Guidelines for the Game
Created by: Game Producer/Business Manager
Target audience: Game
Approval: MD & Development Manager
A game feasibility study is
a formal project proposal used to secure internal or external funding and
resources for a game development project. It is designed to assess the business
and technical potential/problems of the proposed project i.e. can we make it,
if so can we make at a profitable level. After the study, the game project is
either further developed or cancelled. As a game feasibility study takes time
(and therefore, money) to do correctly, it should only be developed for
promising game concepts.
The study is an expansion
upon the game concept. Writing and researching a study may involve gathering
feedback and information from other Eirplay senior staff, especially marketing
input and the Development Manager. You may need to perform some market research
and analysis on the concept. If the game requires licensing, you may need to
investigate the availability and costs involved in securing the license.
The programming staff,
typically a senior programmer, should perform an initial technical evaluation
of the concept. They should comment on the technical feasibility of the concept
and the programming areas that may require research. They should assess the
risks and major tasks in the project and suggest solutions and alternatives.
They should give a rough estimate as to the required research and development
time and resources.
The game feasibility study
should include a revised version of the game concept. Technical, marketing, and
finance feedback to the concept document might force you to scale back the
concept. It might also suggest modifying or adding features. These changes
should not take anyone by surprise, as this is the first time that the concept
has been subjected to major criticism and the collaborative process.
The game feasibility study
includes the following features:
- Revised game concept (preceding)
- Market analysis
- Technical analysis
- Legal analysis (if applicable)
- Cost and revenue projections
- Target market: The target market is defined by the genre and
the platform, issues that have been already addressed in the concept
document. You can qualify this definition by mentioning specific titles
that epitomize this market. The most successful of these titles will
indicate the viability and size of the market. Also mention the typical
age range, gender, and any other key characteristics. If this game
involves a licensed property or is a sequel, describe the existing market.
- Top performers: List the top performers in the
market. Express their sales numbers in terms of units and $. Detail who
developed and published the game.
Feature comparison: Break down the selling features of these top performers. Compare and
contrast them to the key features described in the concept document.
Technical analysis: The technical analysis should be
written by a programmer, preferably a senior one, then edited and compiled into
the study. Reviewers of this proposal will use this technical analysis to help
them make their decisions.
features: Identify the features in the design that seem
experimental in nature, such as untried or unproven technologies,
techniques, perspectives, or other unique ideas. Include an estimate of the time that it will take to bring
the experimental feature to an evaluation state, as well as an overall
time estimate for completing the feature. Experimental areas generally
need more time in the schedule, so the more experimental features you
list, the longer the schedule will be.
development tasks: In a paragraph or a few bullet points, make
clear the major development tasks. Use language that non-technical people
can understand. Major means weeks/months of development. Give a time
estimate that assumes that you have all of the resources that you'll need
to accomplish the task. You could also give an estimate of the resources
that you'll need.
- Risks: List
any technical risks. Risks are any aspect of research and development that
will cause a major set back (weeks or months) if they fail. List
technologies that, though they've been proven to work by competitors, your
company has never developed or with which your company has little
experience. All untried off-the-shelf solutions (3D engines, editors, code
libraries and APIs, drivers, and so on) should be listed as risks because
they may end up not fulfilling your particular needs. Any development done
by an outside contractor should also be listed, as that's always a big
risk. When assessing risks, you should also indicate the likely impact
that fixing or replacing the technology will have on the schedule.
Indicate the time in weeks or months that the ship date will slip. List
the time impact on specific resources. List any new resources (people,
software, hardware, and so on) that would be required to fix it.
This section may seem pessimistic, but it creates a
comfort level for your document's reviewers - they will come away with the
impression that the game implementation is under control, especially if they
can perceive these risks themselves.
(if any): Alternatives are suggestions for working around some
of these experimental or risky features and major development tasks. By
presenting alternatives, you give the reviewers options and let them make
the choices. List anything that might cost more money or time than desired
but might have better results, or vice versa (it may cost less money and time
but it may have less desirable results). Whatever you do, be sure to spell
out the pros and cons.
resources: List the estimated resources: employees,
contractors, software, hardware, and so on. Use generic, industry-standard
titles for people outside of the company: for instance, the publisher or
investor who might read your document. List their time estimates in work
months or weeks. Ignore actual costs (dollars), as that comes later.
Schedule: The schedule is an overall duration of the development
cycle followed by milestone estimates, starting with the earliest possible
start date, then alpha, beta, and gold master.
Legal analysis (if
this game involves copyrights, trademarks, licensing agreements, or other contracts
that could incur some fees, litigation costs, acknowledgments, or restrictions,
then list them here.
Cost and revenue
This data should give the reader a rough estimate of resource costs based on
the technical analysis's estimated resources.
cost: Resource cost is based on the estimated resources
within the technical analysis. Employee costs should be based on salaries
and overhead, which the finance or payroll department should provide. You
can list these as average by title or level. Any hardware or software that
you purchase should be listed as well, even if it will ultimately be
shared by other projects or folded into the overhead budget. Use a
spreadsheet template provided by the Business or Development Manager.
costs (if any): This section is an assessment of additional
costs incurred from licensing, contracting, out-source testing, and so on.
Retail/online Price: You should recommend a target retail price. The
price should be based on the price of existing games and an assessment of
the overall value being built into the product and the money being spent
to develop and manufacture it.
- Revenue projection: The revenue projection should
show pessimistic, expected, and optimistic sales figures using the costs
that you've already outlined and the suggested retail price.
Art: If your game concept did not
include any art, then the game proposal certainly should. The art will set the
tone for the game. Assume that the readers may only look at the art to evaluate
the proposal, so be sure that it expresses the feel and purpose of the game.
Include a number of character, unit, building, and weapon sketches, in both
colour and black and white. Action shots are great. Include a GUI mock-up if
your game is a cockpit simulation
Presentation: The whole proposal, including the
revised concept document, should be printed and bound. In addition, a brief
slide show program should be prepared in MS PowerPoint.
Some common mistakes in preparing a game proposal include:
analysis is based on magic numbers. Try to back up your numbers by listing
your sources or explaining how you came up with them.
proposal fails to anticipate common-sense issues and concerns. You should
find out what this proposal is up against -- other proposals, competitive
products, financing concerns, cost and time expectations, game prejudices,
and historical mishaps. Your proposal will stand a much better chance of
being approved if it addresses these issues pre-emptively rather than
getting besieged by them during the review process.
proposal writer is overly sensitive to criticism. Once your proposal is
solid and well prepared, it will receive a fair hearing.
proposal writer is inflexible to changes to the game. Often during the
process of gathering research or receiving criticism from other staff,
some reasonable suggestions will arise for changing or scaling back the
design. Game development is a collaborative process. Good feedback needs
to be included in the game proposal.
the proposal is exiting and realistic – even a small game is a new venture
for the company.