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Design

Game Design

Game Design covers devising what a game consists of and how its played. It also where the elements of a game are planned and defined. These elements include its setting; structure; rules; story flow; characters; the objects, props, vehicles, and devices available to the characters; interface design; and modes of play. Once the game is devised, it is communicated to the rest of the development team who create the art assets and computer code that allow the game to be played.

Sometimes the Game Design process includes coming up with the game's premise. More often, most of the core ingredients are already defined and the game designers must decide how to create the best game using these elements, within a certain budget and timescale.

Game Designers are employed by development studios, both independent and publisher-owned. The game design process is usually shared between a number of different people, overseen by a Lead Designer.

During development, the Game Designer makes adjustments to the original specification for the game to respond to technical constraints which have been identified and to incorporate new programming and art creation methods developed by the team. They also train QA Testers to play the game, making sure that they understand what is expected of the finished product.

The design process goes through different stages:

  • After some initial research, the Game Designer puts together the concept document or initial design treatment, used to convince other members of the team that the game is worth taking forward
  • The development of a proof of concept, where a small team of artists and programmers work with the Game Designer to build a prototype, while the Game Designer puts together the full game design document. This document describes the intended playing experience and defines all the game functionality and associated art and animation assets required to create it. It is referred to by all development staff throughout the development process. It may require changing and updating to reflect production and technical decisions taken during the production cycle for the game.
Design

Game Writing

Game writing involves developing the storyline and dialogue of a game. In some game development companies, the game writer is asked to write the entire script for a game, while others hire writers at a later stage in development. Once the script is written, the writer must create the details of the plot and characters.

The exact role of a game writer depends on the company and the job description. There is sometimes an overlap between a game writer and a game designer, although the designer is usually focused on the overall game, including story, appearance and balance. The writer is often just focused on the storyline and conversations between characters. In some companies, the two may be combined into a single position, although this is relatively uncommon. Larger game development companies are more likely to have separate employees for the two positions, especially because a good storyline and script are seen as essentials for a successful game.

One of a game writer's main jobs is to develop the overall story. How much influence a writer has on the overall plot of a game depends on when he is brought into the development process. If the writer is part of the team from the beginning, then he often has much more responsibility for the story. In many cases, however, the writer is brought into the team at a later stage. In this situation, the writer's job is to assess and fine-tune the story while checking for any errors or inconsistencies.

The narration and interaction between characters in a game is often the primary responsibility of a game writer. A game writer needs to take a storyline and develop a script that's suitable for the target audience. This can include forming personalities for characters, coming up with new characters and deciding how the storyline is going to move forward as the game develops.

Games are different from other forms of entertainment, such as films, because the user has control over what he or she does. For this reason, a writer needs to be skilled at creating a storyline that is immersive but allows the player to feel as if he or she is part of the world. Some games are linear in design, which means the game writer has greater control over how the player moves through the world. Other games are more open, which can make the job of writing a strong storyline difficult.

Design

Level Editing

Level Editing involves defining and creating interactive architecture for a segment of a game, including the landscape, buildings and objects.

Level editors must be true to the overall design specification, using the characters and story elements defined during the Game Design process, but they often have considerable freedom to vary the specific look and feel of the level for which they are responsible. They define the environment, general layout of the spaces within the level, and lighting, textures, and forms. They define the characters and objects involved, whether they are player-controlled or non-player characters, and any specific behaviours associated with the characters and objects.

They also develop the gameplay for the level, which includes the challenges that the characters face and the actions they must take to overcome them. The architecture helps to define those challenges by presenting obstacles, places to hide, tests of skill, and other elements to explore and interact with.

The setting and atmosphere devised by the Level Editor can also give the player clues about different ways of progressing though the level and the game as a whol

The Level Editor first sketches ideas on paper or using 2D drawing software. They have to imagine the playing experience, putting themselves in the position of the player, mapping out all the possibilities.

The ideas are then worked out in 3D and tested in the game engine, which produces further ideas. In consultation with the Programmers and Artists, the Level Editor draws up a detailed inventory of level 'assets' (all the objects and programming requirements needed to make the level run in the game in its final form).

Every asset can impact on the game's performance and the Level Editor must understand the technical constraints to which the team is working, e.g. there may be a limit on the number and complexity of objects that can be displayed on screen at any one time.

Art

Animation

Animation in the games industry is the process where the movement and behaviour are portrayed.

Most often this is applied to give life to game characters and creatures, but sometimes animations are also applied to other elements such as objects, scenery, vegetation and environmental effects.

Special software packages are used to create the animations, which are used for both automated or in game behaviours and predefined sequences or cut scenes.

Animators must portray movement and behaviour in an efficient and effective way which makes best use of the game engine's technology, within the platform's limitations. It is often necessary to restrict the number of key frames used or the number of characters that can appear on the screen at a time. Animators work closely with Programmers and Artists to create the best balance between smooth seamless movement and optimized performance on the target platform.

Game production is collaborative and Animators work as part of the art department team. Using the objects, models, and most importantly, characters created by 3D Artists, Animators define their movements and behaviours and apply them using the animation tools and techniques provided by the selected 3D animation software package.

Game animation can be a complex combination of many different types of movements, so the Animators must make extensive libraries of reusable animations for each character.

They are also usually responsible for the technical processes of rigging and skinning of the characters, which involves creating an underlying structure rather like the bones of a skeleton and attaching appropriate body parts to each bone. This makes the animation process itself a lot more efficient.

Design

Technical Art Design

The Technical Art Design is the bridge between the Art and Programming in a game development process. Technical artists ensure art assets can be easily integrated into a game without sacrificing either the overall artistic vision or exceeding the technical limits of the chosen platform.

The role of a Technical Artist is a relatively new one for the games industry, but is becoming increasingly important as consoles and PC hardware become more complex.

Despite their technical knowledge, the Technical Artist works part of the art team, working closely with the Lead Artist and the Creative Director, as well as the Lead Programmers.

Their main areas of responsibility include setting up and maintaining the art production workflow, and making decisions about which art packages and tools a studio should use.

They are also charged with investigating new techniques and implementing them. The job often includes a teaching element, with the Technical Artist sharing their knowledge via training and mentoring sessions with other Artists.

The Technical Artist is not typically directly involved in the creation of game art assets. Instead they act in more of an advisory position, setting up the systems of production as well as dealing with problems as they arise.

One large part of the job involves keeping up to date with changes in technology, both hardware and software, as well as new techniques. They are expected to be able to create custom tools to improve the efficiency of their team. This is usually carried out using the scripting languages included in the main modelling and animation packages.

They oversee work in response to feedback or debugging complex assets such as character skeleton rigs and skinning systems. They also research and oversee the implementation of rendering techniques such as normal and specular maps, particle systems and pixel shaders.

Design

Audio Engineering

Audio Engineering involve the creation of the soundtrack for a game. This might include music, sound effects to support the game action (such as gunshots or explosions), character voices and other expressions, spoken instructions, and ambient effects, such as crowd noise, vehicles or rain.

Audio Engineers work for development studios. The size of the audio department depends on the company, but can consist of just one or two people who are sometimes required to work very long hours. Audio Engineers also work for specialist outsourcing companies and localization services that re-version games for different territories.

Working to a creative brief, the Audio Engineer produces a sound design for the game and, when this has been agreed, realizes it. This might involve the composing, scoring and recording of music.

The Audio Engineer will sometimes also audition and record any actors that are needed - in other languages if the game is being re-versioned - and this might involve lip syncing to animation.

They are responsible for sourcing any sound effects that are needed, improving or creating them where necessary. These might be real or imaginary sounds, depending on the type of game. The Audio Engineer then edits, mixes and masters the music and sounds to produce the soundtrack for the finished game.

Creating a soundtrack for a game is a complex process. Games are non-linear, interactive experiences and the Audio Engineer needs to keep that in mind, particularly when scoring music. There are various technical constraints to be taken into account as well.

Language

Language Localization - Translation

Language Localization or for some companies, Translation provides input regarding localizing game content. This is where in-game text, voice scripts, manuals, and supplementary development and testing-related documents and materials are translated as required to fully localize game software. The role of a translator includes identifying game content that may require revision to better suit the tastes of consumers. He also provides feedback on game difficulty and appeal for the local market, maintains awareness of game industry in assigned market (this could be any country where the game is targeted) and communicates market trends to product acquisition and development staff, and may also interpret meetings, telephone calls, and video conferences related to game development and localization. The translator facilitates communication between foreign parent company and internal departments.

He also works collaboratively with software engineers in a development environment to drive efficiency and effectiveness of the localization process. Audits document output for formatting, text conversions and graphics integration. Proofs and assesses the quality of translation work providing feedback as necessary to maintain translation quality and correct use of terminology. Translate and localize documentation and communication using appropriate cultural relevance and etiquette.

Management

Project Management

The Project Manager, is the task of ensuring the successful delivery of a game, on time and within budget.

Project managers control the financial and other resources needed for a project and co-ordinate the work of the production team, making sure that the quality and vision of the game is maintained, whatever problems may arise. They understand everybody's contribution to a game and keep an overview of the entire process from start to finish.

The role of a Project Manager becomes an increasingly important role as production schedules lengthen and development costs increase. Game development is a highly complex process often lasting up to 2 years and requiring teams of programmers, designers, artists, writers, musicians, and even actors. Managing this is a big job which carries considerable financial responsibility.

Prior to production, the Project Manager carries out a detailed analysis of the game design specification and works out the project 'milestones' (specific targets that have to be met by certain dates). They agree on these with the key technical and creative managers, such as the Game Designer, Lead Artist and Lead Programmer.

They then work out a schedule for the project and decide the teams and equipment needed. They control the financial resources and negotiate all contracts with suppliers and contractors.

During development, the Project Manager monitors progress against the schedule. They are the central point of contact for all aspects of a production, liaising with senior management, publishers, PR and marketing departments, QA, as well as the programming, design and art teams, which can include any outsourced personnel.

They oversee all aspects of the game's development and delivery, and often localization requirements (different versions for different territories). They reprioritize when production deadlines are a concern, manage risks, and plan for contingencies.

The Project Manager might also have to oversee on-going maintenance issues even after the game is launched, involving updates, add-ons and customer support.

Art

Game Art Design

Artists create the visual elements of a game, such as characters, scenery, objects, vehicles, surface textures, clothing, props, and even user interface components. They also create concept art and storyboards which help communicate the proposed visual elements during the pre-production phase.

Some games try to look as realistic as possible while others aim for a more stylish look. It is the Artist's job to model and texture characters and objects to achieve the desired result. The look of a game is often a significant factor in its success, second only to its playability.

There are various specialization within the art department, including 3D object modelling, character design, textures, and environments. Each Artist has responsibility for the creation of particular art assets with a game, but there is also a lot of movement between roles. They might also create artwork for packages, promotional materials and websites.

Artists work under the supervision of the Lead Artist. They create art assets according to the game specification and they are usually responsible for managing those assets.

Some Artists specialize in the design of human figures and characters, others in buildings and landscapes, and some in textures for 3D objects.

Artists must be aware of the technical capabilities and limitations of the platform that the game will be played on. They must also take on board feedback from QA Testers. Artists do a range of jobs which have different responsibilities and techniques, including:

  • Concept Artist - usually using traditional materials (e.g. pen and paper) rather than computer software, the Concept Artist sketches ideas for the game worlds, characters, objects, vehicles, furniture, clothing, etc. They also suggest level designs, colour schemes, and the mood and feel of the game. Although not involved in creating the actual game art, their concept will shape the look of the game
  • 3D Modeller - builds the characters, objects and environments of the game, including life forms, scenery, vegetation, furniture, and vehicles, etc. They need to balance visual richness and detail with the limitations of the game's technology
  • 2D/Texture Artist - creates and applies textures to characters, environments and game items, such as the surfaces of walls and floors of buildings. This is also a highly skilled area, which requires considerable knowledge of lighting, perspective, materials and visual effects
Art

Lead Artist

The Lead Artist (also known as Art Director or Creative Manager) is responsible for the overall look of the game. Working with the Game Designer and Lead Programmer, the Lead Artist devises the game's visual style and directs the production of all visual material throughout the games development.

They produce much of the initial artwork themselves, setting creative and technical standards and determining the best tools and techniques to use.

In conjunction with the Producer, the Lead Artist puts together and manages the team of Artists and Animators who produce most of the art assets for the game (including environments, characters, objects and effects) under the Lead Artist's direction.

The Lead Artist must ensure that the art and animation team works to schedule and within budget. They also work closely with the programming team to make sure that all art and animation assets produced can be easily imported into the game engine.

The styling is often communicated through concept art. The Lead Artist will supervise, if not actually undertake, the production of material which illustrates the visual atmosphere and graphical design for the game.

They also research and test out different modelling, texturing, animation, rendering and lighting techniques and tools appropriate to the games technology, with input from the Lead Programmer.

They supervise the team's output from a creative and technical point of view, and also ensure that the work gets done according to budget and schedule, alongside the games producer, anticipating problems and planning for any contingencies. They are also usually responsible for overseeing any outsourced art production.

Art

Creative Director

The Creative Director is the key person during the game development process, overseeing any high-level decisions that affect how the game plays, looks or sounds.

Not all game companies employ Creative Directors. Some companies prefer to continue to split the duties between a game's Lead Artists, Lead Programmers, Designers and Producers.

Where the position is used, each game development team has its own Creative Director. Some highly experienced and talented Creative Directors oversee multiple projects.

They are responsible for the overall look and feel of a computer game. The position is a relatively new one within the games industry. It has evolved out of the producer's role, which has shifted towards managing the process of completing a game on time and on budget.

In contrast, the Creative Director's focus is on ensuring the quality and style of the gameplay, artwork, music and audio assets that make up the final product. In many cases, the Creative Director is also the creator of the original game concept and characters, and so makes sure that the finished game fulfills the initial goals.

At the start of a project, they work with a small core team defining the framework of the game, with special attention paid to the artistic styling and any technical obstacles that will need to be overcome.

As the game's development continues and more staff are added, the Creative Director works closely with the Lead Programmers, Artists and Designers to ensure all the code and art assets produced, as well as playable versions of the game, are of a sufficiently high quality. They deal with issues arising such as new features and any major redesigning of characters and scenarios. Outside of the development team, they act as the game's champion, promoting it to executives who are not directly involved in production, such as the sales and marketing departments.

Development

Game Programming

Game Programming is the very heart of the game development process. Game programmers design and write the computer code that runs and controls the game, incorporating and adapting any ready-made code libraries and writing custom code as required. They test the code and fix bugs, and also develop customized tools for use by other members of the development team.

Different platforms (games consoles, PCs, handhelds, mobiles, etc.) have particular programming requirements and there are also various specialization within programming, such as physics programming, AI (artificial intelligence), 3D engine development, interface and control systems.

Games development is an increasingly complex process and large teams of Programmers might be involved in creating a game, some in leadership roles, some working on just one aspect.

Programmers are employed by development studios publisher-owned and independent. They also work for middleware producers, an increasingly important sector providing cross-platform graphics rendering, game physics, sound management, AI, and other specialist tools. Programmers might also work for localization companies which translate and re-version games for different territories.

There are many different programming roles. Job titles include: Games programmer; Tools programmer; AI programmer; Middleware programmer.

The Lead Programmer translates the design into a technical specification for the game and then delegates tasks to the programming team:

  • General programmers work on a whole range of tasks, often working with code that other Programmers have written.
  • Programmers with specific tasks, might work on physics (e.g. programming movable objects so that they appear to obey the laws of gravity, etc.)
  • Specialist tools programmers identify and design any custom tools which may be needed, perhaps by the Artists or Level Editors, then build them to an agreed specification.

The Programmers create different 'builds' of a game, liaising with the QA Testers to fix any bugs identified at each stage. They might also work with a Localization Manager to create versions of the game for different platforms and territories.

Development

Lead Game Programmer

The Lead Programmer leads the programming team responsible for creating all the computer code which runs and controls a game. Programmers have various roles and specialisms including AI (artificial intelligence), game engine development, user interface, tools development and physics.

The Lead Programmer oversees all of this. They are responsible for the technical specification of the game and manage the overall code development process. It is also their job to make sure that the team delivers on time and within budget.

The Lead Programmer manages the software engineering of a game from start to finish. In conjunction with other key team leads (e.g. the Game Designer, the Lead Artist, etc.) they develop the technical specification for the game, and then delegate the different elements to their team of programmers.

They usually compile all the technical documentation for the software produced by the programming team and ensure the quality, effectiveness and appropriateness of all the game code.

They manage the production of the different 'builds' of a game (different versions, each an improvement on the last), ensuring that coding bugs are fixed and appropriate solutions found (or as many as possible within the production time frame), liaising with the Project Manager to make sure this all happens on schedule.

The Lead Programmer must also provide support and guidance to the programming team, making sure that the programmers understand the specification and have the right skills and training to be able to do their jobs effectively. Lead Programmers will also write a substantial amount of code themselves.

Development

Game Quality Assurance Test

Quality Assurance Technicians, or Testers, perform a vital role in this stage of development. They test, tune, debug and suggest the detailed refinements that ensure the quality and playability of the finished game. They play-test the game in a systematic way, analysing the game's performance against the designer's intentions, identifying problems and suggesting improvements.

They test for bugs in the software, from complete crashes to minor glitches in the programme. They also act as the game's first audience, reporting on its playability and identifying any aspects which could be improved.

Playing games all day for a living might sound like an ideal job, but this is in fact a highly disciplined role.

They are responsible for assuring quality in the final product and for finding all the flaws in a game before it goes public. They look for programme bugs - spelling mistakes, localization problems (variations of the game are required for different territories), graphical or audio glitches, and also any copyright issues.

QA Testers must know which issues are the most important and be able to prioritize them for fixing. They work to deadlines and must understand production and marketing schedules. They normally use a software quality management system to document findings.

They work in teams, sometimes playing together on a multi-player game or a team might 'own' part of a game.

Testing involves playing a game over and over again, testing different levels and builds (incomplete development versions of a game, sometimes with various features missing). The work can be repetitive and tedious, but Testers have to test long after the novelty and fun factor may have worn off.

They must be diplomatic when communicating with other team members and accept that they can have only limited influence over the game design. They also need to be able to anticipate different ways the game will be played, and test accordingly.

They might also have an on-going relationship with customer support teams once a game is launched.

Maintenance

Technical Support

Technical support is the link between the game company and the public. Technical support specialists help customers who may have problems operating a game or related equipment.

Management

Product Manager

The Product Manager or Brand Managers's role is to help create and implement marketing campaigns to maximize the sales of the games they are working on.

Working in the marketing team, they support the senior marketing managers who organize international or global campaigns.

The Product Manager may also work with a Brand Manager, who is responsible for developing long-term plans for individual game franchises and providing a strategic overview of how a game brand should change over time.

Product Managers typically work for game publishers or independent marketing companies who work with publishers. They will have to manage the marketing budget in a responsible manner and demonstrate an effective return on investment. The tasks carried out by a Product Manager are varied and change as a game's release approaches.

In the earliest stages of game development, they may liaise with development staff to provide some input into initial decision such as characters and scenarios. They will also be involved with any focus testing of the game's concept and, later in the project, how feedback on the game is used.

One key task for the Product Manager is defining the market positioning of their games, especially in terms of showing how they are different to competing products. The most important part of the job occurs prior to release, when the game's launch plan is put into action.

In terms of marketing, the job is highly team-oriented as many different departments, such as publicity, sales and outside contractors are involved in creating a complete campaign.

Tasks typically range from the design, creation and distribution of packaging and marketing materials such as cover images, posters, websites and point-of-sale assets, to liaising with media buyers concerning the placement of adverts.

They also deal with intellectual property licensors and promotional partners, as well as sales distributors, and localization and translation providers.

Management

Assistant Producer

The Assistant (or Junior) Producer works with a game's production staff to ensure the timely delivery of the highest quality product possible.

Typically, they will focus on specific areas of the development process. This could involve handling the communications between the publisher and developer, or co-ordinating work on some of the project's key processes such as managing the outsourcing of art assets.

Assistant Producers are employed by publishers as well as development studios. Working within a development studio often involves managing communications between different teams such as design, art and programming.

In a publisher environment, Assistant Producers will focus on liaising between sales and marketing departments and the developer, and supporting the work of the publisher's External Producer.

The Assistant Producer's role and responsibilities change during the development process, as different elements of the game are created. Important aspects of the job can include task and milestone planning and tracking, as well as handling review and approval processes. They are usually responsible for filing and archiving game assets such as concept artwork, marketing and press assets.

Another aspect of the role is handling any outsourcing required. The Assistant Producer will often act as the main point of contact for outsourcing companies. They must track the quality of deliverables and provide feedback.

As the game enters the final stage of development, they might organize press visits, release game demos and set up photo shoots.

Management

External Producer

The External Producer is responsible for ensuring the successful delivery of a game, while working externally from the development team.

External Producers are almost always employed by a game publisher. Working out of the publisher's head office, they liaise between the publisher's sales and marketing departments and the game developer, which may be located hundreds of miles away.

The External Producer works closely with the game's internal producer, who is part of the on-site development team. While the internal producer focuses on the staff management tasks of getting a game finished on time and on budget, the External Producer is concerned with broader issues.

The External Producer is like a consultant, advising the game developer instead of dealing with day-to-day problems. Their responsibility is best described as ensuring the publisher has all the relevant information required to make the game as commercially successful as possible.

This can involve anything from co-ordinating the release of screenshots and demo disks with the game's marketing manager, to handling the outsourcing of audio, cut scenes or language localization with the developer's internal producer, and running focus tests on early versions of the game.

In addition, the External Producer will act as the developer's go-between with the publisher with regard to interim payments or major changes to the game's design or appearance.

Why join GDAP?

Attend international and local events with special GDAP discounted rate.

Be part of the official Philippine delegation that will represent the country in business events promoting Philippines and your company. 

Meet decision makers in the Philippine Game Industry.

Influence Philippine government projects and initiatives that are beneficial to the Philippine game industry and implement those projects hand in hand with the Philippine government.

 

Membership Types

Core Membership

Core Members are SEC registered companies whose primary line of business is digital game development or any of its related technologies and services. These include game development studios for any platform, digital game art and animation providers, game engine and middleware providers, and game consultants. Applicants who are applying to be a core member must be currently working on or have worked on a digital game.

  • Application Fee (one time) - Php5,000.00
  • Membership Dues (annual) - Php12,000.00
Affiliate Membership

Affiliate Members are companies and organizations that play supporting roles in game development. These include colleges and universities with game-related courses, special interest organizations, game talent agencies, music and sound studios, digital animation houses, game publishers, and game distributors.

  • Application Fee (one time) - Php2,500.00
  • Membership Dues (annual) - Php6,000.00
SMALL TEAM Membership

Any interested small team (1-3 people) that is into games or game development, the members of which are at least 18 years of age, may apply to GDAP as a small team member. Professionals and students are welcome to apply.

  • Application Fee (one time) - Php500.00
  • Membership Dues (annual) - Php2,500.00
INDIVIDUAL Membership

Any interested individual who is into games or game development, at least 18 years of age, may apply to GDAP as an individual member. Professionals and students are welcome to apply.

  • Application Fee (one time) - Php500.00
  • Membership Dues (annual) - Php2,500.00