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Rockstar Games is a video game developer and publisher owned by Take-Two Interactive. The brand is mostly known for the Grand Theft Auto and Midnight Club series. It comprises studios that have been acquired and renamed as well as others that have been created internally. While many of the studios Take-Two Interactive has acquired have been merged into the Rockstar Brand, several other recent ones have retained their previous identities and have become part of the company’s 2K Games division. The Rockstar Games label was founded in New York City, New York in 1998 by Sam Houser, Terry Donovan, Dan Houser, Jamie King and Gary Foreman.
Grand Theft Auto, Earthworm Jim 3D, Grand Theft Auto: London 1969, Grand Theft Auto: 1961, Grand Theft Auto 2, Thrasher Presents Skate and Destroy, Austin Powers: Oh Behave, Austin Powers: Welcome to My Underground Lair, Wild Metal: Reclaim the Future, Midnight Club: Street Racing, Surfing H3O, Smugglers Run, Smugglers Run 2: Hostile Territory, Oni, Grand Theft Auto 3, The Italian Job, State of Emergency, Smugglers Run Warzones, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Midnight Club 2, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, Manhunt, Red Dead Revolver, Grand Theft Auto Advance, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition, The Warriors, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Remix, Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis, Bully, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, Manhunt 2, Bully: Scholarship Edition, Grand Theft Auto IV, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Midnight Club: L.A Remix, Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Beaterator, Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad Of Gay Tony, Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3, L.A. Noire, Agent.
The development process of a game varies depending on the company and project. However development of a commercial game usually includes the following stages.
Pre-production – Early Phases of game development are often characterised by poor quality of graphics. This is especially true of various game prototypes. Normally before any game can begin development, the idea for the game is created and must be approved by the publisher/developer.
Games Designers often present the project, but the presenter could be any role in the video game industry. Before full-scale production begins, the development team produces a design document, which describes the concept and major gameplay elements in detail. Design documents may also include preliminary sketches of various aspects of the game. These are sometimes accompanied by functional prototypes of some sections of the game. Design documents generally incorporate all or most of the material from the initial pitch. Design documents are always “living documents” – it is never trully complete while the game is in development.
It often changes weekly or even daily. So while the design document needs to exist in some form before full-scale production begins, it is almost never a complete design, though most elements of the projected game are described (in varying level of detail).
Before an approved design is completed, a skeleton crew of programmers and artists usually begins work. Programmers may develop “quick and dirty” prototypes showcasing one or more features some stakeholders would like to see incorporated in the game. Or they may begin developing the technical framework the game will eventually use. Artists may develop volumes of sketches as a springboard for developing real game assets. Producers may work part-time on the game at this point, scaling up for full time commitment as development progresses. Game Producers work during pre-production is commonly related to planning the schedule, budget & estimating tasks with the team. Doing these Producer aims to create a solid production plan so that production can be started
Production - Mainstream production is usually defined as the period of time when the project is fully staffed. Programmers write much new source code, artists develop game assets such as sprites or, more often today, 3D models of game elements. Sound engineers develop sound effects and composers develop music for the game. Level designers create advanced and eye-catching levels, and writers write dialog for cutscenes and NPC’s.
All the while, the game designer implements and modifies the game design to reflect the current vision of the game. Features and levels are often removed or added. The art treatment may evolve and the backstory may change. A new platform may be targeted as well as a new demographic. All these changes need to be documented and dispersed to the rest of the team. Most changes occur as updates to the design document.
From a time standpoint, the game's first level takes the longest to develop. As level designers and artists use the tools for level building, they request features and changes to the in-house tools that allow for quicker and higher quality development.
Newly introduced features may cause old levels to become obsolete, so the levels developed early on may be repeatedly developed and discarded. Because of the dynamic environment of game development, the design of early levels may also change over time. It is not uncommon to spend upwards of twelve months on one level of a game developed over the course of three years. Later levels can be developed much more quickly as the feature set is more complete and the game vision is clearer and more stable.
Testers start work once anything is playable. This may be one level or subset of the game software that can be used to any reasonable extent. Early on, testing a game occupies a relatively small amount of time. Testers may work on several games at once. As development draws to a close, a single game usually employs many testers full time (and often with overtime). They strive to test new features and regression test existing ones. Testing is vital for modern, complex games as single changes may lead to catastrophic consequences.
Milestones - Commercial game development projects are usually required to meet milestones. Milestones represent interim project goals while also being synonymous with deadlines. Milestones include a pre-release version of the game with an agreed upon set of features. The consequences of missing a milestone vary from project to project, but usually delay instalment payments (in the case of third-party developers).
Shortly before a milestone, many development teams go into "crunch mode"—extended overtime work weeks meant to catch up on any work that has slipped during regular development or to fix "killer bugs" that could jeopardize the future of the project. During these periods, many team members may put in long hours. After a deliverable is completed, some companies give their teams "comp time" (compensation time) of a few paid days off.
There are many types of deliverables, but one for an instalment payment described above is the most common. For example, one major milestone may be an E3 demo’s. E3—which, is generally the game industry's biggest trade show—is the place to market an upcoming game.
The E3 demo is such a major effort that it may halt all normal development as the team prepares a small-scale, polished version of the game. Special assets are usually required for such a demo and team members are normally pulled off mainstream production for the demo development. As time draws nearer to the trade show, more team members may be drawn in to complete the demo on time. Later, this demo may be used as the game's official demo when the game is released.
Nearing completion - The weeks leading to completion of a game are intense, with most team members putting in a great deal of—mostly unpaid—overtime. Unsurprisingly, this may lead to short tempers and a great deal of exhaustion. The extra effort is required for most games as unforeseen problems regularly arise and last-minute features are hastily added.
Testing - The testing staff is most heavily relied upon at the end of a project, as they not only need to test newly added features, levels and bug fixes, but they also need to carry out regression testing to make sure that features that have been in place for months still operate correctly. This is also often the time when features and levels are being finished at the highest rate, so there is more new material to be tested than any other time in the project.
Regression testing is one of the most vital tasks required for effective software development. As new features are added, subtle changes to the codebase can impact seemingly unrelated portions of the game. This task is often overlooked, for several reasons. Some inexperienced developers may feel that once a feature works, it will always work. Also, since features are often added late in development, there isn't sufficient time to test existing features: testing new features takes precedence. Proper regression testing is also increasingly expensive and often not scheduled for correctly ahead of time.
Despite the dangers of not completely regression testing, some game developers and publishers fail to regression test a game’s full feature suite and ship a game with bugs. This can result in angering the customers and therefore, not meeting sales goals. When this does happen, most developers/publishers are quick to release a patch (es) that will fix the bug and make the game fully playable again.
Completion - After the game goes gold and ships, some developers will give team members comp time (perhaps up to a week or two) to compensate for the overtime put in to complete the game, though this compensation is not standard.
Maintenance - Console games used to be considered 100% complete when shipped and could not be changed. However, with the introduction of online-enabled consoles such as the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii a large proportion of games are receiving patches and fixes after the game shipped due to bugs and glitches, much like PC games.
While console games can be developed for a finite set of components, PC games can have conflicts with the numerous hardware configurations users may employ. Developers try to account for the most prevalent configurations, but cannot anticipate all systems that their game may be tried on. It is common practice for computer game developers to release patches for games after they ship (often months or even years later). These patches used to be mailed to users via floppy disk, but are now generally available for download via the developer's website. If a game goes into a second printing, the patched version is used as the new master.
Bungie developed the game Oni , which was published by Rockstar on the PS2. Before Bungie was bought by Microsoft, their breakthrough product, Halo , was planned for release on Mac and PC with Rockstar as publisher.
Capcom had early development in Rockstar San Diego's Red Dead Revolver and currently owns the Japanese distribution rights to the Grand Theft Auto series.
Dubtitled, in collaboration with Michael "Mic" Neumann on State of Emergency and Grand Theft Auto series.
Digital Eclipse Software collaborated with Rockstar North while developing Grand Theft Auto Advance .