The pre-production phase in video game development is an important stage where all key elements are planned and defined before full production begins. Here’s a detailed explanation of this phase along with examples and tips:
- Conceptualization: In this stage, the general idea of the game is created. The genre, story, main characters, and other fundamental aspects are defined. For example, if you’re developing an adventure game, you can conceptualize an open world filled with exciting challenges.
- Research: It’s important to conduct thorough research on topics related to the game, such as the inspiring story or existing similar gameplay mechanics. This will help establish a solid foundation for building the project. For example, if you’re creating a game based on Greek mythology, researching different gods and creatures will allow you to design a coherent world.
- Gameplay Design: This is where the gaming experience is defined. The main mechanics, levels or missions, combat systems, and any other interactive elements of the game are determined. For example, if you’re developing a first-person shooter game, you need to decide which weapons will be available and how they’ll function.
- Visual Design: During this phase, artistic concepts for the game are created: character design, environments, and objects relevant to gameplay. For example, if you’re creating a game set in medieval times, authentic costumes for your characters and environments reflecting that era need to be designed.
- Sound Design: The sound atmosphere of the game is planned here, including sound effects, music, and dialogue. For example, in a horror game,it’s important to create a terrifying atmosphere through eerie sounds and tense music.
- Planning and Budgeting: In this stage, a detailed schedule for development is created, and an appropriate budget is established. This helps have a clear vision of the project’s scope and avoid unnecessary deviations in time or money.
- Prototyping: It involves creating early versions of the game to test conceptual ideas and evaluate their feasibility. For example, you could develop a demo level or basic mechanics to validate gameplay before moving on to full production.
Roles in Video Game Pre-production
Producer: Oversees the game development process, coordinates the team, and handles project planning and management.
Game Designer: Creates concepts and designs for gameplay, levels, mechanics, and game systems.
Concept Artist: Responsible for creating illustrations and sketches that visually represent characters, environments, and objects in the game.
Writer or Scriptwriter: Develops the game’s story, creates dialogues, and establishes narrative events within the game world.
Sound Designer: Creates sound effects, music, and other auditory elements to bring the game world to life.
Programmer: Works on initial development of technical prototypes to test specific mechanics or functionalities.
UX/UI Designer: Responsible for designing the user interface to ensure a smooth and intuitive experience for players.
Marketing Specialist: Collaborates on researching the target market, conducts competitive analysis, and helps establish appropriate promotional strategies from early stages of development.
The size of the team can vary depending on the project’s size and scope. Smaller teams may have less than 10 members with combined or shared roles while larger projects may have teams of 50 or more people specializing in specific areas. In addition to these mentioned roles, there may also be other positions based on project needs such as animators, level designers, 3D artists, among others.
Tips for Good Pre-production
- Communicate constantly with your team during this phase to ensure everyone is on the same ground of understanding.
- Conduct proof of concept tests to validate your ideas before investing too much time or resources into them.
- Set clear and realistic goals to avoid overloading the project.
- Maintain flexibility to make adjustments as needed while progressing through development.