In order to obtain the ‘literati’ achievement for class, and also to learn a little more about how games are produced at a global scale, I read a book called “Producing Games: From Business and Budgets to Creativity and Design” by D.S. Cohen, and Sergio Bustamante II. As the title somewhat implies, the book was all about how a large-scale videogame is produced from start to finish, and the hierarchy of who makes the big decisions in games.
Originally, when I picked up the book, I thought it was going to explain more about the actual elements that go into a game, and how to make a successful game. The authors only touched slightly on those two topics, and instead, the majority of the book was about the process of creating a game; renting the game engines and software, creating a team, how to create a team, producing the game and production stages, and then passing the game onto a publisher, and post-creation tasks. The authors focused a lot on time management, and how to productively produce a game, and additionally they focus a lot on keeping costs down and how to do it.
According to the authors, the first stage of producing a game is having the initial idea of what the producers want to do, and a general direction for the game. Next, the producers pitch the idea to the publishers, who in turn (if they like the idea) will rent the game engines from XBOX, Windows, and Sony. Next, a team needs to be created who will work well together. This stage is the most important because if the team does not work well together or communicate ideas well, the production of the game will surely fail. Also, this stage is important because if all of the bases are not covered with the initial team, later down the production line, things can get very expensive when hiring a new team member or hiring an outside firm to assist in the production. The authors explain it is very important when creating the team for the project that you select people who have past experiences with what your goals are, and to select people who will work well with one another. They say that there are different periods during the production stage which need full attention from every member of the team, and everyone needs to work well with one another in order to get it done.
After the team has been created, it is time to start working on the actual game. Every person begins to work on the initial drafts of what they want to see in the game. The goal is to shoot for the starts and end up somewhere in the atmosphere. Artists draw what they want to see in the game, the programmers begin writing and testing code, and the animators work with the artists to make the visions come to life. The game is worked on for a few months with many attributes being added and subtracted from it constantly to change and make the game better, fit the time schedule, and keep down costs.
Finally, once the game is ready for testing, the team/producers will initiate alpha testing. They get play-testers to come in and play the very basic structure of the game to make sure everything is pleasing, and that people will actually enjoy playing the game. After the alpha testing, they enter a phase called ‘crunch time’. For the next month or so, they take all of the criticisms received from the play-testers to help change and make the game better, and also fix any bugs that the play-testers found. After fixing everything, they add the rest of the elements into the game that make it ‘pretty’, they do the voice-overs and other finishing touches.
Now that the game is complete, they send it to the publishers who do the final testing of the game. They check for any major bugs that need to be fixed, and put the actual finishing touches to the game. If the game does not meet the requirements they want, they will send it back to be fixed and updated how they see fit. If the publishers like it, they will produce the game for consumer use, and then console and pc users everywhere get to play!
The final step of this long process is for the production team to wrap everything up. The team has to place all of the information about the game, and the entire game onto a disk to save for future reference, etc. Additionally, a manual has to be made on how to ‘beat’ or play through the entire game from start to finish, and that too has to be put away in a fire-safe location for future reference.
And now you have a game!