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Sense of Play 07: Anna Marsh, Creativity in the Balance
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Sense of Play 07: Anna Marsh, Creativity in the Balance

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Anna Marsh gave an excellent talk about the pressures exerted against innovation by the market and publishers, and how designers can work around them.

Anna Marsh gave an excellent talk about the pressures exerted against innovation by the market and publishers, and how designers can work around them.

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Transcript

  • 1. A Game Design Symposium
  • 2. Creativity in the Balance Anna Marsh Executive Designer
  • 3. Creativity in the Balance
    • “ Risk Averse” – why publishers & game buyers play it safe
    • So what opportunities have we got for “creativity”?
  • 4. Who am I?
    • 4 years publishing designer
    6 years development designer
  • 5.  
  • 6. Why Publishers need Designers
    • Protect their investment
      • Monitor the game’s quality – whilst the producer checks schedule and budget
      • Support the developer to make the best game possible
      • Ensure that the game produced is the game that can be sold
  • 7.
    • How can I know that the game I’m making is one that I can make a profit from?
  • 8. P & L
    • Dev Cost: £10m
    • Marketing Cost: £2m
    • Total Outlay: £12m
    • Profit Margin: £10 Unit
    • Unit sales to break even – 1.2 million
    Profit & Loss The Dreaded! (a simplified version  )
  • 9.
    • To make a profit on a reasonably big budget current gen console game, I might have to sell that game to 10 – 20 % of the installed user base (worldwide!)
    Cross platform = larger potential audience + +
  • 10. Predicting Sales
    • P&L is done before a game project has been signed to see if the project has enough potential sales to make profit.
    • To predict sales, the sales of other similar products are used as a benchmark.
    • If there are no other similar products…?
  • 11.
    • Compare to late PS2/Xbox development…
      • Less than half the dev cost
      • Five times the installed user base
  • 12. Do we care about publishers?
  • 13.
    • “ Always think of the Punters”
  • 14. The great game buying public
    • Average (median) weekly pay for full-time employees in April 2006 = £447 before tax
    • Cost of a new game = average £35 - £45
    • A new game is a big investment for most game buyers
  • 15. Tie Ratio – games:console
    • Number of games sold:PS2’s sold = 9.5
    • That’s less than 2 a year.
  • 16. “ Risk Adverse”
    • Publishers want to minimise their risk – they want titles they can predict will sell.
    • Punters want to buy something they know they’ll enjoy
  • 17.
    • Is there any room for “Creativity”?
  • 18.
    • “ Too Blue”
  • 19.  
  • 20. Opportunities to be “creative”
    • Be independently wealthy
    • Be Will Wright
    • Or Miyamoto
  • 21. Lower dev costs = Lower Risk
    • DS – relatively low dev costs, tons of punters, non-traditional gamers
  • 22. P & L, DS SKU
    • Dev Cost: £0.5m
    • Marketing Cost: £0.5m
    • Total Outlay: £1m
    • Profit Margin: £6 Unit
    • Break even sales: 166,666
    • Only need to sell to tiny proportion of user base to make a profit.
  • 23. Lower dev costs = Lower Risk
    • XBLA/PSN/(Wii VC) – lower dev costs, lower price point, punters can take a risk
  • 24. Bigger & more diverse audience
    • PC “Casual” games – low dev costs, diverse audience and very easy access for audience.
  • 25. Publishing gambles
  • 26. Is this missing the point?
    • Isn’t that just a list of exceptions to the rule?
    • OR
    • Isn’t that just a case of games conforming to a different type of punter?
    • OR
    • How is that relevant to ME?
  • 27. What is Creativity?
    • Innovation?
    • “ Artistic" integrity?
  • 28. Isn’t all development creative?
    • Someone had to create that
  • 29.
    • All game design can be “creative”
  • 30. “ Risk Adverse”
    • Publishers want to minimise their risk – they want titles they can predict will sell.
    • Punters want to buy something they know they’ll enjoy
    • Publishers and punters want something they can understand and relate to.
    • This is not necessarily the same as wanting something boring and formulaic.
  • 31.
    • Avoid Appearing Risky
    • Mix new, creative elements with elements that people understand and relate to.
    • Publishers like to see new and “innovative” features in a concept they can understand.
  • 32. Risky
  • 33. Not Risky
  • 34.  
  • 35.
    • Creativity does not only apply to the top line, high concept stuff
  • 36.
    • Mechanic
      • Gears of War: Reload; Halo: Shield
    • Weapon
      • Half Life: Gravity Gun
    • Control Method
      • Metroid Prime: Use of Wiimote
    • A Setting
      • BioShock: “Rapture”
  • 37.
    • “ Fragile Alliance”
      • New form of multiplayer
      • Co-op to deathmatch gameplay
  • 38. Yeah, but… Creative Director Camera Designer Lead designer Lead Level Designer AI Designer Combat Designer Story Designer Level Designer Level Scripter Vehicle Handling Designer External Designer Multiplayer level Designer … what can I do about it? 1 Lead Designer 2 x Level Designers
  • 39.
    • “ Always think of the Punters”
  • 40.
    • Something never seen before in a level?
    • A new way to deal with health/death?
    • A new AI behaviour?
    • A really funky new weapon?
    • A great new intuitive control system?
  • 41. Consider the punter…
    • Player’s want a game they can understand; they want to have FUN!
    • What new creative element can you add to the game that will add to the player’s experience?
    • It’s pointless being “Creative” if no one plays your game
  • 42.
    • “ Always think of the Punters”