Thursday, 31 October 2013

Elements of Game Design, part five: Planning and Concepting

Within a game developing company, it is essential that there is a planned and very strict schedule to be followed at all times. For us on my course, we are learning how to plan and stick to these timeframes.

With each project we are set, we are given a brief which gives us the, genre/backstory, technical specifications and anything else we need to know about producing the final product. This will be given in different ways; whether we are producing work for 2D or 3D aspects.

Ultimately, these briefs are structured in similar ways. We are given the general outline of the piece before conducting research and finding reference. Then we look at silhouettes and idea generation which moves us on to a development of the concepting process and design exploration. Finally, you end up with the final conceptual idea, which can then be modelled, sculpted, imagineered, etc.

The time frame always depends on the product. For our visual design projects last year, we were usually given between 1-3 weeks, but this largely depended on whether we were drawing still life as practice or conceptualising a character or in game asset. With our Game production projects, we were given around 3-4 weeks; again, this was all down to the brief and final result we aimed for.

Already in second year, the step up is noticed. Although, there isn’t necessarily more work to do, or less time to do it in. A definite change in attitude and skill has improved everyone’s final outcomes with their work. The understanding of having a good plan is on my mind this year. I look to try and be consistent with each module, and to complete enough work to keep a balanced working ethos.

In Critical Studies we looked at the pipeline process that
an average game studio might follow. It follows a specific set of instructions throughout the process and always sticks to the brief. With our 2D conceptual projects, we usually just see it through to the final conceptual design and never all the way to actually building it in 3D space to put into a game engine. Because of this we have the developmental process, closely following that of a company’s design pipeline in game production, but less so if it’s just for a single asset/character.

The design pipeline for a company follows the entire process for creating a game. Although we don’t/haven’t made an entire game, we still follow these design aspects in order to explore and create the best ideas in these given tasks. Although there is one main structure, it largely branches out in order to focus on refinement.

For any game development team to function smoothly, the pipeline has to be closely regulated, giving you art directors and many other heads of authority keeping everyone’s stylisation and vision focused on the brief. This is an excellent way for directors to keep track of what the whole team are doing as the whole pipeline can be changed and shifted with the team still following. It is clear that without this structure and the development of all areas in the pipeline, games would be pretty pants. The clear focus of where they need the final product to be helps the development continue throughout the project, and not just at the beginning. This is how it should always be done.

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