In the Beginning: Concepts
It’s imperative to start your game project with a strong‚ dignified concept. Without a solid concept stage in development‚ you could end up half way into a game and realize the game doesn’t make any sense. That’s why I’d like to talk about my short experience with video game concepts. By the way‚ I’m Allen Lambert‚ the owner/project manager and game designer of Broken Limits Media. Follow me @afliii and drop me a message at facebook.com/afliii.
In the 1.5 years I’ve been writing for BLM’s projects I’ve realized that a crucial‚ sometimes lacking area of game development is in the very beginning. The conceptual stage(s) of the game are the most important moments of development. It’s like the beginning of a game (as relevant as it can get). All video games start out with an opening story to lay out what the heck is happening. Do we have a time limit on how long we have to kill every terrorist attacking the nations’ capital? Why are there terrorists in the capital? Who could have allowed them to get here‚ what technology do we have to defend ourselves‚ what do they have to use against us‚ and will they turn into zombies after we kill them? There can be a lot of information in the opening scene. In the beginning‚ there was an idea‚ a way‚ knowledge required to move forward. There must be a strong beginning to be a strong ending‚ because as they say‚ “You finish how you start.”
If you start your game concept lazy and begin to develop a game based on a lacking game concept‚ how do you expect to finish a quality game? Chances are you’re going to have issues. BLM is taking 2-3 months to simply do concepts‚ game design building‚ and basic prototype aspects of our game‚ The Undead Castle. We haven’t generated any solid models. We haven’t cranked out any deep music tracks. But‚ we have sketched models‚ characters‚ tunes‚ and we have a solid prototype with undead following sounds and movement‚ rooms that generate randomly within the castle walls‚ and other basic game features (HUD and so on). We’re geared up to work on another game in the 2D platformer genre as well. That game is still in early concept stages‚ because I believe in strong concepts. In fact‚ I’m in the process of writing three separate game concepts. I think it’s safer to examine multiple options so that the team all agrees on the select project and have a clear vision of what we’re going to do. In the early stages‚ back when we settled on the Undead Castle‚ I presented three concepts to the team and they all selected the Undead Castle. It was actually a struggle for me‚ as I didn’t know if the game had potential. I wrote it‚ but I was very skeptical. Rest assured‚ the game is going to be great!
Let’s rap things up. Take your time on making your game concept(s) and don’t feel like you’re wasting time. You’re likely going to develop for at least 6 months for a nice quality‚ polished game. Have your artists‚coders‚ and song writers “sketch” along side the development of your concepts. If you’re an indie team then building your portfolio is important. Does it hurt to design a song sketch or two that will not make it into a game? I don’t think so. Whatever doesn’t kill you… Just take your time‚ enjoy writing and designing games‚and get plenty of feedback.
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