LAFS SVI Level 6 - Game Development

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Lecture for Level 6 of The Los Angeles Film School's Survey of the Videogame Industry course.

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  • A bug is literally a recipe for disaster.
  • Stakeholder (corporate), a person, group, organization, or system who affects or can be affected by an organization's actions.
  • LAFS SVI Level 6 - Game Development

    1. 1. Session 6 David Mullich Survey of the Videogame Industry The Los Angeles Film School
    2. 2. Developers  A video game developer is a software developer (a business or an individual) that creates video games  A developer may specialize in a certain video game console, such as Sony's PlayStation 3, or may develop for a variety of platforms
    3. 3. Game Developer (Business)  Owned and run by a game publisher  An independently owned company that may work for different publishers A company that develops video games is also called a Game Studio. Game Studios may be:
    4. 4. Game Developer (Individual)  One or more individuals working freelance A game developer may also be: When applied to an individual, the term “game developer” may also refer specifically to a game programmer. Game programmers are also called: • Coders • Engineers
    5. 5. Development Teams The lone, “auteur” game developer is a myth.* *Unless you’re Notch. Are you Notch? No, you are not.
    6. 6. Organization
    7. 7. Developer Departments  Design  Art/Animation  Programming  Audio (Music/Sound)  Project Management  Quality Assurance  Business Development
    8. 8. Design Department  Controls  UI  Setting/Story/Dialog  Game balance  Level layouts  Scoring  System tweaking  Tutorials  Character/enemy design  Playtesting
    9. 9. Level Designer Day in the Life: Video Game Designer
    10. 10. Art Department  3D modeling  Characters  Objects  Levels  Environments  2D  Textures  HUD  Cinematics  Animations  Rigging  UV mapping  Motion capturing
    11. 11. Game Artist Working in Games: Leader Artist (4:51)
    12. 12. Programming Department  Graphics  Art pipeline  Physics  Networking  AI  Audio  Gameplay  Integration  Optimization  Scripting Interpreters  Tools  Test managers
    13. 13. Programmers Extra Credits, Season 4, Episode 01 - So You Want To Be a Developer (Part 1) (6:57)
    14. 14. Programmers Extra Credits, Season 4, Episode 02 - So You Want To Be a Developer (Part 2) (5:45)
    15. 15. Do I Need To Know Math? Yes! Mathematics is not just for programmers! Geometry is maths too. As are statistics. And probability. And proportion. And even project management and budgeting. Maths is everywhere and it isn’t hard. Especially when it’s applied. So let’s debunk that myth right here.
    16. 16. Audio Department  Composing  Conducting  Recording  Tweaking  Synching
    17. 17. Game Audio What is Game Audio and Sound Design? (4:51)
    18. 18. Project Management The manager of a development team might be called:  Development Director  Director  Team Leader  Project Manager  Producer
    19. 19. What Does A Project Manager Do? Gantt Chart – MS Project
    20. 20. What Does A Project Manager Do?
    21. 21. The Producer Extra Credits, Season 3, Episode 11 - So You Want To Be A Producer (8:46)
    22. 22. Business Development  Responsible for finding sales and growth opportunities  Finding new clients  Keeping existing clients  Maintaining client satisfaction
    23. 23. Specialist Vs. Generalist The industry has places for both, but in different contexts. Which one are you? Hint: If you don’t know, you are not a specialist.
    24. 24. Production Phases  Concept  Pre-Production  Production  Post Production
    25. 25. Concept Phase  Concept Document  Project Plan & Budget  Contract
    26. 26. Pre-Production  Game Design Document (GDD): A document describing the game vision and how the game will work.  Technical Design Document (TDD): A document describing how the game will be created  Prototype/First Playable: An early playable version of the game  Detailed Schedule and Budget
    27. 27. Who Is Busy During Pre- Production?  Busiest: Designer  Very Busy: Producer, Lead Programmer, Lead or Conceptual Artist  Somewhat Busy: Other Programmers, Artists  Not Busy: Audio, Testers
    28. 28. The Pre-Production Problem Extra Credits, Season 3, Episode 01 - The Pre Production Problem (8:03)
    29. 29. The Pre-Production Problem What can you do about the problem of the rest of the team being idle while only a few members are doing preproduction? If possible, do preproduction on the next project while the rest of the team is finishing up the current project.
    30. 30. Production  Team ramps up (adds more people) to create:  All the game features (Alpha code)  All the game assets (art and audio)  All the game levels
    31. 31. Production Pipeline (Overview)
    32. 32. Production Pipeline (Details)
    33. 33. Managing Resources  StarCraft  Minerals  Vespene gas  Game Development  People  Money  Time
    34. 34. The Quality Triangle  Tradeoffs:  As any single element increases, Quality increases  As any single element decreases, Quality decreases
    35. 35. Builds  Daily builds  Individual builds (such as for a demonstration)  Major builds (milestones)  Lock down
    36. 36. Who Is Busy During Production?  Busiest: Programmers, Artists  Very Busy: Producer, Designers  Somewhat Busy: Audio  A Little Busy: Testers
    37. 37. Post-Production  The game is (nearly) finished and ready for:  Quality Assurance Testing  Localization  Porting
    38. 38. Localization Issues  Translation  Art asset changes  Music changes  Content changes  UI changes  Ratings
    39. 39. Translation  Dialog (vocals & subtitles)  TRANSLATE WELL!  No more “All your base,” please  String length  Labels imbedded in art assets  Messages/Commands (loading, game over)  Fonts  GUI buttons
    40. 40. US Art assets Germany
    41. 41. Content Changes History and even geography may need to be “rewritten” for a given region.  China & Taiwan
    42. 42. Regional Preferences  Cameras and gameplay may need to be adjusted for some regions.  The US doesn’t like “grinding,” which is highly popular in Asia  US stories are often simplified and glorify Americans, Japanese stories tend to be esoteric  Japan doesn’t like “searching” for items  Asia prefers linearity, the US prefers open-ended  First Person mode tends to cause negative physical reactions in Japan
    43. 43. Western Vs. Asian Views On Gameplay Extra Credits, Season 2, Episode 17 - The Myth Of The Gun (5:53)
    44. 44. Who Is Busy During Post- Production?  Busiest: Programmers, Testers  Very Busy: Producer  Somewhat Busy: Designer  A Little Busy: Artists, Audio
    45. 45. Development Methodologies  Waterfall: A sequential process in which development is seen as flowing downwards (like a waterfall) through pre-determined stages  Agile: An iterative process in which the project is re-evaluated at the end of each cycle
    46. 46. Scrum  A flexible holistic strategy where a development team works together to reach a common goal  The word “scrum” is a rugby term, referring to the manner of restarting after a minor infraction
    47. 47. Stakeholder A person, group, organization, or system who affects or can be affected by an organization's actions. They have a vested interest in the project. Stakeholders may have different levels of involvement in a project. Some may be merely contribute, while others are more committed.
    48. 48. Stakeholders in a Game Project Committed (Pigs) • Development Team • Producer • Quality Assurance Contributors (Chickens) • Sales • Marketing • Finance • Customer
    49. 49. Roles  Project Owner: Represents the stakeholders and is the voice of the customer. S/he is accountable for delivering value  Team: Responsible for delivering a shippable project in incremental steps  Scrum Master: Enforces the rules of Scrum. Responsible for removing obstacles to the team. Acts as a buffer between the team and distracting influences.
    50. 50. Project Backlog  An ordered list of requirements for the product: features, bug fixes, non-functional requirements (such as documentation)  The items are ordered by the Product Owner based on considerations like risk, business value, etc.  The features added to the backlog are commonly written in a story format. (“As a user, I would like to…”)
    51. 51. Scrum Elements  Sprint: The basic unit of development in Scrum. The sprint is a “timeboxed” effort – normally between one week and one month.  Sprint Backlog: The list of tasks to be accomplished during that sprint.  Sprint Planning Meeting: At the beginning of every sprint, a planning meeting is held to decide what work is to be done and prepare the sprint backlog.
    52. 52. Daily Scrum (Daily Standup) A timeboxed meeting (usually set to 15 minutes) of the development team. It should be held at the same time and location every day. Each team member answers three questions:  What have you done since yesterday?  What are you doing today?  Are there any obstacles?
    53. 53. End of Sprint  Sprint Review Meeting: Completed work is reviewed with the stakeholders (“the demo”)  Sprint Retrospective: The team members discuss improvements to the process
    54. 54. Scrum Scrum Methodology an Agile Movie (6:12)
    55. 55. Hybrid  An approach in which Scrum Sprints occur between Waterfall Milestones  Many game studios use a Hybrid methodology rather than a pure Agile approach
    56. 56. Naughty Dog G4 Icons Episode #34: Naughty Dog (22:42)
    57. 57. Testing vs. Playing At home, you play games to have fun. You get to choose what to play, when to play, and how to play it. Testing games can still be fun, but you have fewer choices about what, when and how to play. Everything you do when you play has a purpose.
    58. 58. Purposes of Game Testing  Find defects in the code or design  Demonstrate which parts of the game are working properly
    59. 59. Two Types of Testing  Gameplay Testing  “It’s too hard.”  “The hats should be blue.”  “Why can’t we have bigger guns?”  Bug Testing  “Game crashes when I do this…”  “Quest giver doesn’t reward me after I turn quest in.”  “Barbie says ‘Ima kill you!’”
    60. 60. In Other Words  Gameplay Testing is subjective and opinion based  Bug Testing is objective and fact based
    61. 61. QA Tools  Test Kit (PC, console, etc.)  Headphones  Video/audio capture  Test Plan  Bug Database
    62. 62. Test Plan  Written by Lead Tester (or Project Manager)  Exercises every feature and asset in the game  Used as the basis of check sheets
    63. 63. Writing a Bug Report  Bug #  Summary (Headline)  Location or Component  Description  Expected Result / Actual Result (when bug is not obvious)  Steps to reproduce  Reproduction Rate  Severity  Priority
    64. 64. Bug Severities  A = (Blocker / Critical) Fatal flaw. No-ship issue.  Crashes, freezes, can’t finish game  B = (Major / Normal) Serious flaw.  Features don’t work properly  C = (Minor / Trivial) Minor flaw.  Glitches in artwork, typos, minor annoyances
    65. 65. The Judger  Step-by-step or checklist-based testing  Conventional game-playing  Repetitive testing  Factual accuracy of game  Concerned about game contents  Requires a very structured, ordered, predictable environment
    66. 66. The Perceiver  Open-ended or outline-based testing  Unconventional game-playing  Testing variety  Realistic experience of game  Concerned about game context  Like a laid-back approach
    67. 67. The QA Process  QA Team tests build  QA Team reports defects  Development Team fixes defects  QA Team tests new build  QA Team verifies or rejects fixes  QA Team tests for new defects
    68. 68. Bug Resolution  Bug Meeting  Production  QA  Marketing  Every Open Bug is Reviewed  Must Fix  As Is / ISV  Patch
    69. 69. Careers in QA EA QA (Games Tester) Career Paths (9:46)
    70. 70. Top 10 Best Bugs …evar!

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