This time I want to talk about game design, and the steps to it. Of course, I might be wrong, but that’s how I see those steps, and how they should be taken.
1º) Research: Usually, if you are new to game design, you won’t start from here, but this is where everything should start. In this step you’ll see the projects you have, and will start to research everything to make them more possible, but, you’ll also have to cut whatever lies out of the possible range, either because it is too expensive, or because your company can’t make the necessary research yet.
2º) Client: Now, what usually comes by the middle-end part of the project(again, if you are new to it), the client. Your target group is really important to you for the simple reason that they are the ones who will buy what you are making, so in this step you’ll get all the info you got from the last step, and see what customers want, and then, cut projects that don’t fit.
3º) Conception: This step is kinda easy, to be honest. All you have to do is gather the information last two steps gave you, and start to work around with it. This is the first brain-storm phase, were everyone should say everything, and later on you start to scrap the bad ideas. Be aware that this isn’t where the game design and character designs are born. No, this step is used to give everyone an idea about how will the problem be solved.
4º) Game Design: Now comes the game design and level design step. In this step, the game designer and level designer should work together to build the mechanics and the place where those mechanics will work out. With this they’ll set the pacing of the game, and, usually, the universe where it takes place, because, the general idea of the universe comes from step 3, but it gets deeper in step 4, and deeper yet in the next one. Reminder: everyone can, and should, work in the game’s game design, not only the game designer. In this step, the writer should start working too; to better set the game’s story and such.
5º) 2º Research and Conception: so, you have what your client likes(2º step), and how things should work(4º step), now it’s time to start the work. In this step, people in your team should either start to chip the block( the programmer should start to test the game design’s mechanics with placeholders; the 2D artists should start making concept arts; the 3D artists should start using the concept arts to make the first models, or something from their heads; the sound designer should start to compose or find the sounds the game will be using; et cetera), and if your team can’t still work on the subject, they should start the second research phase, where they’ll learn how to do the different things this specific project asks them to.
6º) Testing: one of the most important steps of the project, it is here where you find the problems, because trust me, there will be a lot. In this first stage, since everything will be primitive, you can test the game with people from your team/company, if it is a modest team(like 20 people), so no one will be influenced by what they’ve seen in the making process. You can also test it with family and friends.
7º) Corrections: With the test results in hand, you should work towards improving the points that your testers didn’t like. Maybe it is something with the art direction, or game design, or a bug, it doesn’t matter.
8º) Improving: Now it is time for a upgrade. I mean, your project is really far now, so start improving the art(be it 3D or 2D), the sound, the feedbacks, the HUD, and specially the code, so that your game is as good looking as possible(within the art direction range), and the most important, will run as smoothly as possible. This is a really important step, and has to be taken after a test, so that your work time isn’t wasted.
9º) Testing: With your new and improved game, it is time for testing, but a better one. Now you should gather people from your target group, and hand them a formulary, so that everything they don’t like or understand gets better. If possible, you should also tape the test(their faces and the screen)
To be honest, you can continue the “Test – Correction” steps as many times as you like, so, I’ll cut to the chase. The last step is Pricing, which I don’t know much to be honest, but what I know is that you should study your target group deeper than before, and analyze how much they’re used to pay for a game, and things like that, but, as I said, I don’t know much about this last step.
Also, remember that communication is really important, and remember deadlines. If your game is due to tomorrow, don’t make a self-learning AI. If needed, you can cut features, and add them in later updates. Sometimes this strategy even makes the game “live” more, since you’ll be adding content, and bringing more and more people.
Of course, that’s how I see the process of making a game, maybe you have one better, I dunno, but, as long as you can develop it, you’ll be fine.