No matter what type of video game you choose, the design process requires time and energy. The video game industry has become one of the most profitable entertainment sectors. It is partly due to the efforts of game developers to create a realistic and comprehensive game. They usually have a clear plan to make the game a success. But sometimes there occurs an error in video game design that makes the game famous. On the one hand, they create mind-blowing features, music, characters, and script. On the other hand, one could get inspired only by a pizza and created an engaging game.
As you have already understood, the video game design process of almost half a century has many surprising facts. Enjoy the fun facts that will change your attitude to game development once and forever. Besides, I will share with you a brief history of video games. Maybe you can find more helpful facts in the second part of the blog.
You probably watched many inspirational videos about not giving up even if you fail. Final Fantasy is an excellent example of a long-awaited success. Its creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, was a college dropout. During the mid-80s', his many role-playing and race games failed. Finally, he decided to make one last effort. He planned to quit the industry if the new game failed, as well. It is not surprising that the man’s final fantasy was retiring. Luckily, he developed the Final Fantasy game and hit success. Initially, they sold 400 k copies. Later on, the game had remasters, sequels, and spin-offs. The main, who planned to retire after the new game’s failure, became the President of Square USA. It was the first video game company that took Final Fantasy.
Coming up with an engaging idea can be a problematic step in video game design. However, genuinely creative video game designers can even create a simple game from the concept of ‘eating.’ This strategy is what the creator of Pac-Man did. Pac-Man is a famous game that we all enjoyed playing in the past. Video game developer Toru Iwatani was inspired by a pizza that misses a slice. Then he created a game with a ‘slice-less’ pizza that eats dots while avoiding ghosts. The designer explained that the shape of the game character also resembles the Japanese word for ‘mouth.’
The original name of the game was Pakkuman. Pakku is a sound of eating in Japanese like ‘chomp’ in English. When the video game development company Namco decided to launch the game, they changed the name to Puck-Man. However, when they entered the North American market, they changed the name again. The reason was that people might vandalize the game by pronouncing it with F instead of P. thankfully, with the right strategies, the new game led to massive success in the 1980s.
Mahatma Gandhi is one of the leaders that promote peace. Anyone hearing his name associates him with peaceful actions. However, in the game of Civilization, Gandhi became famous for dropping nukes. Gandhi drops more nukes than any other citizen instead of creating a harmonious image. The reason for this contrast between the video game design and real-life was a programming error. Each leader in the game had an aggression score. Logically, Gandhi had a score of 1, which is the lowest.
However, another function- selecting democracy- decreased aggression level by 2. When players preferred Gandhi as a leader and democracy, the aggression level should have been -1. The problem was that coding of the game did not work with negative numbers. Instead of -1, the system jumped to the figure behind 1 in the loop, e.g., 150. Then the most aggressive leader became Gandhi. In later updates, developers solved the error. However, they kept the nuke score of Gandhi high, because it was funny.
Speaking of a game programming error, I want to share the story of Lara Croft. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider game had one of the most popular game characters. The reason for its popularity was partly due to the unrealistic shapes of the figure. However, this uniqueness was not a planned action. The game designers made an error. Instead of adjusting the breast size by 50%, they did by 150%. Though the mistake was made, the game became a great success.
Have you ever wondered how the video game designer generated the idea for Pokemon? Satoshi Tajiri is well known for his Pokemon game. In his childhood, he collected caterpillars. Then he watched how they become into butterflies. Later, it was his inspiration to video game design of Pokemon. He was a huge fan of arcade games. Therefore, Satoshi started writing and editing his video game fanzine called Game Freak. Meanwhile, he joined two Game Boys- a game console of Nintendo- by a cable. That was the time when he was inspired to create a game that reflected his childhood habits. As a result, he developed Pokemon Red and Pokemon Green, which became a huge hit.
The first video games appeared in the '60s. Huge machines made it possible to access them that utilized vector displays. In the 70's the first game console called Magnavox Odyssey was developed. It even connected a TV set. The base of this console was a discrete transistor-based logic. Hence, simple dots and lines created essential elements on the screen. If one compares them to today’s consoles, the consoles have come a long way. The most famous computer model of the '80s was Commodore 64. It has a little graphical processing power. This power was even lower than today’s TI-83 calculator. This calculator can be a tool to play Commodore 64 games if one can code.
The video game development process is not cheap. You need a professional team of programmers, designers, artists, and many others. The most expensive game required $137 million to develop. It was Grand Theft Auto V. Not to mention that the marketing costs were an extra $128 million. However, the game was able to generate high revenues to cover those costs. The video game developer also made a billion dollars in the first three days of the game launch.
If you wonder what the second most expensive is, it is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The game developer- Infinity Ward- spend only 50 million dollars on developing. But he spent almost $200 million to advertise the game.
We usually focus on game development so much that we forget about additional elements such as sound creation. It is not an easy task to select the right music type for the game. One should always think about how he can immerse players in video game design. The music helps to achieve this goal. Designers try to create a game that will take players to another world without realizing it. Therefore, the composers try to create a piece of music that will make players feel they are in the game world. No matter what game you play, whether it plays a live orchestra or 8-bit bloops-bleeps, the sounds are the result of a lot of brainstorming. Choosing the right music to keep the player in the game is one of the most challenging tasks.
The right music is just one difficult task of creating a detailed game world. The other is deciding on character voices. It is especially challenging if you want to develop a movie-type game. For instance, in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the chief Officer, had the voice of Samul Leroy Jackson. His serious-voice was a perfect fit for the game character. But let’s say you decided on the people who will voice. The challenge has not finished yet. Now you should start thinking about what will they talk to each other. Think about the script that they will use. As you have already understood, the video game design process does not end with coding or testing. It has much more going on in the backstage.
As I mentioned, even if you decide to voice characters, the text is needed to create a logical sequence. If you wonder how long, let me give you an example. THE Diable III game had almost 16000 lines of audio to record. It included a cinematic storyline with five hero classes. Besides, there were non-player figures and monsters too. To make it easy to compare, think about Dune movie with 25000 words script. If you could change this script into 2 line dialogues, then Diable III would have the same length of the writing. The other issue with the script is that long pages that make the bulk of the story of the game. There are a lot of license costs that can be a barrier to video game design.
I shared with you some of the most interesting facts of the game design process. They included the most famous games of the past, such as Pac-Man and today’s advanced game development facts. In this section, I also want to give brief information about the history of video games. The history itself bears many facts that can be helpful to you.
Today most of us have access to the internet and use consoles to enjoy video games. However, these games were first developed in scientific laboratories. In 1952, the British professor built the OXO game that we enjoy playing on paper too. After six years, another professor makes Tennis for Two games on an analog computer. But it was not until the 60’s that the players actually experienced video games. In 1962, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, experts built Spacewar! Game. One could play this game on multiple computers that were in universities.
Before I talked about Magnavox Odyssey is the first game console. Now it is time to learn a little more about its history. In 1967, Ralph Baer led some developers in Sanders Associates. They created a prototype of the console that could connect the TV set. They called the box “The Brown Box,” which was multiplayer and multiprogram game solution.
The video game designer Ralph is also known as the Father of Video Games. He licensed the box to Magnavox, the electronics company. Then Magnavox changed the name of the brown box to Odyssey in 1972 and started selling it. The box became famous too soon but also lost its popularity immediately. However, one of its games- Pong- became an inspiration for Atari game design. When Atari turned out to be successful, Magnavox sued it for copyright issues. Magnavox company won more than a hundred million dollars in a lawsuit related to Odyssey. As a result, Atari became an Odyssey licensee.
’70s was notorious for the dynamic improvements in video game design. In 1977, Atari created another home console. This console had special joysticks. Besides, it had changeable cartridges as players could enjoy multi-colored games. During the end of the ’70s, Space Invaders game and third-party developers emerged. Later on, Pac-Man, Flight, and Donkey Kong, which introduced Mario, appeared.
Considering today’s success in video games, and the multi-billion industry, it is hard to imagine that once the video game industry crashed. In the early ’80s, there appeared too many games that had low quality. E.T game was one of them. It was an Atari game that was based on a movie. But, many claimed that it was the worst game ever created. Besides, there was fierce competition with computer gaming, too. As a result, several gaming companies went bankrupt.
The industry started growing again in 1895 with the entrance of the Nintendo Entertainment System to the American market. The video game developer team of NES upgraded the colors, sounds, and gaming experience in Nintendo products. Most of us are familiar with this video development company and its engaging games such as Super Mario, Zelda, or Metroid. In 1989, Nintendo released the Game Boy- 8-bit game device. It usually came together with the Tetris game. As a result, the company made a huge hit that gained them a decades-long success.
The three-dimensional gaming era started when Sega launched its Saturn system, which is a 32-bit console in America. The difference of this console was that it played games on CDs, not cartridges. Sega tried to beat Sony’s enter to video games with Playstation. That is why the video game development company launched Saturn five months early than Playstation. But Sony had an advantage because Playstation was 100 dollars cheaper. Later, Nintendo also entered this competition with a 64-bit but cartridge-based solution called Nintendo 64.
None of the rivals could compete with successful video game designer of on-brand 3D titles- Sony. Sont also worked with third-parties, which granted them exclusive titles. In 2000, when the company created PlayStation 2, it became the best-selling console. It beat Sega’s Dreamcast, Nintendo’s Gamecube and Microsoft’s Xbox. For further information, Dreamcast was the turning point for Sega. It offered access to online gaming. That was the time when Sega quit its strategy in being a video game developer for consoles. The company pivoted its way toward being third-party gaming software development.
Only five years later, Sony faced fierce competition from its rivals. The Playstation 3 was already on the market during 2005 and 2006, and it was the only console to enjoy Blu-rays. But, Xbox 360 provided online gaming experience. Hence, it won many awards than any other competitor in 2007. On the other corner, there was Nintendo’s Wii, which had motion-sensitive remote controls. This feature created a whole new level in the video game design process. As a result, video games became appealing to the broader audiences even to people in retirement houses.
At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, players could enjoy games on social media. Besides, mobile game development made it possible to play on the go with the help of smart devices. One of our most favorite mobile games was Angry Birds, which created a $200 million profit only in 2012. From that time, the video game design started experiencing jumps in advancements. Video games got the use of the physical world, too, when Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure required plastic figures. You need to put these toys on accessory. Then the video game brings that character to the game. Later, in 2016, Playstation 4 Pro provided 4K video output. Currently, Sony and Microsoft compete for Virtual reality gaming. These games offer ground-breaking video game experience to players.