“ METHOD” Cerny Games, Inc. Mark Cerny
“ METHOD” <ul><li>Pre-Production vs. Production </li></ul><ul><li>“ Publishable” First Playable </li></ul><ul><li>Macro vs...
Method, part 1:  Preproduction vs. Production   “ Capturing Lightning”  Pre-Production “ Building the game” Production
MYTH #1: PLANNING “ IT IS POSSIBLE TO PLAN AND SCHEDULE THE CREATION OF YOUR GAME”
Pre-Production:  Managing Chaos  <ul><li>assemble core team </li></ul><ul><li>create successive prototypes </li></ul><ul><...
MYTH #2: PRODUCTIVITY “ WORKING PRODUCTIVELY MEANS THROWING OUT NOTHING.”
Pre-Production  <ul><li>you are not making a game </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>3 C's:  character, camera, control </li></ul><...
Pre-Production  <ul><li>take chances  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>build without knowledge of moveset </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>...
MYTH #3: TECHNOLOGY “ cutting edge technology is important, so build your technology first.”
TECHNOLOGY  STANDARD PRACTICE  Create Design Document  Create “Required Technology” Document  Build Technology  Build G...
DOUBLE-TRACK IT!  <ul><li>Build, borrow or buy “Quick and Dirty” Tech for rapid prototyping </li></ul><ul><li>Build “Cutti...
MYTH #4: MILESTONES “ FREQUENT PROJECT REVIEW IS IS ESSENTIAL TO GOOD MANAGEMENT.”
Pre-production and milestones   <ul><li>negotiated term for Pre-Production </li></ul><ul><li>strict deliverables for Pre-P...
Deliverables at end of Pre-Production <ul><li>“Publishable” First Playable </li></ul><ul><li>Macro Game Design </li></ul>
MYTH #5:  “ ALPHA =  FIRST PLAYABLE”
Method, Part 2:  The First Playable  OVERVIEW  <ul><li>two levels </li></ul><ul><li>all local features, global features as...
First Playable Checklist   Two levels of publishable quality, with:  __ scope of game defined __ a touch of variety __ all...
MYTH #6: KILLING GAMES “ A cancelled project is a sign of bad management or a bad team.”
Canceling Projects  <ul><li>Team cannot create “Publishable” First Playable </li></ul><ul><li>First Playable shows game no...
Method, Part 3:  Macro vs Micro Design  <ul><li>Macro in hand at start of Production </li></ul><ul><li>Micro created durin...
MYTH #7: DESIGN DOCUMENTS “ THE MORE DEFINED YOUR INITIAL VISION, THE BETTER”
MYTH #7: DESIGN DOCUMENTS “ I NEED A 100-PAGE DOCUMENT DESCRIBING MY GAME.”
Why no 100-page design document?  <ul><li>waste of resources </li></ul><ul><li>deceptive and misleading </li></ul><ul><li>...
Method, Part 3:  Macro vs Micro Design  Macro Design __ five pages __ character and moveset __ exotic mechanics __ level s...
Macro Chart  open hub 2   Key   - BOSS   Locale B   7 Key   4 eggs   ice   2-D   Snow   6 Egg   2 eggs   - 2-D   Locale A ...
Benefits of a  Macro Design  <ul><li>can accurately schedule Production </li></ul><ul><li>can track progress during Produc...
[Macro Design extras]  <ul><li>brief story </li></ul><ul><li>conceptual art </li></ul><ul><li>acquired abilities or invent...
Micro Design  <ul><li>Micro Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>script </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>level maps </li></ul></ul><ul><...
MYTH #8: THE CONSUMER “ If you want to make a hit, listen to the consumer.”
What You'll Learn from a Focus Test  <ul><li>What's popular as of ten minutes ago </li></ul><ul><li>How not to stand out <...
Gameplay Testing  <ul><li>two to five times </li></ul><ul><li>watch what they do </li></ul><ul><li>quantitative analysis <...
SETTING IT UP  <ul><li>preproduction-based funding </li></ul><ul><li>greenlight is at first playable </li></ul><ul><li>bes...
SETTING IT UP  <ul><li>In the event of cancellation… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Publisher owns IP, but cannot develop it with a...
Developer Risks  <ul><li>Lack of full-term publisher commitment </li></ul><ul><li>Full team not employed during pre-produc...
Publisher Risks  <ul><li>Start projects with only a rough release date </li></ul><ul><li>Preproduction is expensive </li><...
Publisher Benefits  <ul><li>Low cost of entry for projects </li></ul><ul><li>Very close publisher/developer relationship <...
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Cerny method

  1. 1. “ METHOD” Cerny Games, Inc. Mark Cerny
  2. 2. “ METHOD” <ul><li>Pre-Production vs. Production </li></ul><ul><li>“ Publishable” First Playable </li></ul><ul><li>Macro vs Micro Design </li></ul><ul><li>Gameplay Testing </li></ul>
  3. 3. Method, part 1: Preproduction vs. Production “ Capturing Lightning” Pre-Production “ Building the game” Production
  4. 4. MYTH #1: PLANNING “ IT IS POSSIBLE TO PLAN AND SCHEDULE THE CREATION OF YOUR GAME”
  5. 5. Pre-Production: Managing Chaos <ul><li>assemble core team </li></ul><ul><li>create successive prototypes </li></ul><ul><li>prototypes become like game levels </li></ul>
  6. 6. MYTH #2: PRODUCTIVITY “ WORKING PRODUCTIVELY MEANS THROWING OUT NOTHING.”
  7. 7. Pre-Production <ul><li>you are not making a game </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>3 C's: character, camera, control </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>game look </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>key technology </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>holistic game design (if appropriate) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>you are making a game design </li></ul>
  8. 8. Pre-Production <ul><li>take chances </li></ul><ul><ul><li>build without knowledge of moveset </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>build without knowledge of tech limits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>don’t know the context of what you’re working on </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>etc… </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. MYTH #3: TECHNOLOGY “ cutting edge technology is important, so build your technology first.”
  10. 10. TECHNOLOGY STANDARD PRACTICE Create Design Document  Create “Required Technology” Document  Build Technology  Build Game
  11. 11. DOUBLE-TRACK IT! <ul><li>Build, borrow or buy “Quick and Dirty” Tech for rapid prototyping </li></ul><ul><li>Build “Cutting Edge” Tech for actual game </li></ul>
  12. 12. MYTH #4: MILESTONES “ FREQUENT PROJECT REVIEW IS IS ESSENTIAL TO GOOD MANAGEMENT.”
  13. 13. Pre-production and milestones <ul><li>negotiated term for Pre-Production </li></ul><ul><li>strict deliverables for Pre-Production </li></ul><ul><ul><li>first playable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>macro design </li></ul></ul><ul><li>results of experiments are visible externally </li></ul><ul><li>no “stench of failure” </li></ul><ul><li>“ offline” status for team during Pre-Production </li></ul>
  14. 14. Deliverables at end of Pre-Production <ul><li>“Publishable” First Playable </li></ul><ul><li>Macro Game Design </li></ul>
  15. 15. MYTH #5: “ ALPHA = FIRST PLAYABLE”
  16. 16. Method, Part 2: The First Playable OVERVIEW <ul><li>two levels </li></ul><ul><li>all local features, global features as appropriate </li></ul><ul><li>publishable quality </li></ul>
  17. 17. First Playable Checklist Two levels of publishable quality, with: __ scope of game defined __ a touch of variety __ all local features included, global features included as required __ art direction in place __ enemy/obstacle behavior fully defined __ basic technology done __ player behavior fully defined
  18. 18. MYTH #6: KILLING GAMES “ A cancelled project is a sign of bad management or a bad team.”
  19. 19. Canceling Projects <ul><li>Team cannot create “Publishable” First Playable </li></ul><ul><li>First Playable shows game not worth publishing </li></ul><ul><li>Your project will not miraculously get better during Production! </li></ul>
  20. 20. Method, Part 3: Macro vs Micro Design <ul><li>Macro in hand at start of Production </li></ul><ul><li>Micro created during Production </li></ul>
  21. 21. MYTH #7: DESIGN DOCUMENTS “ THE MORE DEFINED YOUR INITIAL VISION, THE BETTER”
  22. 22. MYTH #7: DESIGN DOCUMENTS “ I NEED A 100-PAGE DOCUMENT DESCRIBING MY GAME.”
  23. 23. Why no 100-page design document? <ul><li>waste of resources </li></ul><ul><li>deceptive and misleading </li></ul><ul><li>sets direction prior to verification of fundamentals </li></ul>
  24. 24. Method, Part 3: Macro vs Micro Design Macro Design __ five pages __ character and moveset __ exotic mechanics __ level structure, size and count __ level contents __ overarching structure – linear, hub __ macro chart
  25. 25. Macro Chart open hub 2 Key - BOSS Locale B 7 Key 4 eggs ice 2-D Snow 6 Egg 2 eggs - 2-D Locale A 5 Egg 1 egg motorcycle 3-D Desert 4 Egg ice (training) 2-D Snow 3 Egg run from lava 3-D Volcano 2 Egg 3-D Jungle 1 received in level required for level entry exotic gameplay level structure locale
  26. 26. Benefits of a Macro Design <ul><li>can accurately schedule Production </li></ul><ul><li>can track progress during Production </li></ul><ul><li>prevents feature creep and feature drop </li></ul><ul><li>properly circumscribes creativity </li></ul>
  27. 27. [Macro Design extras] <ul><li>brief story </li></ul><ul><li>conceptual art </li></ul><ul><li>acquired abilities or inventory </li></ul><ul><li>(holistic games only) </li></ul>
  28. 28. Micro Design <ul><li>Micro Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>script </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>level maps </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>enemy descriptions, behaviors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>puzzle descriptions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>special gameplay descriptions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and much more </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. MYTH #8: THE CONSUMER “ If you want to make a hit, listen to the consumer.”
  30. 30. What You'll Learn from a Focus Test <ul><li>What's popular as of ten minutes ago </li></ul><ul><li>How not to stand out </li></ul><ul><li>The feature list of every recent game that was pretty good </li></ul>
  31. 31. Gameplay Testing <ul><li>two to five times </li></ul><ul><li>watch what they do </li></ul><ul><li>quantitative analysis </li></ul>
  32. 32. SETTING IT UP <ul><li>preproduction-based funding </li></ul><ul><li>greenlight is at first playable </li></ul><ul><li>best and brightest </li></ul><ul><li>‘ housekeeping’ deal during preproduction </li></ul><ul><li>production as usual </li></ul>
  33. 33. SETTING IT UP <ul><li>In the event of cancellation… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Publisher owns IP, but cannot develop it with another team </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developer may purchase IP at cost of development to date </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Developer Risks <ul><li>Lack of full-term publisher commitment </li></ul><ul><li>Full team not employed during pre-production </li></ul><ul><li>Uncomfortable level of transparency to publisher </li></ul>
  35. 35. Publisher Risks <ul><li>Start projects with only a rough release date </li></ul><ul><li>Preproduction is expensive </li></ul><ul><li>No milestones = no pressure? </li></ul>
  36. 36. Publisher Benefits <ul><li>Low cost of entry for projects </li></ul><ul><li>Very close publisher/developer relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Accurate production schedule and budget </li></ul>
  37. 37. Thank You
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