How a Video Game is Created From Start to Finish
By John Albers
Updated September 22, 2017
First, a producer or lead designer comes up with a simple premise for a game. This may be a basic storyline, scenario, experience or some intended moral the designer wishes to impart to the player. He then sits down with writers and artists to come up with a comprehensive storyline, back story, script, list of characters and any other pertinent information necessary to telling a story and incorporating the player in the experience. Concept sketches of game characters, levels and enemies are developed until the design team is happy with it. With this in mind, the team then works to bring the story to life.
Three-dimensional designs of all the game's characters, enemies and interactive background are generated on computers in order for the design team to figure out how they want them to move and act. Special attention is paid to facial features and expressions while the characters are meant to speak. At this point a great deal of outside information needs to be collected. Designers will observe athletes or soldiers as they move in order to have their characters better emulate these sequences of actions. They will collect sound bytes and hire voice actors to play the parts of each character, recording the entire script digitally to be used in the game's programming. They will also go on site and record sound effects, such as the cheering of a crowd, the growling of animals, chirping of birds or the sounds of various guns firing.
Programming is by far the most difficult and time-consuming process. Programmers need to have a firm grasp of multiple computer programming languages, as well as computer logic and mathematics. A large team of said programmers may take up to a year to complete their task, which is what typically will make or break a game. If they do a good job, the game company makes money. If not, the company losses money because of the cost of development, production, and shipping of the game. They take all the three-dimensional designs of backgrounds, cut scenes, characters, level designs and sound effects and combine them all into one coherent game experience. This involves a massive effort and an eye for incredibly minute detail, as well as the patience to deal with it day in and day out.
When the programmers believe their job is done, the game is tested. Employees play the game inside and out, looking for any bugs, errors or glitches as a result of the game's programming. They file reports on this over a matter of months for the programmers to review, fixing the problems. They are also responsible for giving their opinion of the game--whether the control scheme is intuitive and responsive and whether the game has the appropriate feel that the designers were aiming for. If everything is up to the testers' standards, the game goes into production.
The entire game is compiled and burned to a single master disc. This disc is then inserted into a specialized machine designed to produce copies of the disc at a very high rate of speed. The copies are placed in premade plastic cases and then wrapped in plastic to be shipped to distributors across the country.
John Albers has been a freelance writer since 2007. He's successfully published articles in the "American Psychological Association Journal" and online at Garden Guides, Title Goes Here, Mindflights Magazine and many others. He's currently expanding into creative writing and quickly gaining ground. John holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Central Florida in English literature and psychology.