What are the stages in game development

Zockwork orange

Who hasn't wondered what terms actually mean like Alpha phase, Beta phase, Gold Master etc. are called? You know what they roughly express, but mostly not what is behind them or what kind of work processes are associated with them. Ultimately, such terms serve to denote the extremely complex Development process roughly subdivide a game. The following phases of game development are usually assumed: Brainstorming, Pre-pre-production, Pre-production, Main Production, alpha, beta and ultimately Release respectively Gold Master. The latter is actually no longer seen as a phase, but rather as a deadline by when the game has to be finished.

In the following I will break down the different terms to the best of my knowledge - as far as I have heard it from my studies so far - and give you an insight into which work steps are carried out when and with what background. This may also give you a slightly different view of things, in part, by showing how much time and effort has gone into a single game. Since the individual phases cannot be dealt with in one or two words, I will first deal with brainstorming, pre-pre-production and pre-production in this report. In the second part I will explain the following phases.

1. Idea generation

Logically, this phase is about developing an idea for a game that has the potential to appeal to a more or less broad mass of customers. It may be that the rough idea is already available through a license, so that one is already relatively limited with regard to the story and the interaction options within a genre. The advantage here is that you have saved several weeks of time that would otherwise be almost endless Brainstorms and discussions within the Core development teams must be estimated in order to create a viable idea in the first place. However, you are also much more limited artistically. This idea is about both one Core story as well as a basic gameplay to create that is fun for the player.

Since I am currently working on a game project with my fellow students within my Masters, I can say from my own experience that this phase is very interesting and also creatively stimulating, but on the other hand it can also be quite annoying because it keeps going the idea is questioned and aspects that were a must-have in the last week will be thrown out the next week. In this way, however, a core idea crystallizes bit by bit, which, due to the many discussions, usually has a solid foundation on which to build on.

2. Pre-pre-production

There is actually a smooth transition between brainstorming and pre-pre-production. The basis of the game design is worked out from the idea, especially the basic game mechanics and interaction options belong. In addition, at this point in time - with good project planning - the Risks of the project so that a subsequent project plan can take these risks into account as well as possible and thus mitigate them. The Define a prototype - i.e. which functions or mechanisms this should contain - and its planning are another very important step in this phase. Based on the collected data and far-reaching considerations, a rough one then applies Estimation of the development time and the costs to produce, which could then be presented to a publisher, if you are still looking for a financier and publisher for your own project.

3. Pre-production

With the start of pre-production, the development a first or several Prototypes. In addition, the game design is worked out and in one Game design document recorded in detail that later is the alpha and omega of the development or should be, if it is kept up to date. In this document, every feature, no matter how small, is broken down into its individual elements, explained and thus recorded in a binding manner. The game design document provides the A game developer's bible For the programmer in particular, unambiguous and complete documentation is extremely important in order to avoid unnecessary questions and discussions. With the help of this document and the experience of the leads in the individual departments (code, art, game design ...), a detailed project plan who worked out the Top-level milestones specifies. A milestone is, so to speak, a deadline by when a fixed set of features has to work. For each milestone, the publisher checks whether these milestones have been met. Failure to comply can be seen as a breach of contract, so that the publisher could, in principle, turn off the tap for the developer. Precisely for this reason, extremely precise and careful planning of the project is essential in order to avoid such situations as well as possible, which has not always been implemented well in practice because the complexity of the projects is enormous. Based on the project plan, a final time & cost budget created, which in turn is the basis of the contract with a publisher.

In the second part of this report, which I will publish in the next seven days, I will also take a closer look at main production and the other remaining phases.

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