Video Game Skills Pipeline

If you’re a 3D indie video game developer, the first thing you need to understand are all the pieces that go into a video game and how those pieces fit together. This is known as the “pipeline”. If you develop a video game all by yourself, then these are all the skills you need to acquire.

Now, what I’m about to show you is one pipeline that I’ve found to be useful in my research lab. Of course you’re free to invent your own pipeline, but chances are you’ll end up with something like this:


What is this? Well, for a complex video game, each bubble can represent (and usually is) one or more different people. But if you‘re an indie developer doing the entire game by yourself, then each bubble represents a different skill that you need to possess—a different hat.

Except for drawing concept art, this tutorial will teach you all the fundamental skills you need.

Very Brief Overview of the Pipeline

So assume you’re an indie developer doing everything.

  • You start off with an idea for a game, which is usually stated as some kind of quest or series of quests for a player. This is the Blue, Quest Designer bubble.
  • You then put on your Producer hat (Yellow bubble) and figure out how things should look.
  • Once you’ve figured out how things should look, you put on your Concept Artist hat (leftmost Orange bubble) and sketch out pictures and color schemes that capture the look and feel of your game.
  • You then put on your Modeler hats and turn those sketches into 3D buildings, trees, players, NPCs, enemeies, and all the other things in your world.
  • Players, NPCs, and enemies need to be animated, so you put on your Animator hat, add skeletons to those 3D models, and move those skeletons.
  • With all the assets created, you put on your Programmer hat, and implement the game.
  • Finally, with the game completed, you put your Producer hat back on, and package your game for whoever is distributing it. The distributor can be the Web, Steam, Android, iPhone, Windows store, etc. Each has different packaging requirements (can’t just send the executable!)

Now that is a lot to do, and a lot of skills to learn (and I’ve even left out numerous details). So, this is why many games are developed by a team. But it is possible to wear all the hats and do it yourself, that’s what this tutorial is for–just don’t expect to have AAA aesthetics and visual effects!

Academic Citation

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