisher's marketing team targets the game for a specific market and then advertises it. The team advises the developer on target demographics and market trends, as well as suggests specific features. The game is then advertised and the game's high concept is incorporated into the promotional material, ranging from magazine ads to TV spots. Communication between developer and marketing is important.

The length and purpose of a game demo depends on the purpose of the demo and target audience. A game's demo may range between a few seconds (such as clips or screenshots) to hours of gameplay. The demo is usually intended for journalists, buyers, trade shows, general public, or internal employees (who, for example, may need to familiarize with the game to promote it). Demos are produced with public relations, marketing and sales in mind, maximizing the presentation effectiveness.

Trade show demo

As a game nears completion, the publisher will want to showcase a demo of the title at trade shows. Many games have a "Trade Show demo" scheduled.[citation needed]

The major annual trade shows are, for example, Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) or Penny Arcade Expo (PAX). E3 is the largest show in North America. E3 is hosted primarily for marketing and business deals. New games and platforms are announced at E3 and it received broad press coverage. Thousands of products are on display and press demonstration schedules are kept. In recent years E3 has become a more closed-door event and many advertisers have withdrawn, reducing E3's budget. PAX, created by authors of Penny Arcade blog and web-comic, is a mature and playful event with a player-centred philosophy.

Localization

A game created in one language may also be published in other countries which speak a different language. For that region, the developers may want to translate the game to make it more accessible. For example, some games created for PlayStation Vita were initially published in Japanese language, like Soul Sacrifice. Non-native speakers of the game's original language may have to wait for the translation of the game to their language. But most modern big-budget games take localization into account during the development process and the games are released in several different languages simultaneously.[citation needed]

Localization is the process of translating the language assets in a game into other languages. By localizing games, they increase their level of accessibility where games could help to expend the international markets effectively. Game localization is generally known as language translations yet a "full localization" of a game is a complex project. Different levels of translation range from: zero translation being that there is no translation to the product and all things are sent raw, basic translation where only a few text and subtitles are translated or even added, and a full translation where new voice overs and game material changes are added.[citation needed]

There are various essential elements on localizing a game including translating the language of the game to adjusting in-game assets for different cultures to reach more potential consumers in other geographies (or globalization for short). Translation seems to fall into the scope of localization, which itself constitutes a substantially broader endeavor. These include the different levels of translation to the globalization of the game itself. However, certain developers seem to be divided on whether globalization falls under localization or not.[citation needed]

Moreover, in order to fit into the local markets, game production companies often change or redesign the graphic designs or the packaging of the game for marketing purposes. For example, the popular game Assassin's Creed has two different packaging designs for the Japanese and US market. By localizing the graphics and packaging designs, companies might arouse better connections and attention from the consumers from various regions.[citation needed]

The costs of developing a video game varies widely depending on several factors including team size, game genre and scope, and other factors such as intellectual property licensing costs. Most video game consoles also require development licensing costs which include game development kits for building and testing software. Game budgets also typically include costs for marketing and promotion, which can be on the same order in cost as the development budget.

Prior to the 1990s, game development budgets, when reported, typically were on the average ofUS$1–5 million, with known outliers, such as the$20–25 million that Atari had paid to license the rights for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in addition to development costs. The adoption of technologies such as 3D hardware rendering and CD-ROM integration by the mid-1990s, enabling games with more visual fidelity compared to prior titles, caused developers and publishers to put more money into game budgets as to flesh out narratives through cutscenes and full-motion video, and creating the start of the AAA video game industry. Some of the most expensive titles to develop around this time, approaching costs typical of major motion picture production budgets, included Final Fantasy VII in 1997 with an estimated budget of$40–45 million, and Shenmue in 1999 with an estimated budget of$47–70 million.Final Fantasy VII, with its marketing budget, had a total estimated cost of$80–145 million.

Raph Koster, a video game designer and economist, evaluated published development budgets (less any marketing) for over 250 games in 2017 and reported that since the mid-1990s, there has been a type of Moore's Law in game budgets, with the average budget doubling about every five years after accounting for inflation. Koster reported average budgets were around$100 million by 2017, and could reach over$200 million by the early 2020s. Koster asserts these trends are partially tied to the technological Moore's law that gave more computational power for developers to work into their games, but also related to expectations for content from players in newer games and the number of players games are expected to draw. Shawn Layden, former CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, affirmed that the costs for each generation of PlayStation consoles nearly doubled, with PlayStation 4 games have average budgets of$100 million and anticipating that PlayStation 5 games could reach$200 million.

The rising costs of budgets of AAA games in the early 2000s led publishers to become risk-adverse, staying to titles that were most likely to be high-selling games to recoup their costs. As a result of this risk aversion, the selection of AAA games in the mid-2000s became rather similar, and gave the opportunity for indie games that provided more experimental and unique gameplay concepts to expand around that time.

Independent games or indie games are produced by individuals and small teams with no large-scale developer or publisher affiliations. Indie developers generally rely on Internet distribution schemes. Many hobbyist indie developers create mods of existing games. Indie developers are credited for creative game ideas (for example, Darwinia, Weird Worlds, World of Goo). Current economic viability of indie development is questionable, however in recent years internet delivery platforms, such as, Xbox Live Arcade and Steam have improved indie game success. In fact, some indie games have become very successful, such as Braid, World of Goo, and Minecraft. In recent years many communities have emerged in support of indie games such as the popular indie game marketplace Itch.io, indie game YouTube channels and a large indie community on Steam. It is common for indie game developers to release games for free and generate revenue through other means such as microtransactions (in-game transactions), in-game advertisements and crowd-funding services like Patreon and Kickstarter.[citation needed]

Main article: Video game industry

The video game industry (formally referred to as interactive entertainment) is the economic sector involved with the development, marketing and sale of video games. The industry sports several unique approaches.[citation needed]

The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. You may improve this section, discuss the issue on the talk page, or create a new section, as appropriate.(September 2008) ()


Locales

United States

Further information: List of video game companies

In the United States, in the early history of video game development, the prominent locale for game development was the corridor from San Francisco to Silicon Valley in California. Most new developers in the US open near such "hot beds".

At present, many large publishers still operate there, such as: Activision Blizzard, Capcom Entertainment, Disney Interactive, Eidos Interactive, Electronic Arts, Foundation 9, LucasArts Entertainment, Namco Bandai Games, Sega of America, Sony Computer Entertainment America, THQ. However, due to the nature of game development, many publishers are present in other regions, such as Big Fish Games (Washington), GarageGames (Oregon), Majesco Entertainment (New Jersey), Microsoft Corporation (Washington), Nintendo of America (Washington), Take-Two Interactive (New York), SouthPeak Games (Virginia).

Education

Many universities and design schools are offering classes specifically focused on game development. Some have built strategic alliances with major game development companies. These alliances ensure that students have access to the latest technologies and are provided the opportunity to find jobs within the gaming industry once qualified.[citation needed] Many innovative ideas are presented at conferences, such as Independent Games Festival (IGF) or Game Developers Conference (GDC).

Indie game development may motivate students who produce a game for their final projects or thesis and may open their own game company.

Stability

Video game industry employment is fairly volatile, similar to other artistic industries including television, music, etc. Scores of game development studios crop up, work on one game, and then quickly go under. This may be one reason why game developers tend to congregate geographically; if their current studio goes under, developers can flock to an adjacent one or start another from the ground up.[citation needed]

In an industry where only the top 20% of products make a profit, it's easy to understand this fluctuation. Numerous games may start development and are cancelled, or perhaps even completed but never published. Experienced game developers may work for years and yet never ship a title: such is the nature of the business.[citation needed]

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Video game development
Video game development Language Watch Edit Game development redirects here It is not to be confused with board game development Video game development is the process of developing a video game The effort is undertaken by a developer ranging from a single person to an international team dispersed across the globe Development of traditional commercial PC and console games is normally funded by a publisher and can take several years to reach completion Indie games usually take less time and money and can be produced by individuals and smaller developers The independent game industry has been on the rise facilitated by the growth of accessible game development software such as Unity platform and Unreal Engine 1 and new online distribution systems such as Steam and Uplay as well as the mobile game market for Android and iOS devices The first video games developed in the 1960s were not usually commercialised They required mainframe computers to run and were not available to the general public Commercial game development began in the 70s with the advent of first generation video game consoles and early home computers like the Apple I At that time owing to low costs and low capabilities of computers a lone programmer could develop a full and complete game However in the late 80s and 90s ever increasing computer processing power and heightened expectations from gamers made it difficult for a single person to produce a mainstream console or PC game The average cost of producing a triple A video game slowly rose from US 1 4 million in 2000 to over 5 million in 2006 then to over 20 million by 2010 citation needed Mainstream commercial PC and console games are generally developed in phases first in pre production pitches prototypes and game design documents are written if the idea is approved and the developer receives funding then full scale development begins The development of a complete game usually involves a team of 20 100 individuals with various responsibilities including designers artists programmers and testers Contents 1 Overview 2 History 3 Roles 3 1 Producer 3 2 Publisher 3 3 Development team 3 3 1 Designer 3 3 2 Artist 3 3 3 Programmer 3 3 4 Level designer 3 3 5 Sound engineer 3 3 6 Tester 4 Development process 4 1 Pre production 4 1 1 High concept 4 1 2 Pitch 4 1 3 Concept 4 1 4 Game design document 4 1 5 Prototype 4 2 Production 4 2 1 Design 4 2 2 Programming 4 2 3 Level creation 4 2 4 Art production 4 2 5 Audio production 4 2 6 Testing 4 3 Milestones 4 3 1 First playable 4 3 2 Alpha 4 3 3 Code freeze 4 3 4 Beta 4 3 5 Code release 4 3 6 Gold master 4 3 7 Release schedules and crunch time 4 4 Post production 4 4 1 Maintenance 5 Outsourcing 6 Marketing 6 1 Trade show demo 6 2 Localization 7 Development costs 8 Indie development 9 Game industry 9 1 Locales 9 1 1 United States 9 2 Education 9 3 Stability 10 See also 11 References 11 1 Bibliography 12 External links 12 1 WikisOverview EditGames are produced through the software development process 2 Games are developed as a creative outlet 3 and to generate profit 4 Game making is considered both art and science 5 6 Development is normally funded by a publisher 7 Well made games bring profit more readily 5 However it is important to estimate a game s financial requirements 8 such as development costs of individual features 9 Failing to provide clear implications of game s expectations may result in exceeding allocated budget 8 In fact the majority of commercial games do not produce profit 10 11 12 Most developers cannot afford changing their development schedule mid way and require estimating their capabilities with available resources before production 13 The game industry requires innovations as publishers cannot profit from constant release of repetitive sequels and imitations 14 neutrality is disputed Every year new independent development companies open and some manage to develop hit titles Similarly many developers close down because they cannot find a publishing contract or their production is not profitable 15 It is difficult to start a new company due to high initial investment required 16 Nevertheless growth of casual and mobile game market has allowed developers with smaller teams to enter the market Once the companies become financially stable they may expand to develop larger games 15 Most developers start small and gradually expand their business 16 A developer receiving profit from a successful title may store up capital to expand and re factor their company as well as tolerate more failed deadlines 17 An average development budget for a multiplatform game is US 18 28M with high profile games often exceeding 40M 18 In the early era of home computers and video game consoles in the early 1980s a single programmer could handle almost all the tasks of developing a game programming graphical design sound effects etc 19 20 21 It could take as little as six weeks to develop a game 20 However the high user expectations and requirements 20 of modern commercial games far exceed the capabilities of a single developer and require the splitting of responsibilities 22 A team of over a hundred people can be employed full time for a single project 21 Game development production or design is a process that starts from an idea or concept 23 24 25 26 Often the idea is based on a modification of an existing game concept 23 27 The game idea may fall within one or several genres 28 Designers often experiment with different combinations of genres 28 29 A game designer generally writes an initial game proposal document that describes the basic concept gameplay feature list setting and story target audience requirements and schedule and finally staff and budget estimates 30 Different companies have different formal procedures and philosophies regarding game design and development 31 31 32 There is no standardized development method however commonalities exist 32 33 A game developer may range from a single individual to a large multinational company There are both independent and publisher owned studios 34 Independent developers rely on financial support from a game publisher 35 They usually have to develop a game from concept to prototype without external funding The formal game proposal is then submitted to publishers who may finance the game development from several months to years The publisher would retain exclusive rights to distribute and market the game and would often own the intellectual property rights for the game franchise 34 Publisher s company may also own the developer s company 34 36 or it may have internal development studio s Generally the publisher is the one who owns the game s intellectual property rights 11 All but the smallest developer companies work on several titles at once This is necessary because of the time taken between shipping a game and receiving royalty payments which may be between 6 and 18 months Small companies may structure contracts ask for advances on royalties use shareware distribution employ part time workers and use other methods to meet payroll demands 37 Console manufacturers such as Microsoft Nintendo or Sony have a standard set of technical requirements that a game must conform to in order to be approved Additionally the game concept must be approved by the manufacturer who may refuse to approve certain titles 38 Most modern PC or console games take from three to five years to complete citation needed where as a mobile game can be developed in a few months 39 The length of development is influenced by a number of factors such as genre scale development platform and number of assets citation needed Some games can take much longer than the average time frame to complete An infamous example is 3D Realms Duke Nukem Forever announced to be in production in April 1997 and released fourteen years later in June 2011 40 Planning for Maxis game Spore began in late 1999 the game was released nine years later in September 2008 citation needed The game Prey was briefly profiled in a 1997 issue of PC Gamer but was not released until 2006 and only then in highly altered form Finally Team Fortress 2 was in development from 1998 until its 2007 release and emerged from a convoluted development process involving probably three or four different games according to Gabe Newell 41 The game revenue from retails is divided among the parties along the distribution chain such as developer publisher retail manufacturer and console royalty Many developers fail to profit from this and go bankrupt 37 Many developers seek alternative economic models through Internet marketing and distribution channels to improve returns 42 as through a mobile distribution channel the share of a developer can be up to 70 of the total revenue 39 and through an online distribution channel owned by the developer almost 100 citation needed History EditThe history of game making begins with the development of the first video games although which video game is the first depends on the definition of video game The first games created had little entertainment value and their development focus was separate from user experience in fact these games required mainframe computers to play them 43 OXO written by Alexander S Douglas in 1952 was the first computer game to use a digital display 22 In 1958 a game called Tennis for Two which displayed its output on an oscilloscope was made by Willy Higinbotham a physicist working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory 44 45 In 1961 a mainframe computer game called Spacewar was developed by a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology students led by Steve Russell 44 True commercial design and development of games began in the 1970s when arcade video games and first generation consoles were marketed In 1971 Computer Space was the first commercially sold coin operated video game It used a black and white television for its display and the computer system was made of 74 series TTL chips 46 In 1972 the first home console system was released called Magnavox Odyssey developed by Ralph H Baer 47 That same year Atari released Pong an arcade game that increased video game popularity 48 The commercial success of Pong led other companies to develop Pong clones spawning the video game industry 49 Programmers worked within the big companies to produce games for these devices The industry did not see huge innovation in game design and a large number of consoles had very similar games 50 Many of these early games were often Pong clones 51 Some games were different however such as Gun Fight which was significant for several reasons 52 an early 1975 on foot multi directional shooter 53 which depicted game characters 54 game violence and human to human combat 55 Tomohiro Nishikado s original version was based on discrete logic 56 which Dave Nutting adapted using the Intel 8080 making it the first video game to use a microprocessor 57 Console manufacturers soon started to produce consoles that were able to play independently developed games 58 and ran on microprocessors marking the beginning of second generation consoles beginning with the release of the Fairchild Channel F in 1976 citation needed The flood of Pong clones led to the video game crash of 1977 which eventually came to an end with the mainstream success of Taito s 1978 arcade shooter game Space Invaders 51 marking the beginning of the golden age of arcade video games and inspiring dozens of manufacturers to enter the market 51 59 Its creator Nishikado not only designed and programmed the game but also did the artwork engineered the arcade hardware and put together a microcomputer from scratch 60 It was soon ported to the Atari 2600 becoming the first killer app and quadrupling the console s sales 61 At the same time home computers appeared on the market allowing individual programmers and hobbyists to develop games This allowed hardware manufacturer and software manufacturers to act separately A very large number of games could be produced by an individual as games were easy to make because graphical and memory limitation did not allow for much content Larger companies developed who focused selected teams to work on a title 62 The developers of many early home video games such as Zork Baseball Air Warrior and Adventure later transitioned their work as products of the early video game industry citation needed I wouldn t recommend designing computer games for someone with a weak heart or a large appetite Jon Freeman 1984 63 The industry expanded significantly at the time with the arcade video game sector alone representing the largest share of the gaming industry generating higher revenues than both pop music and Hollywood films combined 64 The home video game industry however suffered major losses following the video game crash of 1983 65 In 1984 Jon Freeman warned in Computer Gaming World Q Are computer games the way to fame and fortune A No Not unless your idea of fame is having your name recognized by one or two astute individuals at Origins I ve been making a living after a fashion designing games for most of the last six years I wouldn t recommend it for someone with a weak heart or a large appetite though 63 Chris Crawford and Don Daglow in 1987 similarly advised prospective designers to write games as a hobby first and to not quit their existing jobs early 66 67 The home video game industry was revitalized soon after by the widespread success of the Nintendo Entertainment System 68 Compute s Gazette in 1986 stated that although individuals developed most early video games It s impossible for one person to have the multiple talents necessary to create a good game 69 By 1987 a video game required 12 months to develop and another six to plan marketing Projects remained usually solo efforts with single developers delivering finished games to their publishers 67 With the ever increasing processing and graphical capabilities of arcade console and computer products along with an increase in user expectations game design moved beyond the scope of a single developer to produce a marketable game 70 The Gazette stated The process of writing a game involves coming up with an original entertaining concept having the skill to bring it to fruition through good efficient programming and also being a fairly respectable artist 69 This sparked the beginning of team based development citation needed In broad terms during the 1980s pre production involved sketches and test routines of the only developer In the 1990s pre production consisted mostly of game art previews In the early 2000s pre production usually produced a playable demo 71 In 2000 a 12 to 36 month development project was funded by a publisher for US 1M 3M 72 Additionally 250k 1 5M were spent on marketing and sales development 73 In 2001 over 3000 games were released for PC and from about 100 games turning profit only about 50 made significant profit 72 In the early 2000s it became increasingly common to use middleware game engines such as Quake engine or Unreal engine 74 In the early 2000s also mobile games started to gain popularity However mobile games distributed by mobile operators remained a marginal form of gaming until the Apple App Store was launched in 2008 39 In 2005 a mainstream console video game cost from US 3M to 6M to develop Some games cost as much as 20M to develop 75 In 2006 the profit from a console game sold at retail was divided among parties of distribution chain as follows developer 13 publisher 32 retail 32 manufacturer 5 console royalty 18 37 In 2008 a developer would retain around 17 of retail price and around 85 if sold online 11 Since the third generation of consoles the home video game industry has constantly increased and expanded The industry revenue has increased at least five fold since the 1990s In 2007 the software portion of video game revenue was 9 5 billion exceeding that of the movie industry 76 The Apple App Store introduced in 2008 was the first mobile application store operated directly by the mobile platform holder It significantly changed the consumer behaviour more favourable for downloading mobile content and quickly broadened the markets of mobile games 39 In 2009 games market annual value was estimated between 7 30 billion depending on which sales figures are included This is on par with films box office market 77 A publisher would typically fund an independent developer for 500k 5M for a development of a title 34 In 2012 the total value had already reached 66 3 billion and by then the video game markets were no longer dominated by console games According to Newzoo the share of MMO s was 19 8 PC MAC s 9 8 tablets 3 2 smartphones 10 6 handhelds 9 8 consoles only 36 7 and online casual games 10 2 The fastest growing market segments being mobile games with an average annual rate of 19 for smartphones and 48 for tablets 78 In the past several years many developers opened and many closed down Each year a number of developers are acquired by larger companies or merge with existing companies For example in 2007 Blizzard Entertainment s parent company Vivendi Games merged with Activision In 2008 Electronic Arts nearly acquired Take Two Interactive In 2009 Midway Games was acquired by Time Warner and Eidos Interactive merged with Square Enix 79 Roles EditProducer Edit Main article Video game producer Development is overseen by internal and external producers 80 81 The producer working for the developer is known as the internal producer and manages the development team schedules reports progress hires and assigns staff and so on 81 82 The producer working for the publisher is known as the external producer and oversees developer progress and budget 83 Producer s responsibilities include PR contract negotiation liaising between the staff and stakeholders schedule and budget maintenance quality assurance beta test management and localization 81 84 This role may also be referred to as project manager project lead or director 81 84 Publisher Edit Main article Video game publisher This section does not cite any sources Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources Unsourced material may be challenged and removed January 2021 Learn how and when to remove this template message This section needs expansion You can help by adding to it April 2010 A video game publisher is a company that publishes video games that they have either developed internally or have had developed by an external video game developer As with book publishers or publishers of DVD movies video game publishers are responsible for their product s manufacturing and marketing including market research and all aspects of advertising They usually finance the development sometimes by paying a video game developer the publisher calls this external development and sometimes by paying an internal staff of developers called a studio Consequently they also typically own the IP of the game 39 Large video game publishers also distribute the games they publish while some smaller publishers instead hire distribution companies or larger video game publishers to distribute the games they publish Other functions usually performed by the publisher include deciding on and paying for any license that the game may utilize paying for localization layout printing and possibly the writing of the user manual and the creation of graphic design elements such as the box design Large publishers may also attempt to boost efficiency across all internal and external development teams by providing services such as sound design and code packages for commonly needed functionality Because the publisher usually finances development it usually tries to manage development risk with a staff of producers or project managers to monitor the progress of the developer critique ongoing development and assist as necessary Most video games created by an external video game developer are paid for with periodic advances on royalties These advances are paid when the developer reaches certain stages of development called milestones Independent video game developers create games without a publisher and may choose to digitally distribute their games citation needed Development team Edit Developers can range in size from small groups making casual games to housing hundreds of employees and producing several large titles 16 Companies divide their subtasks of game s development Individual job titles may vary however roles are the same within the industry 31 The development team consists of several members 22 Some members of the team may handle more than one role similarly more than one task may be handled by the same member 31 Team size can vary from 20 to 100 or more members depending on the game s scope 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 85 Salaries for these positions vary depending on both the experience and the location of the employee An entry level programmer can make on average around 70 000 annually and an experienced programmer can make on average around 125 000 annually 86 A development team includes these roles or disciplines 31 Designer Edit Further information Video game design A game designer is a person who designs gameplay conceiving and designing the rules and structure of a game 87 88 89 Development teams usually have a lead designer who coordinates the work of other designers They are the main visionary of the game 90 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 91 92 93 In larger projects there are often separate designers for various parts of the game such as game mechanics user interface characters dialogue graphics etc citation needed Artist Edit Further information Game art design A game artist is a visual artist who creates video game art 94 95 The art production is usually overseen by an art director or art lead making sure their vision is followed The art director manages the art team scheduling and coordinating within the development team 94 The artist s job may be 2D oriented or 3D oriented 2D artists may produce concept art 96 97 sprites 98 textures 99 100 environmental backdrops or terrain images 96 100 and user interface 98 3D artists may produce models or meshes 101 102 animation 101 3D environment 103 and cinematics 103 Artists sometimes occupy both roles citation needed Programmer Edit Main article Game programmer A game programmer is a software engineer who primarily develops video games or related software such as game development tools The game s codebase development is handled by programmers 104 105 There are usually one to several lead programmers 106 who implement the game s starting codebase and overview future development and programmer allocation on individual modules Individual programming disciplines roles include 104 Physics the programming of the game engine including simulating physics collision object movement etc AI 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 Level designer Edit Further information Level design A level designer is a person who creates levels challenges or missions for video games using a specific set of programs 107 108 These programs may be commonly available commercial 3D or 2D design programs 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 Edit Sound engineers are technical professionals responsible for sound effects and sound positioning They sometimes oversee voice acting and other sound asset creation 109 110 Composers who create a game s musical score also comprise a game s sound team though often this work is outsourced Tester Edit Further information Game testing The quality assurance is carried out by game testers A game tester analyzes video games to document software defects as part of a quality control Testing is a highly technical field requiring computing expertise and analytic competence 100 111 The testers ensure that the game falls within the proposed design it both works and is entertaining 112 This involves testing of all features compatibility localization etc Although necessary throughout the whole development process testing is expensive and is often actively utilized only towards the completion of the project Development process EditGame development is a software development process as a video game is software with art audio and gameplay Formal software development methods are often overlooked 2 Games with poor development methodology are likely to run over budget and time estimates as well as contain a large number of bugs Planning is important for individual 10 and group projects alike 72 Overall game development is not suited for typical software life cycle methods such as the waterfall model 113 One method employed for game development is agile development 114 It is based on iterative prototyping a subset of software prototyping 115 Agile development depends on feedback and refinement of game s iterations with gradually increasing feature set 116 This method is effective because most projects do not start with a clear requirement outline 114 A popular method of agile software development is Scrum 117 Another successful method is Personal Software Process PSP requiring additional training for staff to increase awareness of project s planning 118 This method is more expensive and requires commitment of team members PSP can be extended to Team Software Process where the whole team is self directing 119 Game development usually involves an overlap of these methods 113 For example asset creation may be done via waterfall model because requirements and specification are clear 120 but gameplay design might be done using iterative prototyping 120 Development of a commercial game usually includes the following stages 121 122 Pre production Edit Pre production 123 or design phase 71 is a planning phase of the project focused on idea and concept development and production of initial design documents 122 124 125 126 The goal of concept development is to produce clear and easy to understand documentation 122 127 which describes all the tasks schedules and estimates for the development team 128 The suite of documents produced in this phase is called production plan 129 This phase is usually not funded by a publisher 122 however good publishers may require developers to produce plans during pre production 128 The concept documentation can be separated into three stages or documents high concept pitch and concept 121 130 however there is no industry standard naming convention for example both Bethke 2003 and Bates 2004 refer to pitch document as game proposal 123 128 yet Moore Novak 2010 refers to concept document as game proposal 121 The late stage of pre production may also be referred to as proof of concept 123 or technical review 121 when more detailed game documents are produced Publishers have started to expect broader game proposals even featuring playable prototypes 131 High concept Edit High concept is a brief description of a game 121 123 The high concept is the one or two sentence response to the question What is your game about Pitch Edit A pitch 121 123 concept document 121 proposal document 128 or game proposal 123 is a short summary document intended to present the game s selling points and detail why the game would be profitable to develop 121 123 Verbal pitches may be made to management within the developer company and then presented to publishers 132 A written document may need to be shown to publishers before funding is approved 128 A game proposal may undergo one to several green light meetings with publisher executives who determine if the game is to be developed 133 The presentation of the project is often given by the game designers 134 Demos may be created for the pitch however may be unnecessary for established developers with good track records 134 If the developer acts as its own publisher or both companies are subsidiaries of a single company then only the upper management needs to give approval 134 Concept Edit Concept document 123 game proposal 121 or game plan 135 is a more detailed document than the pitch document 121 123 127 This includes all the information produced about the game 135 This includes the high concept game s genre gameplay description features setting story target audience hardware platforms estimated schedule marketing analysis team requirements and risk analysis 136 Before an approved design is completed a skeleton crew of programmers and artists usually begins work 134 Programmers may develop quick and dirty prototypes showcasing one or more features that stakeholders would like to see incorporated in the final product 134 Artists may develop concept art and asset sketches as a springboard for developing real game assets 134 Producers may work part time on the game at this point scaling up for full time commitment as development progresses 134 Game producers work during pre production is related to planning the schedule budget and estimating tasks with the team 134 The producer aims to create a solid production plan so that no delays are experienced at the start of the production 134 Game design document Edit Main article Game design document Before a full scale production can begin the development team produces the first version of a game design document incorporating all or most of the material from the initial pitch 137 138 The design document describes the game s concept and major gameplay elements in detail It may also include preliminary sketches of various aspects of the game The design document is sometimes accompanied by functional prototypes of some sections of the game citation needed The design document remains a living document throughout the development often changed weekly or even daily 139 Compiling a list of game s needs is called requirement capture 10 Prototype Edit Placeholder graphics are characteristic of early game prototypes Writing prototypes of gameplay ideas and features is an important activity that allows programmers and game designers to experiment with different algorithms and usability scenarios for a game A great deal of prototyping may take place during pre production before the design document is complete and may in fact help determine what features the design specifies Prototyping at this stage is often done manually paper prototyping not digitally citation needed as this is often easier and faster to test and make changes before wasting time and resources into what could be a canceled idea or project Prototyping may also take place during active development to test new ideas as the game emerges Prototypes are often meant only to act as a proof of concept or to test ideas by adding modifying or removing some of the features 140 Most algorithms and features debuted in a prototype may be ported to the game once they have been completed Often prototypes need to be developed quickly with very little time for up front design around 15 to 20 minutes of testing citation needed Therefore usually very prolific programmers are called upon to quickly code these testbed tools RAD tools may be used to aid in the quick development of these programs In case the prototype is in a physical form programmers and designers alike will make the game with paper dice and other easy to access tools in order to make the prototype faster A successful development model is iterative prototyping where design is refined based on current progress There are various technology available for video game development 141 Production Edit Production is the main stage of development when assets and source code for the game are produced 142 Mainstream production is usually defined as the period of time when the project is fully staffed citation needed Programmers write new source code artists develop game assets such as sprites or 3D models Sound engineers develop sound effects and composers develop music for the game Level designers create levels and writers write dialogue for cutscenes and NPCs original research Game designers continue to develop the game s design throughout production Design Edit Main article Game design Game design is an essential and collaborative 143 process of designing the content and rules of a game 144 requiring artistic and technical competence as well as writing skills 145 Creativity and an open mind is vital for the completion of a successful video game During development the game designer implements and modifies the game design to reflect the current vision of the game Features and levels are often removed or added The art treatment may evolve and the backstory may change A new platform may be targeted as well as a new demographic All these changes need to be documented and disseminated to the rest of the team Most changes occur as updates to the design document Programming Edit Main article Game programming The programming of the game is handled by one or more game programmers They develop prototypes to test ideas many of which may never make it into the final game The programmers incorporate new features demanded by the game design and fix any bugs introduced during the development process Even if an off the shelf game engine is used a great deal of programming is required to customize almost every game Level creation Edit Main article Level design From a time standpoint the game s first level takes the longest to develop As level designers and artists use the tools for level building they request features and changes to the in house tools that allow for quicker and higher quality development Newly introduced features may cause old levels to become obsolete so the levels developed early on may be repeatedly developed and discarded Because of the dynamic environment of game development the design of early levels may also change over time It is not uncommon to spend upwards of twelve months on one level of a game developed over the course of three years Later levels can be developed much more quickly as the feature set is more complete and the game vision is clearer and more stable Art production Edit Main article Game art design This section needs expansion You can help by adding to it April 2010 Audio production Edit Game audio may be separated into three categories sound effects music and voice over 146 Sound effect production is the production of sounds by either tweaking a sample to a desired effect or replicating it with real objects 146 Sound effects are important and impact the game s delivery 147 Music may be synthesized or performed live 148 There are several ways in which music is presented in a game Music may be ambient especially for slow periods of game where the music aims to reinforce the aesthetic mood and game setting 149 Music may be triggered by in game events For example in such games as Pac Man or Mario player picking up power ups triggered respective musical scores 149 Action music such as chase battle or hunting sequences is fast paced hard changing score 150 Menu music similar to credits music creates aural impact while relatively little action is taking place 150 A game title with 20 hours of single player gameplay may feature around 1 hour 150 Voice overs and voice acting creates character gameplay interactivity 146 Voice acting adds personality to the game s characters 151 Testing Edit Main article Game testing Quality assurance of a video game product plays a significant role throughout the development cycle of a game though comes more significantly into play as the game nears completion Unlike other software products or productivity applications video games are fundamentally meant to entertain and thus the testing of video games is more focused on the end user experience rather than the accuracy of the software code s performance which leads to differences in how game software is developed 152 Because game development is focused on the presentation and gameplay as seen by the player there often is little rigor in maintaining and testing backend code in early stages of development since such code may be readily disregarded if there are changes found in gameplay Some automated testing may be used to assure the core game engine operates as expected but most game testing comes via game tester who enter the testing process once a playable prototype is available This may be one level or subset of the game software that can be used to any reasonable extent 152 The use of testers may be lightweight at the early stages of development but the testers role becomes more predominant as the game nears completion becoming a full time role alongside development 152 Early testing is considered a key part of game design the most common issue raised in several published post mortems on game developer was the failure to start the testing process early 152 As code matures and the gameplay features solidify then development typically includes more rigorous test controls such as regression testing to make sure new updates to the code base do not change working parts of the game Games are complex software systems and changes in one code area may unexpected cause a seemingly unrelated part of the game to fail Testers are tasked to repeated play through updated versions of games in these later stages to look for any issues or bugs not otherwise found from automated testing Because this can be a monotonous task of playing the same game over and over this process can lead to games frequently being released with uncaught bugs or glitches 152 There are other factors simply inherit to video games that can make testing difficult This includes the use of randomized gameplay systems which require more testing for both game balance and bug tracking than more linearized games the balance of cost and time to devote to testing as part of the development budget and assuring that the game still remains fun and entertaining to play as changes are made to it 152 Despite the dangers of overlooking regression testing some game developers and publishers fail to test the full feature suite of the game and ship a game with bugs This can result in customers dissatisfaction and failure to meet sales goals When this does happen most developers and publishers quickly release patches that fix the bugs and make the game fully playable again 152 More recent certain publishing models are designed specifically to accommodate the fact that first releases of games may be bug ridden but will be fixed post release The early access model invites players to pay into a game before its planned release and help to provide feedback and bug reports 152 Mobile games and games with live services are also anticipated to be updated on a frequent basis offset pre release testing with live feedback and bug reports 152 Milestones Edit Video game development milestones follow a similar process as with other software development Commercial game development projects may be required to meet milestones set by publisher Milestones mark major events during game development and are used to track game s progress 153 Such milestones may be for example first playable 154 155 alpha 156 157 or beta 157 game versions Project milestones depend on the developer schedules 153 Milestones are usually based on multiple short descriptions for functionality examples may be Player roaming around in game environment or Physics working collisions vehicle etc numerous descriptions are possible These milestones are usually how the developer gets paid sometimes as an advance against royalty These milestones are listed anywhere from three to twenty depending on developer and publisher The milestone list is usually a collaborative agreement between the publisher and developer The developer usually advocates for making the milestone descriptions as simple as possible depending on the specific publisher the milestone agreements may get very detailed for a specific game When working with a good publisher the spirit of the law is usually adhered to regarding milestone completion in other words if the milestone is 90 complete the milestone is usually paid with the understanding that it will be 100 complete by the next due milestone It is a collaborative agreement between publisher and developer and usually but not always the developer is constrained by heavy monthly development expenses that need to be met Also sometimes milestones are swapped the developer or publisher may mutually agree to amend the agreement and rearrange milestone goals depending on changing requirements and development resources available Milestone agreements are usually included as part of the legal development contracts After each milestone there is usually a payment arrangement Some very established developers may simply have a milestone agreement based on the amount of time the game is in development monthly quarterly and not specific game functionality this is not as common as detailed functionality milestone lists There is no industry standard for defining milestones and such vary depending on publisher year or project 158 Some common milestones for two year development cycle are as follows 153 First playable Edit The first playable is the game version containing representative gameplay and assets 153 this is the first version with functional major gameplay elements 154 It is often based on the prototype created in pre production 155 Alpha and first playable are sometimes used to refer to a single milestone however large projects require first playable before feature complete alpha 154 First playable occurs 12 to 18 months before code release It is sometimes referred to as the Pre Alpha stage 157 Alpha Edit See also Alpha release Alpha is the stage when key gameplay functionality is implemented and assets are partially finished 157 A game in alpha is feature complete that is game is playable and contains all the major features 158 These features may be further revised based on testing and feedback 157 Additional small new features may be added similarly planned but unimplemented features may be dropped 158 Programmers focus mainly on finishing the codebase rather than implementing additions 156 Code freeze Edit Code freeze is the stage when new code is no longer added to the game and only bugs are being corrected Code freeze occurs three to four months before code release 157 Beta Edit See also Beta release Beta is feature and asset complete version of the game when only bugs are being fixed 156 157 This version contains no bugs that prevent the game from being shippable 156 No changes are made to the game features assets or code Beta occurs two to three months before code release 157 Code release Edit Code release is the stage when many bugs are fixed and game is ready to be shipped or submitted for console manufacturer review This version is tested against QA test plan First code release candidate is usually ready three to four weeks before code release 157 Gold master Edit See also Release to manufacturing Gold master is the final game s build that is used as a master for production of the game 159 Release schedules and crunch time Edit See also Video game developer Crunch time In most AAA game development games are announced a year or more and given a planned release date or approximate window so that they can promote and market the game establish orders with retailers and entice consumers to pre order the game Delaying the release of a video game can have negative financial impact for publishers and developers and extensive delays may lead to project cancellation and employee layoffs 160 To assure a game makes a set release date publishers and developers may require their employees to work overtime to complete the game which is considered common in the industry 161 This overtime is often referred to it as crunch time or crunch mode 162 In 2004 and afterwards the culture of crunch time in the industry came under scrutiny leading to many publishers and developers to reduce the expectation on developers for overtime work and better schedule management though crunch time still can occur 163 Post production Edit After the game goes gold and ships some developers will give team members comp time perhaps up to a week or two to compensate for the overtime put in to complete the game though this compensation is not standard citation needed Maintenance Edit Once a game ships the maintenance phase for the video game begins 164 Games developed for video game consoles have had almost no maintenance period in the past The shipped game would forever house as many bugs and features as when released This was common for consoles since all consoles had identical or nearly identical hardware making incompatibility the cause of many bugs a non issue In this case maintenance would only occur in the case of a port sequel or enhanced remake that reuses a large portion of the engine and assets citation needed In recent times popularity of online console games has grown and online capable video game consoles and online services such as Xbox Live for the Xbox have developed Developers can maintain their software through downloadable patches These changes would not have been possible in the past without the widespread availability of the Internet citation needed PC development is different Game developers try to account for majority of configurations and hardware However the number of possible configurations of hardware and software inevitably leads to discovery of game breaking circumstances that the programmers and testers didn t account for citation needed Programmers wait for a period to get as many bug reports as possible Once the developer thinks they ve obtained enough feedback the programmers start working on a patch The patch may take weeks or months to develop but it s intended to fix most accounted bugs and problems with the game that were overlooked past code release or in rare cases fix unintended problems caused by previous patches Occasionally a patch may include extra features or content or may even alter gameplay citation needed In the case of a massively multiplayer online game MMOG such as a MMORPG or MMORTS the shipment of the game is the starting phase of maintenance 164 Such online games are in continuous maintenance as the gameworld is continuously changed and iterated and new features are added The maintenance staff for a popular MMOG can number in the dozens sometimes including members of the original programming team citation needed Outsourcing EditSeveral development disciplines such as audio dialogue or motion capture occur for relatively short periods of time Efficient employment of these roles requires either large development house with multiple simultaneous title production or outsourcing from third party vendors 165 Employing personnel for these tasks full time is expensive 166 so a majority of developers outsource a portion of the work Outsourcing plans are conceived during the pre production stage where the time and finances required for outsourced work are estimated 167 The music cost ranges based on length of composition method of performance live or synthesized and composer experience 168 In 2003 a minute of high quality synthesized music cost between US 600 1 5k 149 A title with 20 hours of gameplay and 60 minutes of music may have cost 50k 60k for its musical score 150 Voice acting is well suited for outsourcing as it requires a set of specialized skills Only large publishers employ in house voice actors 151 Sound effects can also be outsourced 147 Programming is generally outsourced less than other disciplines such as art or music However outsourcing for extra programming work or savings in salaries has become more common in recent years 169 170 171 172 173 174 Marketing EditThe game production has similar distribution methods to those of music and film industries 34 The publisher s marketing team targets the game for a specific market and then advertises it 175 The team advises the developer on target demographics and market trends 175 as well as suggests specific features 176 The game is then advertised and the game s high concept is incorporated into the promotional material ranging from magazine ads to TV spots 175 Communication between developer and marketing is important 176 The length and purpose of a game demo depends on the purpose of the demo and target audience A game s demo may range between a few seconds such as clips or screenshots to hours of gameplay The demo is usually intended for journalists buyers trade shows general public or internal employees who for example may need to familiarize with the game to promote it Demos are produced with public relations marketing and sales in mind maximizing the presentation effectiveness 177 Trade show demo Edit As a game nears completion the publisher will want to showcase a demo of the title at trade shows Many games have a Trade Show demo scheduled citation needed The major annual trade shows are for example Electronic Entertainment Expo E3 or Penny Arcade Expo PAX 178 E3 is the largest show in North America 179 E3 is hosted primarily for marketing and business deals New games and platforms are announced at E3 and it received broad press coverage 77 180 Thousands of products are on display and press demonstration schedules are kept 180 In recent years E3 has become a more closed door event and many advertisers have withdrawn reducing E3 s budget 77 PAX created by authors of Penny Arcade blog and web comic is a mature and playful event with a player centred philosophy 34 Localization Edit Main article Video game localization A game created in one language may also be published in other countries which speak a different language For that region the developers may want to translate the game to make it more accessible For example some games created for PlayStation Vita were initially published in Japanese language like Soul Sacrifice Non native speakers of the game s original language may have to wait for the translation of the game to their language But most modern big budget games take localization into account during the development process and the games are released in several different languages simultaneously citation needed Localization is the process of translating the language assets in a game into other languages 181 By localizing games they increase their level of accessibility where games could help to expend the international markets effectively Game localization is generally known as language translations yet a full localization of a game is a complex project Different levels of translation range from zero translation being that there is no translation to the product and all things are sent raw basic translation where only a few text and subtitles are translated or even added and a full translation where new voice overs and game material changes are added citation needed There are various essential elements on localizing a game including translating the language of the game to adjusting in game assets for different cultures to reach more potential consumers in other geographies or globalization for short Translation seems to fall into the scope of localization which itself constitutes a substantially broader endeavor 182 These include the different levels of translation to the globalization of the game itself However certain developers seem to be divided on whether globalization falls under localization or not citation needed Moreover in order to fit into the local markets game production companies often change or redesign the graphic designs or the packaging of the game for marketing purposes For example the popular game Assassin s Creed has two different packaging designs for the Japanese and US market 183 By localizing the graphics and packaging designs companies might arouse better connections and attention from the consumers from various regions citation needed Development costs EditSee also List of most expensive video games to develop The costs of developing a video game varies widely depending on several factors including team size game genre and scope and other factors such as intellectual property licensing costs Most video game consoles also require development licensing costs which include game development kits for building and testing software Game budgets also typically include costs for marketing and promotion which can be on the same order in cost as the development budget 184 Prior to the 1990s game development budgets when reported typically were on the average of US 1 5 million with known outliers such as the 20 25 million that Atari had paid to license the rights for E T the Extra Terrestrial in addition to development costs 185 The adoption of technologies such as 3D hardware rendering and CD ROM integration by the mid 1990s enabling games with more visual fidelity compared to prior titles caused developers and publishers to put more money into game budgets as to flesh out narratives through cutscenes and full motion video and creating the start of the AAA video game industry Some of the most expensive titles to develop around this time approaching costs typical of major motion picture production budgets included Final Fantasy VII in 1997 with an estimated budget of 40 45 million 186 and Shenmue in 1999 with an estimated budget of 47 70 million 187 Final Fantasy VII with its marketing budget had a total estimated cost of 80 145 million 188 Raph Koster a video game designer and economist evaluated published development budgets less any marketing for over 250 games in 2017 and reported that since the mid 1990s there has been a type of Moore s Law in game budgets with the average budget doubling about every five years after accounting for inflation Koster reported average budgets were around 100 million by 2017 and could reach over 200 million by the early 2020s Koster asserts these trends are partially tied to the technological Moore s law that gave more computational power for developers to work into their games but also related to expectations for content from players in newer games and the number of players games are expected to draw 189 Shawn Layden former CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment affirmed that the costs for each generation of PlayStation consoles nearly doubled with PlayStation 4 games have average budgets of 100 million and anticipating that PlayStation 5 games could reach 200 million 190 The rising costs of budgets of AAA games in the early 2000s led publishers to become risk adverse staying to titles that were most likely to be high selling games to recoup their costs As a result of this risk aversion the selection of AAA games in the mid 2000s became rather similar and gave the opportunity for indie games that provided more experimental and unique gameplay concepts to expand around that time 191 Indie development EditMain article Independent video game development Independent games or indie games 192 are produced by individuals and small teams with no large scale developer or publisher affiliations 192 193 194 Indie developers generally rely on Internet distribution schemes Many hobbyist indie developers create mods of existing games Indie developers are credited for creative game ideas for example Darwinia Weird Worlds World of Goo Current economic viability of indie development is questionable however in recent years internet delivery platforms such as Xbox Live Arcade and Steam have improved indie game success 192 In fact some indie games have become very successful such as Braid 195 World of Goo 196 and Minecraft 197 In recent years many communities have emerged in support of indie games such as the popular indie game marketplace Itch io indie game YouTube channels and a large indie community on Steam It is common for indie game developers to release games for free and generate revenue through other means such as microtransactions in game transactions in game advertisements and crowd funding services like Patreon and Kickstarter citation needed Game industry EditMain article Video game industry The video game industry formally referred to as interactive entertainment is the economic sector involved with the development marketing and sale of video games The industry sports several unique approaches citation needed The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject You may improve this section discuss the issue on the talk page or create a new section as appropriate September 2008 Learn how and when to remove this template message Locales Edit United States Edit Further information List of video game companies In the United States in the early history of video game development the prominent locale for game development was the corridor from San Francisco to Silicon Valley in California 198 Most new developers in the US open near such hot beds 15 At present many large publishers still operate there such as Activision Blizzard Capcom Entertainment Disney Interactive Eidos Interactive Electronic Arts Foundation 9 LucasArts Entertainment Namco Bandai Games Sega of America Sony Computer Entertainment America THQ However due to the nature of game development many publishers are present in other regions such as Big Fish Games Washington GarageGames Oregon Majesco Entertainment New Jersey Microsoft Corporation Washington Nintendo of America Washington Take Two Interactive New York SouthPeak Games Virginia 199 Education Edit Many universities and design schools are offering classes specifically focused on game development 14 Some have built strategic alliances with major game development companies 200 201 These alliances ensure that students have access to the latest technologies and are provided the opportunity to find jobs within the gaming industry once qualified citation needed Many innovative ideas are presented at conferences such as Independent Games Festival IGF or Game Developers Conference GDC Indie game development may motivate students who produce a game for their final projects or thesis and may open their own game company 192 Stability Edit Video game industry employment is fairly volatile similar to other artistic industries including television music etc Scores of game development studios crop up work on one game and then quickly go under 202 This may be one reason why game developers tend to congregate geographically if their current studio goes under developers can flock to an adjacent one or start another from the ground up citation needed In an industry where only the top 20 of products make a profit 203 it s easy to understand this fluctuation Numerous games may start development and are cancelled or perhaps even completed but never published Experienced game developers may work for years and yet never ship a title such is the nature of the business citation needed See also Edit Video games portal International Game Developers Association List of video gaming topics Open source video games Software development process Video game controversyReferences Edit The Two Engines Driving the 120B Gaming Industry Forward CB Insights Research 2018 09 20 Retrieved 2020 06 03 a b Bethke 2003 p 4 Bethke 2003 p 7 Bethke 2003 p 14 a b Bethke 2003 p 12 Melissinos Chris Video Games Are the Most Important Art Form in History TIME com Retrieved 2020 06 09 Bates 2004 p 239 a b Bethke 2003 p 17 Bethke 2003 pp 18 19 a b c Bethke 2003 p 3 a b c Irwin Mary Jane November 20 2008 Indie Game Developers Rise Up Forbes Retrieved January 10 2011 Bethke 2003 pp 17 18 Bethke 2003 p 18 a b Moore amp Novak 2010 p 19 a b c Moore amp Novak 2010 p 17 a b c Moore amp Novak 2010 p 37 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 18 Crossley Rob January 11 2010 Study Average dev costs as high as 28m Archived from the original on January 13 2010 Retrieved October 17 2010 Adams amp Rollings 2006 p 13 a b c Chandler 2009 p xxi a b Reimer Jeremy November 7 2005 Cross platform game development and the next generation of consoles Introduction Retrieved October 17 2010 a b c Moore amp Novak 2010 p 5 a b Bates 2004 p 3 Adams amp Rollings 2006 pp 29 30 Bethke 2003 p 75 Chandler 2009 p 3 Adams amp Rollings 2006 pp 31 33 a b Bates 2004 p 6 Oxland 2004 p 25 Bates 2004 pp 14 16 a b c d e Bates 2004 p 151 a b McGuire amp Jenkins 2009 p 23 Chandler 2009 p xxi xxii a b c d e f McGuire amp Jenkins 2009 p 25 Chandler 2009 p 82 Chandler 2009 p 87 a b c McGuire amp Jenkins 2009 p 26 Chandler 2009 p 90 a b c d e Behrmann M Noyons M Johnstone B MacQueen D Robertson E Palm T Point J 2012 State of the Art of the European Mobile Games Industry PDF Mobile GameArch Project Retrieved 2013 08 12 Duke Nukem Forever release date disparity demystified PC Gamer 2011 03 24 Retrieved 2012 01 03 Berghammer Billy 2007 03 26 The History Of Team Fortress 2 Game Informer Archived from the original on 2007 04 03 Retrieved February 27 2012 McGuire amp Jenkins 2009 pp 26 27 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 7 a b Moore amp Novak 2010 p 6 John Anderson Who Really Invented The Video Game Atari Magazines Retrieved November 27 2006 Marvin Yagoda 2008 1972 Nutting Associates Computer Space 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in quarters in 1982 surpassing pop music at 4 billion in sales per year and Hollywood films 3 billion Those 32 billion arcade games played translate to 143 games for every man woman and child in America A recent Atari survey showed that 86 percent of the US population from 13 to 20 has played some kind of video game and an estimated 8 million US homes have video games hooked up to the television set Sales of home video games were 3 8 billion in 1982 approximately half that of video game arcades Jason Whittaker 2004 The cyberspace handbook Routledge pp 122 3 ISBN 0 415 16835 X Designer Profile Chris Crawford Part 2 Computer Gaming World Jan Feb 1987 pp 56 59 Retrieved 1 November 2013 a b Daglow Don L Aug Sep 1987 I Think We ve Got a Hit The Twisted Path to Success in Entertainment Software Computer Gaming World p 8 Consalvo Mia 2006 Console video games and global corporations Creating a hybrid culture New Media amp Society 8 1 117 137 doi 10 1177 1461444806059921 S2CID 32331292 a b Yakal Kathy June 1986 The Evolution of Commodore Graphics Compute s Gazette pp 34 42 Retrieved 2019 06 18 So What Do they Teach you at Videogame School Next Generation No 25 Imagine Media January 1997 p 10 the 1980s era when one person could make a hit game by himself is long gone These days games cost in the millions of dollars to produce and no investor is going to give this money to one guy working from his bedroom In 1996 a game will probably employ 10 to 15 people working for one or two years a b Bethke 2003 p 26 a b c Bethke 2003 p 15 Bethke 2003 pp 15 16 Bethke 2003 p 30 Cost of making games set to soar BBC News November 17 2005 Retrieved April 9 2010 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 15 a b c McGuire amp Jenkins 2009 p 24 Global Games Market Grows to 86 1bn in 2016 Newzoo Retrieved 6 November 2013 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 16 Bates 2004 p 154 a b c d Moore amp Novak 2010 p 71 Bates 2004 pp 156 158 Bates 2004 pp 154 156 a b Bates 2004 p 153 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 25 Top Gaming Studios Schools amp Salaries Big Fish Games Archived from the original on 5 November 2012 Salen amp Zimmerman 2003 Oxland 2004 p 292 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 74 Oxland 2004 pp 292 296 Bates 2004 p 163 Brathwaite amp Schreiber 2009 p 171 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 94 a b Bates 2004 p 171 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 85 a b Moore amp Novak 2010 p 86 Bates 2004 p 173 a b Moore amp Novak 2010 p 87 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 88 a b c Bates 2004 p 176 a b Moore amp Novak 2010 p 89 Bates 2004 p 175 a b Moore amp Novak 2010 p 90 a b Bates 2004 p 168 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 78 Bates 2004 p 165 Bates 2004 p 162 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 76 Bates 2004 pp 185 188 191 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 91 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 95 Bates 2004 p 177 a b Bates 2004 p 225 a b Bates 2004 pp 218 219 Bates 2004 pp 226 227 Chandler 2009 p 47 Chandler 2009 p 41 Chandler 2009 pp 41 43 44 Chandler 2009 p 44 a b Bates 2004 p 227 a b c d e f g h i j Moore amp Novak 2010 p 70 a b c d Bates 2004 p 203 a b c d e f g h i Bates 2004 p 204 Adams amp Rollings 2006 p 29 Oxland 2004 p 251 Chandler 2009 pp 5 9 a b Chandler 2009 p 6 a b c d e Bethke 2003 p 102 Bethke 2003 pp 101 102 Bates 2004 pp 203 207 Bethke 2003 p 103 Bates 2004 p 274 Bethke 2003 p 27 a b c d e f g h i Zackariasson Peter Wilson Timothy L 2012 The Video Game Industry Formation Present State and Future Routledge ISBN 978 0 415 89652 8 a b Chandler 2009 p 8 Bates 2004 pp 204 205 Bates 2004 p 276 Oxland 2004 pp 240 274 Oxland 2004 p 241 Brathwaite amp Schreiber 2009 p 189 Bates 2004 p 226 Chandler 2009 p 9 Bates 2004 p xxi Brathwaite amp Schreiber 2009 p 2 Adams amp Rollings 2006 pp 20 22 23 24 25 a b c Bethke 2003 p 49 a b Bethke 2003 p 363 Bethke 2003 p 50 a b c Bethke 2003 p 344 a b c d Bethke 2003 p 345 a b Bethke 2003 p 353 a b c d e f g h i Politowski Cristiano Petrillo Fabio Gueheneuc Yann Gael 2021 A Survey of Video Game Testing arXiv 2103 06431 Cite journal requires journal help a b c d Chandler 2009 p 244 a b c Bethke 2003 p 293 a b Chandler 2009 p 244 245 a b c d Bethke 2003 p 294 a b c d e f g h i Chandler 2009 p 245 a b c Bethke 2003 p 192 Bethke 2003 p 295 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 20 48 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 241 McShaffry 2009 p 17 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 48 241 a b Moore amp Novak 2010 p 97 Bethke 2003 p 183 Bethke 2003 pp 183 184 Bethke 2003 p 184 Bethke 2003 p 343 Bethke 2003 p 185 Game Developer 2009 Outsourcing Report Game Developer Research An Examination of Outsourcing The Developer Angle Gamasutra August 7 2008 An Examination of Outsourcing Part 2 The Contractor Angle Gamasutra September 8 2008 Nutt C April 4 2011 Virtuos Setting The Record Straight On Outsourcing Gamasutra Devs Ease Of Development Rules Outsourcing On Rise Gamasutra August 20 2008 a b c Bates 2004 p 241 a b Bates 2004 p 242 Bates 2004 p 246 McGuire amp Jenkins 2009 pp 24 25 Bethke 2003 p 57 a b Bethke 2003 p 58 Chandler H October 2004 The Game Localization Handbook Charles River Media ISBN 978 1584503439 Czech D 2013 Challenges in video game localization An integrated perspective Explorations A Journal of Language and Literature 1 1 3 25 Thomas Lucas M March 13 2012 How Game Art Changes Around the World IGN Keogh Brendan 2019 From aggressively formalised to intensely in formalised Accounting for a wider range of videogame development practices Creative Industries Journal 12 1 14 33 doi 10 1080 17510694 2018 1532760 S2CID 159319169 Superannuation January 15 2014 How Much Does It Cost To Make A Big Video Game Kotaku Retrieved September 4 2021 Park Gene 4 April 2020 Perfecting Final Fantasy 7 s legacy as told by its creators The Washington Post Archived from the original on 8 April 2020 Retrieved 9 April 2020 Diver Mike 2 May 2015 Shenmue discovering the Sega classic 14 years too late The Guardian Archived from the original on June 26 2015 Retrieved 30 June 2015 Stanton Rich June 2 2013 Final Fantasy 7 retrospective Eurogamer Retrieved March 20 2014 Koster Raph January 23 2018 The cost of games Venture Beat Retrieved September 4 2021 Schreier Jason September 3 2021 Former PlayStation Chief Muses on the Future of Gaming Bloomberg News Retrieved September 4 2021 Cobbett Richard September 22 2017 From shareware superstars to the Steam gold rush How indie conquered the PC PC Gamer Retrieved September 25 2017 a b c d McGuire amp Jenkins 2009 p 27 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 272 Bates 2004 p 252 Chaplin Heather August 27 2008 Xbox s Braid A Surprise Hit For Surprising Reasons NPR Retrieved February 4 2011 Mysore Sahana January 2 2009 How the World of Goo became one of the indie video game hits of 2008 Venturebeat Retrieved February 4 2011 Plunkett Luke January 4 2011 Why Minecraft Is So Damn Popular Kotaku Retrieved February 4 2011 Moore amp Novak 2010 pp 50 51 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 51 Oxland 2004 p 309 Moore amp Novak 2010 p 298 McShaffry 2009 pp 19 20 Irwin Mary Profile Cooking Up A BlockBuster Game Forbes Retrieved November 25 2013 https www academia edu 6639017 Challenges in video game localization An integrated perspective http www erudit org revue meta 2012 v57 n2 1013949ar html The Game Localization Handbook Charles River Media Game Development Paperback October 2004 by Heather M Heather Chandler Chandler Author http bytelevel com global game globalization html Q amp A with the author http www jostrans org issue06 art ohagan phpBibliography Edit Adams Ernest Rollings Andrew 2003 Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on game design New Riders Publishing ISBN 1 59273 001 9 Bates Bob 2004 Game Design 2nd ed Thomson Course Technology ISBN 1 59200 493 8 Bethke Erik 2003 Game development and production Texas Wordware Publishing Inc ISBN 1 55622 951 8 Brathwaite Brenda Schreiber Ian 2009 Challenges for Game Designers Charles River Media ISBN 978 1 58450 580 8 Chandler Heather Maxwell 2009 The Game Production Handbook 2nd ed Hingham Massachusetts Infinity Science Press ISBN 978 1 934015 40 7 McGuire Morgan Jenkins Odest Chadwicke 2009 Creating Games Mechanics Content and Technology Wellesley Massachusetts A K Peters ISBN 978 1 56881 305 9 McShaffry Mike 2009 Game Coding Complete Hingham Massachusetts Charles River Media ISBN 978 1 58450 680 5 Moore Michael E Novak Jeannie 2010 Game Industry Career Guide Delmar Cengage Learning ISBN 978 1 4283 7647 2 Oxland Kevin 2004 Gameplay and design Addison Wesley ISBN 0 321 20467 0 Salen Katie Zimmerman Eric 2005 The Game Design Reader A Rules of Play Anthology The MIT Press ISBN 0 262 19536 4 Salen Katie Zimmerman Eric 2003 Rules of Play Game Design Fundamentals MIT Press ISBN 0 262 24045 9 External links EditWikimedia Commons has media related to Video game development GameDev net a resource for game development DevMaster net game development site Gamasutra com articles on game developmentWikis Edit Game Development Wiki at Gamedev net discontinued and archived Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Video game development amp oldid 1053375004, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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