Ultimate Guide: 5 Steps to Creating a Mind-blowing Game

Do you ever wonder what goes into creating the epic worlds and characters of your favorite video games? Buckle up and join me on an exciting journey through the ups and downs of video game development!

Do you ever wonder what goes into creating the epic worlds and characters of your favorite video games? Let me tell you, it’s anything but a walk in the park. The game development process is more like an adrenaline-pumping rollercoaster ride, complete with twists, turns, and unexpected surprises at every corner. So buckle up and join me on an exciting journey through the ups and downs of video game development!

As the industry undergoes constant changes, developers must keep their finger on the pulse of gaming trends. For example, this research from Statista shows that cloud gaming is on the rise, eSports are expanding quickly, and gaming is seeing more female users than ever before. And with new technologies like blockchain and VR, there are more creative opportunities than ever before. The Metaverse, a virtual world where people can interact with one another in a shared space, may soon become a part of our everyday lives.

But what’s under the hood of a masterfully made game? Burning deadlines, bottlenecks and production delays, pressure from stakeholders, and ever-changing design requirements are just a few of the many obstacles that creators face during the development cycle.

To shed some light on the development process, let’s take a closer look at the specific steps that developers follow. Game development, like any project, starts with an idea. The tricky part is turning these ideas into reality. To achieve this, we follow specific steps.

1. Discovery

The discovery stage identifies a game’s scope and defines what actions are required to bring it to a release date.

This stage can last for a month or two, depending on the project scope, resources needed, and available budget. At this point, the team consists of a few members – the Core Team. The Core Team usually includes a Solution Architect, Game Designer, and Art Director.

The discovery stage is a vital starting point of game creation and usually entails a wide range of activities:

Game Design Document Creation. Designers create a single document that has all the rules and descriptions of the game, namely: 

  • Project summary (scope, concept, genre) 
  • Game mechanics (rules, physics) 
  • Gameplay (UX flow charts, objectives)  
  • Customization and elements design (story, characters, location) 
  • Assets (music, sound effects, 2D/3D models) 

Art-Style Definition. In collaboration with game designers and stakeholders, the art director and the team work on the visual style for the product; developing the aesthetics, look, and feel. 

  • Game visual style
    • Concepts (background/environment, characters, iconography) 
    • 3D models (characters, props, weapons) 
    • 3D animations
    • VFX concepts/prototypes (how particle effects might look)
  • Requirements for graphics 
    • Polygon budget (based on target devices)
    • Texture resolution
    • Animation requirements (animation skeleton requirements like number of bones, naming convention, folder structure)

Technology Stack Definition.Solution architect or tech lead identifies the technologies needed for the development process.

  • Evaluate whether the team can use an existing solution 
    • Usually, it’s faster to develop a product with an available game engine
    • In some instances, it makes sense to build a custom engine or platform
  • Pick among various available engines
    • Decide what engine best suits your needs
  • Define the project architecture
    • Make sure the product is built with expansion and future support in mind

Planning.When the team is finished with the procedures mentioned above, assessments of the following can be made:

  • How many team members are needed to develop the game 
  • A reasonable launch date 
  • Deliverables to be produced  
  • Budget breakdown

2. Production

This is when development begins and is the most labor-intensive step of the process. Team members polish the story, define game mechanics, balance, pacing, and gameplay. Plus, they create all assets (characters, creatures, props, and environments), set the rules of play, build levels and scenes, and write the code. 

Each component of the game must be designed thoughtfully. Even when great care is taken, the initial idea doesn’t always transfer to the screen the first time around; game testing and improvements continue even after the game is released. 

Let’s look at the fundamentals of game production, and some of the critical video game development jobs. Bear in mind that small teams will undertake multiple roles, whereas a larger studio with more specialized team members will have collaborators primarily focusing on a particular aspect of production. 

Production Milestones

Prototype: A video game prototype is a raw test that examines functionality, user experience, gameplay, mechanics, and art style. Prototyping happens as the first phase of production to test whether the game idea will work and is worth pursuing. Many ideas fail at this stage. 

First playable: The first playable allows us to get a better idea of the overall look and aesthetic of the game. While it is still far from the final version, placeholders are starting to be replaced with higher quality elements, and art is added. 

Pre-alpha: Most of the content is designed in the pre-alpha stage. At this point in the game development process, some critical decisions take place. Some content may get cut, or new assets are incorporated to improve gameplay.

Vertical slice (optional): A vertical slice is a fully playable version that can be used to demonstrate your game to clients, studios, or investors. A vertical slice gives a first-hand experience of the game, ranging from a couple of minutes to half an hour. 

Alpha: The game is complete with all features, meaning that it is entirely playable from start to end. Some elements, such as art details, may still need to be added, but controls and functions should be working accurately.

Beta: Here, all content and assets are aligned, and the team should focus on improvement rather than adding new functions or features. The QA testers ensure everything is running seamlessly and report bugs back to developers.

Release Candidate: The game is ready-to-use and can be sent to the publishing outlet and launched to the public. 

The 10 Key Roles in the Game Development Process

Delivery Managers / Producers manage the business aspect of the project, particularly the expenses and schedules. Producers typically handle the budget and develop marketing strategies to sell the product. 

Development Managers ensure game development runs smoothly, milestones are aligned, risks are mitigated, and teammates are doing what they’re supposed to. A project manager is often the center of communication between the dev and design teams and executives.

Game Developers build games by turning design concepts into fully playable games. Game developers have a solid programming background. Plus, devs should have a combination of creativity, math skills, and patience to code ideas into interactive visuals and sounds. 

Game Designers  the creative drivers of the game, and bridge between writers and artists, with some knowledge of programming. Game design production includes creating attention-grabbing stories, characters, goals, rules, and challenges that drive interactions between game elements. 

Level Designers  responsible for creating exciting and fun levels. The challenge a level designer must cope with is keeping a player’s focus to achieve a goal while also reducing the potential of confusion. Level designers are responsible for identifying player bottlenecks, such as falling out of borders or getting stuck and not being able to get out.

Game Artists – encompass concept artists, animators, 3D modelers, and FX artists. They usually create concept art and 2D elements, giving color, action, and life to the game. 

While concept artists are most active during initial game design, they may also be involved later in the game development process to add new elements into the game. 

3D Artists create models of characters, objects, props, and environments that can then be textured and animated. Modelers need to know how to obtain and use high-quality reference materials, especially if they’re replicating real objects. 

Animators make characters and objects lifelike by adding movement to them. They create storyboards and outline key animation scenes that match the game’s storyline. Animators often conduct lots of research on the objects they need to bring to life. 

Audio Engineers / Sound Designers make natural sound effects, record voice dialogues between characters, and create soundtracks to set the mood for players, i.e., opening music, menu pause music, marking a victory.

QA Testers are vital in the game development process. They check games for bugs and make sure that the game runs seamlessly and guides are clear for players. They report errors to the developers on what is sometimes known as a bug sheet.

3. Testing

Every feature and mechanic in the game requires testing for quality control. A game without thorough testing should not even be brought to the Alpha launch phase.  

Here are some questions a QA tester may ask during this stage: 

  • Are there error areas or levels? 
  • Is everything rendering on the screen? 
  • Can my character walk through a particular wall or object? 
  • Does my character get stuck at any point? 
  • Is the character dialogue boring? 

There are even various types of play-testers. Some of them conduct stress tests by running into walls hundreds of times to crash the game. Other play-testers check “fun factor” to see if the game is too complicated or too easy and if it is enjoyable to play.  

After countless iterations of testing, the game should be ready for Alpha or Beta release, depending on how refined the in-game features are. 

4. Release

The release day is coming and the team can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The months leading up to an awaited release date are typically spent on debugging errors found during the testing stage. 

In addition to bug squashing, developers focus on details of the game as much as possible before it launches. Maybe that rock can have more depth. Perhaps the character’s outfit can be more textured, or those trees may finally sway in the wind. These slight changes can be significant in making a video game more immersive. 

When the game is squeaky-clean, it’s time to publish and distribute. 

5. Post-release

After the release of the game, the development process continues with a smaller team. They fix bugs, create patches, bonuses, in-game events, or brand-new downloadable content (DLC). Others may move on to the sequel or the next project. 

It’s common for video games to launch with batches of minor bugs. During the first few months after the launch, teammates identify and eliminate these bugs. Gaming studios also rely on players to submit bug reports or speak up about bugs in online forums. This is all part of post-release maintenance. 

The Bottom Line: Game Development with Innovecs

If you want to make video games, understanding the game development process is essential. Regardless of your role on the team, knowing every department’s purpose and order will help you work more efficiently and reduce costly problems later on. 

Releasing fresh content is common in today’s gaming industry because it increases the replay value, retention, and appeal of a game. If you’re interested in building a video game from scratch or polishing an existing one, feel free to reach out to Innovecs’ experts. Years of experience in game development allows the Innovecs team to deliver proficient and flawless products timely and at an adequate cost rate. 

If you need assistance in building a product from scratch or supporting the existing one, drop us a line to discuss details, and we will reply within 24 hours.