Game Design Presentation – Project Superman Pitch

This is the first presentation I did for my Honours Project in my final year of University. It is a short Pitch Presentation for my Superman game idea. So while it is not as in depth as my other presentations it covers the reasoning behind the game, the key areas of interest and key mechanics.

Project Superman is one of my favourite pieces of work because I had a blast putting it together and trying to make Superman work in a video game setting. I like to think I solved some of the problems but I will leave final judgement up to you!

I will also be eventually turning the other documents and presentations made for this particular game design into videos in the near future!

As ever you can see the full portfolio entry by heading here! (There is a lot more to this particular game design and the project as a whole trust me!)

Making a new CV/Resumé

I decided to use the current downtime I am having due to my degree show to do some productive stuff. One is to work on the concept for my adventure game, which is slowly getting there. The other was to redo and update some work related things that really need doing. One of these things that needed updating is my CV (or Resumé if your American). It was about a year out of date and the last update I did to it was just formatting. I didn’t change any info at all. No adding or removing, I just moved things around a bit.

So before we go any further here’s a couple of images of my old CV:

It is fairly standard and easy enough to follow. All the key information you need to figure me out and my various qualifications is there. You read through it and you walk away with an evaluation of my potential work ethic and abilities. That’s all well and good. It is a good CV.

Accept there is one major problem: It is just another CV.

There is nothing to make it stand out from the dozens (or hundreds!) of other CVs the game developers I am applying for jobs at will have to go through. It is just a name and some basic info. It doesn’t say anything about me or who I am. Also it looks a bit plain and when applying for a job in the games industry being plain is not the impression you want to give. So I took some time yesterday and today to do a overhall of my CV and here is the finished results:

You can find a PDF of it here (I recommend downloading it from Google Drive to get a high-res version). It is instantly better. It’s only one page and only contains the absolute key information:

  • My name
  • Website/Portfolio address
  • Qualification
  • A recommendation from one of my university tutors
  • My profile which gives a run down of who I am and what I can do
  • Details of my last three jobs
  • Contact Info
  • Brief lists of my key skills and personal attributes to reinforce my qualities
  • A mysterious QR Code that sends you to this site
  • Finally a picture of my beautiful face

Everything else that was on my previous CV is dotted around my site and on my LinkedIn profile for anyone who really wants to look at it. I decided to include and prominently display my picture for three reasons:

  1. It shows I am fairly open and comfortable showing myself
  2. It puts a face to my name
  3. “Professional” advice for applying for most jobs dissuades you from including a picture of yourself for reasons and stuff. (I have yet to find a good argument for not doing so)

So I think what I have is good and helps sell me well to potential employers. I’m planning on making a few more tweaks and changes in the next few days and weeks as I get my final grades, graduate and start aggressively hunting for jobs.

So what do you think of it?

Portfolio Details

Most of the work presented here was done for various University assignments but I have included some personal projects as well.

The ideas and game designs presented here are all my own, unless stated otherwise, and are owned and copyrighted by me. The use of and reproduction of images and materials in the various documents is done under Fair Usage and is used to help show my ideas and concepts rather than plagiarise. 

All documents are presented in PDF format with some exceptions. My presentations come in both PDF and Keynote files as these were designed in Apple’s Keynote application and the various animations, video sections, etc cannot be included in PDFs. It is recommended if possible that you view the presentations in Keynote. Also for my level designs there are two filetypes used. The first are Google SketchUp files and the second are UDK levels. Versions of the software used to create the designs are listed on their respective posts. Both of these applications are available freely from Google and Epic Games respectively. 

If you wish to use or reproduce any of the documents listed on this page or have any questions please contact me via the Ask About Game Design! tab at the top of the page.

Year 3 Work – Honours Project

Documentation:

Time Travel Game:

Superman: Man of Steel:

Visual Design Document and Game Wiki Comparison

Extras: The Master Post

Pitch Presentation Video:

I toyed with presenting my Honours Project across several portfolio posts like the Franchise Development work……but…….My honours project is strongest when you can see it all in one go. It helps sell the idea behind it all to you. Here I have linked to all the documentation that was submitted for the honours project so get stuck in and tell me what you think. I have also put a link to the Master Post which also has links to all relevant blog posts regarding the honours project and it is well worth checking out.

Like any big undertaking the Honours Project had its highs and lows. There was a lot to do for it and in the end I think I managed to pull it off even when I had to cut a portion of the project’s content towards the end. Superman: Man of Steel is one of my most realised designs to date with the prototype playing a big role in that. It is a design I am going to go back to when I get the time and really flesh out. The Visual Game Design Document idea fits the design perfectly and I want to see how far I can push it.

The Time Travel game while a sound idea still needs a lot of work in my opinion. The focus for it was the use of the Wiki to document the design rather than the design itself but I wish looking back on it now that I had dedicated a bit more time to it.

Overall the it was one of the most rewarding pieces of work I have done simply because there is so much of it and I put a lot into it. The conclusion to in future mash the wiki documentation and visual document together could prove to be interesting too.

Year 3 Work – Franchise Development: Franchise Development Documentation

Documentation: Franchise Development

This final document for the Franchise Development module was an interesting task. We had to work on it from the point of view that the first game in the franchise had been a success and now we were coming up with a plan to take the IP further and beyond. 

Writing some sections was easy, areas like sequels were easy enough to come up with a basic roadmap to keep the franchise going. It was when I started to write the sections in what I term as Franchise Exploitation. With things like Player Incentives and Merchandising you can quickly end up hitting a massive grey area. I found myself questioning the implications of things like pre-order DLC and tied-in merchandising more than I had in the past. The DLC question is something that is growing as an issue in the games industry. At the start of the current console generation it was seen as a cool little additional extra to supplement your experience with a game. Now it is used in so many different ways to bring additional revenue to a publisher and as a wall to attempt to block out pirates. When designing a game or IP at this level you have to take it into account. If you choose to embrace DLC in a certain way you are sending a message to a large portion of gamers. 

Other areas of concern was the plans for the expansion of the franchise. Before writing I was looking forward to writing those particular sections. During the writing though things changed. I laid out a basic plan for some sequels then a roadmap for spin-off games and finally plans for tie-in media. I then realised something, I had in the space of 2-3 days of writing diluted my franchise IP idea. With a mild panic I went through it again and tied things up a lot more and tried to make everything seem like it would stick to the core idea of the franchise. We have all seem franchise dilutement happen in game IPs and large media properties (Star Wars and Star Trek immediately spring to life) but to see it happen first hand showed how easily it can happen. This is with approaching things with the best of intentions too.

Year 3 Work – Franchise Development: IP Statement

Presentation: PDF, Keynote

Documentation: IP Statement

The actual IP idea for this module came together fairly quickly. This is because the basics of it are something I had been sitting on for a long time, so all that was required was to make a few tweaks and changes to fit my target market and then I could just run with it. The sci-fi/fantasy mix has been done before but I think I managed to find a unique spin on things.

The other noticeable additions I made to the IP Statement was the focus on the customisation option available to the player. It is something I had touched upon in previous projects but I took the opportunity to expand and refine the idea of open customisation.

As a document it is not as robust as the market research but it was never meant to be as big as that particular document. This was the starting point for the idea of a franchise IP. The next part was to come up with a plan to expand and exploit the IP.

Year 3 Work – Franchise Development: Market Research

Presentation: PDF, Keynote

Documentation: Market Research

Extras: Top 40 New IPs

My game design work for my final year was divided into two distinct modules. My honours project which took up the bulk of the work and the Franchise Development module. Franchise Development was all about coming up with a new IP that would be a multi game franchise during the module we would be creating documentation to reflect the game in a few stages in its lifespan as a franchise. The first part being market research.

Being a fan of the research process I jumped on the opportunity of doing an in-depth report on the current market. So I set off on my research journey looking for as much data as possible to do with the most popular franchises in gaming, what games people like to play and the most popular new franchise. 

Getting the data for the top selling franchises of all time was easy enough. That data is readily available in a basic form via Wikipedia and other sites. It gave me a great starting point but I needed more. It was then that I started looking or data about which of the new franchises created this generation were the most popular/sold the most units. Easy enough to get a hold of (you would think) but aside from a few very contradictory blog posts and flame wars on forums dotted around the internet there was nothing. So I did the only sane thing and compiled the data myself!

My Top 40 New IPs report became the back bone of my IP idea as I could see the gaps and emerging trends by spending a lot of time going through the raw data and analysing the finished result. The final results are referenced constantly in the Presentation and Documentation, I have also included a handy PDF of the finished results of my research and the methods used to obtain and compile the data in the extras.

The other key point of my research was derived from the above table a friend on the degree showed me. This is a table of franchise efficacy which is mixture of the popularity, engagement and retention a given game franchise has across multiple ages and gendres. I look at these results and mostly agreed with the total and male columns but I had a major issue looking at the Female column. I know many female gamers who are more comfortable with games in the total and male columns than the results for their gendre. I did a bit of digging and found as I had suspected that the data for the table was from questioning average American families, which is fair enough but the is one thing that a lot of average American families do not have: A Core Female Gamer. 

This lead me to looking into and attempting to define what exactly the Core Female Gamer was and what games they would like to see more of. Part of this was compiling a survey that I made publicly available. From the results of the survey I started putting together my definitions of the Core Female Gamer. Once again just to cover my back, I am a guy, so I am no way near being an expert in this field but if you disagree with what I came up with please let me know.

This is the best research report I have produced to date and I am proud of it mainly because I had started doing something I hadn’t really done in the past, compiling my own data rather than regurgitating the findings of others. I recommend it to everyone because you learn so much in the process of putting it all together.

Year 2 Work – C.T.T

Pitch: Document, Presentation PDF, Presentation Keynote

Research: NGP Research

GDD: C.T.T Game Design Document

Extras: Writing Character Profiles, GDD Checklist

This was my big final project for year 2. What is interesting about it is that it was about designing a game for the PlayStation Vita. Except at the time information about the Vita was still thin on the ground. It was still called the NGP (Next Generation Portable) at the time of the assignment! So that should hopefully give you an idea as to how much information I had at my fingertips. So if you are reading the research document you might notice a few points of incorrect information or omissions about the Vita’s functionality/specs.

It was a learning experience to design a game for a console that was a while away from release with only half of the specs and details of its functionality being available to the public. I really liked what I came up with for a few reasons:

  1. It was outside of my usual design ideas. More of a traditional action game.
  2. Designing for a (at the time) in production console was exciting, I felt like a designer on the forefront of the industry.
  3. It allowed me to start exploring something in video games that I think there should be more of. Strong female characters. 

The creation of the game’s main character, Alice Rhodes, was at the time both a self indulgent and rewarding exercise. I’m a bloke so I as far away from an expert on women and female characters as you can get but I found coming up with Alice a deeply personal experience. An experience which eventually lead me to looking into the Core Female Gamer market in my third year. I’ve included a blank version of the character questionnaire I made for fleshing out Alice in the extras. It is a mash up of a couple of different character questionnaires I have come across over the years and it is a very helpful tool. I say this because if you are ever coming up with a character and can only include/come up with the basic details of them then you know straight away wether they are a two dimensional character or a more well-rounded character. 

I also enjoyed coming up with mechanics focused on the Vita’s various inputs. I think I did a good job of it with the information I had at the time and now that I am a Vita owner (FYI this assignment sold me on the idea of the console more than anything else) I have a load of ideas brewing in the back of my mind as to what you can do with the console. I feel that the TV show style structure with a bit more tweaking could really work for a portable device like the Vita because it clearly breaks up the gameplay into chunks that players can play in one go or protracted chunks.

From the GDD Checklist I made for the assignment I pretty much managed to hit everything I was aiming for all that is left to do is to add more detail to the document and add sections like detailed level concepts and layouts. With the layout of the document itself I think I managed to find a happy medium between the more detailed focused traditional GDD and the visual elements I started to develop with the School For Superheroes design.

One of my favourite assignments and top three designs!

Year 2 Work – Level Design Example and Implementation

Level Design Example: Level Design Document

Level Design Implementation: GreyBox, LDI_Final (UDK September 2010 required) & Video

Extras: Schedule, UDK Notes

The series of assignments was the culmination of my year’s worth of work learning how to use and make games in UDK. To begin with we had to come up with a basic level design using some of the concepts we had previously learnt. The next step was to implement it in UDK while added a few extra flourishes to show we had learnt further aspects of UDK outside of the tutorials we had been going through.

Learning the basics of UDK was an educational process that really added to my overall game design knowledge and skill base. Since finishing the second year I have occasionally been known to mess around with the odd SDK and game engine from time to time. I’m also planning on experimenting and learning the basics of a few more in the future. You can see my personal notes on learning and using the basics of UDK in the extras. 

The level it self is nothing that will blow your socks off but it shows my knowledge of UDK from basic to intermediate skills, with the intermediate being implementation of custom particle effects and destructible objects with some Kismet thrown in there for good measure. I have also included my GreyBox which did actually start as a grey box style environment but quickly turned into testing space for the ideas and concepts being used in the final level implementation. The project schedule is also in the extras to give an idea of the time it took to put it all together (bare in mind I had about 4-5 other projects on the go hence why the deadlines are a lot longer then they usually would be).