creation-1

How video games are created. It must be Magic.

How video games are created reminds me of the classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz”. It plays every year during the holidays. Everyone in the “Land of Oz” is in awe and wonder of the “Great Wizard”. He is the ruler of the land, all-knowing and all-powerful.

wizard-of-oz
“We’re off to see the wizard”

Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin-man, and the Cowardly Lion all trembled in fear as they stood before the great wizard. But when Toto pulled back the curtain, it revealed a man, not a wizard. A regular guy who governed the inner workings of the “Emerald City”.

The wizard/man knows how to get things done. He runs the machine which produces the smoke, the image, and the thundering voice. He watches over the citizens in the “Land of Oz”. He helps the people of Oz because he knows how to get things accomplished even behind a curtain.

magic
Is it real or magic?

I have often wondered how video games are created from start to finish. How do creators of video games blend powerful stories with amazing graphics? In this post, I pulled back the curtain to reveal its not magic. It’s people with imagination and hard work that make video gaming possible.


How do they do it? 

1. Background: 

  • Video games are played at arcades, on televisions or personal computers, and as handheld portable games.
  • Video games use cutting-edge technology to provide fast-paced entertainment.
  • Statistics stated that 70% of all children in America have home video game systems.
    children-playing-video-games
    “It’s a family affair”
  • Over four billion dollars are spent annually on video games and all the accompanying accessories such as controllers, consoles, and the game themselves.

2. History:

  • A precursor to video games was pinball machines which were introduced in the 1930s.
    pinball
    Gaming has come a long way.
  • In 1971, a video arcade game was produced called Computer Space.  It was invented by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. Computer Space was the first real coin-operated video game.
  • The next video game Bushnell and Dabney introduced was the phenomenally successful arcade game called Pong.
  • With the success of Pong, Bushnell and Dabney started Atari and in 1975, they introduced a home version of Pong.
    Pong
    “My first video game”
  • When personal computers became available, computer games were created.
  • In the late 1980s, the CD-ROM was introduced. These disks could hold more information on them. It allowed the development of more sophisticated, interactive games.
  • In 1995, digital video disks (DVDs) were first produced for home computers. They have a storage capacity over twenty times greater than CD-ROMs. This revolutionized computer and video games.

3. Design:

  • The design is the key aspect of making all video games.
  • It is typically done by a team of skilled computer programmers, writers, artists, and other game designers.
    computer-programmer-1
    “It takes a team”
  • During this phase of development, designers generate the game’s specifications, which includes game type, objective, and graphics.
  • Once the type and objective of the game are determined, it will usually fall within six categories or genres.
  • The different genres are fighting, shooting, strategy, simulations, adventure, and run, jump and avoid (RJA).

4. Raw Materials: 

  • The most important raw material for creating video games is “Imagination”.
  • Storage medium (DVDs and CDs made with hard plastic such as polycarbonates).
  • CD/DVDs have a thin layer of aluminum or silver coating and a protective, clear acrylic coating.
    DVD
    “Make it, then play it.”
  • Plastics are also used to make the accessory pieces that some computer games require. In each of the plastics used, a variety of fillers and colorants are incorporated to modify its characteristics.
  • Typically, computer games are packaged in highly decorated plastic containers.
  • Digital versions can be downloaded from various sources like retail stores or websites.

5. Manufacturing Process:

                                                                                                                                                             A. Creating the story: 

  • First, we need to write a story with characters, a setting, and a plot.
  • Writing also includes the objective of the game and guidelines for playing the game (Ex. Game’s manual).
    storytellers
    “The Story begins with our imagination”
  • The story is transferred to storyboards (one-panel sketches pinned to a board).
  • Preliminary drawings are then accompanied by story dialogue and character description.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       B. Capturing the action with art:                                                                                    
  • Once the game type and storyline are created, the game’s format is determined. (Format is what the player sees when playing the game).
  • Different formats include platform, top-down, scrolling, isometric, and three dimensions (3D).
    3D-Art
    “Art gives Life to the Story”
  • The artist will add drawings to storyboard. This will include how the characters will move in the game.
  • Pictures are created by using a computer with converted graphics.
  • Life-like images are made by filming live action with real actors which are then electronically digitized.
  • The background of a game is created by using both converted and digitized images.                                                                                                                                                            C. Recording dialogue and sound effects:                            
  • Dialogue and sound effects are recorded in a sound studio using various audio techniques.
    sound-effects
    “The Games Speak to us”
  • Once recorded on digital audio tape (DAT), the sounds are computerized by a synthesizer (A computer that specifically alters and translates sound into data).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         D. Writing the program:           
  • Once design elements are finished, programming and coding begin.
  • The first step is to draw a flowchart (shows the progression of the computer program).
  • A variety of programming languages are used like C++, Java, or Visual BASIC. This is done by a team of programmers. This alone can take several months to complete.
    blackboard
    “Back to the blackboard”
  • To speed up the coding process, developed algorithms are modified and adapted for a new game.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 E. Testing:                                                                                                                                                       
  • Testing helps reveal fundamental design and programming problems.
    testing
    “We got to get it right”
  • Testing may be done by programmers themselves, professional playtesters, or the general public.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            F. Burning the disks:                                                                                                       
  • When programming is completed, the game code is transferred to a
    burning-disc
    “BURN BABY BURN”

    master compact disc.

  • The master disc is used to produce thousands of copies.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 G. Packaging the game:                                                                                                                                     
  • The finished game is then sent to a packaging line.
    Video-game-packaging
    “Time to head to the store”
  • It is then placed in a container and shrink-wrapped with plastic.
  • The games are now ready for shipment.

 

6. Quality Control: 

  • The transferring of a computer game program to a compact disk, or DVD, must be done in a clean, dust-free environment.
  • Other visual inspections are done at various points in the manufacturing process.
    Quality-control
    “You want the best, we deliver the best”
  • Random samples of the finished disc are tested to make sure they are working properly.
  • Checks are made to ensure the game meets the required specifications.
  • At the end of the manufacturing random samples are checked to make sure all necessary components are included.

7. The Future: 

  • Computer game programming will continue to become more sophisticated as available hardware improves.
    the-future
    “The future is now”
  • DVD technology is revolutionizing the gaming industry.
  • It allows a greater amount of information to be included in a game’s program.
  • This will improve the artificial intelligence routines, graphics, and special effects.
  • Video clips are included to make the games more interactive.

Resource: http://www.madehow.com/Volume-5/Video-Game.html

More additional information is available from Action Arcade Adventure Set” by Diana Gruber, “Inside Electronic Game Design”
by Katz, Arnie, and Laurie Yates, and “The Ultimate Game Developers Sourcebook by Ben Sawyer.

In researching how video games are created, I learned so much. It can take hundreds of people (writers, designers, drawing artist, programmers, etc.) to create one single video game.

By working together with a vision, they produce a technological miracle called a video game. To begin playing, I just slip in a disc to my gaming console or download it from a computer application or a store website.

Then it’s gaming time.

gaming-time
“LET’S DO IT”

Some will say it’s not magic or a miracle making a video game. It’s just a group of people working together using modern technology with a common goal.

And they are right. The magic is not the technology or the people themselves. It’s the people coming together with a common idea, working as one, and producing an amazing product for our joy and entertainment.

That’s the Magic!!!

THE-MAGIC
“Video Game Artistry, simply beautiful”

Thank you for reading this post. If you have any comments or insights on how video games are created, please leave your reply below.

It’s time to play the role of a “Wizard”.

 

“Let’s Game”

johnny, the Gray Wolf.

“Two hearts beating as one as we howl at the moon, to my dear wife, Cindy.”

3 thoughts on “How video games are created. It must be Magic.

  1. wow this information is so insightful. You know when I was a child I use to want to create a ballroom dancing video game and had not thought of how this is done.

    Now I feel better equipt with how games are made. So do I need to contact different developers should I want to have a certain game like ballroom dancing?
    Just curious

    • Hi Thabo,
      I think this is a great idea, “Ballroom Dancing Video Game”. I know there are a lot of dancing video games available today. (Ex. “Dance Central, Just Dance, or Just Dance Kids”).
      The developer for “Dance Central” is Harmonix. “Just Dance” was developed by Ubisoft Milan and Ubisoft Paris. “Just Dance Kids” was developed by a Japanese studio, Land Ho!.

      Just google video game developers. You should get a list of game developers. I would then contact them and present your idea. You never know what may happen.

      Good luck.

      johnny, the Grey Wolf.

  2. This post effectively breaks down a complex process. It certainly does take the magic out. The history and development of the technology really brought me back to my childhood (think pong!). Good read.

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