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Lesson #10 - How the game development/production process works

NOTE: these lessons are primarily aimed at aspiring game designers, but many of the concepts described herein also apply to those who aspire to other types of careers in the game industry. This lesson is subject to changes and improvements; reader comments are welcome.

Originally written: December, 2001. Most recent update: December, 2016.

Much has been written about the process of making games. Most people will say that the process has two parts or phases (Development and Production) or some folks use the film model and break down into three parts (Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production). My contention is that there are actually five parts or phases -- the three parts mentioned above, plus a phase that comes before the process, and a phase that comes after. Thus I call the first of the five parts "A" and the last part "Z," and number the three main parts, as follows:

A. Concept
(some might call this phase "development")
1. Pre-Production
(or some might call this phase "development")
2. Production
3. Post-Production
Z. After-Market

It is my intention to write in depth about each of these five phases in later lessons. But for this lesson I just introduce the phases, conveying basic information about each.

A. Concept

1. Pre-Production (aka "Development")

2. Production

3. Post-Production

Z. After-Market

NOTE: the above process applies to the making of expensive mainstream consumer games. "Garage games" or games made by lone wolves most likely do not follow the pattern described herein.

To further complicate matters, the reality is that each game company uses different guidelines and definitions, at different times. The way one company does things today differs from the way another company does things today - and the way one company does things today differs from the way that same company did things two or three years ago (and they'll do things differently a couple years in the future).

Your job as the reader is to embrace the general principles I discuss, knowing that when you get into the game business it won't be exactly as I have described in every respect. My purpose as the writer is to give you a general idea of what goes on behind the silicon curtain so you can prepare to step beyond it yourself - hopefully, one day soon.

The FAQs for the "Business of Game Development" forum, at, are an additional must-read.

Got a question about this article? Email it to webmaster at, and the discussion will be posted on the Video Game Q&A bulletin board. You'll get answers! Like this...

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© 2001-2010 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission of the author.