The developers aren’t hiding anything from you, I promise
In the wake of the GTA VI leaks last week, many people online made it clear that they know nothing about the making of video games and embarrassed themselves online. One particularly egregious comment stated that visuals are the first thing done in game development – which is just ridiculously wrong. Look, I’m just as likely to make false assumptions as the next person, but the “fans” who go out of their way to harass game developers for refusing to use Google’s most basic features are only the no one’s fault but their own.
I don’t mean to be harsh, and it’s true that game development can be exclusive and reserved, especially for people from marginalized backgrounds. But when it comes to situations where gamer expectations collide with the reality of what it’s like to make games, gamers often seem to revert to the argument that game developers are too secretive about what happens behind the scenes.
There’s an endless list of reasons leaks suck, but gamers are seeing the first footage of a highly anticipated title before the developers are ready to show anything is up there. It’s as if someone surprises you while you’re changing. That’s why all those in-game looking “unfinished” shots are so dumb – it’s literally is unfinished.
Then there’s the issue with social media making everyone feel like an expert and feeling like they have to share their unwarranted opinions – something none of us are immune to. . Looking for online game developers with headline crybaby comments about something they know absolutely nothing about is when gamers really cross the line.
Just like how working in a restaurant or retail helps you have a lot more empathy for people working in difficult situations, educating us about how games are actually made can help gamers understand what is actually happening and will save everyone headaches in the long run. .
What’s the secret?
I will say that major studios working on highly anticipated projects can be particularly tight-lipped – not only are their game content confidential, but many proprietary tools like engines or assets are trade secrets they don’t want anyone transmit. If your whole brand is built on prestige, you don’t want anyone seeing broken versions of your game, you know? However, once a game is released, a lot of things become fair game in a sort of “this is how we made our masterpiece” retrospective.
But what really gets me is that while gamers complain about developer cults deliberately keeping secrets from them, there’s been a wealth of resources detailing every aspect of how development works right under their noses – and nothing of all this is so hard to find.
Since graphics are the first finished thing in a video game and CONTROL has won many awards for excellence in graphics, here are some early development footage 🙂
—Paul Ehreth ???? (@bacon_sandwich) September 20, 2022
Let’s start with the fact that many developers took to Twitter in response to the leaks (and reaction to leaks) to assure belligerent gamers that having incomplete visuals is indeed the hallmark of a game they are still working on. While this sort of thing is less common in major studios because of all the corporate bureaucracy, indie devs do this shit for fun. all the time.
If you join any type of indie game community, be it on Twitter, Reddit, Discord, Tumblr, etc., the smaller developers and teams are constantly posting up-to-date images of how they’re making progress in creating their games. This includes everything from art, to animation, to lighting, to implementing new game features, and more.
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Take Squirrel with a gun, for example – the idea for the ridiculous indie title started out as a joke because someone thought it would be funny to give a photorealistic squirrel a gun (it’s very funny, by the way). Dan DeEntremont continued to develop the idea into a full-fledged game, and at each stage he showed his subscribers updates of the new features he was adding. When the game is completed and released, the developer Twitter feed will serve as a kind of cool time capsule where you can see the progress of the idea from inception to full implementation and release.
Try the grooms #UnrealEngine5! ????????️ Squirrel is still a Blender platform, but Houdini takes care of the fur. It was extremely difficult, but very fun to explore!#indiedev #Game development #UnrealEngine #blender3d #Houdini #screenshotsSaturday pic.twitter.com/dyLfZGkH0W
— Squirrel with a gun (Dan DeEntremont) (@QuiteDan) May 15, 2022
Then there is the wealth of discussions and presentations given by the developers themselves. There’s a big industry conference every spring called the Game Developers Conference, or GDC, where developers from all kinds of studios, backgrounds, and even countries come together to talk about how they make games. It’s not an E3 style thing where they put on a show to entertain would-be players – it’s an industry-focused event for pros to showcase their findings in one of the most academic settings you can find. get with games.
Discussions cover every topic under the sun, in-depth discussions of how a programming team implemented State of the art enemy AIat lighting designers talk about innovations in their field, narrative writers presenting new possible frameworks to revolutionize interactive storytelling techniques.
GDC chats are full of the brightest minds in games putting all their work on the table for all to see, and although the complete archive of nearly every GDC chat ever given is unfortunately locked behind a heavy wall payment (something I understand, but should be completely free in my opinion), there are still hundreds that anyone can watch for free on YouTube right now.
If you haven’t heard of Noclip documentaries, these are also an absolute must watch. Together with game journalists like Jason Schreier, they are currently doing some of the most important investigative work in the industry. They have some of the content we expect, like making of interviews with the devs and fun news coverage, like a gamer to do transmitted by blood look like a ps1 game.
But what they’re best known for are some of their most impactful pieces, like a documentary-style investigation into what happened in Telltale’s final hours leading up to its closure, or an exposé on the abuse in some of Annapurna’s smaller independent studios. . Noclip always does amazing research and interviews those who are actually involved in what they’re covering – all in all, it’s just good journalism.
Some studios actually make documentaries about how they make their games. One of my favorites is Grounded: The making of The Last of Uswhich includes interviews with designers from nearly every discipline that detail how they brought their own passion to making the game what it is.
I’m also a big fan of the developer comment that Valve added to Portal 2, which lets you hear stories about the creation of the game as you play it. Studio MDHR has also released detailed images of their creation process. Cupheadof which my favorite is a preview of a recording session for the game’s soundtrack.
Think that’s more than enough to get players started? Bad. We haven’t even touched on the topic of printing yet. There are so, so many good books on game development. The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell is a great read for anyone who wants to learn about the fundamentals of game design.
by Jason Schreier Blood, Sweat and Pixels: The Triumphant and Turbulent Stories of Video Game Making and Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry are some of the most accessible resources for gamers to understand how game studios actually work.
Former Naughty Dog devs have come together to release a whole book how they created the AI to The last of us, which goes into a ton of detail, including some scary math. There are books from the creators of classics like grave robber and Lossand game authors have compiled a series of writings on the the team that created the SEGA Dreamcast.
There are some awesome podcasts that also interview developers, like Game Creator’s Notebook Where Game Development Tips: The Game Developer Podcast — GDC has even his own podcast as well. The thing is, if you’re interested in learning more about how a given studio made a given game, there’s something on the internet for you.
“Graphics are the first finished thing in a video game”
FYI, here’s what IMMORTALITY looked like for the first 2 years where we focused on the balance between AI and combat gameplay versus how it was delivered pic.twitter.com/lXoBQeKYUO
— Sam Barlow, offering IMMORTALITY (@mrsambarlow) September 20, 2022
Long story short: do your research and don’t harass people
Nothing will compare to being at a studio working with other developers, but players have no right to complain about studios keeping them in the dark when it comes to the development process. If a studio doesn’t tell us something, it’s usually because they want to make sure all their ducks are lined up before going public. Game creation is so volatile and things change very quickly that if you’re too premature to release your information, it can easily backfire. We see it all the time with delays or games that promise more than they can actually deliver.
I understand that patiently waiting for games can be a hard thing to do, but part of the reality of being in this industry, whether as a professional or a fan, is tempering expectations by understanding that making games really takes , really long time, and that the developers don’t owe us anything during the development cycle.
I know I’m only shouting at a small, vocal minority here, but if nothing else, browsing through resources like these can be a lot of fun for any hobbyists who just want to learn more about what’s going on in the games we like to play. .