The 7 Essential Steps of Game Development - | MAGES Institute

The 7 Essential Steps of Game Development

Discover the essential steps to create engaging digital games. From meticulous planning and pre-production, where a game design document (GDD) guides your vision, to the detailed production phase involving multiple team members and rigorous testing.

Can you create the next award-winning game? The one that kids and gaming experts can’t wait to try out?

No matter your current level of skill in game development, practice your skillset, because experience is part of what empowers you to deliver quality entertainment products like digital games. Also, rather than trying to rush the process, follow the tried and trusted steps that the experts at market leading game development brands use every day. Below you’ll find a summary of these steps to guide you through this process efficiently.

As a developer on a team, you can be part of one or various steps in the process.

The 3 Main Stages of Game Development

When talking to industry experts, some will describe a 5-step or 7-step process during game development, while others suggest a 3-step process covers it all. For clarity, below you’ll find all 7 relevant steps in the process described and organized in 3 main stages.

Stage 1: Pre-production

Pre-production sets the course you’ll follow and while it can be a short stage, some teams take up to a year to plan properly. Often, 20% of the project’s timeline can be allocated to these processes.

Many teams create a GDD (game design document) which is a software design document that will guide the development process. Everything from the game’s concept and rules to its gameplay, sound effects and characters are set out in a GDD.

1. Planning

Before creating a game you need to plan exactly what you’ll develop and how you’ll manage the process. During brainstorming you’ll need to consider various aspects that can determine the success or failure of the game:

  • The initial Budget of production, and where you’ll obtain initial funds and how you will monetize the game.
  • Who is the target audience?
  • Design details such as 2D vs 3D, art style, characters and genre, etc
  • Technical path : Pick a game engine and publishing platforms.
  • Additional Resources : Does the process require a bigger team, or the need to upskill with something like an Unreal Engine course?

2. Pre-production

Now you’ll start working on elements of the game, such as creating a storyboard and even a rough prototype. However, there’s still lots of room for change, since you’ll realize what really works and what doesn’t.

This step requires synergy between all role players, including:

  • Project leads
  • Writers
  • Engineers
  • Artists
  • Designers
  • Developers

They must each understand where their part of the project fits in, confirm what is possible in terms of current technological resources and align their work with the overall vision for the project.

Stage 2: Production

With pre-production confirming what the team must focus on, the actual development of the game can begin.

3. Production

Your planned concepts can now become assets, like 3D models, and source code. This step takes the most time of all, with multiple role players bringing the game to life, for example:

  • Designing and animating characters
  • Creating a game world, with developers and designers working together
  • Audio design, voice recordings and soundtracks
  • Source code written by developers

Throughout, project leaders must keep teams on track meet due dates of milestones and team members must accept that some work gets rejected and needs to be redone.

This is the part of the game development process where skills from training, such as an Unreal Engine course, will be valuable, affecting both design quality and a developer’s speed and workflow.

4. Testing

Quality control is essential to determine if a game is ready for an initial release. In-house Alpha-testing can be done by playtesters who play the game to give feedback on:

  • Whether it’s overall fun and satisfying to play.
  • Game rendering (usually part of QA testing)
  • How interesting characters’ dialogue is.
  • Is it easy to break or exploit the game in any way?
  • Any bugs and glitches
  • Whether they accidentally get stuck in certain spots, also called ‘softlocks’.
  • Does it have appropriate levels of difficulty?
  • Mistakes in scripts, text or acting.

Any problems require the team to make improvements before the pre-launch.

5. Pre-launch

For the pre-launch phase, you need a Beta copy but also marketing to ensure there will be people interested in trying it out. You can pre-launch at a gaming convention or provide platforms and gaming influencers with this Beta version.

The goal now is to get more feedback so you can implement changes before the official launch.

6. Launch

With objective feedback guiding your final adjustments, leading up to the launch you will:

  • Squash bugs.
  • Ensure the game doesn’t crash.
  • Give the game a final polishing of the look and feel, such as making elements more realistic.
  • Make changes you realize will benefit the game overall.

You’ll establish a launch date to market, for excitement to build around your product’s release.

Stage 3: Post-production

Even released games still have bugs and it requires game maintenance and updates to ensure the game has long-term appeal.

7. Post Launch

Although game production is exciting, after the launch there’s another fun step in game development, since there are still creative elements for team members to be part of.

Players will report bugs that developers will need to fix. In addition you’ll release software updates and new DLC (downloadable content) that can engage players. This can include:

  • Additional modes, such as multiplayer
  • More game levels
  • New storylines

Game Development—An Exciting Industry to Join

With the popularity of gaming ever increasing in our modern society, there will be opportunities for more game developers for many years to come. Following these basic steps, you can create your own games for others to enjoy, or be part of a team.

Best of all, it’s fairly easy entering this market since you can already impress with basic skills acquired on your own. By improving your skills with a basic game development course that’s easy to get acceptance to, you’ll be set for success in the market.

Do make sure your training includes relevant skills for today’s market such as an Unreal Engine course and practical tasks to build your portfolio. Good luck and enjoy!

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