Ever have an idea for a shiny new game that could transform the world of gaming as we know it? How do you get it to a reputable company? What happens after the game is submitted? What goes into creating a working game? Well, I thought I should explain what happens when someone wants to create a game.
Although it’s much easier to make a mobile app and sell it for $0.99, people still have ideas that fit the console gaming style better than the mobile gaming style.
Before an idea can be brought to the company, it has to be drafted. Now, the drafts can be as informal as a basic synopsis of the story plus a general idea of gameplay. It doesn’t even have to be written down. But, to protect the idea, write it down and have a copy. To reiterate, WRITE IT DOWN. If not written down, the company has the ability to use the idea any way it chooses, so don’t just talk to someone. Please.
Once the proposal has a basic draft, it can then be brought to a representative from the gaming company. If you work in a gaming company, that person is usually the HR person. The meeting is pretty informal and generally consists of a face-to-face exchange to discuss the idea. If the correspondent does not like the idea, words are not minced, blatant rejection ensues and after a conversation about how the to improve the idea to fit the company’s game style may start. If the correspondent enjoys the game idea, it will be taken to the higher-ups for further review.
A small caveat: If you work in the company you are proposing the idea to or working at another game company, there are likely rules about your ideas not legally being your property. I know from personal experience that this rule applies just about everywhere. It sucks, but that’s how companies can gather large amounts of new ideas.
If the higher-ups are interested in the idea presented, they will contact you with a request for technical demo. A tech demo is basically a working presentation of a part of the game. The demo can be as basic as driving around with the controller on a single plane or showing part of the innovative aspects of the game like character customization or a battle simulation. The main idea is that the developers should be able to have some form of game to play during the demo. The controls of the demo and predicted playability of the game are taken into account at this step. The developers have had enough exposure to games to be able to tell if the presented game is marketable.
The tech demo is discussed at length, and then the company will make a decision after a few days about whether or not to pursue the presented game. Should the game be pushed forward, it then enters alpha testing where the most basic of basic designs are added. Usually, the game has unshaded characters, basic camera work and basic landscape structures. Most people will never see alpha testing, but it really looks like a hot mess.
As the hot mess slowly becomes a slightly-less-hot mess, the game enters beta testing, during which Q&A testers begin finding and reporting bugs as features are added into new builds of the game. Once the game has passed all of the Q&A requirements for two builds, it is then sent as a submission build to the first party (i.e. Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft). If the game passes the submission build, then the testing process occurs at the first party company. From there it becomes a shiny, purchasable game.
The general gist of this, for those who dismiss it as TL;DR, is as follows. Once someone has an idea for a game, it can be submitted to a game company for consideration. Make sure the initial proposal, no matter how incomplete, is in a written form with a date on it. From there, make a tech demo of some form of working gameplay, generally not pretty. Present it. If they like it, then it’s sent to developers who will begin work on the game itself. The game begins in alpha testing where the most basic elements are put into the game and then it proceeds into beta testing. From there bugs are reported and builds are made with reckless abandon. The game will hopefully pass from beta testing through the first party submission where it will turn into a new game. BOOM: That’s the magic of making games from an idea.