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The Fatshark Team
Interested in knowing how a video game project works ? Read this !
Hello everyone and welcome !
Today I was reading some gaming website and realised : Damn... Lots of people have no idea how hard it is to make a game, and how it's made. So I thought : Hey ? Why don't I write an article about this ?
So, I am here today to talk to you about the video game developpement process.
First of all, English is not my native language so, you may notice some grammatical or some vocabulary mistakes, so... sorry.
Second, what you are about to read may not be how every company works, some of them skip some of the steps, others merge them etc...
Third, I haven't play Vermintide yet, but I will try to use their example to describe the process, so I may be wrong on some of them but it's just to make a point.
So if Fatshark doesn't work like that, I would really love to hear about their way (if they are allowed to talk about it of course :) ! )
And last : BEWARE LONG READ AHEAD !
Well now, let's get started !
A video game project is divided into four steps, Concept, Pre-production, Production, and Post-production (seems logical so far !) and I will try to explain them to you as simple as possible. I may overlook some of them like Marketing of Financing etc... But I will stick to the basics.
Part 1 : Concept
This is the first and more important phase of a project. A phase where most games are cancelled.
It's the phase where the game is imagined, even before presenting it to the Publisher.
At the start of the project there is few people working on it.
The Lead Project (the big boss)
The Art Director (responsible for all the art stuff, chara, ambiance etc...)
The Lead Programmer (responsible for the programming part of course !)
One or more Producer (responsible for managing all of the team, balancing schedule, fundings etc...)
The Lead QA (responsible for bug fixing, cuz yeah there are bugs even before the game developpement starts !)
And sometimes, Financials, Marketing and other seniors employee.
So these people are now thinking about making a game, yeah that's why they are here after all !
First thing they usually do is writing the “high concept”, which is a small documents containing only a few sentences describing basically the game concept, and the directive line of the game.
For example in Vermintide : “Okay, this a game that take place in the Warhammer Battle Fantasy Universe, where players will be scouring differents level, slaying lots of skavens along the way.”
Once this document is done, they now focus on writing the “Pitch”, which is basically what they are gonna propose to the investors (publisher, and such). It's usually one or two pages containing ideas, that'll make the game successful (fun game, unique game, good graphics etc...). This is a more enhanced version of the “High Concept” and it's supposed to “hook” the investors.
For example in Vermintide it probably looks (or would've look) like this : “This game is a FPS Multiplayer Game on PC, based in the Warhammer Battle Fantasy Universe, where up to four players join hands to purge the evil ratmens invading their lands. Warhammer is a dark and mature fantasy universe with lots of violence, making it perfect for a 4 player coop action game such as Left 4 Dead, were players were to slay thousands of zombies. Mixing L4D with Warhammer is something that was never done before, making the game unique. Cooperative games are rare nowadays, and our game is gonna make the genre come back again ….........” etc.. etc...
Once this is document is done, the Lead Project is responsible for selling the game to the investors (for big companies like Ubisoft or EA etc...), or the publishers (for smaller companies). If they get the greenlight then onto the next stage. If not, well... back to writing I guess !
If they get the “OK”, then the “Core Team” previously described, is now writing the “Document Concept”, which is a document (as the name says) for about 10 to 20 pages containing lots of stuff. Such as “gameplay elements” viewed by the player (FPS, Melee weapons, Ranged weapon, monsters etc...), “unique selling points” (mix between Left 4 Dead and Warhammer universe, fun and gore etc...), background of the game (warhammer universe, the end times etc...), targeted audience (mature), platform (steam ? Pc ? Mac ? Linux ?), and some schedule (how long, what to do, when etc..) and budget (hiring, equipements, devkit, audio and music etc..)
Few ! That makes a lot of things, isn't it ? Well after that : onto part 2 !