Game developer explained
Have you ever been entirely eclipsed by a video game and wanted to know how it developed from a thought into a fully realized, functioning piece of software? There are a host of features that make gaming so unique. Whether it’s the immersive nature of gaming, the audio, or the game's visual elements, many features culminate into one incredible experience. We at Cybernews Academy know how incredible the gaming industry is, and we want to show you how to break into the imaginative, creative, and technical world of game development.
What is a game developer? A video game developer is a person who helps create all elements of a video game. They may play several roles in the development process, such as crafting visuals, programming, user interface, writing, and using technologies to facilitate the development. A game developer is similar to a software developer who uses various technical skills to craft the software we know and love. A game developer may wear many hats and will bring a game to life by creating audio and visuals, writing code, and working on UX/UI design.
You must pay attention to different types of developers if you are looking to adopt a game development role. There are four roles within the industry: First-party, second-party, third-party, and independent developers. These roles are vital as they will dictate how much creative control you have and reflect what game development elements interest you.
- First-party developers: Manufacture a video game console and develop games exclusively for this console. Examples of first-party studios include PlayStation Studios for Sony and Xbox Game Studios for Microsoft.
- Second-party developers: Create games for certain consoles that the company doesn’t exclusively own. Examples include Game Freak for Nintendo and Insomniac Games for Sony. Game developers will often be offered higher royalty fees than third-party developers due to the flexibility of their games being released on multiple platforms. If you want more flexibility and want to develop many games for different people, consider becoming a second-party developer.
- Third-party developers: Third-party developers will publish games independently, and they may also work with video game publishers to develop new games. Examples of third-party developers are Ubisoft, Activision, and Blizzard. With third-party developers, there is often a fixed contract involved. As third-party development teams are often small, developers may rely on income from one publisher. This means that if the game is canceled, this could be detrimental to the developer. However, a third-party developer can become an in-house developer by selling their company to a publisher. This will give a developer more freedom and creative control.
The conceptualization phase
During the conceptualization phase there are many factors you must consider:
- Who will play this game?
- What kind of experience can the user expect?
- How is this game valuable to the end user?
- What problems could the end user experience while playing?
This stage will involve different steps to consider when creating the game, including the game mechanics, rules, how the user will interact with the game, and what they may achieve. A game developer will then work with various teams to develop the audio/visual aspects of the game. This will then culminate into a draft version of the game created by game engineers.
Game developers will be involved in many, if not all, stages of the game development lifecycle.
- Conceptualization: This initial phase is arguably one of the most critical aspects of the game development lifecycle, where developers will decide on various elements integral to the game's performance.
- User research: This will also include a study into how likely it will be to execute the game and an analysis of the market. This allows developers to focus on the requirements, profitability, and other technical elements within game production.
- Pre-production: This is the point post conceptualization where the game engineers will create a prototype, which will then be presented to developers. During this phase, game developers may also begin developing stories/scripts, designing gameplay, and helping with programming.
- Production: This phase is where everyone comes together, including developers, artists, designers, and programmers, to produce the final product. On average, this phase takes one to four years to complete.
Tools and techniques
Games development requires constant problem-solving and various techniques to create a sleek and well-developed game. You will also need to understand your market, as game developers are in charge of conceptualizing the game. As game developers take a human-centric approach to development, they create something with the end user in mind. The game may undergo various iterations, and parts could be scrapped altogether. This is because game developers focus a lot on the user experience, and in the industry, if no one is playing the game, then this renders the game useless. A game developer will take a more creative approach when it comes to developing software for video games. Like a games engineer, you must have knowledge and experience with specific tools like Unity, Unreal Engine, Game Bench, and many more.
Degrees for game development
Suppose you want to become a game developer and get a head start in the industry. In that case, Cybernews Academy suggests that you should have an undergraduate degree in the following areas:
- Computer Science
- Computer Engineering
- Software Engineering
- Video Game Design
- Game Engineer (MSc)
Career in game development
With a degree in game development, computer science, or software engineering, you should have a solid foundation to begin your career in game development. However, you may also want to secure some experience in the industry by undertaking an internship or working in a particular facet of the game industry. Consider structuring your portfolio to demonstrate your capabilities and gain relevant experience to help you stand out during the interview process.
There are some essential skills you will need to adopt to become a successful game developer:
- Technical skills: Understanding mathematics and physics will help you understand all facets of the gaming industry. For example, you may need to translate your ideas into algorithms or solve problems surrounding technical challenges.
- Communication, collaboration, and documentation: You will be the glue that binds the game development process. You will need to have excellent communication skills and be able to work in a team. Iterative development requires excellent documentation skills, as you may need to log what works, what doesn’t, and how you came to a specific outcome.
- Game engine understanding: Understanding any game engine and how it works is preferential as it will show your employer that you are aware of the game architecture and framework.
We at Cybernews Academy suggest you brush up on these skills and get the relevant qualifications and training you need to become the best possible game developer. Begin structuring your portfolio and gain technical knowledge through experiential learning. Undertake internships and get any entry-level position you can, as you can work your way up to a game developer position. Learn how gaming works by playing games and creating innovative solutions for problems you experience during gameplay. You will gain relevant experience, develop your pre-existing skills through these practices, and become an excellent game developer in no time.