Game Plan And Tips For Game App Development

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The games market worldwide is experiencing growth due to changing customer preferences, emerging trends, local special circumstances, and underlying macroeconomic factors, according to Statista. The number of users is projected to reach 3.0bn users by 2029, and the average revenue per user (ARPU) is forecasted to be US$816.30.

Clearly, the game development market is booming and where there is demand there must be supply; and unprecedented competition. Read to know the essential game plan that is required to convert an idea into a successful game, no matter the genre, platform or tools being used. This sequence of stages remains unchanged. 


Stages of Game App Development - Your Ready Roster

Have you heard of the saying that an hour of planning can save you 10 hours of work? Try saying this aloud in a room full of concept artists and game app developers, and see them confidently disagree. Game app development is a dynamic process where while the fundamental blueprint can be laid at the inception itself, flux in the form of minor (or not-so-minor) diversions at various stages of game development is in the nature of things.

While strictly sticking to a set plan may not be possible, or even good for app development, following the essential process of game app development is always both possible as well as beneficial.

The best way to understand the process of game app development is to know the various stages that are a part of it. They include:

- Planning

- Pre-production

- Production

- Pre-launch

- Launch

- Post-launch 

Let’s look at each one in detail along with some tips thrown in. 


PLANNING - Proof of Concept

This is the stage at which the concept of the game is finalized. At a fundamental level, this is one of the most important points in the game development process.This stage decides whether a game will see the light of day, or will be shelved. There are sets of questions that game add developers and clients need to answer in order to eventually arrive at a proof of concept. 

One round of questions is to do with the game itself. Aspects like the genre of the game, art style, heroes and villains, storyline, and so on, are identified. Will the game be 2D or 3D, what will be the gameplay mechanics and which game engine will be used are also finalized now.

The project manager at the game development company creates the CDD - Concept Design Document in order to convey the game’s idea and aim to the game app developers and producers. Typically, the CDD contains:

- A temporary working title of the game

- Summary on the story development, including characters

- Charting the level / environment designs, and UI UX

- Research on targeted audience and customer strategies

The proof of concept takes form, and helps identify details like tentative cost of making the game, the time involved, the ready available skills and those which need to be hired, game monetization strategies and platforms where the game will be published.

Tip - Study the market. Study your competitors. What ideas are in fashion? Which types of games are timeless? Understand the industry to know what kind of product can succeed. 


PRE-PRODUCTION - When Ideas Take Form

If planning is the fundamental thought stage, then pre-production is where the ground is laid to build up from. The game developers, designers, artists and producers sit together to scope out the overall work. Ideas are selected and eliminated as storyboards and prototypes are made. 

A game design document and a technical design document are created in this stage, with concept artists, game app developers, engineers, writers and project leads weighing in. 

The game design document is like a guide-book which contains the game development process flowchart, along with graphs and diagrams. There is no one correct way of making this. The aim is that as the development process progresses, this document acts as a go-to resource to keep track of the themes, features, design pillars, styles and mechanics of the game project. It also contains information about target audience, platforms, UI, audio, development timeline and even similar games in the market. The technical document documents programming needs like languages, defects, bugs and other problems which may come up during the process. 

It is in the pre-production stage that the team for the game project is finalized and scheduling project milestones is done by project managers. Thereafter, budget and profit-loss analysis is done keeping in mind production and marketing costs, tools and licenses’ costs. 

Tip - Don’t forget to get on board a good UX designer in the game development process! A UX designer will understand your users' needs, generate ideas to solve their problems, prototype designs and finally test them with users.

Remember, interdependency is at the core of the game development process. For instance, writers decide the script, the characters and their world, which then guide the mechanics and environment creation. But, as the developers finalize the mechanics and physics of the game, they may see limitations that affect the script or gameplay, and require the writers and artists to be in the loop.


PRODUCTION - Doing it and testing it

Production is the most important stage of game development, and also the longest. Broadly, design, programming, graphics and audio, and testing are taken care of here. There is a lot going on at this stage - major, minor, everything.

All visual elements like characters, props, environments, assets and UI elements are taking shape. Models of main characters are being designed, rendered and animated. The game’s world is coming to life, with dynamic environments that fit the gameplay mechanics. Scripts and dialogues are being recorded while sound designers create in-game tracks, often realistic and many times recorded in a studio. Programmers are busy coding, including the game engines. Copywriting and editing is ongoing too. 

Although testing begins right when the first line of code is written, this phase sees a lot of it! Every single aspect of the game needs to be tested for bugs, errors, glitches and the like. Internal testing by the development team is combined with external testing by beta testers or focus groups. Rendering and performance issues, scripting errors, and even the difficulty level of the game has to be tested. Once the playable assets are put together, alpha-testing begins to identify major bugs before beta testing. Quality control and quality assurance testing are also done.


PRE-LAUNCH - Time to tell the world

Pre-launch is the exciting stage when you need to begin tooting that horn. Marketing and promotional activities have to kick-in because by now you have a stable beta build of the game ready for public eyes. Ads, trailers, influencer marketing, demos, brand sponsors and SMM are used to get the game to the target audience. Designing a webpage for your game is always a good idea!

Tip - Your monetization strategy should not affect the main gameplay. Too many ads can be disruptive to the experience. Best to add video ads that users can check when taking a break from playing. 

Meanwhile, follow the feedback and remain willing to implement the user feedback.


LAUNCH - 3, 2, 1 …

Before you press the ‘launch’ button, give your game that one final look. Check for leftover bugs, especially those which affect performance and stability.  Optimization for speed is also important. Any model or environment seems to need an extra bit of paint? Do it!

Tip - With increasing competition in the international gaming market, especially mobile gaming, the app needs to be published as quickly as possible. Launch a minimum viable product (MVP) first and release updates and customizations later.


POST-LAUNCH - sit back and watch

The game development process is complete and your game is no longer your own. Feedback and review will pour in and this is when you bring your notepad out. Game development teams spend a lot of time studying and inferring from user feedback how best to improve the UX of games. Users catch bugs which escape our eyes, or those that rear their heads when using different platforms. 

Most importantly, update content! Throw in that free downloadable content (DLC) and update content to improve gameplay experience. 


Wrapping Up

We end on the note we began the blog on. Game app development is a buzzing field where everyday is a new day, bringing with it unique challenges, fresh ideas and new blockers. While we can take care of the things that are in the developers’ control, many are not. However, no matter the change inherent in the process, it all begins with a good plan in place, including a structured game development process with clear deadlines and production goals. The right game development company can take your idea from concept to reality with the help of the myriad skills needed to make and launch a game guaranteed to succeed.

The final tip - Always plan ahead! By envisioning a future today, game app developers can innovate  to their heart’s content and come up with successful games.

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