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Game Development: Development Team

In this section we are aiming to give you an overview of the many different processes involved in game development. As the games industry has evolved over the last 30 years the systems and job roles involved have become more and more complicated. If you are looking at getting into a career in games or just interested in how the whole process works this is the best place to start. For more information on specific job roles or application advice please see our Job Roles and Getting the Job sections.

Game Team Structure

Diagram: Game Team Structure

Most game teams or dev teams are made up of the same core elements, although there may be specialisation within the art, design or programming teams (see the Job Role pages for much more detail on all this).

Note that at Blitz, animation is currently within the art department, although some other companies have separate animation departments.

People starting in the games industry will typically begin as a junior, with limited responsibility and range of tasks, but there is always scope for improvement and career progression.

In most industries, the career ladder starts with junior roles and progresses upwards towards management, but the creative industries are a little different. The reason for this is that someone who is a great Programmer, for example, may not necessarily have the right temperament or attributes for management. Equally, there might be someone who is a good but not great Animator but has precisely the right outlook and abilities to be a Lead Animator.

This diagram is highly simplified, but in truth there are two career tracks within games. Those who enjoy managing people and are good at it may well go on to become managers of their particular discipline, and perhaps on to Project Director/Manager or even Studio Manager (also sometimes called Development Director). Those who don't have the talent for management but continue to get better at what they do become Seniors, or what the Americans call 'gurus'. These people are not only astonishingly good at their work, but can also share their talents and techniques, teaching and mentoring colleagues and acting as an inspiration and source of knowledge for other people in the company.

There are various 'external' resources on this diagram, which are also mentioned on the Company Structure page. It's true that the games industry is using more and more outsourced resources, particularly in the areas of 3D modelling and texturing and animation. Outsourcing means sending work to another company (or sometimes an individual); the benefits are not so much that this is cheaper but that it allows for very flexible allocation of work.

It may not be possible, for example, to actually find the additional ten 3D Artists your project needs; or it may be the case that you only need those ten Artists for a third of the schedule, after which you have no more work for them. This is particularly true for the really big high value projects. Generally, it's simply not financially feasible for a developer to hire everyone they need to complete something like Saints Row, so being able to utilise talent at a distance is very useful.

The other main reason for outsourcing is when a company does not have a specific talent within their ranks, and/or cannot afford to hire someone permanently for a limited job. Examples of this would be script writing (as in the dialogue) and voice actors.

There will always be a need for talented individuals within developers and with the recent growth in sales of both consoles and games, especially the widening of the market that Nintendo above all has achieved, more and better games will always be desired.