Game Design Music and Art

wholistic game development. – klumsy



Posts: 1061
From: Port Angeles, WA, USA
Registered: 10-25-2001
Here are some rough but quite accurate statistics of the manhours percentage that go into the average modern game..

Idea Design.

This here is the place where the game start.. often this part takes longer timewise (months, years etc) because concepts are ideas that float around in our head, we daydream about them and build on them.. However actual effort and paid labor (paid if a profesional project anyway) for this would be about 5 percent of the total game or less in an experienced team, or with an experienced designer.. This will take much more time when there is no experience, maybe even 20%, but if the game is going to be welbalanced and polished its percentage though it seems high in the beginning usually drops down to back about 5%.. This is an important stage, a great idea can take something along way.. while a mediocre idea - even with the best funding, and skilled team, and time and tools will ussually turn out to be a mediocre game. The people involved in this part do not need to be so technically adept. But its best if they are at least mildly technically adept..

Technical Design..

This here is probably the most critical section. Its where idealism meets reality. It takes transforming often vague ideas and disciplining them into something that can be acheieved and implemented in the game. So many games - even professional games have failed at this stage , or paid the price later on because they didn't do the hard work at this stage. Most amateur games fail because of this stage, as artists, programmers , ideas people rush in, and end up with a hodge podge of material that really can't be put together, and the game hasn't been designed technically. If the team is a new team, or the teammembers don't have much experience, or they are challenging a new genre that they haven't done before, this stage can take many cycles and get revisited late on in the game.. in these cases alot of these cases, when the team isn't an already established team with a few titles under their belt, this stage requires a lot of R&D, and making proof of concepts.. Because you can't design tehnically unless you have overcome the technical barriers, this stage requires detail, and thus you often have to get your hands dirty and low level in order to master the detail. Its a great learning curve.. However you know however that other parties can get on with some of their tasks, as long as they don't expect their work to 100% be part of the game, but rather part of this process, and part of the above process.. Because as you do many of the tasks, you come up against the techinical issues, and thus can answer some of the questions needed to be solved in this stage..

Tehcnical design requires taking the concepts of the ideas stage, and first in general fitting into solid game design, dealing with the many possible gotchas, correlating the technoligies used and the platforms, engines etc etc.. see how and where some things fit together, and planning to build bridges where things don't fit together.. it involved taking gameplay ideas from the first stage, and designing them in detail - how they would work in reality - and if they don't seem to work in reality redesigning them.. it will often making certian smaller unpolished 'games' or 'applications' just as proof of concept.. sure it might not look something.. a cube for a character moving through an ugly bare 3d world.. but it shows that you have conquered some tehcnical obstacle - however for a mature team there is less of this for basic things as they have conquered most of them before - however a more mature team ussually has a higher goals, and really has to do a lot of this anyway..

This process often involves the top level programmers - not neccisarily the codegrunts, but the top programmers. Though it doesn't often involve specific game code, it does involve pseudo code, and sometime structure design, even basic class design.. and though i said it doesn't involve specific code - proof of concept code is of course specific, however it need not be restricted to the games parameters.. I.e lets say that the game has been decided to use the torque 3d engine.. i might have a proof of concept of a path finding algorithm, and it might be programmed directly with directx8 ... because the issue was pathfinding.. not the graphics..

This stage ussually takes about 30% of the manhours.. and unless the team is amazing, ussually takes quite a few cycles (even after big parts of the main game is done) before being a solid technical design.. Do not underestimte this stage, this is the most critical.. Ideas without solid technical design will never get done, or never get done well, they are best suited as books ... and a game with good technical design , even with crappy art - can have the art redone (don't release your game with crappy art, you just have wasted your design doing that).. but you can still have the art dedone.. its like redecorting a house, but the foundation is still there, the walls are still in place the roof is there, maybe there needs some serious redecorating and even building on a new room.. but the house is solid.. and it just needs some a new layer of paint..

Ok my time is running out so i'll be more brief from now on.

if the above is done well, then programming and <Sob><sob> debugging with take about 20%.. again higher if there is an inexperienced team.. beause if thats the case they are learning as well as coding.. and probably 3/4 of the time they spend 'working' is actually learning.. Also is the above stage is not done well.. you will find this part of the process will consume more than 80% of the manhours... i kid you not.. Many projects are given up when the mangitude of this area comes to light , and overwealms.. and how can you build a good house, without a proven architectural drawings?

whether its levels, models, 2d graphics or music, These things are the interior decorating, they are what sell the game to the eye, they are what create the feeling, to the player, they are often the game.. they don't see the code, or the design.. they see this.. so its important to have quality in these areas.. However quality these without a good foundation is useless.. Picture a nice photo in a home living magazine, of a fashionable house.. decorated lovely.. you enjoy the feel, the colours, the artwork, the design of the room, how the lighting comes in, the styly furniture.. You don't often think about what the walls are made of, what sort of strain the building can take, how many rafters keep up the roof.. what sort of sealants they used on the floor.. how many cubic meters of concrete for the foundation.. but without those things you can't have the experience.. imagine you take all that nice 'art' and put it on a dump.. in a room where the water is leaking through the roof, and ruining the $5000 loungesuit, the paint is put on corregated iron and chipping and rusting.. same stuff.. but it aint going to make home and living magazine.. Art ussually takes about 15%, however if you are building ontop of a genre you are already good at, and you can reuse alot of hte technical design, and even code..

Tweaking really can take up to 30%, whether it is tweaking models like i mentioned in the other thread, tweaking and testing the gameplay, or tweaking the code, tweaking the music to flow with the game better, the sound effects.. tweaking , basically redoing the art, and everything to fit better into the game, whether for better gameplay , or to make the game faster and use less resources, whether to make the different things of the game flow smoothly, or redoing things because an idea, artwork or whaatever just didn't work well, or it did, just not in the context of the whole game..
I''d say sometimes this here can take up to 50% of the manhours.. though often in amatuer teams.. people are so exhausted with the main effort, and by the stage that the game is working without many bugs, and is barely playable they just want to get it out the door - so often tweaking isn't done that much..

Blizzard is one company that tweaks and tweaks their games (often to the frustration of their customers who wait and wait for their game to be released). ID say blizzard would spend about 50% of their time on tweaking.. and they have a great team..

Remedy also spend a lot of time on tweaking.. it took years after they had really done good technical design, good idea design, and alot of the code and artwork before they released max payne, they could have released it years earlier if they had wanted to, and it would have been an awesome game, (even moreso because other games wouldn't have had 2 years to get up their with them).. but they wanted to tweak and polish everything, make it the best that they could - within reason..

Where do i get my statistics from. From my own experience, from experience of many of my friends and ex-colleuges in this industry, and from examples of many successful games.. Though games are unique , many aspects of developing a game is similar to that of any other software application.. but many are more similar to that of entertainment industries such as movie, cartoon, music , comic whatever

What i've talked about above , is in the natural, but it applies whether a christian or secular game. However God can work in amazing and wonderful ways, taking a low buget team, and blessing them with talented people, resources and all..

But so often we just hope on God for a miracle without being practical and disciplined. Sometimes God is just waiting on us to be ready and prepared to recieve a miracle -then he would give it..

So for the first stage (and during) for a christian project - I'd suggest prayer, lots of prayer,waiting on the Lord wise counsel and Christian accountibility to be part of the equation.. a Big part of the equation

as per Godcentric's slogan

Visionary Media
the creative submitted to the divine.

I myself do not want to be a Labourer Laboring in vain.. Time is too precious - destiny is too precious to be sidetracked from that which God has called me to.

Visionary Media
the creative submitted to the divine.
Husband of my amazing wife Aleshia

[This message has been edited by klumsy (edited May 05, 2003).]



Posts: 638
From: Vermont, USA
Registered: 03-12-2003
I didn't read the whole post.

Technical Design
This is some serious work, I am learning myself to do this (I think i'm finally getting the hang of it, somewhat...)
To give you an idea, I wrote 6 pages + diagrams on a basic inventory system. (that's singlespace, size 12 font). Honestly, I dunno how someone w/o at least some technical knowledge could begin to do this. I learned some basic coding a while back... and beleive me, the knowledge of how things work programmatically is infinatly useful.

"I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world!"
-C. S. Lewis



Posts: 437
From: Sydney, NSW, AUSTRALIA
Registered: 04-03-2003
Thanks for the quasi-article! I found it very interesting, informative, and impressive!
I know this is terrible, but I like to design as I go. For some reason I'm wired in such a way that I must travel in a straight line at a consistent speed, and that unfortunately means that I can't slow to do prep work sometimes. This has terrible consequences sometimes, most likely, 'odd' and inconsistent workarounds to solve problems that emerge because I didn't plan ahead. I used to work as what they call here in Oz, as a 'Business Analyst', which can mean anything from Software designer to Software tester, (depending on how much you get paid ), and I was forced to follow strict processes right from initial analysis, right through to implementation, and I hated it! I did a very good job, but this strict regime, it just didn't fit my psyche.

Oh well, scared all of you off ever wanting to work on a project with me, I'll bet

btw, I'm the same with writing fiction (which I do from time to time for fun), most professional writers plan and research very carefully as to how the story is going to go, and what needs to happen, but I like to just start writing and see where the story takes me.



Posts: 2779
Registered: 01-20-2001
Interesting article Klumsy, however I donít think that you can really percentagize certain aspects of game development, I feel that all parts play an important role in the game and each part is 100% of the entire scope (Iím not referring to effort, although that is important). As far as the time in development is concerned, it really depends on the project. In the end itís great to read a lot of articles and see what other developers have to say (I enjoy reading a lot of stuff from but for the most part people wonít understand completely the amount of work and coloration of work that has to be done in order to finish a project unless they go out and do it.

It's not seeing is believing, it's believing and then seeing.