The Road Less Taken

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Video games have been an integral part of our childhood. Within most of us, even today, video games instill a feeling of childlike felicity. Be it our need for the speed or we making the clans clash, video games will always be an indispensable source of ethereal joy and entertainment.

There are a number of ways through which a video game comes into existence - using proper frameworks, means and techniques. Like almost everything else, video games are also influenced by the rapid growth of technology, with Computer Science playing an important and leading role. Playing a video game, nowadays, is like entering a completely different world, one with its own unique sights, sounds and realities. Video games have become the preferred game of choice, exerting significant social and cultural influence over children, teens and adults. Users spend up most of the time of their day playing games like Gears of War, Batman, Battlefield Hardline, Borderlands 2,Mass Effect 2, God of War 3, Team Fortress 2, Bioshock Infinite etc. either on desktops or their handheld devices. Today, game playing is growing manifolds, but how many of us take time to stop and think about what's involved with creating these games?

While video games have traditionally been considered a simple entertainment source, nowadays they occupy a privileged position in the entertainment market, representing a fast growing industry globally. Although India seems to be lagging behind in terms of game development, a recent study by NASSCOM revealed that the Indian gaming industry is close to $890 million. With the increase in popularity of smartphones in the Indian market, the gaming industry is set for a steady rise as the youth is now looking at video games as not just a form of recreation, but also as a way to test their skills and talent. Video game development is a computer and mathematics-heavy field that spans the entirety of the many aspects involved in creating a video game. This includes everything from conception and the storyline to graphic design and programming. Presently, the development of video game has become technically more advanced, and the barrier to enter into this market as a developer is getting increasingly more challenging as far as the creativity and the cost is concerned.The students who study video game development become familiar both with the whole production process of creating a video game, as well as each of its specialized aspects. Many video game development programs focus on providing a robust programming foundation to complement the education in the production aspects of game development. The developers have to consider the following facts in the game development context:

  1. A number of studies indicate that many video games are beneficial to the development of specific skills: attention, spatial concentration, problem-solving, decision-making, collaborative work, creativity, and so on.

  2. To explore the relationship between architectural design elements and atmosphere, analyzing both the atmosphere produced by the architectural design and the impact of atmosphere on the design - “emphasizes critical thinking on the nature of space and its representation… and its interactivity.”

  3. The nature of the video games, take part in development process of behavior, mood, personality and thoughts of a player. This leads the developers to think about the psychological engagement of video games.

  4. To find out and must understand what motivates players to play the games and what needs the games meet.

  5. Video games may be useful in equalizing individual differences in spatial skill performance, i.e., in medical science.

  6. The study says that girls do not play video games with the same intensity or for a long durations as long as boys do. So, to find out the gaps and developing the games as per the requirements of the girl’s mood.

So on and so forth.

3D Games

After designing the game's concept, as well as the characters and environments, the video game maker is ready for the computer work that will make his game, a reality. Software packages for making video games generally consists of three categories : 3-D games, 2-D games and role-playing games. The 3-D software is more powerful than the 2-D, and role-playing game software is different all together. Some popular video game software for 3-D includes DarkBASIC, Source Engine, Frostbite, Unreal Engine,CryEngine, Unity 3D, Leadwerks, Torque 3D, Blender, Neoaxis, C4 Engine, ShiVa 3D.

Role-playing game making software includes the RPG Toolkit, RPG 95, 2000, 2003 and XP; and Hephaestus, among others. Video game makers use several codes to create their games. These include C++, Python, Visual Basic and Perl, among others. Twine, Stencyl, and GameMaker are primarily tools for those who have absolutely no computer science skills, have never programmed anything in their life and think that it's beyond their ability to do so. Most of the game development tools come prepackaged with sample games, and one of the best ways to learn a new game development tool is to muck around with them, take them apart, and see how they work.

Game Development, today, has become an attractive and bright career option for the computer science graduates. Job roles in Game Development are:

  • Animator: Responsible for the portrayal of movement and behavior within a game.
  • Assistant Producer: They work with a game's production staff to ensure the timely delivery of the product.
  • Audio Engineer: They create the soundtrack for a game, including music, sound effects, character voices and spoken instructions.
  • Creative Director: They responsible for the overall look and feel of a computer game.
  • External Producer: They ensure the successful delivery of a game, while working externally from the game development team.
  • Game Designer: Game Designers devise what a game consists of and how it plays, defining all the core elements
  • Game Programmer : Game Programmers design and write the computer code that runs and controls a game.
  • Games Artist: Games Artists create the visual elements of a game, such as characters, scenery, objects, vehicles, surface textures and clothing.
  • Lead Artist: Lead Artists are responsible for the overall look of a game.
  • Lead Programmer : Lead Programmers lead the programming team responsible for creating all the game's computer code.
  • Level Editor: Level Editors define and create interactive architecture for a segment of a game, including the landscape, buildings and objects.
  • Marketing Executive: Marketing Executives promote their employer's products or services or raise people's awareness of a message (link to National Careers Service website).

Today, video game development emerges itself as a research area and establishing as an indistinguishable field of computer science. Typical courses comprising a degree in video game development include Multiple programming foundation courses, Data Structures, Artificial Intelligence, Software Architecture, 3D Content Creation, Engine Development, Game Rules, Image Rendering, Multiple Software Engineering Courses, Structure of Game Design, Structure of Game Production, Game Pre-production, Game Networking, Physics, Calculus, Trigonometry, Linear Algebra, Public Speaking, Optimization.

Technology has advanced to path breaking levels in today's world, and to develop and create a successful video game requires the work of more than 40 people, with each person working on their specialized task. The biggest challenge that companies face today is bringing together a strong team with the right skill-set to develop a rock-solid product. Also, the development of video game is a long and tedious one, and this is an industry that is ruled by a few heavyweights. An entry into this industry is extremely difficult for a newcomer, as each of the existing companies already have a strong presence in their respective niches.

Increase in the use of internet and the consumption of digital content over various devices, are some of the reasons that would give significant growth to the gaming industry in India. Also, the evolution of games to futuristic levels, is exactly what makes this such an elite industry today.

Till one of us builds a good game, let’s keep playing ‘em!