Posted by : Jameson Durall Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Today's question comes from Cody (coteee26) who asks:

"What is the typical work week like in the industry?"

This varies greatly depending on what stage of development your project is in, even with varies greatly so below is what I have experienced over my career at mainly larger game studios.

During Pre-Production a Game Designer will spend a large amount of their time in brainstorm sessions trying to nail down the ideas that they want to pursue for the game.  A lot of time is usually spent playing games of similar type and doing competitive analysis.  The focus of this stage of development is to create a compelling set of features and get everyone on the same page about where the game is headed.

The pace is generally relaxed and people feel free to explore ideas and focus on the types of things that get thrown out quickly in later stages of development when the going is fast and furious.  Work hours tend to be more 9-5 and spouses aren't acting as single parents.

Once you start moving into Production, the focus changes to implementing and iterating.  You've, hopefully, just spent Pre-Production proving out your ideas and are ready to get moving.  Building that first version of a mission or balancing that new player attack almost always gives you ideas to improve and sometimes even find your ideas didn't work at all the way you hoped.  

The meetings start to lessen a bit as people are at their desks more...but there is usually still a fair amount with continual reviews of your work, etc.  Home life can stay normal for the biggest chunk of production, but at times you'll work extra because you fall behind, hit bugs, or just really want to make that certain part of the game shine.

Post Production is when things change to "Stop adding stuff and make sure it's not broken".  It is often a very busy time with lots of bugs needing fixed and the final polish needing to go in to get your scores up.  Meetings are almost non existent at this point and you often feel chained to your desk.  If a top priority bug comes in, you will get a phone call any time of the night to get in and fix it now...or else everyone else could be hosed and unable to work.  

This is by far the most stressful part of development in my opinion, but also feels very productive and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  You know it's the last chance you have to make this as special as you can and soon everyone is going to be able to experience your hard work.  After this...the cycle repeats for your next title, unless you get tossed onto something else that needs help finishing! :)

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