Zero to Pitch: Designing a Video Game

An article written by: Lee Sonogan

Image result for elements of game design

“Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock n’ roll.”
― Shigeru Miyamoto

Playing and researing alot about video games, I always wanted to be apart of such a process. Video games come in many types and forms. In theory, you could design a video game. You could get it to a point where all you need is developers and programers to make the game. And there is video games engines out there that you can learn that does not require coding. But you will need a great understand of video games, story telling and multiple different design skills to do so.

In creating a video game you must first determine your goals. What kind of experience do you want it to be? What are you trying to do? Mobile game or computer game? If you ask yourself questions in what your trying to achieve then the answers will provide light on the process and you will know where you are going with your ideas. Committing to your ideas will let you know what audience you are looking for and what genre of video game your game will be.

Raw ideas to have before developing each idea:
  • Main Character/Playable characters
  • Video game genres/genre
  • Which device will your video game be made for?
  • Gameplay challenges/limitations
  • Incentives for your player
  • Story
  • Probably more raw ideas that would help!

Play with your raw ideas to build stronger concepts. Use a notebook to draw characters or level design. Research on the internet and save heaps of resources relevant to your ideas. Use the basic elements of creativity and copy, transform and combine ideas. Design the video game world content such as the enviroments, items and the characters them self. You should also early on have the design for controls, interface, internal rules, visuals matching your game and much more.

How do you know you have enough information to pitch your video game idea? You will need to create a portfollio of many different documents and ideas. A Game Design Document or GDD is essential to the video game production process. Made of text, images, diagrams, concept art and much more some GDD’s may include functional prototypes. Your GDD if accepted does not have to be 100% complete and if the project is accepted, a developer may add to it.

There is many Game Design Document templates already out there. First you will a tittle page with the game’s name, perhaps a subtittle. Then the next page show explain the game overview. The overall game concept, genre, target audience, look and feel and game flow. Next is the enviroment in your game and the story. Level design and story timelines can be made in seperate documents to explain your game parts. Include synopsis of each level and area of you game world.

Other detailed information you should add in your GDD:
  • Storyboards, cutscenes, dialog/scripts, plot elements, settings, character charts
  • Gameplay: progression, mission/challenge sturture, puzzle structure, play flow, objectives
  • Mechanics: Game physics, actions, objects, movement, combat, economy, screen flow, game options, replaying and saving, cheats and easter eggs
  • Audio, music, sound effects
  • Tutorials and help systems
  • Controls of the video game
  • Visual systems: HUDs, menus, camera styles
  • Artificial intelligence: NPCs, enemies, player and collsion detection and pathfinding
  • Technical: Target hardware, development hardware, network requirements
  • Game art: Key assets and how the intented style will be developed
  • All the information above with much more information!

In detail, the method of designing a video game is there. Each idea and document must be in-depth and full of interesting concepts. All the ideas and methods were in pre production. Now it is time to work with the makers and producers of video games. Your pitch is as only good as your time and effort you put in the games overall design. Also how simply is your video game? A too complex video game in thoery may not be possible.

I went through the process of creating a game developmet document. Then I changed it into a novel because the game I wanted to make was to big to make my self. IF your going to pith it should be a value proposition that you can acutally achive. The press, publishers, platforms or players is where you must pitch your idea. Be simple, be unquie and know what you are talking about. With the nature of pitching you will fail. It is up to you to edit your ideas and try again in a different way.

“Never judge a book by its cover; a movie by its book; or a video game by its movie.”
― Ashwin Sanghi

Here is some links to my book for sale:

https://ungroovygords.com/