This week we had Idreece Hadi and Liam Guest from Cloud Imperium come into our university to give us a talk about employability in enterprise, within the talk they discussed the importance of planning, pipelining and paper trails within the games industry.
When starting on any project it is important to plan ahead and have an idea of what the final product will look like at various stages in development. The details of a pipeline may be different from company to company and even between projects depending on what fits best with the project.
The first stage of development is the initial concept for the game, this is where someone either within or outside of the company in some cases, has an idea for a game which at this stage could be as simple as, a sim game where you drag and drop food chains. The initial concept could also be from a previous or pre-existing idea, this would include sequel games or games based upon other mediums such as a TV show or comic book.
After the initial concept phase the game goes into pre-production which means the game gets passed over to the pre-production team, which will typically be made up of producers, assistant producers, designers, programmers, artists and writers, who work on more specifics of the game such as writing the storyline, creating storyboards and putting together a design document detailing the games goals, level designs, gameplay mechanics and blueprint. Depending on where the concept has come from the pre-production team might have limitations on what they can come up with as characters might already be defined if the project is taken from a tv series, or the rules/constraints the game has to follow might be pre-set if the game is a simulation such as the FIFA franchise where the team has to match real life physics and mechanics.
Once the pre-production phase is complete the project will be moved into production. In the production phase the project is assigned a larger team and the designers, artists and programmers are split into appropriate tasks. The producers will work with each team to ensure they all stay on track and are in sync with the other teams. The producers will also need to be in close contact with the marketing department of the company at this stage to start the promotion planning for the game.
All through the production phase builds of the game will be sent to internal QA testers to report back on any bugs.
After production the game goes into post-production, the final stage of the pipeline. Once a project reaches the post-production stage it is considered "feature complete" meaning all the models, art and programming is finished and the game will officially enter Alpha stage where the game is handed fully over to the QA team to search for bugs and issues and report back to the relevant department for fixing.
Once all the major bugs have been solved the game will enter Beta which is where the smaller bugs will be found and ironed out, this is also the stage where, if applicable, the game will be checked against the platform guidelines which are a set of standards that a game must meet to be allowed on the platform, this could include button mappings for consoles.
Finally the game is classed as finished and is released to the public to enjoy. Throughout this process each team should be keeping a paper trail to ensure they are staying on top of the workload.
The Game Production Pipeline: Concept to Completion - IGN. [online] IGN. Available at: https://uk.ign.com/articles/2006/03/16/the-game-production-pipeline-concept-to-completion [Accessed 11 Feb. 2019].