During the concept phase, the creators will sketch out the major ideas of the game. For example, I might come up with an idea and create a small pitch description that looks like this:
High Concept: Power Paws Racing is a third-person racing game featuring small animals racing through urban and suburban environments. Players can choose their own path through whimsical levels, and their animal abilities will offer special advantages, like climbing walls and trees, swimming in water, or chewing through wooden obstacles.
Usually during this period, the creative person or team will get feedback from the folks that the company trusts the most in the creative process, the “stakeholders,” who often have a great deal of say in the outcome.
ONCE UPON A TIME WITH STAKEHOLDERS
I was once invited to attend a concept retreat for stakeholders of a major franchise game owned by a large publishing company. The retreat was held in a renovated chateau isolated in the French countryside. Attending were people from both the leadership team and the development team, each an expert in a particular area of game development.
Attending from the publisher’s leadership team were the chief creative officer (CCO), the gameplay specialist, the production specialist, the marketing specialist, and the project coordinator.
Attending from the development team were the game producer, the lead designer, the art director, the narrative designer, and the creative consultant.
I was struck by how deliberate the company was with their franchise. The CCO and his team had some very specific things that they, and therefore the company, needed included in the game. Some of what they said matched what the team had envisioned, but some of the directions were radically different. Once the development team was given those directions, we spent endless hours discussing the setting, characters and game mechanics.
After the retreat, the development team went back to their studio for a month to integrate the CCO’s comments into their concept for the game, which would then be presented at a second meeting in front of the company’s board of directors. Even the highest levels of the company had a creative stake in the process.
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