Intro to Game Development
A child’s mind is full of dreams and possibilities. They can fly above the highest cloud or dive in the deepest sea, run faster than wind or break walls with a single punch. There are no boundaries or restrictions. But as we grow up, reality seems to take control of us and makes us forget what it is to live freely.
Video games help people take a break and escape the mundane slavery of reality. It feels good for some time to live in a fictitious world full of new opportunities, experiences, threats, rewards and, of course, the beautiful princess in the end!!!.
But if you love playing video games doesn’t necessarily mean you will like making them, these are two entirely different things. Making games is a creative and technical art form. Game developers have artistic visions and the technical knowledge to convert their creativity into a reality for the world to see. So before making the decision of entering this industry and making it your life, one must have the basic knowledge and experience of different aspects of video game development.
Making a fully functional video game is a hefty task and involves experts from a variety of different fields. It is a hybrid branch drawing help from fields of computer science, mathematics, graphic designing, sound recording, story writing, screenplay, artificial intelligence, networking, security, advertising, and production.
Roles in a video-game development Team
The responsibility of designers is to design the whole gameplay, deciding and setting up several variables like rules, structures, positioning obstacles, collectibles, rewards, threats, etc. It is very much similar to writing a script for a movie and involves the narration of the whole story, directing cutscenes, writing dialogues, etc. Work is divided among designers and responsibilities are assigned for UI design, character design, game mechanics, levels, several inanimate objects, structures, vehicles, etc.
If put simply, the work of a level designer is to come up with different levels for the player to clear, each providing its own challenges and rewards. It is essential that the levels are in accordance with the overall story. The component that makes it fun to play a game is designed here.
Level designing on its own is a pretty big task as it involves a lot of stuff to take care of. Especially in open-world games, where all the objects varying from a tin can to a car to the enemy base camp everything has to be thought of and assigned an appropriate place. The sheer complexity of the cities that are nowadays developed in video games cannot be imagined. Games varying from Dying light, Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed and Grand Theft Auto involving big open environments to strategy-based games like Counter-strike and Dota, all require a skilled and experienced level designer else all the other efforts are destined to become worthless.
The work of an artist is very much to draw and sketch the creativity of a designer into a hard reality. There are a lot of things that need to be hand-drawn before they can be converted to computer-readable formats and put up in the real scene. Artists need to draw sprites, meshes for all solid objects, custom background images, textures for faces, objects, weapons, skyboxes for the appropriate environment, etc. Such a role is suitable for a person with good creative aptitude.
A lot of coding is involved in industry level projects. While artists and designers are concerned about the looks and feel of the whole thing, programmers are worried about how to bring idle objects to life. The code controls the behavioral aspects of all objects in a scene. Stuff like what happens when the player presses a certain key when the character picks up an object or gets shot or worse gets bitten by a zombie. In the background of all the beauty and animations, there are thousands of lines of code running in order to provide an unforgettable user experience.
Programmers are responsible for building all the tools that are used by other people on the team as well such as graphics engine and level builders. These geeky coders also integrate the different components like UI, sound effects, networking, weather, and day-night simulations into the scene. Coders also have to follow certain software engineering guidelines in order to write industry-standard code, which ensures the compatibility, portability, and maintainability of the final product. The life of a coder is not easy as it involves high cognitive capabilities and top-notch knowledge of algorithms and data structures.
Music is a great mood swinger, sounds affect our perception of a situation. It can horrify a calm and silent scenario or add joy and excitement in an otherwise dead and gloomy dark room.
Sound engineers with the help of dubbing artists are responsible for recording and adding speech, dialogues, background music, commentary, sound effects like wind, rain, walking, running, breathing, sleeping, objects breaking and what not. It is also important to add sound sources at appropriate places in the game scene to provide the effect of being in a real 3D space, the functioning of these sources is later on coded by programmers.
This is the job that involves any actual “playing video games”. Even after careful development and inspection, a project of such a large scale is left out with tons of bugs and errors. These bugs can only be found by playing the game over and over again, checking the stability of the product in all abnormal conditions and boundary cases. After careful detection of as many bugs as possible, the testing team then reports the concerned department requesting modifications before it is tested again. This is a relatively fun job but is not suitable for you if you are also looking for financial stability.
The video game industry is really competitive and expects its engineers to stay updated with all the new technological advancements in the field. So make sure you are motivated enough before choosing it as a career. Try to gain experience by working on self-motivated projects and as industry interns. It will help you get a rough idea of all the major cogs that run synchronously to make a video game.
Next time when you are fighting zombies, or stealing a tank in GTA V, or defusing the bomb in CS Go, try to give your attention to small details in the map, think about the buildings and structures around you, or the textures that were sketched by a team of artists, the code that is making it all possible, how is your character moving and interacting with nearby objects and the AI behind NPCs (non-player characters). You will be amazed by realizing its complexity. So, fetch your own team and contact me if you want with your idea.
Written by Sachin Jain.