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Unit 32 Unit 32 - Computer Game Design H/502/5671 LO2 - Be able to generate ideasfor a game concept
Assessment Criteria P2, M2 and D2 Assessment Criteria P2 • Learners must generate outline ideas for a game concept working within appropriate conventions. The evidence could be a video of the learner presenting their outline game ideas supported by copies of the presentation slides, a presentation document with relevant speaker notes, a promotional newsletter advertising the “up and coming” new game or a report. Assessment Criteria M2 • Learners must produce a detailed plan for a game concept expanding on the ideas outlined in P2.The detailed plan should include the listed items in the teaching content. The detailed plan will take the form of a written document supported by images. Assessment Criteria D2 • Learners should expand on their detailed games plan from M2 and provide ideas for creating an expansion pack to enhance the game further. The evidence could be a video of the learner presenting their ideas for the creation of an expansion pack supported by relevant images as appropriate. Alternatively, learners could provide the presentation slides with speaker notes or produce a report.
LO2 - Understand game platform types • Learners should be taught how to generate ideas for a game concept. This may be using questionnaires and interviews, which could be recorded, in order to understand what an audience wants from a game. They should carry out some research looking at sales figures for games to understand which genre sells the most units and who these players are and their social background, gender and age composition. • Learners should be taught about add on and expansion packs (again it may be possible to get a visiting speaker who would show learners how much revenue can be generated from these game “add-ons”). They could look at games that are available and the expansions that are available for them and how this fits in with the overall game and creates more than just the basic game e.g. gaining access to better weapons, characters etc. • Learners should be provided with examples of games design documentation and discuss the importance of preparing good design documentation e.g. to present to interested stakeholders to secure funding to develop their game concept.
P2.1 - Genre of Computer Game • Since the first home console and home computer games have existed as categories, genres. In the 38 years since Atari VCS dominated the market, the genres have remained, none have disappeared but a few new have been added. Pong in 1972 was considered a sport game, similar to air hockey or tennis, Pacman in 1980 was considered action, Night Driver for Driving, Qwak in 1974 for Shooting, Atari Football in 1978 for Sport, Galaxian and Space Invaders in 1978 were a space shooter, Maze was a puzzle, Dungeon Keeper was an RPG, Kong was a platformer and Zork was an adventure. • Since then new genres include RTS, FPS, MMORPG, Brain training, Simulations and Gambling. Each of these has a history and each of these has had a cycle of development with each new console and platform that has been released. • Crossover genres are also prevalent, action RPG’s like Tomb Raider, FPS and driving like GTA, Puzzle and Adventure like Resident Evil and Space simulations with RTS like the classic Elite. • And then there are the odd games that do not fall into a category like Fruit Slice, is it action, is it cooking, online games like Sugar Sugar, is it simulation or classed as platform or Snake, one of the most played games of all time but not considered a game at all. These games tend to capture a market in a small period of time Criteria Tasks 1 2 3 4 5 Assessment Scenario
P2.1 - Genre of Computer Game • P2.1 – Task 01 – Using examples from different eras, describe the aim and purpose of the different range of genres that exist in computer games. • From the list above and using the headings below with a range of examples throughout the history of gaming, compare the Purpose and Aim of the genres of gaming with examples. • Purpose – What does the user hope to achieve, what do they have to do to get there. • Development – What has changed over the years, what is the same. • Considerations – What does the ingredients the company have to put in there to keep the target audience coming back. • Popularity – What makes one game in the genre better than another. • Saleability of game genres Criteria Tasks 1 2 3 4 5 Assessment Scenario
P2.2 - Understand game platform types – Initial Research • For the rest of this project you will be designing, planning and researching your own game. That game needs to be defined and then adapted to the needs of the intended audience. At this stage you will need to decide what kind of game it will be. • For every game idea there is a game that is similar on the market which is why your product will need a USP. You will need to research the USP and nature of the game with evidence and outline how the game reaches the needs of the target audience in terms of playability and content. P2.2 - Task 02 – For a game in the same genre, specify the purpose, audience, objectives and storyline.
P2.2 - Understand game platform types - Feedback • Now that you have an idea of what kind of game t make and the general feeling of what sells and what does not, and with the general idea of your game in mind, you need to seek primary information form your target audience on what in particular would make a good game for them, what is it they are specifically looking for in that genre and why they might be interested in your idea for a game. P2.3 – Task 03 - Obtain feedback from potential audiences on what games they like and why. • For this you will need to create and use a questionnaire or do an interview with several respondents on what game they like and why. You will need to ask a series of questions that are more qualitative than quantitative and needs to ask very specific questions about style, format, gameplay, control mechanism, single and multilayer options and general features of the game genre that they prefer. • With this feedback analyse what it is that is common in theme for the target audience of this kind of game format. For a questionnaire you can use Survey Monkey, digital or paper based versions. For an interview there needs to be a varied age range of the audience and questions need to be non-leading. • Both forms of feedback should include what they do not like about the genre and there should be some indication as to online and offline content.
D2.1 - Understand game platform types – Expansions • Now the idea of the game is in your mind and the feedback from the target audience has indicated what they like and do not like about the genre, you need to think of the short and long term goals for the marketed game. • For this you need to consider the possibility of expansion packs and what works well with them in the industry. For this you should find three games with expansion packs and review them based on content, quality and what they bring to them game in terms of appeal to the target audience. These should be 3 clearly different kinds of expansion packs for different games. • Games with expansion packs include Sims, COD, Oblivion and Skyrim, Football Manager, Civilisation, WOW, Starcraft and LOL. Packs can be whole new worlds, maps or simple patches and upgrades. D2.1 – Task 04 – Source, evidence and discuss different expansion packs for 3 games in terms of Content, Appeal and Quality. P2.4 – Task 05 – For your game, investigate 3 ideas for expansion packs for the planned game.
P2.5 – Planning - Introduction • With every game creation there is a period of planning that happens. Most games that are designed do not get funding, 80% of games made with funding still do not get published, this is partly down to planning and preparation. When a producer of a game takes the sketches and plans to a publisher they need to impress, they need to win the publisher over to the point where the publisher can see how the game will look when created. • For this section you will need to produce a range of ideas and concepts for your game that will include storyboards, mood boards, sketches of the game and characters, time plan and a script. • These will go into the overall publishing plan, a document that will be given to a publisher to impress them with your game idea. • Remember that it will need to be unique, this will not be a game you can knock out in two hours within Gamemaker or Scratch, it will take months, it will have multiple characters, it will have a plot, it will have power ups and development, it will have potential sequels, it will have expansion packs if the game is popular. And it will have to be different from anything that exists to capture the attention and enthusiasm of a publisher who sees 100 game ideas a month. So no pressure.
P2.5 – Conceptual Planning - Storyboards P2.5 - Task 06 – Using the template, produce a story board of your game covering all the necessary elements. • This should include scene setting, players, rules, purpose, scoring and written annotations that go with it. • You do not have to produce every little detail but you must ensure it is logical and makes sense as static story boards. • Neatness is not the idea– functionality and direction is! • Ensure you include your Interface Design on the boards and any important notes. • If you intend to use sound effects include them. • These should be detailed enough that a third party can create your vision from these boards alone. • Think about different levels, any rules you wish touse, text and scoring screens. • Think About: Story board, Timings, Movement, Transitions, Effects • For useful ideas click here.
P2.5 – Conceptual Planning - Storyboards • You may wish to use a template many of which can be found free online or there are a couple of examples below. • Either way you need to put enough detail so that a third party can create your masterpiece. Click to open.
P2.5 – Conceptual Planning - Storyboards • These story boards contain some of the elements necessary(Although some are very good) • Consider what grade would you give these three storyboards and Why?
P2.6, M2.1 – Conceptual Planning - Storyboards - Visualisations • It is time to plan the creation of the game plan. There needs to be several stages to the game production that need to be highlighted to impress the publisher. For Merit the designs need to be detailed and clearly indicate concepts and ideas generated. • Visualisations, (e.g. mind map, mood boards) – These are ways to get your ideas down on Paper and map out how you will create and generate the game levels, players and objects. These can be done Digitally or on Paper. • Mood Board – You will need to create a mood board for the characters and graphics that includes images that you feel are appropriate, inspirational, negative and functional. This mood board needs to impress upon a client that you have considered the options, quality, house style and how the objects created will link.
P2.6, M2.1 – Conceptual Planning – Mood board and Mind Map Visualisations • During the production of the Game there will be stages that overlap, companies start the same, planning, negotiating the publisher compromises, drawing sketches. But when the production of a large game gets underway, the artwork for graphics will be done at the same time as the background designs, the research and this will take time because of their importance. The first completed level can be tested while the other levels are being made, but the character designs and movement needs to be first as it will be on the levels interacting with the objects. • Similarly some of the objects and AI code can be produced independently of the background graphics and some of the graphics are intrinsically linked to the working of the others. The stages of production include: • For Merit these plans need to be realistic and achievable and the details need to be clearly defined. P2.6 - Task 07- Create a Mood Board and Mind Map that indicates overlapping tasks for your game covering all the necessary production tasks. M2.1 – Task 08 - Generate a detailed plan for a game concept
P2.7, M2.2 - Outline Design Methods – Visualisation Sketches • For P2.7 - It is necessary to sketch your graphics before production. These sketches need detail but you will not be marked on the quality of your drawing. • There are 4 sets of sketches you will need to do, the Character, Background, Objects and Enemies/weapons. For Pass the annotations on all 4 sets of sketches will determine the grade. • Here are some examples of the kind of final sketches we are expecting - However some of these do not show much development • Remember it is not artistic prowess but technical ability and development you need to demonstrate. The main idea is to get your idea across • For Merit M2.2– Sketches need to be annotated in detail e.g. multiple sketches or animated images. • For Merit M2.2 - Annotations, (e.g. style of movement, multiple views, indication of movement). P2.7 – Task 09- Create and annotate a series of Individual Sketches for your Characters and Graphics to include annotations. M2.2 – Task 10 – Create and annotate a series of Multiple Sketches for your game characters, objects and environments.
P2.8 - Outline Design Methods – Visualisation Sketches • The interface on a game is very important, it holds the user on pause, keeps the user at a point, directs them to different sections of the game or launches them into a phase of the game from where they left of. There are rules for Interfaces that help a game and make it more playable and more acceptable: • A user interface needs to be simple enough for the age of your target audience to understand. • It needs to have a similar design to the game structure, technical for a technical game, colourful if the game is colourful, in keeping with the background and user controls. • It needs to have an escape from the game option, specifically if the game has the facility to be saved. • Have limited sub menus so as not to confuse the user. P2.8 - Task 11– Produce a design sketch of your game interface including details of the necessary elements. • Think About: The necessary options, The Control Methods, The background, The age and ability of the user
P2.9 - Outline Design Methods – Script Planning • Scripts - All games have characters of some type and all characters have scripts, the things they say that drives the storyline along. With films this is extensive, starts with an introduction, sometimes written on screen, “In the year 2525…” etc. Some are voice acted, think of the opening sequence of Gears of War where the character describe why they are fighting, or the four hours of cut sequences in Final Fantasy 12 where the characters interact and discuss what to do. • For your game the publishers need to have an indication of the script for your game, a plot line with an indication of the text said during the game. This does not need to be all of it, a script of the introduction should be enough to set the mood. You need to research what other games in the genre indicate in the introduction, either said or written and use these as examples of the kind of voiced and written intent you have in mind. P2.9 - Task 12 – State the importance of script planning with examples and create a script for your game introduction.
P2.10 - Outline Design Methods – Project Plan A project specification is the “what”, “who”, “how” and “when” and “wherefore” of your project. You will need to detail: • What • Brief description of the game • What is the game all about? • What is the objective, aim and details of game? • Why is it unique • Who • Intended audience (e.g. age, gender, demographic) • Who is the team? • How • Genre • Is the game going to be created? • How is the game going to be distributed? • When • How long will the project take? • When will it start and finish? • Other • Sales tool and marketing P2.10 - Task 13 – Using the template, provide relevant details including notes, about the Purpose of the video game project you plan to present. M2.3 – Task 14 – Within this presentation provide additional detailed game design consists with a justification of each choice.
P2.11 - Outline Design Methods – Planning stages • For this stage you will need to use either a project Management program like Microsoft Project or Open Proj or create a Gantt Chart using Excel to produce a timeline for the creation and sourcing stages of the projects. This should take into consideration Parallel Processes, Milestones, Checkpoints and Deadlines. The project should be broken down into 7 major sections or stages: • The stages of production include: • Analysing and research • Planning – funding etc. • Preparation • Sketches • Level designs • Staffing • Implementation • Character and Model Designs • Background Designs • Menu Coding • Interactivity • AI • Sound and Narrative • Level Construction • FMV and Sequences • Localisation Plan • Testing • Alpha • Beta • Gold Master • Evaluation • Documentation • Each of these stages can be broken down into parts, for instance creating can include sourcing, part 1 of 4, saving and exporting file formats and gaining permissions. This should be a plan that is capable of being followed. Altogether you have to set yourself a realistic deadline, the Gantt or project Plan should reflect this. P2.11 –Task 15 – Create a Gantt or Project file that illustrated the timings of each stage and sub stages of the Game Creation project.
P2.11 - Outline Design Methods – Milestones and Concurrent tasks • Milestones - You will also need to identify milestones within the project – these are major turning points within your projects • For example a few milestones in building a house would be; Purchasing the land, choosing an architect, getting planning permission and starting to build. • Predecessors and Concurrent Tasks - Sometimes when you are planning stages something has to happen first before that stage can take place - these are known as predecessors • For example if our project is to build a house we have to get buy the plot of land before we start building. And we have to build the foundations before we build the walls and so on. • Concurrent tasks are things we can perform at the same time. For example we could install the windows whilst placing roof tiles or perform the plumbing while installing the doors, etc...
P2.11 - Outline Design Methods – Milestones and Concurrent tasks Example of GANNT Chart produced within Microsoft Project for a project.
P2.12 – Project Plan – Resources • For each phase of the creation process there will be different software and resources used. Choosing the appropriate resources can save time and money on creation whereas the software needed for the game making part is usually pre-set. As long as the team know how to use that software. • Resources – from pens and pencils to OpenProj, computers, test machines, console development tools, labour, premises, all these are important to the creation phase. It is unlikely a publisher will love your project so much at the initial stage that they supply you with everything. You will expect to make the Game yourself, possibly with financial support so you need to take the following resources into consideration: • Staff (e.g. artists, programmers, testers etc.) • Hardware (e.g. PCs, digital cameras, motion capture devices etc.) • Software (e.g. Game engines, graphic packages, generic software – Word processors, Spreadsheet etc.) • Of course most of these will have budgetary implications which will need to be accounted for P2.12 – Task 16 – For your game describe and justify the different resources needed for each stage of the game production.
P2.13 – Project Plan –Software • Game Engine – the game engine you choose is vital, games can be made without them but this involves many lines of code to be written. There are 3 major game engines to licence, Unity, CryEngine and Unreal as well as bespoke engines like Rage. Each has its own merits, and each is good at making one kind of game well. • Model Making – Like game engines there is a choice of what package to use for making the game models, the characters, the background, the environment, the trees and cars etc. You cannot just go get them from websites and use these, they need to be made. The big three include Maya, 3DS max and Zbrush as well as bespoke ones like Poser, Modo and Sculptris. Again each has their merits, some are linked to animation packed (called rigging), some are limitless and all are compatible with each other and with game engines.
P2.13 – Project Plan –Software • Animation – Like graphics packages there are a few and they are compatible with Game engines and it is down to the skill of the user, programmer, artist, rather than the technical ability of the package. Programs like Maya and 4D studio are the most common rigging packages but After Effects is also capable of some animation. • Graphics and FMV – All games have some graphic additions, FMV sequences, video sequences, animated titles, scrolling text, intros and conclusions. There are multiple packages that can do these and programming tools for the lesser effects. Premiere and After Effects in particular are used by the industry a lot, creating intros for most games, also 4D studio and Flash can be used to good effect. P2.13 – Task 17 – For your game describe and justify the different Software tools needed for the game production and justify your choice for each section.
D2.1 – Expansion Packs • Your completed game is the first stage of the promotion and life cycle of the product. Interest is gathered, peaks and then fades. A year or two down the line you come up with a sequel, bigger, better, more in depth with enhanced graphics but you will need to market all over again. Customers have a short attention span, they need to be engaged in between releases to maintain that interest. • Think about COD2, who does not know which position to stand to be safe, what angle to throw the grenade, where the opposition re-spawns. Users clock up hundreds of hours on each level and get bored, who wants to join a frag with die-hards. Similarly WOW, the average keen user will get to the end within a month of play, a complete new version will cost a fortune and have to reinitiate users accounts. So add-ons, more levels, new missions, weapons, battles. • Few games are unlimited in size, Elite was deemed so large that there were planets with odd names, Doomdark’s Revenge on the Spectrum was rumoured to have 1million levels. Doom moved from game to legend because of the add-ons, downloadable maps, expansion packs, different graphic add-ons. • On most game websites for PC there are patches, add-ons, extras to download, GOTY editions and graphic enhancements. This gives the customer more than they paid for. 200,000 users downloaded the armour enhancement packs for Oblivion, 50,000 user downloaded the water effects for Command and Conquer and the number of users who downloaded the packs for WOW is in the millions.
D2.1 – Expansion Packs • Generated Revenue – Look at how much money downloadable content can generate, look at the sales of GOTY editions, look at the statistics of downloaded content and use examples form multiple games with such content. • Graphics – For some games it takes 2 years to make, in the computer industry hardware gets better in that time, faster, 3D modelling programs have updates or new versions that can do better things. • Playability – Find the problems and fix them, add more content from feedback, listen to your customers and what they want, read the reviews and see what you can make better. • Longevity – Adding more levels to keep the customers happy, putting in what there was not enough time for the first time, tiding the customers over until the next version comes out. • Repurposing across multiple platforms– Spreading across formats for more sales, having a cut down version for Mobiles, Graphically reduced versions for handhelds, touch screen versions for tablets. D2.1 – Task 18 – Sketch and plan at least three additional elements or enhancements to your game in terms of downloadable content and describe the value in these additions. • This can be done as extra levels, current enhancements and platform compatible. • Extra levels – this could be more levels or a bonus game, sub game, something that helps cover the content in more depth for the user. • Current Enhancements – this could be graphical updates, sound functions, additional help or support. • Platform Compatible – this could be sketches on how to reduce content for an App version, or remove keyboard control for a console through an alternative interface like multiple choice.
LO2 - Assessment Task List P2.1 – Task 01 – Using examples from different eras, describe the aim and purpose of the different range of genres that exist in computer games. P2.2 - Task 02 – For a game in the same genre, specify the purpose, audience, objectives and storyline. P2.3 – Task 03 - Obtain feedback from potential audiences on what games they like and why. D2.1 – Task 04 – Source, evidence and discuss different expansion packs for 3 games in terms of Content, Appeal and Quality. P2.4 – Task 05 – For your game, investigate 3 ideas for expansion packs for the planned game. P2.5 - Task 06 – Using the template, produce a story board of your game covering all the necessary elements. P2.6 - Task 07 - Create a Mood Board and Mind Map that indicates overlapping tasks for your game covering all the necessary production tasks. M2.1 – Task 08 - Generate a detailed plan for a game concept P2.7 – Task 09 - Create and annotate a series of Individual Sketches for your Characters and Graphics to include annotations.
LO2 - Assessment Task List M2.2 – Task 10 – Create and annotate a series of Multiple Sketches for your game characters, objects and environments. P2.8 - Task 11 – Produce a design sketch of your game interface including details of the necessary elements. P2.9 - Task 12 – State the importance of script planning with examples and create a script for your game introduction. P2.10 - Task 13 – Using the template, provide relevant details including notes, about the Purpose of the video game project you plan to present. M2.3 – Task 14 – Within this presentation provide additional detailed game design consists with a justification of each choice. P2.11 –Task 15 – Create a Gantt or Project file that illustrated the timings of each stage and sub stages of the Game Creation project. P2.12 – Task 16 – For your game describe and justify the different resources needed for each stage of the game production. P2.13 – Task 17 – For your game describe and justify the different Software tools needed for the game production and justify your choice for each section. D2.1 – Task 18 – Sketch and plan at least three additional elements or enhancements to your game in terms of downloadable content and describe the value in these additions.