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The Game Production Handbook, 2nd Edition by Heather Maxwell Chandler

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GAME CONCEPT
In This Chapter
Beginning the Process
• Define Concept
• Prototyping
• Risk Analysis
• Pitch Idea
• Project Kick-off
14.1 I
NTRODUCTION
P
re-production starts with defining the game’s concept. After all, you can’t
start working on a game until you have some idea of what the game’s goal
is and what the final game will look like when it is completed. Initial con-
cept starts with a broad idea—what would it be like to race concept cars against
each other—and then more details are added to narrow the concept and create
a vision for the game. Elements such as the hardware platform, genre, and key
features are defined, along with more specifics on what the game world is like,
the character designs, and the gameplay mechanics. After all this is defined,
anyone presented with the game information should understand the goals of the
game’s concept.
Rarely does the producer alone determine the initial game concept and the
general game design, unless he is funding a game development team and has final
authority over all game design decisions. In reality, game design is a collaborative
Chapter 14
220 THE GAME PRODUCTION HANDBOOK, 2/E
process, and the producer’s main role is to manage the development process and
make sure that all the key elements of the design are completed. A lead designer
or creative director usually manages the creative process to ensure that all the
game’s elements support the initial concept. In some cases, if you try to manage
both the creative and production process, you can find yourself in a dilemma
when you have an idea for a cool feature but need to cut it for production rea-
sons. Additionally, if you assume some of the lead design responsibilities without
strictly defining this in your role as producer, the other team members—par-
ticularly the lead designer—might be frustrated if they do not understand the
reasoning behind your creative authority on the project.
Of course, there are instances where the producer is also the main creative
leader, and this can be a successful way to structure as team, as long as everyone
understands what your role as producer-director entails. The key is to define
the creative and production management responsibilities clearly on the project,
so that people are assured that both aspects of these areas are being expertly
handled in the game development cycle. After the roles are clearly defined for
pre-production tasks, you can start working on the game’s concept.
Remember that when a team collaborates on a creative project, people are
never in 100 percent agreement. If you spend your time trying to get everyone
to agree on everything about the game, then little progress is made. People can
spend too much time disagreeing with decisions and so no final decisions are
made. If people are in disagreement on how a certain element functions in the
game, don’t waste time trying to convince the dissenter that the idea is good.
Instead, spend the time prototyping the idea, get some actual gameplay feed-
back on the fun factor, and make adjustments or change the functionality based
on this information.
This chapter presents an overview of what game elements are defined in the
concept phase. In order to demonstrate some of the key points, a sample game
will be used throughout this chapter and subsequent chapters discussing the
game development process.
14.2 BEGINNING THE PROCESS
At the beginning of the game development process, the team will likely consist
of a producer, lead designer, lead engineer, and lead artist. This core team is
responsible for taking a concept and turning it into a game design. This means
determining the concept, platform, genre, gameplay mechanics, character de-
signs, and any other key game elements.
If you are working for a publisher-owned developer, the publisher will likely
assign your team specific games to work on, including the platform, genre, and
initial concept. With this basic information, the core team needs to define all

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