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David Javelosa

Copyright © 2004-2014 David Javelosa unless otherwise stated.

Material based on Game Design Workshop
Copyright © 2004-2008
Tracy Fullerton
used by permission of author
week 13 - stages of development

stages of game development

Producing games is an EXPENSIVE, COMPLEX, and TIME CONSUMING process!

The Developer's Goal: create the highest quality game

The Publisher's Goal: produce the best selling game

Are we talking about the same game here?

The two parties must resolve the conflict of interest of money/time vs. quality. Estimating the schedule and the budget is the most important task in production.

To manage the schedule of production, the Publisher pays for each delivery by the Developer in MILESTONES. These are pre-arranged scheduled components or stages of the game, as listed in the Project Plan and in the contract. When the Developer delivers on time, they are paid as agreed.


Concept Phase - - - Concept Document, Project Plan, Budget, Contract - - - the most flexibility

Pre-Production Phase - - Prototype/1st playable, Tech Spec, Design Doc - - tighter focus

Production Phase - Assets, Levels, initial builds - less flexibility - NO NEW IDEAS

Quality Assurance/Test Phase - final code set in STONE - Completion

Title Launch - Shipped! - Customer Support

Month 1

Game concept and the Contract

the team
- winning team
- abilities
- technical delivery

the project plan
- budget
- schedule
- the more details and progress, the greater chance for funding

the idea
- the most important element to the publisher
- sales data for the game's genre
- a great idea AND a saelable one!
- communicate the strength of all 3 elements

IDGA Game Submission Guide: download here

Months 2 - 6


software prototype
design document
technical specification
proof of feasibility
securing licenses of assets

Months 7 - 22


The longest and most expensive stage of develoment
To execute the vision and plan established
Create the code that makes the game function
Build art files and animation
Creae sound effects and music
Write dialogue
Light testing of early builds
Communicate and be aware of overall progress
Flesh out concepts and integrate into technology

The goal of this phase is to get to "Alpha" build
Complete all features and NO NEW features added
Edit out and cut unrealistic features
Building multiple versions

Months 23 - 24

Q/A - testing - polishing

Game should function as expected
Team shrinks down to minimal crew
Levels are fine-tuned
Bugs are documented and catalogued
Fixes are assigned to specific programmers

Basic priorities are:
- Fix it NOW - asap
- Fix before next build to test
- Fix before final release
- Probably won't fix, but keep track anyway

The Project Plan

Defining the goals:
- features
- levels
- technology
- platform
- launch date

- art
- music
- character
- story
- other assets

- how long each task will take
- project management software
- timelines

- a direct function of the schedule
- labor costs
- material costs
- licensing and administrative
- on-going overhead
- "mark-up"
- contingency


Milestones and approval schedules

Dealing with Slippage

The evolving team structure:
concept - light
pre-production - medium
production - heavy
QA - light


As a team effort, write a list of goals for turning an original game idea into an finished product, including gameplay and technical goals.

List the deliverables of the above production. Include the different types of elements from technical features to assets.

With the above list of goals, map out a proposed time-line schedule for each phase to be completed. Which events coincide vertically?

Create a mock budget of the above project, using your best guess for the various costs.

Trim the above budget by 20%. What are the important features? goals? assets? team members?

Reading Assignment

Project Plan

  • Chapter 13 - Stages of Development

Copyright © 2004 - 2014 David Javelosa