It’s time to improve your game development process. Here, we compile resources to help you make development and design work even better at your studio — whether you’re at an indie start-up or massive AAA game studio.

Consider this your guide to the game development process.

We’ll cover everything you need to know about how game development works for successful studios. You’ll get tips, best practices, and essential tools to succeed.

Read along or jump to the section that interests you most:

Overview of Game Development Process

The game development process involves three main phases.

Pre-Production:

The game concept is established during pre-production. This is also where you’ll outline development and design requirements. And you’ll plan how this game will be made and what resources it will take.

Some assets and prototypes are typically created during pre-production.

A successful pre-production phase requires good project management.

Production

The majority of game development and design happens during production. This is usually the longest phase in the game development process.

Developers, designers, artists, and project managers work together to build the game, hitting the following milestones along the way:

  • Prototype
  • First playable game
  • Vertical slice
  • Pre-alpha
  • Alpha
  • Beta
  • Gold master

A successful production phase requires good collaboration across teams.

Post-Production

The maintenance phase of game production begins with post-production. This is where bug fixes and additional features are added to games. 

The Game Development Process in Action

Hear how the following game studios improved their process:

Tips For Beginners

Getting started in game development can be overwhelming. This is true whether you’re just getting started at a game development studio or getting started on your own game. 

There’s a lot that you need to consider.

Where do you start? What do you need to know? Which language and tools will you use? How will you get funding? And how will you get your game to market? 

Getting Funding

Getting funding can be one of the trickiest aspects of game development. You do have several options for how to get funding, including working with a publisher, crowdfunding, or simply moonlighting until you make it. 

One thing that can help is to leverage free resources. Of course, making your own game for free can come with some unexpected costs. It’s important not to sacrifice quality for costs.

Resources

Here are some resources for getting started developing your game:

Must-Have Tools For Game Design and Development

Successful game design and development requires the right tools. 

The following five types of tools are must-haves in your game development process.

Project Management

Game development project management tools help you make sure your game gets finished.

Tools, like Hansoft, typically help you:

  • Manage your backlog.
  • Visualize your progress.
  • Develop using Agile methodologies.

More on project management:

Game Engines

Game engines are critical to building your game. 

Some of the most popular game engines include Unreal Engine, Unity, and Lumberyard. Most game engines are free to get started with. But many studios make their own game engine, too. 

Game engines are often integrated with other game development and design tools to accelerate workflows. This includes IDEs, graphics tools, version control, and more.

More on game engines:

IDE

IDEs are where game developers work on their code. Microsoft Visual Studio is one of the most popular IDEs for game developers. 

More on IDES:

Graphics Tools

Graphics tools are essential for designers and artists. Photoshop, 3ds Max, Maya, and Blender are all popular examples of graphics tools. 

Like game engines, graphics tools are often integrated with other tools used in game development. One of those tools is version control.

More on graphics tools:

Version Control

Version control is essential for game development, whether you’re a single developer or on a team of 1,000s. That’s because games are built with many types of assets — binary files, digital assets, code, and more. Managing all of these files can be challenging.

For single developers, it’s important to choose a version control that can scale up, like Helix Core. After all, you might be working on a solo project now — but one day you might have a team to work with.

For teams, collaboration across developers, designers, and artists is critical to the success of a game. Using the right version control solution facilitates that collaboration. 

It’s also important to consider whether you should host your version control on-premises or in the cloud. AWS, for instance, is a popular hosting option among game development teams.

More on version control:

Get Version Control + AWS

The Perforce Helix Core Studio Pack for AWS gives you free version control for up to 5 users and a free tier of AWS.

Get the Studio Pack

Best Practices For Successful Game Development and Design

To be successful in game development and design, you need to follow the best practices. 

Best Practices From the Best Game Developers

The best game developers are the best for a reason. They’ve figured out which tools are the best to build games — and the best practices for using them effectively.

For instance, Epic, CD PROJEKT RED, The Chinese Room, and Cloud Imperium Games all use Helix Core (version control from Perforce). And they’ve shared their version control best practices for game development in an eBook.

Branching, for instance, is another version control best practice that’s critical in game development. In the webinar below, you’ll hear from Sumo Digital on how they use Perforce Streams (branching in Helix Core) to build hit games.

Managing game development teams is also important. And having the right project management tool is crucial to your success. For instance, EA, No Brakes Games, Frontier, Avalanche Studios, and inVRsion all use Hansoft for Agile project management. And they shared their expert advice in an eBook, too.

More best practices:

Additional Best Practices From Perforce

Perforce has worked with game development teams — large and small — for decades. Here are some of the best practices we’ve gathered over the years.

Gaming as a Service

Many studios are doing Gaming as a Service (GaaS). If you’re considering a GaaS model, there are important considerations you need to make. And best practices you need to follow.  

Collaboration

Collaboration in game development is critical. But how does collaboration change when you’re working with increasingly remote teams? 

In the webinar below, find out how you can ensure collaborative game development for remote teams.

Video Game Project Management

Success for video game project management means fulfilling certain metrics. But what are those metrics? 

You should be able to answer questions like…

Will we hit our milestone? Are feature teams/areas tracking towards completion? What does our milestone/release plan look like? How’s overall game quality

More best practices:

How Game Development Works With Perforce

Here’s how game development works better with Perforce.

Perforce offers two solutions beloved by the world’s best game developers: 

These game development solutions help teams manage projects and version everything at scale. 

Giant Interactive, for instance, uses Helix Core and Hansoft to:

  • Manage their backlog.
  • Meet milestones.
  • Version files fast.

By using Helix Core and Hansoft, they were able to solve massive growth challenges, collaborate better, and save time. 

“The data from Hansoft allows us to take a closer look to the progress — and performance — of each project. We used to have difficulties transferring big binary files. It was a huge waste of time. Also, our branching can be complicated. So free tools, such as Git and SVN, became more of a hindrance than help. With Helix Core as our single source of truth, implementing our versioning system is like a breeze.”

— Eddie Zhang, Lead Project Manager, Giant Interactive

Get Perforce Game Development Tools — For Free

The world’s biggest innovators use Perforce game development tools. So do indie studios. That’s why we offer an indie studio pack for free for up to 5 users. 

So, get started with Hansoft and Helix Core today. Get the indie studio pack.

 

Indie Studio Pack