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  • Making a Video Game from Start to Finish: An Overview for Beginners

    [09.20.07]
    - Joseph Tkach and
  •  Game development starts with an idea or inspiration. It's kind of like magic. You think, "Hey, what if there were a game like this, and like that, and with elements of this?"

    But building a game is like any other formidable task, like building a cathedral or writing a novel or painting a picture. Building a video game takes passion. It takes dedication. Some might even say it takes obsession. It takes a great deal of your time, energy, and thought. It's never finished. Even when it's technically finished, you find things, new things, little things, that you could correct or change or fix.

    It's a very demanding and highly stressful endeavor. If you don't love it completely, with all its misgivings, you'll quickly grow to hate it.

    There are several things that a person who has an idea might do in order to make it into a reality, and that's what we'll share with you today, based on our experiences creating a games as students at DigiPen Institute of Technology.

    The Game Design Document
    One of the first things you need is a game design document.

    The game design document, or GDD, is a collection of information that describes every aspect of the game from a design perspective. It describes how the menus will react to user input, the backstory behind the main character, the art, and what experiences the player should have while playing the game.

    In theory, a person with your GDD should be able to make your game without ever needing you to discuss it and clarify. It should be a perfect and complete guide to realizing your idea as a finished game.

    The GDD serves multiple important purposes. It helps you to explain your ideas to other people so that they can join you in realizing them, and it allows the development team to share a common conception of the project on which they are working.

    After you have a design and your idea has taken shape, you need two groups of people: some people who will make your game and some people who will cough up the money to pay all the people who will make the game. The first group of people is your development studio or game studio. If you're an employed developer, you're already employed by one of these; but if you're working independently or are part of a student group, you sort of become this entity of your own accord.

    The second group of people is called the publisher. A publisher pays your development studio for the production of the game. It also pays for the marketing of the product, and in exchange, it keeps most of the profits. To win the financial backing of a publisher, it is usually necessary to make a pitch.

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