Proposal and Summary

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1 From McGuire & Jenkins, Game Development, A.K. Peters 2007 (preprint) 3 Proposal and Summary Terms Explained: Proposal - Genre - Adventure - God Game - Role Playing Game - Shooter - Platformer - Alternate Reality - Platform - Tagline - Key Experiences Games are proposed many times before reaching production. Typically an employee at a development company has an idea and pitches it to other members on the same team. Together they work out a common vision and present that to the design team or management. That proposal then is refined and researched into an early draft of a design document, which is then proposed to a publisher. This chapter describes the format of the initial proposals: from an individual to a team and from a team to management. The same format remains in the design document as the opening pages when it is sent to a publisher, providing a concise overview of the much longer document. The Overview Worksheet is a two-page worksheet designed to help you format your proposal in a professional and compelling manner. For blank worksheet templates, see appendix 18 and our website, The worksheet is intended for a number of different exercises: Brainstorming new game ideas as a team Proposing ideas to management Archiving ideas invented during work on one project for later explorations Executive summary for a full design document (For students:) Summarizing existing games studied for homework When describing a new idea, writing the worksheet is a creative exercise designed to help synthesize game designs and bring about a shared vision among the team members working on it. When completed, the worksheet is called a proposal. Proposals can quickly be evaluated by the whole team, by upper management, and by a publisher. Proposal worksheets are also used to archive good ideas for later work. A solid brainstorming session 15

2 16 3. Proposal and Summary generates too many good game ideas, and the worksheet format is a way to wrap the extra ideas up and file them for the next project. Proposals aren t just for designers. All members of the development team will have good ideas and should use this format to propose them internally. For a student summarizing a preexisting game as homework using the Overview Worksheet format, the essence of the exercise is the same but critical analysis replaces creative synthesis. Play the game for at least four hours to thoroughly familiarize yourself with it. Next, complete the worksheet as if you had just created the idea of the game yourself and were trying to describe it to your development team. Keep the game close at hand, as it is often necessary to experiment with it and closely read the instruction manual for analysis. Note that your goal is neither to review the game nor to record all of its detail, only to summarize the high-level essence. Plan on spending about forty-five minutes for a worksheet summarizing a preexisting game and at least two hours for a project proposal worksheet. Although you will take only minutes to generate the first draft of the proposal that ultimately begins your project, you ll look at several different ideas, and then for the one you like you ll spend at least an hour polishing it...and later, weeks revising it as part of the design document. 3.1 Generating Ideas Brainstorming is an effective way to generate good game ideas. Make many copies of the blank Overview Worksheet and quickly fill them out with different ideas. Spend about ten minutes per sheet and more time for the ones you are really excited about. Bootstrap one idea from another but never criticize or cut ideas. With a series of proposal sheets before you, review them collectively. Choose the one that you like the best and spend about an hour honing it. Don t feel constrained by your initial brainstorm sheet. In refining an idea you can add or cut as much as you like. It is good to riff off preexisting game ideas. So many games have been made that almost every good idea is already out there somewhere (which is a good reason to be familiar with previous work; see the Games Canon in chapter 19.) Rather than inhibiting you, this fact should be liberating. Working already proven ideas into your new context is a recipe for success. The burden of originality is also lighter than it appears originality is a new combination of elements, not necessarily new elements themselves. In fact, as in other art forms, in game design it is important to balance new ideas against proven conventions. A stock first-person shooter with one new gameplay idea is considered brilliant (Portal), while too many new

3 3.2. Format 17 ideas put together can alienate the audience (Amplitude) or risk failure (Trespasser). 3.2 Format Figure 3.1. Overview Worksheet used for Proposal and Summary Exercises The worksheet proscribes strict format and length limitations. In industry, these limitations vary between companies, but they tend to be similar. The template for the worksheet in this book combines some of the most effective structures observed across multiple game companies. The limitations on length are designed to force you to distill the core ideas. You will probably find that it requires hard work because it is so short, and that it would be easier to write more than less. You can start with more verbose sentences and ideas and shorten them to make room for more new ideas. That editing process naturally brings out the essence of your idea. Find the best words to express your idea concisely and compellingly. Some tips for concise, powerful writing are: Write specific nouns (e.g., coin, dragon, corvette, steel grate) over generic ones (e.g., bonus, thing, vehicle, barrier). Write strong verbs (e.g., soar, dash, anchor, pummel) over weak ones (e.g., fly, race, hold, hit).

4 18 3. Proposal and Summary Avoid adjectives and adverbs; they consume space and conceal weak nouns and verbs. Cut everything that isn t core to the idea. Watch out for the word and, as in, my game is a first-person shooter and you can fly planes and cast magic spells and... Everything that is not part of the core dilutes the core. Concise writing helps you fit the length limitations of the worksheet, but ultimately the importance of a tightly written document is that it takes less time for the rest of the team to read, presents a more clear vision of your game, and describe the game in a more compelling fashion to people who can approve it. The remainder of this chapter describes the specific fields of the worksheet and how to complete them. Two examples of completed sheets follow Title When first brainstorming, the title is just a placeholder so you have a convenient way to refer to the game. During polishing of a good proposal the title is carefully crafted. It becomes a summary, a hook, and an aperture through which to view the game. It should immediately inspire the reader with the setting, primary game mechanic, and target audience. The title should be engaging, drawing the reader in. Choose your words carefully in the title. Think about the difference between synonyms. For example, an espionage game could use the word spy in the title, but that is generic and boring. Some synonyms convey the same idea along with more descriptive flavor. Secret Agent spices the title up and gives it a cold-war feel. MI-6 (British Secret Service) lends a more debonair, James Bond approach; undercover emphasizes stealth, and spook implies a more goofy approach. Don t be afraid to use made-up words, as long as they have clear connotations. In one of our example proposals we combine the notions of a remote control toy, daredevil stunts, and flying into the title, R/C Airdevil. Leaning on previous work has advantages and risks in the title. Age of Empires was a hit historical real-time strategy game that spawned many sequels and imitators. Age of is too generic to trademark, so the imitators are free to use Age of Heroes, Age of Machines, Age of Warfare, and so-on. Using such a title immediately conveys the type of gameplay to the target audience, which is a huge advantage. The Tycoon and Quest game names have been similarly named. The risks of using variations on an established brand are running afoul of trademark law by being too similar (e.g., The Tetris Corporation aggressively pursues anyone creating

5 3.2. Format 19 a falling-blocks game whose name ends in -tris ) and of being associated with poor-quality imitations by others who also used a variation on a name brand. During final stages of production in a game the title may be changed to respond to marketing demands, however, having a descriptive title remains important for communication and motivation throughout development Tagline The tagline is an expanded title. It epitomizes the game in a single sentence instead of a single word. Taglines frequently employ double-entendres to succinctly capture multiple ideas. Unlike an advertising tagline for a product, don t be too clever or punchy with the game tagline. The proposal tagline borders on a mission statement for your team during development, and you want the mission to have content. You should always be able to judge later design decisions by whether they support the tagline. The Get Ready to Rock!! tagline for Guitar Hero was used to support the unity of design on the game; the developer reports that every design decisions was subjected to the ultimate question, does this rock? []. Some good examples of real game taglines are: The short word game, for Quizzler, a brief game about constructing words of three to seven letters. Short refers to both the words and the length of the game; word and game tell you the rest. A tagline with a double-meaning is attractive to the word game audience. The game of outrageous fortune, for Pirateer, in which treasureseeking pirates try their luck. Outrageous is an adjective, but it is a very strong one. Fortune is a strong noun and one that expresses both luck and wealth. Evil has survived An Epic Game of Role-Playing action and adventure, for Diablo II, a sequel involving questing and character building. Survived indicates the sequel, as well as telling players that their nemesis did not perish in the final battle of the first game, thus revealing the new plot line. The rest of the tagline succinctly explains the scope, genre, and mechanics to new players. No man fights alone, for Call of Duty, a first person war shooter ( fights ) that emphasizes team tactics ( no...alone ). Evil must be exterminated but first it must be found, for Metroid, a platformer involving searching ( found ) underground lairs. Evil

6 20 3. Proposal and Summary is misplaced, since the enemies in the game are more alien than intentional. However, exterminated is a strong verb that describes both the level-clearing nature of the game and the plotline of a spreading disease-like scourge. Hell breaks loose, for Doom, a game about a military base taken over by demons. Hell is of course eye catching. It also conveys the satanic opponents and the mature content of the game. The use of a cliche is more theatrical than functional, but it works for a game that also has little subtlety. Combat evolved, for Halo, which featured revolutionary ( evolved ) gameplay and graphics in a first-person shooter ( combat ). As the only significant launch title and flagship game for the Xbox, evolved fit the branding message and escaping-x logo of the console as well as the game. Make sure that your tagline expands on the title. It is important to avoid the temptation to just say something cool the tagline needs to accurately summarize the game, even at the expense of being a little boring. Like the title, it may be changed for marketing purposes before release, but during proposal and development accuracy of description is paramount Genre The concept of genre for games has more to do with where they sit on a store shelf than the underlying design. It blends together elements of game mechanics, setting, and target market; for board games it tends to conflate platform (play materials) with play mechanics. Nonetheless, a Genre label is widely recognized as a quick way of summarizing a game s basic play. Genres emerged to group the variants of classic games with their canonical predecessor, e.g., falling blocks summarizes all Tetris-like games and first-person shooter all Doom-like games. Most games are of course hybrids, for example, Counter Strike combines first-person shooter, real-time strategy, and roleplaying (stat building) aspects. However, for the Genre field to be useful, try to identify the single genre that best describes your game and optionally mark a second genre if combining two is the major innovation of the game. Board game genres are often directly named after their mechanics and platform. The categories are both easy to understand and ad hoc as a result. Common categories for board games include (reading these genre lists should help inspire many ideas!):

7 3.2. Format 21 Table-top Board: A generic term for games in which players move playing pieces on a board, draw cards, roll dice, and other activities associated with classic board games. Examples include Settlers of Catan, Monopoly, Puerto Rico, Through the Desert, Chess, Checkers, and Go. Table-top Miniature: War-games involving strategic placement and movement of tens of units across table-top terrain. Examples include Hero Clix, Warhammer 40,000, Flames of War, Pirates of the Spanish Main, and Battletech. Puzzle: Single-player, physical or mathematical puzzles, generally with no randomness. Sudoku, Rush Hour, Tipover, Mastermind, and Subway. Tile: A game played primarily by building a map through constrained placement rules. Examples include Carcassonne, Tongiaki, Dominoes, and Scrabble (which is also the canonical word game). Card: Games played primarily through hands of cards, with no significant other state or source of randomness. Examples include Poker, Magic: The Gathering, Set, Hearts, Solitaire, Lunch Money, and Munchkin. Word: Emphasize vocabulary and language skills, including Scrabble, Boggle, Crossword puzzles, and Quizzler. Party: Light on strategy and heavy on player interaction. Examples include Balderdash, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit and other trivia games, Apples to Apples, and Charades. These grew out of the parlor games of the 19th century. Alternate Reality: Games that mix media and blur the line between reality and fiction by incorporating real-world phone numbers, advertisements, objects, locations, and websites in play. Examples include I Love Bees, Beast, Webrunner, Majestic, The Nokia Game, and PerplexCity. Role Playing: Interactive storytelling games assisted by combat rules, often using multi-sided polyhedral dice. Dungeons & Dragons was the defining game of the genre. Others include Top Secret, Shadowrun, Paranoia, GURPS, and Amber. Live-action role playing (LARP) and interactive theater variants involve dressing in costume and directly acting out roles, usually with soft weapons to resolve combat. The classic genre categories for video games are:

8 22 3. Proposal and Summary Adventure: Wandering through a story-like world, solving puzzles. Minimal character building compared to an RPG, although it is common to collect a handful of new weapons and abilities. Adventure, King s Quest series, Legend of Zelda series, Myst series, Tomb Raider, and Grand Theft Auto. Strategy: Collect resources, build a civilization, research new technologies, and tactically control tens of units in battle. Typically divided into real-time strategy (RTS), e.g., StarCraft, War- Craft, Age of Empires, Defcon; and turn-based strategy (TBS), e.g., Civilization, Advance Wars, Master of Orion, X-COM, Age of Wonders, Heroes of Might and Magic, Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space, and opensource game The Battle for Wesnoth. Figure 3.2. Real-time Strategy game Age of Empires III. Image copyright Microsoft Corporation. God Games: A variant on strategy games, god games typically give the ingame characters more autonomy and make the battle one of controlling the chracters in a semi-hostile environment than of battling against equal foes. The genre is exemplified by its first major title, Populous. Other notable god games include Black and White, SimCity, and The Sims.

9 3.2. Format 23 Sports: Games simulating professional sports like hockey or soccer. Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer, Tiger Woods Golf, and Wii Sports. Rhythm: Beat-matching, usually music games that require the player to exactly match a series of joystick and button pushing motions. Examples include Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution, PaRappa The Rappa, and Elite Beat Agents. Role Playing Game (RPG): Traditionally named after theirimprovisational acting form of play, RPGs now are about building a character s statistics, skills, and inventory. e.g., Diablo series, Final Fantasy, Titan Quest, Oblivion, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the old Republic, and Fallout. Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) are virtualk worlds. Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, RuneScape, EVE Online, and Star Wars Onine. Action: Most real-time games without deep abstract strategy could be classified by the generic term action game. These feature the general mechanics of hordes of enemies, slow progression through a linear plot/world, and periodic boss battles (all common staples for any game genre). Examples include God of War, Gun Star Heroes. Figure 3.3. First Person Shooter Half-Life 2: Lost Coast Expansion. Image copyright Valve.

10 24 3. Proposal and Summary Shooter: An action game emphasizing reflexes, aim, and dodging, typically emphasizing gunplay or other violence. The actual shooting may be from a spaceship (e.g., Space Invaders, Wing Commander series, Starfox) or other vehicle, or by a character. 2D shooters are commonly called shoot em up s. First-person shooters (FPS) were hugely popular at the beginning of real-time 3D for games and have remained a staple of the gaming experience. Notable FPS games include: Doom, Quake, Unreal Tournament, Half-Life, Fear, Far Cry, Crysis, Wolfenstein, Halo, GoldenEye, Counter Strike, Resistance: Fall of Man, Prey, and Portal. Third-person shooters are growing in popularity, with Max Payne, Gears of War, and some of the Tomb Raider games as notable examples. Classic gameplay for 2D arcade shooters involved fighting hordes of enemies (usually from spaceships or jets) over long scrolling static backgrounds, so they are also known as scrollers The direction of the scrolling designated a game as a side scroller or top scroller. Examples include R-Type, Gradius, Spy Hunter, Raiden, Axelay, Desert Strike, Defender. Platformer: Carefully timed jumping between vertical levels and avoiding foes, whether 2D or 3D. Examples include Pitfall Harry, many elements of Half Life, Super Mario Bros. series, Sonic, Contra, and most 2D console games. Platformers tend to have little state associated with the character, differentiating them from adventure and role-playing games. Puzzle: Games devoted to primarily abstract puzzle-solving, either turnbased or real-time. Puzzles are considered the core of the casual games market, which greatly exceeds the size (in player base) of the hard core traditional gamer market. Examples of puzzle games include: Mine Sweeper, Tetris, Bejeweled, Lumines, Meteos, Drod, and Sudoku. Despite its platformer appearance, Lode Runner is best classified as a puzzle game. Likewise for Drod, despite its adventure trappings. Construction: Construct a virtual apparatus, typically to perform some role in a machine. Examples include Incredible Machine, Bridge Builder, and Roblox. Race/Driving: Race (usually cars) and beat opponents primarily by time through a fixed track. Examples include Mario Kart, Project Gotham Racing, Podracer, and Need for Speed. Fighting: Opponents face off with a series of moves, typically one-on-one. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Smash Bros., Soul Calibur, and Tekken serieses.

11 3.3. Platform 25 Brawler games are the melee analog of a Shoot em up and have the appearance of fighting games but generally less complex moves. Examples include Double Dragon. It is common to pair a literary or film genre with the mechanic when naming a genre for more specificity. Sci-fi FPS or Mystery Adventure are examples of such extended genre names. 3.3 Platform Identify the hardware platform for a video game or major components for a board game. Be as broad as possible. If specific platform doesn t matter then make that clear, for example Xbox360 or other next-gen console. Reasons for requiring a very specific platform are input features, like a keyboard or touch screen, an existing codebase for a platform, or a specific marketing deal. Sample video game platforms (and common abbreviations) grouped by broad categories include: PC: PC, Windows PC (Win, Win32), Macintosh PC (Mac, OSX), Linux PC, Windows PC on CD-ROM (PC-ROM), Windows PC on DVD (PC- DVD). Web: Web browser (HTML, Fash, JavaScript, Shockwave; depending on technology). Handheld: Nintendo DS, Nintendo Gameboy (GB), Nintendo Gameboy Advance (GBA), Sony PSP. Console: Sony Playstation 3 (PS3), Sony Playstation 2 (PS2), Sony Playstation (PS1), Microsoft Xbox 360, Microsoft Xbox, Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super Nintendo (SNES), Nintendo 64 (N64), Nintendo GameCube (GC), Nintendo Wii, NEC TurboGrafx 16, Sega Master System, Sega Saturn, Sega Genesis, Sega Dreamcast (DC), Colecovision, Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Atari Jaguar, 3D0, Fairchild Channel F (VES), Magnavox Odyssey. Other: arcade console, Java phone, cell phone, watch, dedicated device, . Sample non-video game platforms include: tile (e.g., Carcassonne, board (e.g., Monopoly), spoken word (e.g., riddles), card (e.g., Poker), collectible card (e.g., Magic), pen-and-paper (e.g., Dungeons&Dragons), miniature (e.g., Hero Clix), physical puzzle (e.g., Rush Hour), field (e.g., Soccer), dice, (e.g., Yahtzee), and alternative reality (e.g., I Love Bees).

12 26 3. Proposal and Summary Figure 3.4. Nintendo DS Hand-Held Console 3.4 Picture Games are a visual medium and game developers are a visual group. Describe your game with an image as well as text. You need not be an artist (although this is a good opportunity for artists to excel), as the image can be clipped from a magazine or art found on the internet. The picture acts first as an icon to quickly grab the reader s attention and identify a specific game among many other proposals on the table. It is also a summary of the game. The picture could be representative of box art, a simulated screen shot, or simply evocative of the themes of the game. The picture is small on the sheet, so bold, simple images are more valuable than fine details that won t be seen by most viewers. An image of the main character, the anticipated user interface, a simulated game board, or even simply clip-art echoing the setting of the game are all good places to start with the picture. 3.5 Target Audience Who will play this game? The age, gender, country, interests, and occupation of the target demographic drive many aspects of game design. Although it is usually desirable to address as wide a demographic as possible, having a specific core audience in mind gives the game focus trying to please everyone might lead to a game that appeals to no-one. When marketing a game a good strategy is to start with the core audience and then let a positive reception spread the game naturally to a wider audience.

13 3.6. Plays Like 27 Examples of target audience descriptions are: casual gamers, teenage boys, teenage girls, Korean internet cafe users, football fans, soccer moms, people who liked Diablo, affluent 20-somethings, secretaries, hard-core gamers, and mystery novel fans. 3.6 Plays Like Analogy and simile are powerful communication tools. The Plays Like section of the worksheet lets you convey your game idea as the combination of two previous games that the reader is probably familiar with. The first game should be popular, with critical and hopefully commercial success (since imitating an obscure and unsuccessful game is not a good way to begin your career..!) The second can either be another popular game, or a twist on the original. An example of a game with a twist is Lumines, which could be pitched as Tetris, where blocks rotate only on the ground or Jewels with squares. The Plays Like section immediately starts the reader at a common reference point and to establishes the direction in which you are expanding from the original game. It also constrains you to innovate within the bounds of mainstream taste. Working with the ideas from two previous games as a starting point means that you re likely starting someplace fertile in design space. The A meets B format is universal in all major game companies and is used extensively throughout the entertainment industry in film, music, and books. An example from the film industry is a series of films compared to Diehard. Diehard is an action movie where everyman Bruce Willis is trapped in a building with terrorists and must fight them and free hostages. After its phenomenal success, Hollywood writers crafted movies that seemed different to the public but had the same underlying mechanics. For example, Speed was pitched to executives as Diehard on a bus, and Phonebooth as the (seemingly ridiculous) Diehard in a phonebooth Goal How do you score points or win? For this field, write a single sentence that cuts to the core aspect of the game. Do not use the words and or or to pack multiple winning conditions or extraneous game detail into the sentence. A little detail can help to differentiate otherwise generic winning conditions, however. For example, the goal of Carcassonne can be expressed as, Collect the most points by claiming features as tiles are placed, which is more illuminating than Get the most points. The goal of Half-Life is literally to reach the end of the linear map/story, but it can

14 28 3. Proposal and Summary be better described as, Battle aliens and marines to escape a laboratory under seige. Note that the goal of the game might not be objective, e.g., decorate a doll-house so that you re proud to show it to your friends, although some would debate whether an activity without an objective winning condition is properly called a game. 3.7 Major Mechanics Mechanics describe the abstract gameplay; they are the categories into which the specific game rules fall. Most games contain tens of different mechanics (see chapter?? for a detailed discussion). The goal of this field is to identify the primary and secondary mechanics. For example, Mario Kart is primarily a racing game, with limited shooter elements added. As is evident from that description, the line between a genre and a mechanic is blurry. This is because the genre is often named after a mechanic. For a board game, it is acceptable to describe up to four game mechanics and in greater detail than would be for a video game, since board games are made or unmade by their mechanics alone. 3.8 Setting What is the context in which gameplay will take place? Briefly describe the location, era, conditions, and scope of the game s fictional and thematic components. The setting drives art direction and often motivates the mechanics brought into play. It also is a strong factor in identifying the target audience. This is a good place for evocative writing. Some sample settings are Medieval England under a tyranical king, Remote, broken-down starbase #12, and Inside a human cell. The reference section of the setting entry contains space for the titles of six previous books, games, and movies. Select works that will serve as reference and concept material. For example, the references of a pirate game might include Pirates of the Caribbean, Treasure Island. Choose recent works over older ones; recent works represent the popular conception of your setting and are likely to speak more directly to your target audience. For example, the Lord of the Rings films over the original books. It is often useful to write the setting as a set up, describing the scenario in which the protagonist/player is compelled to enter the action of the game.

15 3.8. Setting Key Experiences List three experiences the player will undergo that exemplify your setting and mechanics. For example, in Guitar Hero 2, the player holds a plastic guitar-shaped controller, can rip through the solo to rock anthem Free Bird, and the on-screen avatar performs stunts like playing guitar behind the head, smashing a guitar, and lighting a guitar on fire. If your game were a theme park ride, what elements would appear along the ride? If it were a movie, what key scenes would remain in the viewer s mind? What would you tell a friend when recommending the game? It may help to begin with the images you see when you think of the game. Describe level bosses, missions, characters, weapons, power-ups, and the cover-art for the game box. What are the sounds and the graphic style? What are the bullet points that would go on the back of the box or in an advertisement? From these you can derive the key user experiences. Another way to generate the key experiences list is to complete the sentence, this game is engaging because Selling Points Selling points are marketing arguments for why this is a good game to make. They may be a combination of financial, trend, and audience-driven concerns, and will often overlap with or reference the key experiences. See the completed worksheets at the end of this chapter for examples of selling points Related Games To understand a new game, it is important to research how it fits into the context of existing games. Select the three previous commercial titles closest to this one. For each, describe one interesting point. Examples are: how the related game differs, how it is similar, how it performed in the market, and what critics were positive and negative about. The references at the end of this chapter are good places to start your research. See the completed worksheets at the end of this chapter for examples of related game analysis. When writing an Overview Worksheet for a preexisting game as a homework assignment it is often most useful to only look at related games published before the one you are describing. This is because an older game will often not compare favorably with newer games. However, for recently published video games, comparisons against other recently published games are valid. Today s multi-year development cycles mean that both games were likely in development simultaneously and their development teams were aware of each other s product through previews and beta releases.

16 30 3. Proposal and Summary The related games section is often not present in industry for initial proposals to a team, partly because developers in industry likely have passing knowledge of most significant related games and don t need explicit analysis for an early proposal. This section instead appears in a more significant form as a market analysis that will accompany the design document submitted to a publisher as a formal proposal. In academia the related work section is important on an initial proposal. It demonstrates scholarship and ensures that you have gained the background knowledge that might already be at the fingertips of an industry developer. It also shows what is innovative about your proposal, which is more critical in a non-commercial context. 3.9 Examples Video Game Proposal This is an example of a completed worksheet for a novel video game idea. It is intended for a team of one artist and one programmer to complete in a few months. Title: R/C Airdevil Figure 3.5. R/C Airdevil Picture Tagline: Miniature adventures in flying. Genre: Side-scroller Platform: Low-power; Web, phone, or hand-held console Target Audience: Casual pre-teen gamer

17 3.9. Examples 31 Plays like Choplifter meets Micromachines Goal: Rescue lost toys while avoiding hazards great and small. Major Mechanics: 1. Precision timing and dodging 2. Rescue Setting: A toy s view of a suburban home and neighborhood, packed with angry pets, other toys, and environmental hazards. Setting References: 1. Toy Story 2 film 2. Nanochopter 3000 toy 3. Army Men game 4. Lego Star Wars 2 game 5. Various cartoons Key Experiences: 1. Helicopter automatically performs tricks like loops in appropriate circumstances 2. Slipping through narrow passages like windows and down a drainage vent 3. Snatching a teddy bear from a threatening alley cat Selling Points: 1. Simple, 2-button interface is easy to learn and ports to many different low-powered devices. 2. Non-violent, toy-oriented gameplay for pre-teen market 3. Casual; easy in, easy out

18 32 3. Proposal and Summary Related Games: 1. Choplifter for Commodore 64/Arcade; Broderbund, The basic helicopter rescue scenario is lifted from Choplifter, but made more lighthearted (Choplifter was inspired by the 1981 Iran hostage crisis) and with drastically simplified controls. Choplifter has traditional video game controls, while Airdevil is more like a claw vending machine where timing is critical and control is limited. 2. Army Men: Air Combat for Game Cube; 3DO The poorly-regarded AM:AC game previously featured toy helicopter antics, but was essentially a by-the numbers branding exercise with poor production values and uninteresting gameplay. Also, note the better-produced Army Men: Turf Wars for GBA; 3DO 2002, which more closely matches the platform target. 3. Defender arcade cabinet; Williams Electronics, The limited controls and rescue mission are ultimately inherited from this arcade hit, where a space ship defended civilians from invaders and had to catch falling humans in mid-air Board Game Proposal This is an example of a completed worksheet proposing a new board game to be created in one month by a two-person team. Title: Cutthroat Figure 3.6. Cutthroat Picture Tagline: Treachery at sea. Genre: Turn-based board game

19 3.9. Examples 33 Platform: 2-player board game Target Audience: Ages 10+ Plays like Pirateer meets Munchkin Goal: Ship captured treasure back to your secret lair. Major Mechanics: 1. Diamond-grid board naturally simulates the effect of wind direction on boat speed 2. Single-turn move-shoot-move sequence keeps sea battles constantly in motion. 3. RPG cards create complex and entertaining encounters. Setting: Caribbean, Setting References: 1. Pirates of the Caribbean film 2. Master and Commander novels and films 3. Pirateer game 4. Treasure Island game and film 5. Pirates of the Spanish Main game Key Experiences: 1. Master both wind and weapons in fast-paced sea battles, jockeying for a clear shot 2. Treachery: kidnapping crew, stacking cards for maximum impact, triggering mutiny on enemy ships 3. Plotting a successful course to slip your ships home through enemy fire. Selling Points: 1. Capitalize on the current popularity of pirates (due to the Pirates of the Caribbean films and Sid Meier s Pirates game) and dearth of solid strategic pirate board games. 2. Engaging, high-quality game pieces metal doubloons, glass gems, and wood pirate storage chest. 3. Manage an entire armada...or craft one super-dreadnaught.

20 34 3. Proposal and Summary Related Games: 1. Munchkin card game; Steve Jackson Games Munchkin is a parody of the degenerate stat-building strategy of some pen-and-paper roleplaying players couched in the mechanics of collectible card games like Magic, where cards add weapons and magic items to a character. Much of the enjoyment of Cutthroat derives from playing cards to fill out a ship s crew and inflict special attacks on opponents. 2. Pirateer board game; Mendicino Game Company The basic gameplay motivator is borrowed from Pirateer players race ships across a grid to capture treasure. The actual interaction in Cutthroat is primarily naval battles, but there would be no conflict without the limited treasure resource. 3. Pirates of the Spanish Main table-top miniature game; Wizards of the Coast Cutthroat (at least the prototype) will use ships and islands from this game and some of the basic wargame ideas, however the gameplay is streamlined and more strategy added through cards Classic Game Summary This is an example of a completed worksheet summarizing a relatively old preexisting game, as if it had just been invented by the author. Metroid Zero Mission was developed and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance in 2004 as a remake of the classic game Metroid. This summary is written relative to the original Metroid to show how to use historical context for related games. Title: Metroid Zero Mission Tagline: Evil must be exterminated but first it must be discovered. Genre: Platformer Platform: GameBoy Advance Target Audience: Teenage boys; 30-something nostalgia-gamers Plays like Super Mario Bros. meets Duke Nukem Goal: Exterminate an alien menace (Metroids) by collecting enough powerups to reach its lair at the heart of a planet.

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