Game developers are hard-to-find, talented professionals. The combination of creativity, development skills, years of experience, and hard-to-learn technologies they need to be proficient in make them rarer than in other niches in the industry.
On top of that, these statistics show us that the competition is only going to grow:
- In 2023, gaming industry revenue is likely to have reached $365.6 billion globally;
- The video game industry was estimated to be worth $214.2 billion;
- In the video games market, the number of users is expected to amount to 3.1 billion users by 2027;
- In 2023, the largest gaming market was mobile games, with a market volume of $173.60 billion.
So, how do you make sure you hire the best mobile, console, and video game developers? In this article, we will go through the programming languages, essential skills, game development processes, and other important factors you need to consider in your hiring.
Roadmapping game development
There are many stages of game development, including game design, sound testing, and testing, all the way to clearing up bugs.
In general, they can be split into pre-production, production, and post-production, but each consists of multiple milestones.
This is the step of setting the groundwork and planning for future stages and budgeting. It is an essential step in hiring since this is where your team will roadmap hiring and set the budget for team members.
- Budgeting: Creating a budget for your game will help you understand how much you can spend on development, market your product, and become profitable.
- Deciding on the gaming platform: A game can be functional on one or more platforms, such as a gaming console, PC, mobile (in which case you can do Android, iOS, or both), or cross-platform if it’s multiple. As we saw in the statistics above, mobile games are the most popular.
- Designing the gameplay: At this stage, you decide how the gamer interacts with the game and its environment.
- Writing the screenplay, characters, plot, and game mechanics: There are games like Snake where the plot and the point are very simple. But there are also games like The Legend of Zelda or God of War, where there is so much lore, backstories, sequels, prequels, and everything else along the way.
Whether your game is simple or so complex that films are written based on it, you need to design the avatars, the game world, set the story and pace, and create achievements, quests, and milestones that will keep your users enticed.
- Deciding how you profit: How do you make money from this game? It is an essential part of planning that will be the base for future investments.
- Documentation: All the decisions made during pre-production need to be documented to make sure everyone involved is on the same page and sticks to the plan.
Time to roll up your sleeves and build a game! This is THE game development part and naturally takes the longest time. During production, you will work on:
- Designing and animating: Before development begins, game designers and animators work on the textures, dynamics, characters, environment, dynamics, and how all these elements work together. 3D artists use software like Maya, 3DSMax, and the designers usually work in Photoshop.
- Programming: Nothing works without code! Every part of the game is made to function through game development. You may hire a generalist game developer or perhaps someone with a very niche expertise in game development. Depends on the broadness and complexity of the game.
- Designing the sound: Much as in film, games aren’t as immersive and emotional without sounds and effects. When Mario hits a brick, it’s much more fun when you hear the sound, right? Music, movement sounds, voices of characters, and atmospheric sounds all need to be created and incorporated into the game at this stage.
Testing and post-production
Testing the game is crucial before launching it. Game studios usually hire testers to split up into groups to test various features and ensure the high quality of the game. Testers verify that all game areas are accessible and that none of the levels are excessively difficult or easy. To see if their work is correct and to unlock achievements, some people will play through the entire game 100%.
After the testing is complete and issues are diagnosed, it’s not unusual for game developers to continue to update and enhance the game after it has been launched to give players a better experience.
When testing, some bugs might slip through the cracks. Players typically bring up such issues, and you can fix them. Additionally, publish new updates, add new chapters, host events, etc.
Best technologies for game development
Game developers use a variety of programming languages, sometimes more than one at a time. The language depends on the exact project and features, so don’t expect one developer to be fluent in all these languages, game engines, and frameworks. This is also a narrowed-down list of technologies, but more can be applied to build a game.
Because of its compatibility with Unity (more on Unity below), which is arguably the most powerful, flexible, and user-friendly game development interface, C# is highly regarded as one of the best languages for creating video games.
In addition, C# has reusable code, is efficient, and is simple to learn. Because it is object-oriented, this programming language is flexible and requires less constant upkeep.
Compiled into the Common Language Runtime (CLR), which is interpreted in a Just-in-Time (JIT) fashion, C# is regarded as a higher-level construct. This procedure gives C# access to more memory and processing power than C++ does.
In summary, C# enables the creation of distinctive and pleasurable gaming experiences, making it a very important technology for any game developer to know.
According to Unity’s Gaming Report of 2022, more than 50% of all games in different categories are built on Unity. It was also the top gaming engine of the year in 2021. Unsurprisingly, household names that sweep the planet, such as Pokemon Go and Among Us, are built on it. Why?
Well, it is very suitable for both 2D and 3D games, as well as applicable across platforms. It performs well for VR and AR games, has a friendly and intuitive interface, and, best of all – it is very affordable.
So, a Unity developer in your fold would be an amazing addition.
C++ developers are a diamond in the rough if you plan on building your game engine or a video game for Windows or commercially popular gaming consoles.
The majority of well-known console and Windows video games are built with C++. Because it is an object-oriented programming language (OOP), code is arranged into reusable, independent units. Because those objects are meant to be mobile and reusable, you can code intricate games without starting from scratch.
The most widely used programming language for building game engines, or the development environments where programmers create and host interactive games, is C++. Everything from graphics, physics, and sound to the actions of AI-powered game bots is made possible by game engines.
C++ is the predominant language for crafting custom game engines, offering unparalleled creative autonomy and mastery over your game. If you choose this path, a solid grasp of C++ is imperative; it serves as the industry benchmark, providing the versatility and high-performance capabilities necessary for game development.
Additionally, designers occasionally utilize C++ for programming within existing engines.
C++ commands a substantial presence in video game programming due to its swiftness, potency, and adaptability:
- It boasts exceptional speed. Gamers demand top-tier performance and minimal lag in a top-notch gaming experience. Despite the potential strain on servers, C++ executes swiftly, even when handling multiple concurrent tasks.
- It operates in close conjunction with hardware. Video games heavily rely on hardware for crucial functions. C++ interfaces closely with this hardware, resulting in enhanced engine performance and reduced chances of halting.
- It offers cross-platform compatibility. With C++, you can deploy projects across various operating systems and gaming platforms.
- It provides a suite of high-performance tools. C++ boasts an extensive array of open-source libraries that streamline the coding process. These libraries cover diverse aspects of game development, ranging from graphics design to debugging.
An Unreal Engine developer brings specialized expertise in a widely used game development platform, enabling them to efficiently create visually impressive, optimized, and engaging games. Their skills and knowledge make them a valuable asset to a game development team.
Unreal Engine is highly regarded in the game development industry for several compelling reasons.
Unreal Engine offers cutting-edge graphics and rendering capabilities. Its advanced rendering technology allows for the creation of incredibly realistic environments, characters, and special effects. This leads to visually stunning and immersive gaming experiences crucial for engaging players and setting a game apart in a competitive market.
Unreal Engine's strengths lie in its exceptional graphics capabilities, user-friendly tools, cross-platform support, vibrant community, and Epic Games' dedication to innovation. These factors collectively make Unreal Engine a top choice for game development, empowering developers to create visually stunning, immersive, and technically impressive games across various platforms.
CryEngine is a powerful and sophisticated game development engine created by Crytek. It gained widespread recognition for its stunning visual capabilities, particularly in rendering realistic outdoor environments and dynamic lighting effects. One of CryEngine's standout features is its ability to generate highly detailed landscapes, complete with advanced water effects, vegetation, and atmospheric elements. This makes it an ideal choice for games focused on expansive, natural settings or those that prioritize cutting-edge graphics.
Moreover, CryEngine's emphasis on real-time rendering enables developers to achieve a level of visual fidelity that rivals even pre-rendered CGI. This capability is crucial for creating immersive and visually striking gaming experiences. Additionally, CryEngine offers a range of powerful tools for creating complex animations, advanced physics simulations, and dynamic AI behaviors, providing developers with the means to craft engaging and interactive gameplay experiences.
CryEngine also supports multiple platforms, allowing developers to target various devices and systems, including PCs, consoles, and VR. Its deployment versatility ensures that games created with CryEngine can reach a broad audience. Furthermore, Crytek provides comprehensive documentation and resources, as well as an active community, which facilitates learning and collaboration among developers.
Swift is a powerful and intuitive programming language developed by Apple for building applications across its ecosystem, including iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. While Swift is primarily known for its proficiency in app development, it has also gained recognition in the game development community. Its clean and expressive syntax and modern features make it an excellent choice for creating games, especially for Apple devices.
One of the key strengths of Swift for game development is its performance. It's a compiled language, meaning that Swift's code is optimized for execution, resulting in faster and more responsive games. This is crucial for providing players with a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience. Additionally, Swift's interoperability with Objective-C allows developers to leverage existing iOS libraries and frameworks, further enhancing the efficiency of game development.
Swift Playgrounds, an interactive development environment, is another standout feature. It provides a sandboxed environment for experimenting with code and visualizing the results in real-time. This feature is precious for learning and prototyping game mechanics. Moreover, Swift Playgrounds supports augmented reality (AR) development, opening up exciting possibilities for creating immersive AR games that seamlessly integrate with the real world.
Although Lua isn't the most widely used programming language, it works great for creating games. It is the programming language used by well-known video games like Age of Conan and Angry Birds and engines like CryEngine, Gideros Mobile, and Corona SDK.
Because of its tiny memory footprint, this language doesn't cause drag. It is quick and effective because it also runs on virtual machines.
Because Lua is a highly embeddable language, integrating it into numerous other applications is simple. That's a crucial component in game development since it frequently uses several languages to achieve the intended result.
While Python is not as commonly used in game development, it serves as an excellent starting point for newcomers to the field. Learning Python opens the door to the game development library PyGame, specially crafted for creating games using Python. PyGame offers accessible tutorials, straightforward installations for both Windows and MacOS and a range of versatile core modules that can be combined as needed. Its code is tailored for game scripting, making it an accessible choice for aspiring game developers.
Furthermore, mastering Python provides a smooth transition to GDScript, the programming language employed by the widely used Godot game engine. GDScript was designed to emulate Python's user-friendly syntax and readability while incorporating features tailored for game development. If you're proficient in Python, you'll find yourself right at home when scripting in Godot.
Other preferable skills for good game developers
Game development is a multidisciplinary field requiring various skills beyond just programming and design. Here are some essential skills for game developers outside of development and design.
Remember that not every game developer will excel in all these areas, but a candidate with a well-rounded set of skills can make a more versatile and valuable development team member.
Being able to plan, organize, and manage projects is crucial. This includes setting timelines, allocating resources, and completing tasks on schedule.
Game development often involves overcoming technical challenges and finding creative solutions. Strong problem-solving skills are invaluable in this field.
Math and physics
While not always necessary, a solid understanding of mathematics and physics can be very beneficial, especially for tasks involving physics engines, collision detection, and algorithms.
Game developers must think critically to identify potential issues, optimize code, and make design decisions enhancing gameplay.
Version Control Systems
Familiarity with version control systems like Git is crucial for collaborative development, as it helps manage changes to the codebase.
Testing and Quality Assurance
Knowing how to effectively test games, identify bugs, and ensure a high level of quality is vital for producing a polished final product.
User Experience Design
Understanding how players interact with games and creating intuitive interfaces and experiences can greatly enhance a game's overall appeal.
The game development landscape constantly evolves, so adapting to new technologies, tools, and trends is essential.
Legal and Intellectual property knowledge
Understanding copyright, trademarks, licensing agreements, and other legal aspects of game development is essential to protect intellectual property.
Hiring a skilled game developer brings both risks and perks to the table. On the one hand, the risks include the potential for high compensation demands and the competitive nature of the industry, which may lead to talent retention challenges.
However, the perks of hiring a proficient game developer are substantial. Their expertise can elevate a project, producing a higher-quality, engaging, and polished game. A seasoned developer also brings valuable experience, enabling them to navigate technical challenges adeptly and contribute innovative solutions. They can potentially speed up development timelines, ultimately saving time and resources in the long run. In essence, the right game developer can be the linchpin to a project's success, making the investment in their skills and expertise a worthwhile endeavor for any game development team.