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Ever since the commercial video games industry was born in the 1970's, companies around the world have been making hundreds of different games for various platforms. As times have changed, so has the target audience of game developers with many modern companies aiming largely at the market for online games which have become extremely popular in recent years. But what actually goes in to designing any game, whether it's a pc or console game or an online browser game, and who does what within these companies to bring an entirely new online game to life for thousands of players to enjoy?
The video games industry is now incredibly lucrative with gaming becoming extremely popular across the globe, therefore the major games publishers are all huge companies with a workforce hundreds strong and multi-million dollar budgets. The workforce is usually divided into groups of specialists who each work on certain aspects of an online game. A project manager, the team leader, often helps come up with some of the ideas for the game at the outset and monitors the progress of the team, drawing together all of their work into a finished product that fits the initial brief the game was given.
Artists are a crucial part of these teams, indeed the gaming industry is becoming an increasingly popular place for artists to forge careers for themselves. No matter what type of new online game is being developed, whether an action or strategy game, casual or MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), modern players expect good graphics and innovatively designed gaming environments. The job of the concept artist is to come up with ideas and artwork for what the game might look like from the initial brief. The other artists in the team then try and make these images into the 2D and 3D graphical objects which will actually be parts of the game.
The main job of creating the online game itself is left to the programmers, again they will often be split into small teams, each focussing on a certain aspect of game-play. For instance, it is common to have a small team of programmers dedicated to in-game level and mission design; these are the guys who make the annoyingly awkward challenges that you can never quite finish! If a MMORPG is being developed, this team would concentrate on creating the quests against 'AI' monsters and the other 'single-player' elements of the game. Many online games are Flash games (games made using the Flash programming language) and so many of the programmers employed will be particularly 'fluent' in this computer programming language.
One of the advantages of fun online games usually being made with Flash, which was originally developed for the internet, is that it is not too difficult to master and inexpensive to use, especially where graphics are concerned. This enables small companies, or even just individual programmers, to make their own online game. Often known as 'indie' developers, as they work outside of the multi-million dollar companies, they create some of the most unique and fascinating online games out there.