What Goes in to Making a Video Game?

by Sachin

Video games have been around for over 60 years, though they only really entered the mainstream in the late 1990s and early 1980s. Over time, they have gradually been adopted by more and more people, with the majority of the world now playing video games at least occasionally. 

However, while most of us enjoy getting lost in one of these interactive art pieces, there is a large group of people working behindthe scenes to make the content we love to play. 

Have you ever wondered what these guys and gals have to do to craft these labours of love that give us so much joy and entertainment? It’s quite an undertaking. 

The People Involved

Today, many people dream of having a career in gaming by becoming an esports athlete. However, there are many behind-the-scenes careers you can have creating the content that these players compete within. 

In the past, video games, even the biggest blockbusters, were often created by a single person. This was typically a programmer who would either design the graphics themselves or who had specialists to help them out, but who would essentially do the bulk of the work alone. 

Rollercoaster Tycoon, for example, was coded entirely by Chris Sawyer using x86 Assembly Language following a trip he took to the United States to visit some of the country’s biggest theme parks. 

However, sequels to the game, which are bigger and more complex, required teams of people to help him. 

Today’s AAA titles can consume the full-time efforts of hundreds of people, including designers to conjure up the concepts, programmers to do the coding, animators to make the graphics as real as possible, scriptwriters to write a compelling story, managers to ensure everything runs smoothly, and testers to find and fix bugs. 

Smaller games might still only involve a handful of people but they’ll be required to undertake several or all of these roles. 

The Technology

It’s also important to understand the technologies that go into modern games. In the past, they were relatively primitive in comparison to today, with basic graphics, MIDI sound effects, and prescribed paths for players to follow. 

Today, things are very different. There’s a whole host of different tech that goes into games that are played today. 

For example, the concept of a “game engine” didn’t arise until the 1990s when titles became more complicated. The engine is a sort of operating system that developers can build their game on top of, removing the need to perform low-level coding from scratch for every single title. 

Similarly, online casinos now use technology like random number generators to ensure complete fairness in their games. For example, competition in the space has resulted in many casinos creating higher RTP slots that can reach upwards of 97%. The RNG technology ensures that this advertised return-to-player rate is achieved over the very long run and that each game is fair. 

On the graphics side, ray tracing is used by developers to make their games look more attractive and realistic in titles like Gran Turismo, while procedural generation in games like No Man’s Sky and Minecraft means they always serve up a unique experience to players. 

The Process

The process of creating a game involves combining the technology and the people together to create a product that’s greater than the sum of its parts. 

It starts in the design or “pre-production” phase where ideas are put forward and developed. From here, a scope of the project is defined, setting targets, a list of tasks, and a schedule for further development work, with an estimate of the resources required to achieve the targets also identified. 

This then gets pitched to decision-makers within the company. To give the project a green light, they’ll need to understand what the game is about, what will make players want to buy it, and how/why it would be profitable. 

If it’s given the go-ahead, the initial scope will be developed further and prototypes created to provide a proof of concept. At this point, further approvals are required from decision-makers who will use the prototypes to get a better feel for the game. 

From here, full production can begin. This starts with the design which involves setting out the rules, the story, and the overall concept. 

The programmers, graphic designers, audio production crew, and animators will get involved to help bring this design to life. This will typically involve the technologies we discussed earlier, building on the game engine to create an attractive and gripping piece of content. 

There will usually be several stage gates or milestones during this time to ensure development remains on track, just as you’d find in any other type of project. 

Once they are done, the quality assurance team jumps in, testing the game to spot the bugs and ensure the intended result occurs. When they’re satisfied, the game is prepared for release so gamers can finally get their hands on this latest installment.

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