ArticleMobile Game Development

Mobile Game Design Process

Defining Dev: Mobile Game Design Process 

During an episode of Defining Dev, we explore how mobile games are created. We walk you through the process, from the design of the app, all the way to its launch. Here we wanted to write it down for those of us looking for a more information reading experience. 

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Concept and Design

There is no game that didn’t start with a preliminary concept and design for the game. This is a critical part of a mobile games design and development process. The concept and design phase will determine the overall scope of the project. This stage determines what technologies are needed to create it, what platforms it’s going to run on, and, of course, how users will play the game. The more complex the game, the longer it’s going to take to establish these fine details and create a development roadmap. That is common sense of course, but all games must have a basis to work off of in order to have a smooth development process.  

Active Development

Active development is the longest part of the design and development cycle of a mobile game. It’s during this time that a game’s art assets, like character models, music, sounds, and writing are produced. Developers implement the game in a game engine, like Unity or Unreal, and create the user interface to the creators’ specifications. Throughout active development, builds of the game are shared with you to solicit feedback and fine tune the look and feel of the game. Development is exactly how it sounds, it involves the actual coding in game languages to make characters run, jump and move as well as blast away space ships or drive around a racing circuit.  

QA & Testing

As active development winds down and the final list of functions are defined and agreed upon, our internal team begins to rigorously test the title. Some multiplayer games are released to a select group of external users to help test the game. Other games are even offered to the general public in so-called Public Betas, to help stress test the game’s networking backend and handle gameplay balance. There is not a defined amount of time to test all games it really comes down to your own timelines and how much debugging the game needs. I like to think of QA testing like hot sauce, you can never have too much of it.  

Product Launch

You have thought of a game idea, worked with developers and have gotten it tested by maybe friends, family or strangers, now you are working towards getting the game live.This phase is the culmination of months of design, development, and quality assurance. Many game creators will leverage the power of social media to share their game’s launch organically. Others will turn to external advertising agencies that specialize in mobile game marketing. Smooth technical launches backed by an effective marketing campaign will help drive an app to be featured in the iTunes Apple App Store and or Android Google Play store. It is very important to take the marketing of your game seriously, a game could be fantastic, but without users you are grasping at thin air.  

Post Launch Support

Many games’ development cycles don’t end after the product launches. Especially for larger games with hundreds of thousands of players, new content must be rolled out on a regular basis to retain users and build the player base. You have most likely seen monthly updates from your favorite mobile games, where they added a new game mode or new character skins. These successive iterations require smaller cycles of game development and can last for years after the initial launch. However, most games only require minor maintenance and support after their launch. Producing any piece of software is very similar to owning a car, for the most part your car will run so long as you supply it energy (gasoline, electricity, etc.) but general maintenance tasks come up as time goes on.  

So, there you have it, the mobile game development cycle. What were your thoughts about mobile games prior to this article? Perhaps you are working on a mobile game yourself and would like some help, here at Zco we would be happy to walk you through the process and work with you to produce your ideal project outcome! Do you need help with your mobile game application? Contact Zco’s experts today.