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  • Scope: Choose A Target! Focus! Shoot!

    - Levon Demurchyan

  • Part I: Choose a Target!

    So, choosing the scope for a game is a delicate matter. What does it mean to choose? Like in a shooter game, you first choose the target in your direct view. You see targets in the field, behind the car, on top of a building, etc. Most importantly, there are also tanks, helicopters, heavy targets frankly speaking. What is the algorithm by which we pick a target? It depends on where you are, what weapons do you have under your disposal, what's your health, how big is your team, and many other parameters. You probably don't shoot a tank in the wheel with a handgun. As primitive as it may seem, this is what nearly every developer does during the first steps in their career, of course metaphorically speaking. We always want to make the best game ever. We just pick a wrong target blatantly ignoring the fact there is no opportunity to take it down in current circumstances with the current tools we possess.  

    Before we go to the next part, there is an important point I want to convey. Yes, you probably have an idea about what did you choose, but do you know what you did not choose? Choice involves inevitable sacrifice, otherwise, the choice has never been made.

    We've always valued grounded, defined docs when we started working on our latest project, and this exactly applies what I've said just above in a real-world scenario.

    There are many criteria game developers use to assess if their target is chosen correctly. I am not going to go deep into this topic from every perspective. Let's just assume you already know what genre, what kind of a game you need to build as a result of market research, and comparative analysis of your capabilities. Because we speak about Scope from project management and game design perspective, I am going to cover only these topics in this section, as I have enough knowledge and vision on the subject matter.

    • Budget
    • Vision

    Your budget mostly consists of three (3) resources:

    • Brain Resource
    • Time
    • Finances

    Brain Resource is the capital ability to deliver on a given feature. How much knowledge does the team have on the subject to develop the required feature list? In other words, it's the core competency of you and/or your team. It becomes a problem when you don't have it because then you also can't calculate how much time you need to deliver on the feature. This is the budget unit developers always neglect by just assuming that they will be able to learn along the way. And this is, most probably the deadliest mistake in game development. I want to be extremely clear: It's not forbidden to chase the unknown, even more, it's mandatory for growth. But what fraction of your project is unknown? Is this learning curve too steep? That is the real question. 

    Time is a very important resource as it is irreplaceable. Time is continuously working against us, and we have to be very selective with what we do with it. The time budget is the amount of time that you have to develop, market, and release the game. As I've said it's irreplaceable so you ought to be extremely careful with this resource. This is why you have to measure the target game and ask the question: How much time will it possibly consume? This is the time requirement or level of effort. Will I and/or my team pull it off in the given timeframe? To answer this question you have to include minor time-consuming actions and tasks such as lunchtime, rest time, etc. These seem so unimportant and irrelevant from the first glance but will backfire immensely if miscalculated.

    Finances or Cash is another important resource that sometimes helps you decrease the time requirement (in some cases) and/or add brain resources to your team, for instance. Every project demands labor to be completed, but Time and Finance can both buy you Brain Resource, in most cases. If you don't have an artist on the team, you can always hire one, or if you need a weapons pack for your game you can always buy one already made, or hire a freelancer to make it for you. If your team hasn't developed a given feature, they can try and learn. There are specialized third-party studios that help your studio in those areas you have no, or next to none competencies. Large studios often partner with other studios that are more competent in certain processes. It lets them focus on the core parts of the process that demands their attention. This also happens when certain business opportunities arise and you need a helping hand.


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