The AAA game industry is an exciting, fast-moving space that employs some of the world's best and brightest people. Yet, despite this talent pool, game studios often struggle to produce consistently high-quality content, and that's where I come in! Over the past 20 years, I've worked with some of the top names in gaming to help them optimize their ability to deliver stellar experiences that keep players coming back again and again. Here are five core areas where we've seen those optimization gains:
High-Quality Game Design
Game design is the process of conceptualizing, modeling, and documenting a game. Game designers work with a variety of tools and techniques to develop a game's concept and features, while taking into consideration the intended player experience. The result of this process is a document that specifies how each element of the game will work, and what it looks like and sounds like. AAA Game Art Studio Services offers a deep dive into the artistic and visual components of game development, ensuring that every detail contributes to a visually stunning and captivating gaming experience.
Cutting-Edge Graphics and Animation
This is a key element of the game experience, and you want it to be as good as possible. 3D graphics and animation are the most important, but 2D graphics also play an important role in conveying story elements and gameplay mechanics.
Animation can be used to create a more immersive experience for players by bringing characters to life with realistic movement, or even just making them look cool! It's not just about how things move, it's also about how they look when they're standing still (like their facial expressions). Animation helps set the mood for your game world and evokes emotion from players such as fear or joy based on what happens in each scene.
Innovation in Gameplay Mechanics
Innovation in gameplay mechanics is the most common way to innovate in AAA game studio productions. Innovating on the gameplay mechanics means creating a new genre or sub-genre of games, as well as introducing a new type of gameplay mechanic. For example, Blizzard's Overwatch introduced two new types of multiplayer shooter: hero shooter and arena shooter.
Another example would be Valve's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO), which popularized competitive team-based FPS matches with cash prizes at major tournaments like DreamHack and Intel Extreme Masters (IEM). CS: GO also brought replay value to the table by allowing players to spectate matches through GOTV servers that stream live footage from other players' perspectives via GOTV client software installed on computers around the world, an innovation unheard of before its release.
Fostering Creative Synergy Among Teams
Creative synergy is one of the most important factors in AAA game studio productions. Teams need to be made up of people with different skills and perspectives, so they can work together effectively and communicate well.
The ideal scenario is that your team members are able to:
- Bring different points of view to the table. Your artists may have a better sense of what looks good or feels right than your programmers do, but those same programmers might know more about how to optimize performance or make things run smoothly on consoles.
- Work well together as a unit, despite their differences in background and training. Teams need clear communication between them so everyone knows what's going on at all times, there shouldn't be any surprises.
Leveraging the Latest Tools for Excellence
- Animation, audio, and visual effects tools
- Game development tools
- Testing and quality assurance tools
- Marketing and promotion tools (e.g., websites)
- Customer support tools (e.g., email/phone)
As you can see from this list, there are many different kinds of software that you'll need to use as part of your job at a AAA game studio.
Understanding and Meeting Player Expectations
The first step to creating a successful game is understanding your players' expectations. This can be done through market research and focus groups, but it also comes from knowing the genre you're working in. If you're making an RPG, for example, then you know that players expect certain things: lots of dialogue choices and moral dilemmas, a big world with tons of sidequests, interesting characters with complex backstories (and maybe even romance options). If they don't get those things, if they find themselves playing a button-masher where all the characters talk like robots, they'll feel betrayed or disappointed by what was promised them by marketing materials leading up to release.
And yet there's another side: meeting player expectations does not mean giving them exactly what they want all the time! Sometimes meeting player expectations means exceeding them, giving players more than they bargained for when it comes out on store shelves or digital storefronts such as Steam or PlayStation Network (PSN). Other times it means falling short slightly so as not to disappoint anyone who might have been expecting something different altogether (and there will always be someone like this). Either way, this balancing act between exceeding/not exceeding player expectations makes up much of what makes AAA titles great.
Building Anticipation for Game Releases
- Build anticipation for the game.
- Build anticipation for the launch.
- Build anticipation for the release.
- Build anticipation for the launch party, if you're having one (and you should!).
- Build anticipation for your own personal appearance at this event, which will likely be more interesting than anything else happening in your city on that day/night/weekend/month/year!
By focusing on these core areas, game studios can optimize their ability to deliver stellar experiences that keep players coming back again and again.
The four areas are:
- Games as art and entertainment
- Designing for players' emotions
- The importance of playtesting and iterating on designs with real players
- Creating a culture where people feel safe taking risks
To dive deeper into these principles and learn more about game design, you can check out the blogs of the best game art outsourcing companies that shine a light on industry leaders and make significant contributions to the world of game design.
AAA game studios are in a unique position to deliver experiences that shape the future of entertainment. By focusing on core areas like game design, graphics and animation, gameplay mechanics, creativity among teams, and tools for excellence, they can optimize their ability to create compelling titles that keep players coming back again and again.