Game development is taking a long time, and it seems that discussions to analyze the reason are intensifying. A certain person’s question was cast on SNS, and various developers are sharing their knowledge. In conclusion, it seems that there are various reasons behind the prolonged development period of the game, which is caused by the improvement of graphic expressiveness and the increase in the scale of development.
The origin of many opinions
This time around, it was a post on Twitter that inspired many developers to give their opinions. On May 29, a developer who is active in the field of 3D modeling asked the question, “Is there any discussion about the fact that the game development period is longer than in the past?”Tweetdid. The developers say that while old games used to take up to two years to complete, they now take four to five years to complete. On top of that, even though there were restrictions due to the hardware performance of the past, he said that a comparative analysis of the process of what is extending the development period may be a hint for shortening the development period. ..
In addition, the developer mentions the cause as his own consideration. He commented, “Because of the mechanism that semi-automatically shortens resource production, we may be able to reach various parts and increase the number of processes.” He points out that it is important to identify the parts that are truly important to the work and to allocate resources. Also, it seems that the series of tweets was posted with the desire to clarify the mystery “What is the reason why game development is growing?”
Is the game development period actually extending?
Is the development period of the game actually increasing? On the premise that the development period varies depending on the scale of the work and the production system, one index that seems to be the “release interval of the longevity series” is. For example, in the case of the “Resident Evil” series, it was initially released in a span of 1 to 2 years, but after “Resident Evil 0” it has been released in a span of 3 years or more. In addition, “Resident Evil 7 Biohazard” is released about 5 years after the previous work, and “Resident Evil Village” is released about 4 years apart. In addition, basically the same tendency can be seen in longevity series such as “Final Fantasy” and “Dragon Quest”.
The reason for the extension of the release period is not necessarily the extension of the development period. However, you may want to develop the signboard title, which is the pillar of profits, in the shortest possible span while balancing quality with quality, and deliver it to fans. Therefore, it is highly possible that the growth in the release period correlates with the development period. At least for the popular blockbuster game series, it’s safe to assume that the development period is getting longer. In addition, there is a tendency that the release interval is increasing as the game machines to be deployed are replaced, and there is a glimpse of the increase in development required resources due to the improvement of richness such as graphics.
However, even though the process can be extended by improving expressiveness, it seems that there are several cases of the specific mechanism. One of them is that it takes time and effort to simply create a high-definition 3D model. Also, for big / popular works, fans’ expectations for quality including graphics will be met. Mr. GANBE, the developer, commented on the increase in graphic resources, the increase in game volume, and the increase in man-hours due to the time and effort required for programming. Furthermore, he mentioned the influence of user opinions. Even with a slightly simple graphic, there are cases where user criticism arises, and he said that such a point is also involved in the judgment of game development.
Project management is also complicated
GANBE also touches on human-related issues. As the man-hours for developing games increase, naturally the number of staff involved in development tends to increase. Division of labor and outsourcing are progressing, communication costs are rising, and division of labor is intensifying. He said that each section tends to think of its area of responsibility as the most important, and that a “civil war” will occur if directors, producers, etc. do not properly set priorities there. It is a testimony that the bloated project man-hours will spread to the management cost of human resources and may lead to malfunction.
In addition, GANBE said, “Basically, new weapons are not introduced and operations are not reworked at domestic sites, and human wave tactics are adopted, which leads to death marches and postponement of sales.” Problems such as misguided management and inappropriate solutions may also contribute to the increased development time. Mr. POLY-AN, a creator who is also involved in modeling, pointed out the possibility of falling into a “loop” of extension of the development period, while saying “a pattern that is common outside the game industry”. Development plans often exceed the initial expected deadline. In the next project, the target deadline will be set by incorporating the excess amount. However, if the deadline is also exceeded, the overdue will be transferred to the next plan … The idea is that the deadline is being added more and more.
Changes in the “game” itself
On the other hand, some have pointed out changes in the game itself. Mr. Magical ☆ Shigepon, who was involved in the modeling of the “Atelier” series and “ROBOTICS; NOTES”, commented, “I think one of the factors is that the game has become a service.” He points out that the game work, which was once the goal of release, has changed to one that can be turned into a service and continuously provide content. Therefore, in addition to improving the quality of resources, it is necessary to design the game so that it can be operated as a service for a long time. As a result, it was analyzed that the development period was extended. Nowadays, patch distribution and additional content introduction by DLC are already the basis of large titles. It will take a considerable amount of time and effort to design and develop the basic game with a view to the release.
Noriyuki Shimoda, a game researcher who used to be a producer at Sega, mentioned multiple possibilities, prefaced by what he heard. In addition to the increased graphics man-hours, he talked about changes in localized development and online support. First of all, the development of the localized version of the game was once developed as a separate project, but now it progresses together with the game itself, so it seems that it may be affecting the development period. And nowadays, various games are equipped with online support functions, and the game mode and volume are increasing. As a result, the development period is expected to be extended. Games and game development that have changed in various ways are likely to affect the development period from various angles.
In addition, Mr. Shimoda mentioned the impact of the increase in personnel due to the enlargement of the organization as his own opinion, and speculates that the number of development staff exceeds the appropriate number. He also seems skeptical of the opinion that “I was able to develop in a short period of time because I used to work longer hours.” In the game industry in recent years, there have been active movements to avoid overtime and long working hours and realize healthy working styles. As a result, if the actual working hours of developers are reduced, it is possible that the development period will be extended. However, Mr. Shimoda pointed out that productivity drops with long working hours, regardless of the project where “superhumans who can only work and produce” gather. He said that shorter working hours would not necessarily lead to longer development periods.
The general reasons why the development period of large game titles tends to be extended are probably “enriched graphics” and “changes in the way games are sold and the system itself”. However, when the developers analyze it, more specific reasons appear to be higher resolution. There seems to be a multifaceted effect that cannot be dismissed simply by “becoming more time-consuming”.
Games change, developers change, and users change. However, people in all positions should want “development to be efficient, with good results and short.” As the development of technology for the next-generation game experience continues, the developers may be asking themselves what is important to make games interesting and quick.