The Making of a PlayStation Game

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Game Development In Progress
Hello, my name is Shu Yoshida, I’m a Senior Vice President of Product Development here inside SCEA, and I oversee the product development group in the US for SCE’s Worldwide Studio, headed by Phil Harrison. For a little perspective on the US portion of the Worldwide Studio group, you should know we have eight studios in six US cities reaching from Redmond, Wash. down to San Diego, Calif. We also work with some very talented developer partners like Insomniac, Factor 5 and Sucker Punch. My role is a bit unique in the industry, heading up first-party development, so hopefully in time I can provide some interesting insights to readers of this blog.

To start, I wanted to give you guys a broad view of a question I often get asked — how does a game project get started?. For a lot of people, how a game idea goes from concept to final product is a bit of a mystery, but let me try and shed some light.

The truth is, each game is unique and each publisher has its own process for getting a project approved (often called “green lighted”).

Specifically though, in our case at SCEA, we do not have a “green light” process per se. Rather, we call ours a “red light” process. A project is typically initiated by a studio, whether the idea comes from an internal team or an external developer. We almost never impose a project from “the top down,” where we say something like “We need a fantasy adventure game. Go make one.” Instead, we truly believe the best ideas come from talented individuals who are passionate about their ideas and propose them to us, thus fostering further creativity. First comes the basic idea, which is then developed into an overall concept. Only then does it get to be presented to the studio director, me, Phil Harrison, product marketing, etc., to get our initial feedback. At that point not much money has been spent, and often times the studio has multiple concepts developed as candidates.

When a concept is chosen, the next step is to develop it into a prototype. For a PS3 Blu-ray project, a prototype can take over a year and can cost $2-5 million which used to be a full budget not so many years ago, during the PS1 age. Once we have a prototype, we have an opportunity to present the new project to wider cross sections of people within SCE, ranging from product development to marketing teams around the world. We actively seek feedback on several factors including, how attractive the game is to each territory’s audience, what’s the potential market, what’s the competition, etc., so we can steer the course of development before we develop the project too far. We have this same audience review our games several more times once in full production as well (which is the final process of development after the prototype) to double check that the game is on track to be an attractive title to our market and, most importantly, to make sure the game is darn good. I’ve included a few images here that show some of the conceptual drawings and art for a title you’re probably familiar with Calling All Cars. Those familiar with the title will recognize some of the vehicles and levels from these early drawings.

So, why do we call it the “red light” process? Because any time along the way, following those meetings with people from around SCE, the game can be canceled or changed. So, rather than just “green light” a project and let it run its course, we would rather reserve the right to “red light” a project if it isn’t going to live up to our high standards. Many ideas and concepts go this route and end up canceled or put on the back burner until the market has shifted to bring it to light. When those great games end up in your living room, after years of development, there is always a development, marketing or executive team, and someone like me, eagerly awaiting those press reviews and your thoughts and comments on places like this blog.

I hope this provides you with a little bit of insight as to how we make our games here at SCEA. Within the next several months, you’re really going to see the fruits of our labor with some great game releases from both first and third party studios. I’ll check in again soon to talk more about the development process. If you have anything specific you’d like me to address, please say so in the comments and I’ll do my best. Thanks for all of the support!

Game Development In ProgressGame Development In ProgressGame Development In Progress

Game Development In ProgressCalling All Cars In DevelopmentGame Development In ProgressGame Development In Progress

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  • Will there ever be published an XNA equivalent for the PS3?

  • Wow, nice. Thanks for putting this up!

  • Who cares how they’re made!!! JUST MAKE THEM!!!

    If PS3 games were food…i’d be anorexic…LOL…and not by choice either!

  • @joel

    pleas like that have been tried since this blog was first put up…they dont give a s**t!!!

    Shu says “Within the next several months, you’re really going to see the fruits of our labor with some great game releases from both first and third party studios”…LOLOLOLOL…we’ve been hearing that for months now since the launch of the system

    And if they apply that “red light” process to a third party dev…and that studio spent 2-5mil on a “prototype” and Sony “red lighted” it after all that then i’d tell Sony to go “F*** OFF” and not make another game for them…could this be why theres only 360 ports right now???…Hmmmmm

    Sony can do a better job first party??…not with the reviews the games are getting or the false advertising they have…LOL…PS Store says Warhawk supports 1080p…LOL…what a joke since the games max resolution is 720p…thank god i researched that b4 i bought it

  • I feel bad for alot of those ppl that have to play ALL those 720p games in standard definition cuz they cant make a game in 1080

  • Great post–thanks for the insight!

  • Shu,
    How do you stay in touch with what the public wants in a game?

    Keep up the good work, Sony 4 Ever!

  • I just want to know if Eight Days is still in production I have not seen anything about it lately I am really excited to play that game!

  • @25
    living in europe i think scee is doing good job, we are getting PS3+2 games and 2 controllers foor 600€

    this and the release of good games convinces a lot of people to buy ps3

    @41 Dave Perry is working on such a project, don’t know what it is( google) but everybody can volunteer to contribute to this game and steer the desing a little

    otherwhise great blog, scea

  • Nice post. That was an interesting read, and I love seeing the concept artwork for video games.

  • Boring Yawn time for nap.

  • Very interesting , great job !

  • wow, with that many people “looking” at each project and putting their 2 cents in it really sounds like the project get watered down from their original concept (terrible idea, this ruins unique experience’s and creativity). It amazes me that thing actually get produced. thanks for the incite, I hope we here more from you :)

  • Yyuupp! What goes into making a video game…..yet another exciting topic from the……………………………WELL!, time for some WarHawk!!!!!

  • I was thinking it would be cool if some of us were able to become the criminal and use weapons to prevent us from being captured. That would make the game a bit more interesting . Especially when playing multiplayer against friends. Callling all cars is still a fun arcade game to play. It probably will be even more fun to play on the PSP. That system is great for cell shaded games.

  • Nice
    BTW I come from SD. I’m studying computer science and want to work with v.g. so look for me soon. LoL

  • I’m having a major problem with my headset! I have the Logitech USB headset/mic that is compatible with the PS2 and PS3. The mic has been working really great until yesterday or the day before.

    When I’m playing RB6, I can’t hear the people through the headset itself, but instead, I would have to disconnect it from the PS3, to be able to hear the people through the surround sound speakers. I have the headset set as my input and output device on the accessory settings. Is there something going on with the headset. Or is it the router that I have? I have the Linksy’s WRT54G model. I just don’t understand why it has been working all this time, and now its not working. I can at least talk on the mic, and they can hear me, I just can’t hear anyone talk. Does anyone have an idea what might be going wrong here? By the way, I have a NAT Type 2 and not 3,so I was expecting for it to at least work.

    Sorry for it being off topic guys, I’m just frustrated by this.

  • @loucifer
    I agree…1080p is one of those things the PS3 does
    exclusive compared to the “720p” competition console “that won’t shut up!”. Case and point,1080p should be sonys priority.

  • This looks good Thanx for showing you all these pictures Seriously u people dont hafto do this and u go out ur way for US to show us alot of things ( there is alot of people complain) they want this and that But they dont realize that u guys dont hafto be here u take ur time just to be here AND i thank you for that :-)

  • Great info…Love to see more of this.

  • I posted an earlier concern about my mic not working. Well, it turned out to be that it was the mic itself, and nothing to do with the router. Such a relief to know that I don’t have to buy a different router just because of problems the Linksy ones have. I tried a blue tooth headset and it worked fine.

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  • MaskerIII,

    I will wait for gamespot to render its verdict before I make a final judgment.

    But so far, a lot of the criticisms are universal among reviewers. The game needs more enemy variety and its combat system needs to go beyond just the “3 stance” system.

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  • One game concept that I think would be great for the psn, would be the old game Achtung! Die Kurve. The concept is a multiplayer version of the known snake from nokia phones. It is also available in a network version called netacka (and probably even more). Honestly, it’s great fun for a minigame! Try it out!

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  • hmm….very interesting…..I have a quick question Mr. Yoshida. If SCEA’s internal developtment studios had a discussion with you about offering an expansion pack, or any added-on game content to their title they will soon release or is already released, would they be able to make their own decision to whether or not to offer their extended content on the PlayStation store for free, or would SCEA give them a set price to what they can offer it to consumers for? If you can get back to my comment & answer my question, I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you very much!

  • Interesting read…
    I have a question which could almost pass as a complaint. Why is it that almost all PS3 game covers use a generic font for the game title on the spine – when some (darkness,Marvel) have their logo?

    We’d like the games to look more attractive on our shelves.

  • Fix the Warhawk Ranking System!

  • So what game got stoped at a red light because of the timing , then got finished and was great?

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