It’s RickyD, programmer/level designer at Fourth Axis! I program all aspects of the game in Unreal Engine with blueprint, and I sculpt, paint, and populate the world. Anywho, we’re back again with a Game Design Close-Up for our game in progress, Bug Scout!
I want to write a bit today about a process that I have been thoroughly enjoying: concepting. I want to note that Fourth Axis does not currently have a dedicated concept artist, so our approach is slightly unique when compared to a typical studio. I hope this Close-Up provides some insight on how to begin making a game and shows you how to share your idea with other people, like artists, programmers, and possibly gamers.
Bug Scout should seem fairly unrecognizable today from where it first began. We have only been in development for a little over a month, but it all started with one image:
By making a quick scene that took only a few hours to create, I was able to give my team, and others, an idea of what kind of game I wanted to make. This allowed me to generate conversation. The most important aspect of concept is sharing. Just talking about my idea could start a discussion, but to really show what I was talking about, I needed visuals. You could also use drawing, reference, or even other games as visual aids in sharing your ideas. Eventually, I came to the idea of bug collection.
The next step would be completed with the team. After my idea was out in the open, we were all able to generate thoughts and discussion together. The idea was to get everything on paper (or typed in our case). We made a design document (pitch bible, GDD) right off the bat. We wanted to make sure that our ideas were documented, so we could reference them again later and not go too crazy with new ideas. Of course, the game will grow, but our foundation is in place! After the document was created, we made a brief asset list for models and textures that needed to be generated. I highly recommend to not get too attached to your early work during concept. Just get the idea out there.
As I went back to creating quick models and assets, I was able to begin implementing the code for the game. I could really start to share my idea and show others exactly what was going on in my head. The artists also began work on their assets that would replace the blocky, unfinished models that I had created. I began play-testing with the primitive level, and I was able to tell the artists more of what was needed for the game to come to life. We used sites like YouTube and Pinterest to share ideas for art direction and collaborated on Google Drive and Skype. Utilize anything you can when you have a small team/budget!
After the artists started turning in assets, I could start replacing my old models and sculpting the level. Once we got to this stage, we were able to present our idea to the public as seen in our reveal video! There is still a lot of work to be done on this game, but now everyone knows what we are working on. With the reveal video, we were able to publicly share our vision without words, and we really can’t wait to show more!
I hope that this breakdown of concepting has been helpful for you or maybe you have a different approach to the concept phase? Let us know in the comments! Thank you, very much!