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Why It's So Hard To Make a Video Game

by Dylan Moran on 10/16/17 10:35:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


It is always easy for critics to condemn a game after playing, with the assumption that anyone can develop a game. While there are shortcuts to making video games by copying codes, those games are unoriginal and boring.

However, you can decide to build your game ground up alone. This is called Indie game developing. Being an Indie video game developer is quite an experience, since you don’t have deadlines and probably no investor pressure. However, you can’t work alone (literally), and you won’t be able to make Triple A (AAA) game like Assassins Creed or Grand Theft Auto or even opt for online slot kind of game.

So What Does it Take to Make AAA Video Game?

Simply put, it takes a lot. Especially with new technologies like virtual reality.

Making a video game is like making a movie, but even harder. You will work with a large team of about 100 to 300 people. You have to consider the pre-production, financial aspect: getting sponsors, AAA games cost millions of dollars. Then you plan, design, start productions, management, software engineering, music production, voice-over acting, prototyping, programming, scripting, this list cannot be exhausted here.

To really understand the number of special skills required, which can also be the approximate number of people required to make a video game, see the credits of your video games.

Despite, the number of people, it usually takes 2 – 5years. This is however a very short time compared to the lifetime an individual will spend developing a video game all by him/herself.

AAA games have specialized departments, with specialized professionals working together with other members in the big team. This is saying that a programmer or programmers work on the programming aspect of the game, while designer or designers work on designing the game, and so on. They work together in their various fields to develop a single game.

These professionals are careful because if one part of the game goes wrong, it may be lost in the codes. This will cause the debugger or debuggers long hours of playing the game repeatedly to find the problem, attempt to fix the problem, and another hours of playing to see if the problem has truly been fixed.

No game is perfect at first anyway. Debugging is an essential part of game development. After all dedicated input by these professionals sometimes, the game may come out awful.

The reasons for the uncertainty of success are that, you can’t see the quality of the game until you’re completely done. Developers blindly input their contributions hoping the game will come out as they planned.

Although, experience ought to guide these developers, but just like in life, unexpected things always happen. So developers make modifications, and this is what game developing process entails. Many trials and errors.

To get into video games development, it is best to find your passion, focus on it, and learn the needed skills. If you enjoy programming, then learn the standard programming language used for games, the C++. This might take you three years to be an expert.

The same goes for all the other specializations of game developing, the 3D artist also spend a significant amount of time learning the skill.

It will be impossible for an individual to develop an AAA game. He or she can’t learn all the required skills in one lifetime. If there are 100 people behind the developing of a particular game, and it took averagely two years for them to learn their skills, then it will take an individual 200 years to learn all the different skills.

This evaluation also applies to the time of developing the game. Most of these AAA games spend nothing less than 2 years in production with about 100 people. That’s another 200 years for one person to develop a game ground up.

I don’t think anyone has 400 years to their name. So appreciate good games when you find one, developers put in a lot of effort.

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