CASE STUDY—GAME
P
RODUCTION CYCLE
T
his appendix is a case study of the production cycle for a fictional game
called Justice Unit that is being developed by Supergame Studios and
published by Digital Fun, Inc.
A.1 INTRODUCTION
Digital Fun, Inc. recently acquired the intellectual property (IP) rights to create
games based on a popular film franchise called Justice Unit. They are willing to
approve a generous budget for the game, but want to keep costs in line where
they can. Their main goal is to get the game completed in 24 months so that it
can ship when the next movie is released. They put out a request for propos-
als (RFP) to several independent game developers and got several interesting
pitches in return. The one they are most interested in comes from Supergame
Studios.
Supergame Studios is a small but established studio that specializes in
developing games for the console and PC platforms. They have an industry rep-
utation of creating quality games on time and on budget. They are a mid-size
studio, about 60 to 80 people, depending on development needs, and they usually
have two projects in production at a time. They are licensed developers for Sony
and Microsoft.
Supergame Studios is very excited to work on Justice Unit, and created a
pitch that addressed Digital Fun’s main goals for the game. The pitch indicated
that Supergame Studios can create a multi-platform game in 24 months for
around $15 to 20 million. They will develop the game in iterative cycles so that
they have something ready to ship in 18 months, in case the movie release date
is pushed earlier. They will continue adding features to the core functionality as
Appendix A
402 THE GAME PRODUCTION HANDBOOK, 2/E
time allows. They sign a contract with Digital Fun to create a game for Justice
Unit, with the understanding that there are many unknowns about the game,
such as:
Genre
Platform
Localization Plans
Setting
Story
These items and many others will be defined during the pre-production phase
and presented to Digital Fun for final approval before production begins.
A.2 PRE-PRODUCTION PHASE
The main pre-production phase will take about six months, beginning in
October 2007 and ending in March 2008. During this time, the team will de-
fine the concept and requirements, and create a game plan for developing the
game so that it is ready to ship in October 2009.
There will be additional pre-production phases during the 24-month de-
velopment cycle for additional features, localizations, voiceover recordings, and
other sub-projects that occur within the game development cycle. The team also
knows that the main pre-production phase will not have a hard stop date, and
that the production will start on some parts of the game before pre-production is
completed on other parts of the game. Pre-production is covered in more detail
in Chapters 14, 15, and 16.
During the pre-production phase, the team consists of five people: a full-
time producer, full-time lead artist, full-time lead engineer, full-time lead
designer, and a full-time QA lead. They will work closely together during pre-
production and will solicit feedback on the game ideas from outside resources
as necessary.
A.2.1 Concept
The initial concept phase is scheduled to start on October 1, 2007 and end on
October 31, 2007. During this month, the team will review the original pitch
they made for the Justice Unit game and make a decision on the genre, plat-
form, and the game’s key features. In addition, they will do some research on the
competition and put together both a SWOT analysis and a competitive analysis.
Once this information has been organized and presented to management for
approval, the team will continue refining the concept.

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