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  • How Not To Make A Game: An Illtide Postmortem

    [04.04.19]
    - Antoine Sarrazin

  • Part 2

    But here we are, and instead of reducing the scope of the game, we went ahead and brainstormed about what we could do with it, and most importantly, what could we do to appreciate it as not all team members were happy to work on this project.

    When we started, Indie Cade Europe was happening in Paris, and part of the team went there. We agreed on thinking about what we could do, and talk about it when everyone was back at school, to make sure everyone could find themselves in the project.

    Do you know what is a creative direction?

    To try and quickly sum it up for you. In my mind, creative direction is about finding a way to travel through an universe of possibilities without any navigation instruments. And, the objective in a project is to organize and cooperate for this journey.

    To organize it well, you must define a "part" of this universe you want to explore : the scope. It can be big or small, and is never fixed (because as said above, you will mostly be working to reduce it throughout)

    In the « scope », you will blindly travel towards what could be tour game. This journey is never straight, sometimes you go out of scope, sometimes you make U-turns, ...

    The objective here is to iterate, explore and try to evolve the game to its full potential, and find what's essential to your experience.

    This is just my theory, and I'm sure you are wondering about what we did for Purified.

    When you don't have any creative direction, or even worse, if your team does not agree on a single concept or direction, it gives you this mess. Everyone just starts making stuff on their own and following their own direction.

    Everyone gets stuck on their own ideas, work on stuff that doesn't make any sense for the game, and that does not combine together, and will most likely end in a battle of egos.

    You then realize how lost you are, and how quickly the project is drifting. Nobody agrees on anything. So a new idea come up to start anew and reboot the whole project, to simplify and maybe try to get everyone back on board.

    For us, this reboot was named GAMMUT, a small cooperative puzzle game. Something thought of in panic during break to try to create a new drive for the team, because, as we are making this decision, we are two months in, and we realized having aimed too big.

    And this did not help. Not at all. It may have had the complete opposite effect by splitting the team even more.

    So, to get back to creative direction, the lesson here is:

    Choose who is going to choose.

    When nobody is agreeing on something, set someone to make the final decision for the team, and be professional by respecting this decision.

    There are infinite ways to do this. You can choose a single person, multiple persons to be "responsible" for the game. This doesn't means being a dictator on the game! A great creative director is someone that will be the captain of this journey and follow team flow and change trajectory as needed.

    And yes, making theses decisions are tough, but if you are making a game in school, you are here to learn and make mistakes. This is not the game of your life, you're going to mess up. Embrace it.

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