The key stages of game development

Photo by Michael Dziedzic

A lot has already been extensively discussing the game creation process. Even individuals with a superficial knowledge of the gaming industry realize that making entertainment is not inherently enjoyable. With the best of ideas, there may be issues, bottlenecks, miscalculations, and other surprises.

It isn’t a random tale because each team’s production cycle is unique. Nobody says we won’t tell you anything. Here is where we, as a gaming studio, can help. Be prepared for a wild ride into the world of game development!

The Side and Inside Perspective of Video Game Development

A person who has just passed the video game development process looks at it from the outside and thinks it’s effortless. That’s a big deal. Some people came together and played a game. Many people who haven’t played games before still think that game developers are too slow at making them. 

The truth comes out if we don’t look at non-professionalism, and it’s not pretty. The steps to making a video game are complicated and have many segments. Here, you’ll find: 

  • Preliminary planning and conceptual work are both exciting and exhausting for game designers.
  • Work on design and art that inspires and breaks the nerves of artists who must accept and implement ongoing changes.
  • Programming and testing are like the fine jewelry work of a glassblower, where we can only fix errors while the glass is still hot. 
  • Creating sounds and music that should give the game its own unique and inimitable voice and make sound designers think hard about how to avoid being similar to others;
  • As well as many other people who connect departments, coordinate, communicate with the customer, and so on.

Game development often equates to game design. This comparison isn’t accurate, and we’ve already told everyone who cares about it. So let’s go over the basics again. 

People who make games are the first people to work on a project. They come up with the general idea of the game, come up with an idea, vision, plot, and characters, and figure out who the target audience is for the game. There are many things that they come up with for dialogue, victory and defeat conditions, all of the gameplay elements, and how they will react to the player’s moves. They write the well-known game design document, a guide for the rest of the team. 

Game developers work with game designers to make their ideas come to life on paper. It is when they come in. They write code to create an interactive product and put art into it. The artists have already done this, so they don’t have to do this anymore. The developers ensure that the main character and the game world can’t be separated. They also do everything they can to make the idea work.

The Development Stages of a Game 

The list below would be the most fundamental of all the phases, squeezed as much as possible:

  • People generate concepts in the pre-production stage
  • Then they will embody the idea on the production stage
  • post-production, where the idea is polished and given to the players on a marketing tray

We’ll elaborate on this relatively simple game development life cycle to further demonstrate the process. 


Before you do anything, you should know what you’re doing precisely. It may seem cheesy, but many individuals skip this step, expecting all the specifics to emerge throughout the process. It’s difficult to imagine a more unsophisticated approach to game production. 

This step is the construction of the skeleton, the design of the roots, or whatever you want to name it. The bottom line is that it steers the preliminary work. And the more precisely you plan it out, the more harmonic, easy, and trouble-free the subsequent evolution will be. 

So, what questions should occur at this critical stage of creating a video game?

  • Budget for the game. A limited budget should not imply inferior quality or purposefully awful gameplay. It is a rough assessment quantity of features, the degree of visuals, and the general “packing” of the game. 
  • Type of game. It should not be confused with the genre. We determine the game style here depending on the budget from numerous options: mini 2D game, casual 2D/3D game, mid-core 3D game, or hardcore 3D game. 
  • The platform for gaming. It is vital to decide on the forum you will construct the game for mobile devices, PC, consoles, or even a web game. 
  • Game genre. There’s much to choose from here, including simulation, strategy, sports, adventure, RPG, puzzle, board, etc. You should select the genre based on the size of the eventual game. For example, suppose you have a limited budget. In that case, you should avoid genres like RPGs or simulations since they need the creation and execution of a great deal of complexity. 
  • The intended audience. This point, too, has complexities. When creating a casual game, you want to reach as many diverse players as possible. It is critical to establish the game’s primary customer if it has a more precisely established genre.

Answers to these documented questions give an established standard for all team members to build on as they work. After this information package is clear, we go on to the next one, which confirms further data about the game itself:

  1. Intended gameplay. Formation of a vision of the interaction process between the player and the game world will be.
  2. Game mechanics. These rules implement the player’s interaction with the game, considering its specifics and limitations—achievements, constraints, modifiers, rewards, and more.
  3. Characters. Most games have a main character who is a digital avatar of the players and moves with them throughout the game’s storyline. Some of the simplest games don’t have personalities.
  4. Plot. Usually, the story appears as the scale and complexity of the game increase. Casual games often don’t need it much. But the designer should give this special attention if you have a large project.
  5. Monetization. The game creation is not only to entertain the players but also to make a profit. Players purchase big projects for PC for money, so they often do not need additional monetization options. And mobile or online games are usually monetized through in-app purchases or advertising.

Everything we’ve learned thus far helps us construct a rough idea of the next game. If everything goes well, the game designers begin creating the game design document. Organize everything from the start screen and gaming aspects to the final notification and UX/UI design elements and add new ones. Authorize formal document by consumers and serves as a guide for all teams’ future adventures.

Developers produce a “prototype” of a game before moving forward with full-scale development. Please remember that this is currently in the early stages of development. A prototype is a crude version of the game without any graphics or details to understand and experience the gameplay. The prototype’s primary purpose is to test the concept in the real world and reduce the chance of the project’s failure. Avoiding prototyping may be costly. Since it keeps you from seeing how effectively the player experience, game mechanics, and functionality work before you start working with your hands.

When all this massive work is complete, you can start production. Not earlier.


If you want to move on to one of the crowded and most dynamic stages of game development, you should clearly know what you want to make. You won’t have any problems if you follow our advice in the previous step.

  • Graphic design and illustration. 2D/3D artists develop the game’s characters, objects, visual effects, settings, and other built assets. It is the job of level designers to figure out how the levels will be laid out and to place significant obstacles in the way of the player’s progress. The game design document contains all the necessary information to provide maximum clarity and consistency with the game’s visual style.
  • Programming. Although programmers have previously been involved in the game during prototyping, their significant effort starts here. They build a playable product backbone that offers interaction with the player based on an existing or new engine designed from scratch. 
  • Design of sound. The audio format for the game is created by sound engineers or sound designers. This work includes sound effects, voice-overs, and music, which are often dynamic and vary based on the player’s actions and what is going on in the game.

Production is one of the most time-consuming processes in the game development process since the team must make several tweaks, clarifications, and edits. You’ll have to endure many trials and errors until you find the game’s proper aesthetic and technical representation.

To be successful in this stage, everyone must work together. Errors and the necessity to repeatedly redo, rewrite, or redraw anything resulted from the lack of communication and the isolation of jobs. At 4CROWS DIGITAL, we’ve designed a system of communication that makes it easy for everyone working on the game to provide and receive immediate feedback. We have meticulously planned and standardized our operations to estimate the money and time needed to complete a project.


Including quality assurance in the manufacturing phase is typical, but it’s so critical that it’s worth discussing separately.

Let’s start with a widely-held misunderstanding. Since each client has distinct priorities, the game production timeline is constantly stressful and responsible. There is a limited window of opportunity for the game to begin to pay off as quickly as possible. As a result, testing is often omitted or performed minimally. You can’t do anything once the game is out in stores since you’ve already given it to the gamers for review.

In this game, no one is going to hold back. With so many games on the market, they’re very selective, picky, and focused on the tiniest details. Because of the excess supplies, they will make a judgment as harshly as possible. No repairs or re-launches can remove an unsatisfactory game from the list of those that have been rejected. You only have one shot at this, and you don’t want to waste it.

Tests are unique among the stages of game development since they prevent the game from failure. Everything is on the line here, yet nothing new is being produced. Testers make sure that all game regions are accessible, that different elements are shown correctly, that various features are implemented correctly, and so on.

Different groups of testers are sometimes formed to test other aspects of the game. Stress testers, for example, try their best to see whether a match will operate if it surpasses all of its capabilities. Other testers do a complete playtime to ensure that the game functions correctly, including all accomplishments and rewards. The game’s entertainment aspect is also tested by others: is it too easy or challenging to keep the player engaged until it’s over?

Necessary changes are up to the programmers and artists. As long as the testers grant their OK, the cycle may continue. You may consider them the final line of defense before the game swings into full-on unrestrained mode.


This stage may or may not be part of the video game development process. For a significant PC or console project, pre-launch activities are incredibly essential. In this case, we’re talking about marketing, which lets people know that a new game is coming.

Commercials containing gaming aspects, articles, and reviews, images from the game, etc., are all examples of activities. Exclusive game previews may also be held at gaming conferences and other related meetings.

It’s typical for the game’s advertising campaign to be proportionate to its size. Massive advertising expenses for mobile games are a waste of money. However, the AAA project is absolutely in need of it. The expense of these efforts may often surpass the budget for the whole game’s production. This must be considered, and funds must be set aside for the possibility of promotion.


Only the release of the game remains to complete the marketing campaign. The team may still make a few tweaks and additions up to this point. Improved texturing, improved animation and fine-tuned models are all examples. The little things count when making a game that much more vibrant, entertaining, and all-encompassing.

When a game is released, it’s made available to gamers. Gamers will purchase or download the game depending on the platform and terms of release.

A video game’s creation process doesn’t finish with its release into the world.


The main work has been accomplished, and all essential game design phases have been completed. Players will love your game, your investment will pay off (we’re sure), and the development team is relieved that their efforts were not in vain. Next up comes the so-called “maintenance” phase. This is what’s included:

  • Fixes for minor issues. When a program has problems, it does not mean the testers are incompetent. In most cases, they are not essential and only apply to specific pieces of hardware or operating systems. The developer fixes and releases an updated game version after receiving feedback from players in the game’s comments or forums. 
  • Patch and update creation. It is possible to release such aspects as optimizing the game even more thoroughly, adding new downloadable material, increasing the number of levels and chapters, etc.
  • Adding fresh material keeps players interested and encourages them to return to the game even after the event has passed. This is a critical activity in a competitive gaming environment to keep the game alive as long as possible and prevent it from dissolving among its peers. As a result, it is difficult to make a video game in today’s world without this step.

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