Dissecting an Indie Video Game
Hey there everyone!
What was the last game you played? Did you know it can take as much as 360-600 hours to make a simple game app? It can take hours just to make the home menu for a game and sometimes involves the collaboration of more than 3 people working on it.
I was playing a game the other day and noticed how nice the animation of hair for one of the characters looked while running. Then, it dawned on me that the game dev team had explicitly planned that into the game design. It was a weird realization that “wow everything my character is experiencing is ‘intentional’.”
There is so much work involved in creating a game behind the scenes that often gets overlooked. Here’s a comprehensive list of all the players involved in creating a video game. Please note that these are all positions involved in developing a game but not necessarily everyone involved in running a game studio or company.
- Game designers are the people that create the initial framework for the game by defining the game play and overall game experience. The process usually involves numerous brainstorming sessions, discussions, and storyboarding. Before a game gets created, numerous ideas are tossed around and then reorganized into a logical order. Discussions contribute to filtering the proposed concepts and ideas into the final product plan while the storyboard explains how the game story will unfold as the player progresses through the game.
- Game developers utilize math, computer and art skills to program and develop games. They write numerous lines of code for different game features and put all the assets together into a playable game. They are the reason that clicking a button does something, that entering a door leads to a new place, and the reason that monsters attack you in games.
- Researchers act as experts in a specific field to feed knowledge into the game development process. This knowledge assists in world building, technological challenges, story writing, character development etc. If a team member is unable to research the information then sometimes a professional expert is brought onto the project.
- Writers/Translators write just about every content in the game except for code. Writing is required for the game’s narration, dialogue, item descriptions, and the story itself. Translators help in localizing a game by ensuring that all written content is translated to the correct language accurately.
- Artists create all visual assets of the game. This includes not only the final game models but all concept art, rough drafts and variations of the models.
- Musicians and sound engineers bring the game to life through sound effects, music and other auditory media. Background music helps to set the tone of the situation the player is faced with such as battle music, ambience for exploration, and upbeat music for the daytime. Sound effects paired with battle attacks or menu clicks assists in further immersing the player into the game by both visually and audibly showing the effects of their actions.
- Voice actors improve character interactions by giving them a voice that accurately portrays their personality and story. Not every game utilizes voice actors but they’re included in this list because they still play a part in game development.
- Play testers are essential in ensuring that the game is playable. After major updates, play testers play the main story and try just about everything and anything in the game to find bugs to relay back to the game developers to fix.
Keep in mind that these roles are not exclusive from each other. Oftentimes for smaller studios, one person will fill multiple roles at once or even complete all roles if they are an independent game developer.
The next time you play a game, take the time to explore the fine details and realize that everything in that world was purposely considered by the game developers. I truly appreciate all the hard work taken behind the scenes of creating not just a video game but a work of art. In fact, I’m still in awe at some of the considerations put into the games I’ve played to date. I say this with the utmost honesty as an indie game developer who’s been on both the gaming and game making side of the industry.