Generic Video Game Development Cycle
Sean W. Gibson / Jul 10th, 2011 1 Comment
Being in the industry for as long as I have been, I’ve seen the same tricks tried over and again, for years on end, with no stopping in sight. It’s amazing that the marketing and development strategy has held on for so long, but let’s face it, this is the same industry that gives us a ton of sequels and barely any new franchises each year. I decided to try to dream up the checklist for marketing and developing a software title that has to be on some software executive’s desk right now.
Step 1: Create Sequel Concept
Sit down in a swanky office surrounded by yes-men and those grateful they aren’t unemployed. Make sure all are completely overworked and underpaid. At least 4-6 of these folks will do and if you are more than a little adventurous, grab “that one person” who’s actually smart and insightful, just for laughs.
State that you’re ready to concept out your next big game that will innovate and inspire. Make grand motions with your arms and do your best to imitate Steve Jobs without trying to be him so someone doesn’t call you out on it. Let everyone know this will be the most unique concept that anyone has ever seen.
Almost instantaneously after stating all that, point to your most popular recent release and said “[Generic Game Title] Part [Insert Random Number between 3-9]!!!” while fist-pumping with one hand and pointing to an old poster with your other hand.
If you have trouble figuring out a [Generic Game Title] try mixing one word from this list with one word from the second list:
First word: Master, Blaster, Nexus, Core, Gold, Jungle, Treasure, Quantum
Second word: Dynamo, Warrior, Inertia, Refraction, Catalyst, Point
As an example I’ll pick two of these words at random and make a new game title (this is in the event that you don’t have the rights anymore to your old game).
And so, we now have GOLD DYNAMO 4! Please tell me that this totally doesn’t sound like something released by Nintendo already.
Step 2: Grab the old code
Since all games are built on the top of older games, grab your older code and crack those whips. The good news is that you can basically enslave 20-somethings to work 70 hours weeks while paying them decently, so longs as the fridge is fully stocked. A $200-a-week Costco bill will save you thousands per week in salary costs. Brilliant!
Step 3: Start the Hype Machine with a Cool Video
Many gaming companies make the woeful mistake of actually making a gameplay video the centerpiece of their hype machine. Why? Well, they say they want to show off their game. This is a stupid idea.
What you want to do is hire a special effects team that has absolutely nothing to do with your studio. Tell them that they have a decent budget to make one serious kick-ass demo trailer. Make it epic, make it amazing and be sure to include at least one hotter-than-any-woman-alive heroine.
Whenever someone asks about your game, just show them this “demo” which is actually just a 3-minute animated movie based off of the concept of your game. To make sure fans are happy, make this your intro clip to the game once it actually ships. The good news here is that for some reason, for the last … oh … 15 years, gamers for some reason see these videos and attach hype points to your game around it, even though it was made by people that had nothing to do with your game and doesn’t show off one single frame of video from your game either.
Step 4: Delay, Delay, Delay
Since games aren’t easy to make, you can’t exactly ship a broken product. Nevertheless, the entire industry has ridiculous demands for turnaround, so no matter what, you’ll be forced with a deadline that’s unreasonable and impossible to meet. Instead of battling this impossible situation, embrace it! It’s not a “deadline” so much as it is a “reminder as to when to send out your next delay notice” while maybe using it as a nice milestone to release yet another teaser video.
Step 5: Release Game
Well, it’ll be time to release the game, so make sure all your channel folks are well taken care of (EBGames, Best Buy, whoever) and be sure to send along some fun tchotchkes to all the video game publication editors and writers. Apparently these people cannot get enough drinking glasses and crappy t-shirts. Just pray nobody asks for a pair of pants to go along with all these shirts because that would just make way too much sense.
Once your game is released (too soon) beg mia culpa that some faceless evil empire forced you to rush this to release but that you have a new patch coming soon that will fix all the things people hate about the game. Snicker quietly to yourself since, even though you’ve sold about a million copies you have no intention of building a patch. Be sure to thank to the efforts of the intelligent trailer movie-making people and some savvy PR people and channel reps. Layoff half the staff immediately.
Never release that aforementioned patch and go back to Step 1. Hire back a few folks you let go, only when Step 2 has begun.
STEP 6: Profit.
tags: development cycle , video game life cycle