As gaming looks to become the leading style of entertainment ahead of traditional forms such as film and music, the pressure is increasingly on game developers to create the next big hit.
And in an industry where only 20% of game products make a profit, it is evident that the software companies must do all they can to ensure that there is a healthy chance of making a return on their investment.
What began as a hobbyist affair has now been transformed into a multi-billion pound industry, and as such, the process of game design has also changed significantly.
The Early Years
Commercial game design began in the 1970s, and the very basic nature of the computers used meant that just one individual could successfully design a relatively simple game. A great example of this is the classic shoot ’em up video game Space Invaders, which was created by Japanese developer Tomohiro Nishikado, who not only designed and programmed the game, but even created the artwork too!
Examples of Early Game Designs:
However, as the industry expanded in the 1980s with the rise of Nintendo console machines, it became clear that the advanced technology and greater public demand would mean that games would take more than the standard six weeks to produce.
By the time that the major consoles such as the Playstation and the Xbox consolidated their hold on the gaming environment, the design of games had become an extremely protracted affair, often lasting between one and three years for each game.
Console manufacturers now have a strict list of requirements that games must conform to in order to be approved. And likewise, as games move into areas such as online gambling, the fact that the games use real money means that they must comply with each country’s gambling regulations.
So now games designers for online casino operators such as Springbok Casino will not only ensure that there is high quality gameplay and design involved in the slot machines, but there will also be a high degree of professionalism and accuracy involved in the payouts too.
Examples of Game Design in Online Games:
In order to meet such extensive requirements, software companies are broken up into many divisions with up to 100 different people working together on games that frequently cost over $20 million per game.
The Mobile Revolution
However, with the advent of mobile technology there has been something of revolution in gaming design. The capacity for third party developers to create original and successful games has led to overnight successes such as Angry Birds that use simple software in ways that capitalise on the new technologies.
Examples of Game Design in Mobile Games:
As a result, games are frequently rolled out after five months of development to test the product and gauge customer reaction. And with the rise of impressive new virtual reality technologies such as Oculus Rift, it’s clear that the role of game design looks to show no signs of settling down into a predictable format just yet.
Shiny Oculus Rift!
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Ruan Smit started Pixelsmithstudios with the vision of creating a new design orientated environment of sharing, learning and expertise development amongst local Animators,Illustrators,Game Developers and VFX artists in South Africa.