Research and Planning Stage
Depends on purpose of the project, planning stages could differ, but they have one in common. Research. If I’m planning to learn something new, create small game for portfolio, or more complex game and try crowdfunding, we should still perform complex research to answer more questions. Main focus of this project is crowdfunding, so main research will focus on:
- Audience – who is the target audience? If you are starting a project to learn and expand your knowledge, you can disregard this question. But in other case, it is important to know your audience and what they would like to see in game. What game functions they would like? Do they prefere cartoony, cell shaded graphics or realistic? Do audience like to solve complex puzzles or prefere to jump through levels? Do they want to play a game just to relax after working day, or they wants story driven game, where they can create bond with main protagonist and hate antagonist? Do target audience prefere PC, console or mobile gaming? Target audience basically defines all aspects of your video game.
- Projected sales and revenue – this one actually consist of more sub-questions. First step would be to research similar games, to see how much copies they have sold…etc. How much tax do you have to pay in a country you are live in? What platforms are you planning to sell your game on? Is there interest for a games like one you worknig on on chosen platform? What game engine should I pick to build my first video game? All these aspects will affect final profit. For an instance, using UE4 engine will commit you to pay 5% royalties to EpicGames ,inc. Releasing your game on EpicGames platform will cost you 12% for sales on this platform (as of December 2020). Releasing game on Steam platform will cost you 30% of your sales. How many copies games sell in average on chosen platform? Advertisement, another additional expenses. How do I want to advertise my game? Using advertisement agencies? Paid ads on websites? Youtubers? All is going to add to your expenses.
I’m trying to be realistic, and at this stage I’m planning to raise £15 000 – £20 000 using crowdfunding. If succesfull, I could invest some money into new equipment and probably to hire one or two people to help with the final stages of development (for about 5 months). Money from crowdfunding will be used to finish game development, and money from sales (if any), will be used to fund studio. There is still question on expenses for software packages required for development. That’s where your support job comes into action. Literally writing this post couple of hours before embarking to 10 hours long nightshift. Luckily I’ve made some investments during my study, so I do have commercial licenses to some software packages like Zbrush, Substance Painter and Designer, Adobe PS…etc. which basically covers all requirements in regards to high-poly modelling, texture baking and texturing. Still can’t afford to pay for Autodesk 3Ds Max license or subscription (which is my favourite 3D package), so I will need to use Blender for retopo, rigging and animating, which is free and open source. I don’t have much experience using Blender, but it’s about workflow, not about knowing UI. Same tools, different names, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to transfer workflow from one package to another.
About game design
At this stage, there’s no much to define about game design, other than basic information, like game genre, art-style…etc. Decisions were made based on research and other aspects as well.
- Setting – fantasy world.
- 3D side scroller with RPG elements – Why side scroller? Well, while I would really like to make this game in 3rd person view, it is just not possible for one person to handle all complications coming with 3rd or 1st person camera view. Sidecsroller allows me to skip creation of LODs and optimization issues coming with 3rd person camera view. And why RPG elements? Game is set in fantasy world, which strictly depends on these elements. However, because of limited team size, consisting of 1 person (me), RPG elements will probably consist of simple skill tree affecting attributes like attack, defense…etc.
- Artstyle – I’m not gonna say realistic, but rather more realistic than stylized. Something like stylized shapes for some monsters and objects, but with realistic surface finish, if it makes any sense?
- Platform – For now it is a PC. While PC is not preferable platform for games like this, I have no experience with porting to consoles at all. I would say it depends on funds raised. If it would be possible, I would like to port for consoles as well.
- Game mechanics – While 3D sidescroller, game also incorporates RPG elements, what means implementation of inventory and skills system, which could be pain to implement. For controlls I will probably build on 3D platformer template included un UE4 starter pack. No specific plans for fighting mechanics for now.
- Story – Since it incorporates RPG elements, video game should contain at least simple story line that main hero can follow. I do have a basic idea for the story for now, but it will probably be amended during development.
That’s me done blocking out very basic idea for the video game. Plenty of new, and more in depth ideas and mechanics will come up at later stages, during development. Ideas coming up all the time, so it si good idea to have some notepad at hand all the time (or hell of a memory to remember everything). Next step is to start messing up inside chosen engine, in my case UE4, and start prototyping.