How to Make a Videogame in Eight (Sort of) Easy Steps

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The Cheezy One:
Freedom Fighters: Guerilla can begin if its that easy[/sarcasm]
heres my idea- id make it myself, but it took me three solid days to make a cheap 2D "shoot down aliens" thing, which i cant make now because EA stole it. its there flagship product at E3[/EA mocking]
did anyone ever play freedom fighters? that game ruled as guerilla warfare. you stole c4 from an enemy armoury, blew up helicopters with it to ease the air support over the prison, where you bust out some allies to help the cause!
the concept is thus:
enemy country has attacked, and has captured your local county, complete with mountains, lakes, fields, sewers, everything. you and some friends with some organisation skills decide to set up a counter offensive
you pick your starting location, field, sewers, mountain, etc. there are advantages to each, e.g. food supplies, water, defensible, easy to vacate, faster attacks on enemy, etc. you do missions that attract attention of the local populace and invading forces. the more attention you have, the more people you get, but the more attackers are sent your way. you can stay and fight, but risk losing everything, or vacate your base, which takes more time the bigger your base is.
you can blow up an armoury, which will lessen the enemy equipment, or steal from it so you can do so again later. you can break allies out of prisons. you can attack enemy propoganda centres. slowly change from a guy with a pistol and a grenade ambushing a runner on a bike, to a force dozens of people strong.
please someone make this game, it would be far better then the red faction guerilla, which lost credibility when the resistance werent even hiding, just sitting in a base

Freedom Fighters kicked massive amounts of ass.
So far I haven't played a game that nailed down the "freedom fighter" as good as that game did.

Brotherofwill:
Lense Flare HD: Reawakening Flare

I'm totally going to make that. You can have a free copy for giving me the idea though.

Irridium:
Freedom Fighters kicked massive amounts of ass.
So far I haven't played a game that nailed down the "freedom fighter" as good as that game did.

red faction:guerrila nearly got close, with limited ammo and the need to hit and run. but with no squad control capabilities and regeneratin health, it didnt feel like a freedm fighter game

I think cryptic totally forgot to do #6 when making their engine for Champions and STO... seriously that engine sucks.

Speaking as a fledgling Indy developer myself, I'd say that if making a video game is easy for you, you're probably doing it wrong.

That said, this was a good rundown of the popular model of professional game development. However, as a core gamer, I don't particularly like the model because it doesn't promote originality well enough.

"Like x but with this one awesome thing" annoys me when I'm already bored of x and think my $50 is worth more than one awesome thing, but this is basically what the pitch is that gets money.

Reliance on investors is bad for any artistic medium, games included. Go Indy.

The Cheezy One:

did anyone ever play freedom fighters? that game ruled as guerilla

That was one vastly under appreicated game, it was very poorly marketed, so even though It got excellent reviews, nobody ever heard of it.

Hang on.

Mike Laidlaw works for Bioware.

And Marc Laidlaw works for Valve.

Cool.

This sounds easy, of course you need the skills and proper execution. I'mma bookmark this if me and my friend ever care to design some half-assed game. It's always funny to see the results.

Wow, now I can finally open my game studio!

Seriously, thanks for the guide, it was a good way to get a small look at how a game is made.

Yeah wish it were all that easy. Tons of work goes into it. Especially during crunch time. I have a buddy that works for a major game company. And is working 16 hour days. I don't envy him.

This is going straight into my archive of Internet wisdom. Thank you very much, Escapists!

coldfrog:
As a professional web developer, I already want to punch Marcus the Marketing Monkey in the Mouth.

And he's real. He's so real.

And speaking French, most of the time.

the crying, "ship it" pic was my favorite!

Interesting read. However, in Bioware's case, I'd love tips on how to write in addition. Their writing is really good, and I think many people could benefit from some pointers and tips. Myself definitely included.

johnman:

The Cheezy One:

did anyone ever play freedom fighters? that game ruled as guerilla

That was one vastly under appreicated game, it was very poorly marketed, so even though It got excellent reviews, nobody ever heard of it.

I was one. And now I'm curious about that game. The gameplay described sounded very interesting.

Mr.Squishy:
Interesting read. However, in Bioware's case, I'd love tips on how to write in addition. Their writing is really good, and I think many people could benefit from some pointers and tips. Myself definitely included.

I'll second that!

Typical development life cycle. No major surprises here.

How to make a Bioware game:

Introduce hero
Hero witnesses catastrophic event
Hero gets a powerful position
Hero visits three major locations, gathering teammates as he goes
Hero visits one minor location between the three major and the final location
Hero visits final location and gets revenge for catastrophic event

And that, my friends, is a pint how you make a Bioware game.

Seems rough as hell...I CAN'T WAIT!!

Very interesting. So what does the large team do during the other phases?

Damn, I wish I had the time and skill to get past step 1. But unfortunately I don't, I'm just the idea dog man

Apart from the concept stage, that's basically the recipe for any major piece of software developed from scratch. Replace concept with "contract negotiations" or "client demand specification", and you could just as easy make a new revenue management system with that formula (well, apart from the lensflares maybe).

It's still interesting to note that the structure is there in games development, by many programmers seen as the fun exiting branch of code.

Programmer input and creativity depends, I think, mainly on the culture of the company and the size of the project. Some give a healthy amount of autonomy in implementing specifics to the coder in question; On a project of any larger size, like a mainstream game, you cannot micromanage to that extent. Also you hopefully hired the programmer because he knows what he or she is doing, and can implement an effecient algorithm. On the other hand, you have X amount of work to be done, and you cannot afford to delay the process by running everything past the designers that someone thinks is a good idea. The designer (which can overlap with programming) have the bigger picture, and sometimes you just need to get stuff done, so others aren't held up. If your design is modular enough, you can go back and optimize later: The golden ruie of performance engineering (making stuff work faster/better) is to optimize the bottleneck. At the initial development stage, you likely only have a vague idea of where those are, so you don't want to spend too much time making the super-clever (and timeconsuming) solution everywhere, if the normal-clever works satisfactorily.

Thanks for this post, it was really interesting. I'm always interested in how games get made, but to be honest I'm more interested in how Bioware makes games, it always seems impossible that a team of people could have come up with all that. Bethesda even more so.

Pity the pretty list doesnt include the really nasty steps after prototyping and after shipping...

Hire in a lot of contract programmers, go through the production crunch time, ship product, backscale the production team.

Oh, incidently that answers the question of what do the large teams do during the earlier phases... the main players in the industry hire and fire programmers and asset artists like its a straight up manufacturing firm, and to the suits in modern day game business there no tangible difference between making games and running a canned soup manufacturing firm.

Well hot damn - now all I need is millions of dollars, a large team of capable programmers and designers, and creativity, and I'm in business. Who knew that it would be so sort of easy?

Why reconsider the hat? I like it.

Great read with amusing art.

Greg Tito:
Personally, I like the hat.

Does the lens flare render properly off of the horns, though?

Hey, a BIOWARE guy is who gave the knowledge here?

Cool, I'm a massive bioware fan.

geizr:

2) Prototype..."Like X, but it has this one awesome thing!"...

Seems to me that's how we keep getting all these crappy, gimmicked knock-off clones of other games instead of any real innovation.

True that.

A more design-centric pipeline miht be preferable than this rinse-and-repeat stuff. Or even no pipeline at all, but that only seems more plausible in a one to three member team.

loza:
Can I ask: How much do games companies actually rely on designers? It must be a bit annoying for the programmers who must also have ideas, and who have probably made a couple of small games independently before being recruited. What qualifies games designers for the job? From what I hear games programmers tend to earn a bit less than most programmers do, so it must be kinda demoralizing to also have creative control taken from them.
Or, maybe companies don't tend to hire people who just work on the design... can someone tell me?

Game designers don't necessarily work on just "game design" per se. Like most professions, they can specialize. Some do programming themselves, some can do modeling, level layouts, writing, etc. It's a fairly general term for people who know what stuff have to get done to produce a game. Of course, depending on what their specializations are, they'd be assigned to specific development phases. I just finished design school, and I specialize in user interaction and VFX, so theoretically I'd be around for phases 2-3 for pre-viz and prototyping, and 5-6 for interface work, particle effects, and post-effects.

As for creative control, it usually depends on how large the teams are. For smaller teams, everyone has equal chances of getting their suggestions out. (i.e. how accessible are the team heads for you). For AAA titles people don't always get the luxury of interacting with people outside their teams. Truth be told, it's much better if they can talk to other departments. Game designers can't rely on just game designers/gamers for ideas.

Ericb:

geizr:

2) Prototype..."Like X, but it has this one awesome thing!"...

Seems to me that's how we keep getting all these crappy, gimmicked knock-off clones of other games instead of any real innovation.

True that.

A more design-centric pipeline miht be preferable than this rinse-and-repeat stuff. Or even no pipeline at all, but that only seems more plausible in a one to three member team.

That's sadly true. Inside a team it's much easier to think of something totally new, but when you have to pitch it to someone with a different background, let's say a potential publisher, or a gamer who has never heard of such a game idea, there's a very small chance of describing it any other way.

But the actual prototyping phase is important. This is when you'll see if your ideas would be enjoyable in-game or it they're even possible.

The scariest words in the English Language are: "I have a great idea for a game/book/move/whatever! How about if I tell you about it and you make it for me, and you give me most of the profits because, hey, it was my idea!"

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