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The 7 Main Stages of Game Development


Game development can be chaotic, but there is some method to the madness. Here we can take a look at the 7 main stages of a game’s development:


The planning stage is focused on ideating the video game and addressing the most common questions, such as what type of video game are we producing, what are some of the key features it must have, and who is the target audience. The idea will become the backbone of the entire game and sets the standard for every employee when building the game. These ideas then lead to creating a proof of concept, where the studio will explore how viable the game is to produce. Additional questions will need to be answered, such as technological capabilities, estimated cost, staffing needs, monetization, timeframe, and so forth.


In pre-production, we brainstorm giving life to many ideas laid out in the previous stage. Writers, artists, designers, developers, project leads, and other departments collaborate on the scope of the game and where each piece fits in. It’s common for studios to prototype characters, environments, interfaces, control schemes, and other in-game elements in this stage, to see how well they work with one another.


This stage is where most of the time, resources, and effort will go so the game can be made. Modeling, designing, audio, visual effects, physics, mechanics, developing, and rendering will be worked on. These events can take many years to get right and it’s only fair to assume some changes may be needed along the way.


During testing, each mechanic and feature needs to be tested for quality assurance. Some examples that playtesters look out for during this stage are characters breaking out of locked environments, investigating buggy levels/elements, testing balancing of the game, and ensuring audio syncs up.


In the lead-up to launch, the game will require marketing. If people don’t know-how about the game, how can they be expected to play it? Game trailers, gaming conventions such as Gamescom and PAX, demos, advertising, and influencer outreach can be utilized to drive attention to the game.


The months leading up to launch are mostly spent addressing bugs that have been found in the testing phase. On top of addressing these, developers will typically polish the game as much as possible before it launches. Upon completion, let’s launch the game!


In post-production, we celebrate the launch of the game, while addressing any minor bugs and getting player feedback to support them. We could then be looking at some game-balancing patches, or adding in DLCs or additional content. New levels, storylines, and multiplayer are just a few options that a studio could explore. It’s important to realize that no two games are created equally and game development can differ drastically from studio to studio. Roadblocks are inevitable, but this model serves to help address and plan for these kinds of situations. For more information visit G2’s 7 Stages of Game Development for an in-depth look into the model.

This article was originally published in The Iterative Digest #81. Click to subscribe!

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