Technical aspects of the development process.
As previously mentioned in “Creative”, for the game industry and game development in particular, it is difficult to truly separate creative and technical aspects of the development process.
In addition, in the game industry, “technical aspects” refer to more in-depth technical elements and “creative aspects” refer to more general technical elements. In any case, there is nothing in the game industry that is truly removed from technical aspects.
Technical Game Development
Technical game development mainly deals with programming and the tasks that programmers perform. Following is a (not necessarily comprehensive) list of subtasks.
Choice of technology (the technical platform)
- Core rendering technology / engine (choosing and using it)
- Middleware tools and plugging (choosing and using them)
If original engine is developed
- Programming the game engine technology
- Important: This becomes an entire software development project on it’s own. Incubators should be aware that any team choosing to go down this path is attempting to develop two projects simultaneously (i.e. the game technology and the game itself). For some teams, this might pose too big of a challenge.
Programming the game code
- Typically the game code is written on top of core technology, and utilising various technical tools (typically called plugging or middleware).
Other disciplines within game programming
- Game systems programmer
- Gameplay programmer (and also needs creative skills / feel for game fun)
- Backend programmer
- Network and multiplayer
- Tools programmer (typically working very closely with designers / artists, etc., because these tools are intended to services those disciplines)
- Websites, and servicing the sales / marketing side with tech work
The Incubator’s Job
Incubator staff need to understand that most games need to have all of the above-mentioned subtasks solved. In addition, incubators need to be aware of the fact that a game company can fail if any of those subtasks and related subsystems are not built properly.
Incubators typically rely on calling in external technical specialists whenever they need to dive deeper into this. Very rarely will an incubator have staff that will actually look into the code of a game. However, it is important to be able to identify if the team is struggling with such issues.
Many inexperienced game start-ups do not always know what technical issues they may run into. They typically have a “let’s do it, how hard can it be” attitude (which is good). However, it also sometimes makes them blind to the fact that they may not be capable of building certain technical parts of their game with their company founders alone. So, as an incubator and mentor you need to help them be aware of their weaknesses also in this area (such that they can plan for solving them).
Worth mentioning is that technology development can be turned into products of their own. I.e. game tools that you develop for your game, can be further developed to be sublicensed to customers.
However, these are obviously new products and they should be treated as such (i.e. new business plan, marketing, sales efforts, etc). An incubator should be worried if a team focuses too much on building tools and a game engine, that do not amount to building an actual game product.