What are the key video game development roles?

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game development

What is video game development?

Game development is the process of developing a video game, from the initial concept to the finished product. Depending on the game and the studio undertaking the project, this process can take anything from a few weeks to over a decade. 

It may involve concept generation, design, build, test and release. While you create a game, it is important to think about the game mechanics, rewards, player engagement and level design. You might need thousands of designers, artists, programmers, writers, and testers for it. All in all, let’s take a closer look at each of these game developer roles. 

The key game development team roles

Game development roles will vary depending on the size of the studio and the complexity of the project itself. These are some of the positions that are significant for a game development process. 

Project manager

A project manager is one of the main game development team roles. Their job is to make sure the development process runs smoothly. They define project scope and keep things running according to the budget and schedule. A project manager facilitate the efforts of other developers, coordinating the team, preventing hold-ups and anticipating potential risks.

Designers

The game design team roles deserve special attention. They are the creative driver of the game. The game design section involves creating compelling stories and characters, challenging goals and levels, and the game rules themselves. 

Here are the main game design roles:

  • Game designer. A game designer is the creative driver of the game, and generally a cross between a writer and an artist, with some knowledge of programming. They develop the storyline, characters, dialogue, as well as all the rules of the game. 
  • Character designer. Character designers create the entire concept of characters, their style, visual appearance, and personality from scratch. Good character design is crucial, since it can drastically change the game immersion. Here you can find a character designer for hire.
  • Level designer. A video game level designer is responsible for creating interesting and fun levels. Their job is to keep the player focused on moving through the game and achieving their goal or mission while reducing the potential of confusion.

Programmers

Game programmers help develop games by turning design concepts into code to create fully playable games that run smoothly. They are often specialists with a combination of a strong math skills, patience and creativity. 

Their responsibilities include: 

  • Developing the game engine
  • Creating game physics
  • Programming the opponents’ AI
  • Scripting actions
  • Writing code for the controllers
  • Implementing game mechanics
  • Modifying 3D graphics render

Game artists 

Game artists are responsible for bringing color, movement, and life to the game. There are different video game roles when it comes to game art:

  • 3D modelers. Modelers create 3D models of characters, objects, props, weapons, and environments. As reference, they use concept arts and footage of real-world reference materials, especially if they’re replicating real objects. 
  • Game animators. Animators add believable movement to characters, objects, and environments. They conduct lots of research and analysis for references. Motion capture data can also be used to help create more lifelike animations.
  • FX artists. FX artists add effects such as explosions, smoke, fire and liquid simulations, and weather events such as rain, lightning, blizzards, etc.

Sound engineers/composers

Video game sound engineers control all aspects of sound during development. Sound can influence a player’s emotions, create tension and add to the excitement of the game.

Sound designers’ duties are to develop realistic sound effects, record dialogues between characters. Also, they create soundtracks that set the mood for players, add suspense or audio cues like opening music, menu pause music, marking a victory, and so on. 

Quality assurance/testers

The quality assurance team tests a game over the course of its development. QA play through a game multiple times, making detailed reports of any bugs or crashes they experience.

They not only look for bugs, but ensure the game instructions are clear for players. Quality control tests ensure that gamers will not encounter any glitches or issues which may negatively affect the playing experience.

Additional game development roles

The larger the studio, the more game developers it will hire. Here are some additional video game development team roles:

  • Narrative writer. Writers write text that players read, as well as writing scripts for the actors who will provide voice-overs.
  • Combat designer. Work closely with design leadership to design, implement and polish compelling combat experiences
  • Marketing specialist. The marketing manager’s job is to plan and execute marketing campaigns to promote the video game. 

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