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GCG Feature: How a Game Gets Made

In this latest feature from Gamasutra sister site GameCareerGuide, Vicarious Visions game designer Brandon Van Slyke guides readers through the journey games take
In this latest feature from Gamasutra sister site GameCareerGuide, Vicarious Visions game designer Brandon Van Slyke guides readers through the journey games take from the designer's imagination to the "shiny cellophane covered package you find lining store shelves". He likens the process to an assembly line with each station in the chain handling a core piece of the development process that needs to be completed before work can begin on the next stage. That first station is the preproduction stage: "Preproduction encompasses the planning stages of development and is the time when ideas are expanded upon, designs get fleshed out, prototypes are built, and decisions are made that will affect the project throughout development. It should come as no surprise that preproduction is far and away the most creative phase of a game's lifecycle. A lot of the work done in this initial period is thrown away, but it's necessary waste needed to determine what direction the game will ultimately take. It's during this time that the team really hunkers down and decides on the core elements of the game. We often read about games that were rushed into production. It's a common occurrence in this industry, caused by a variety of factors, including the need to release a game the same day as the movie it's based on. Another reason a game might be rushed into production is that the publisher has a limited amount of time before its rights to a certain license expire, or to hit a big holiday sales period. Despite these kinds of circumstances, it's generally understood that all games have some kind of preproduction phase, in one form or another. During preproduction, the project's team size is very small and is primarily made up of each discipline's individual leads. The number of people working on a video game project changes during the course of the game's timeline, based on need. The kinds of things that happen during preproduction don't require a full team of programmers, artists, audio engineers, tools creators, and so forth. Successful game companies try to always have a number of projects going at different stages of development, which allows them to reshuffle their employees appropriately. As one project ends, the production phase of the next one is just starting." To read the full feature, which goes into detail on the production, post-production, and other stages of game development, click here.

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