Game Design Tips and Trends How to Differentiate a Game Concept in a Sea of Games By James Cortes | April 5, 2020 Interested in becoming a game creator or working for a game studio? There are many different games on the market as well as various ways to distribute these games. How do you differentiate your game in a sea of games? The steps to differentiation include the game conception, logline, uniqueness factor and game feasibility study. Game Conception Of course, any game begins with an idea. In the movie industry, the idea often begins with a concept or hook. However, the idea can also begin at the inciting incident, which is the moment at which the protagonist's life is upended. Sometimes, the idea begins at the end of the story when someone envisions an epic battle, and the desire to develop a game stems from this imagined final battle. Whatever your game idea, it needs a hook that can be expressed in a line or two. Again, referring to the movie industry, this is known as a logline. However, unlike movie loglines, which describe the central conflict and the character, the game logline must also incorporate the role of the player. Logline Examples Diablo's unofficial logline might be something like this: after heaven is overthrown by demons, the player must guide one of four heroes through a vast wilderness, battling demons and ultimately taking back heaven from Diablo. Fortnite's logline might be: a whimsical battle royale, where the player battles up to 99 other players while avoiding the storm and building their own defenses, in an attempt to send everyone back to the lobby and to be the last one standing. The developers at Epic Games actually use the phrase "send people back to the lobby." This phrase serves to downplay the idea of killing. To de-emphasize killing even further, when someone is sent back to the lobby, the graphics display a teleportation rather than blood and guts. The point is that no matter what your logline or concept is, each word or turn of a phrase should indicate a game's nature and play function. Unique Games In addition to having a logline that effectively outlines your project, your idea should be unique. For instance, Fortnite was certainly not the first battle royale, but it was the first to significantly introduce the building of a fort to serve as a defense. A game should have a differentiating factor to separate itself from the sea of games on the market. It can be a simple smartphone game or a complex VR game. Using a formula for the game that works with a unique aspect with allow game players to choose your game as opposed to a game made by your competitors. Game Feasibility Study A feasibility study examines the business and technical potential of a project while also focusing heavily on the challenges. Basically, it addresses the concern of whether the people involved can actually create the game. If they can, the feasibility then helps to determine if a project will be profitable. More specifically, the feasibility study weighs the projected costs against the market potential, while comparing the respective features of the project in question to industry top performers. Determining Factors of Profitability In order to determine if the developers can succeed, the following technical aspects will be examined. The Game Engine Art Acquisition Licensing Sound Development Deployment Methods The Game Engine In terms of the video game's engine, if the final product is going to be made using the Unity engine and the developers are not familiar with the engine, the project is probably not very feasible. Even if the developers can learn the engine, doing so can add a lot of time to the project, drawing out the production and increasing costs. That said, if they can recruit a Unity developer, the challenges pertaining to the game engine are no longer an issue and the game's development as it pertains to Unity are considered feasible. The next requirement would be to determine if Unity, as an engine, could sufficiently handle every aspect of the game or if some custom programming would be required. Each aspect of the game's unique and standard functionality must be compared against the game engine to determine if it can be successfully developed, from the opening menu to the final congratulation scene. At its very core, the feasibility study represents a go / no-go situation in which all technical and business challenges must be successfully addressed and considered feasible. If at any time technical challenges are insurmountable, or the business aspect of the game does not project profits, the project must be abandoned, or the team must engage in some serious problem solving. Art Acquisition The cost of game art can be expensive. For a game to be successful, it must use a level of art that fits the level of game play. A smartphone game will have less detail and less expectation than a multi-player game where players compete for millions of dollars, like League of Legends. Bringing in a graphic artist and 3D modeling expert can help lower the cost of art acquisition if they are able to make license free art for the game. However, the more experienced the graphic artist, the more expensive they will be. On some projects it may take more than one artist, or a team of graphic artists, in order to meet a deadline. Licensing The ability to play a game on a popular platform like PlayStation or Xbox can be expensive for the licensing rights. A game that can be downloaded to a smartphone or played on a PC will have lower licensing costs. However, a game that is built on a game engine will always owe a percentage of revenue to the game engine for hosting the game itself. Sound Development Whether you are using stock sounds and music or creating it from scratch, the cost of sound should be considered in the overall feasibility of the project. Hiring a Foley artist may help to capture real life sounds for game play. Many fighting games use Foley to accentuate the battle aspects of the game. A soundtrack should be created to move the player along the game or convey emotion. Different music tracks can help the player understand the mood of the scene. Whether they are intense fight scenes or victorious triumphs, music is used to transition from one scene to the next. Sound plays a big role in game play and should be part of the feasibility study of creating a new game. Deployment Methods A game creator should consider the deployment methods of the game. Some cost more than others. Like play on a popular platform, the cost to deploy games can include payments to distribution centers. With the introduction of digital downloads of games, much of the deployment costs have been removed. This includes the clamshell, art work and shelf space cost. There is a cost to sell downloads on third-party platforms like iTunes and Google Play. These costs must be considered in the feasibility study of the game. Did learning about the how to differentiate game concepts in a sea of games interest you? Code is the lifeblood that fuels every gameplay experience, so buff your technical skills as you learn to design and program video games in the Game Design Engineering degree program. Modify existing game engines before moving on to designing your own, forming the systems that power gaming’s greatest experiences. This includes implanting animation, AI and computer graphics within an engine. You’ll develop a project plan that will get others excited about turning video game design concepts into fleshed-out games with characters, worlds and objectives. You’ll be able to take a role as game designer and/or engineer, on teams structured to mirror those in professional game development. University of Silicon Valley is uniquely poised to offer a meaningful and valuable education for 21st century students. We believe in an education that directly correlates with the work you’ll be doing after you graduate. Interested in learning more? Contact Us today.