About Gamebrief

Gamebrief was created by James Hostetlerand is meant to focus development of your game with 10 questions. Gamebrief is inspired by the design briefs graphic designers use to target and deliver effective work to clients. These questions will help you get a better grasp on your game, tools, and audience.

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1. What is your project?

Are you making a first-person shooter? A surrealist adventure that spans thousands of years? Anything! Just write about what your game is and if it's a game at all. You can change your mind, but by now you've brainstormed and should have a decent idea of what vague genres your game fits into. If not, make one up. That's more fun anyway. Just know what it is. If you can, try to describe how long you want the game to last. Is it a pick-up and play game or a story-based linear game? If you're unsure, think about what kind of game-mechanics you have in mind for it. These are the decisions that will help you nail down the rest of the questions and seem smarter at parties.

2. What does your game aim to do?

Basically, what is the purpose of your game? Is it supposed to teach the player something about life? Is it just supposed to be a fun joyride or maybe even a nightmare hell ride? Is it going to upset the status quo or talk about something deep inside of you? Think broadly, regardless if it's meant to inspire emotion about your love of platformers or the tender care of your late father. Your game needs an aim or you yourself might feel aimless when creating it, and a game often is more easily marketable if you know what the point of your game is from the get-go. You could also think of this as a themes section. What themes do you want your game to represent? You can also use this information to help inform your game-mechanics down the line.

3. What format are you shooting for?

Switching platforms can be hugely detrimental to your development. You'll want to have a great idea of the systems you want to develop for and maybe even think ahead about support for your code later. Smaller teams might want to limit their reach at first and then move onto other platforms later, but you need to know where to start. If you can, be specific about the kind of graphic hardware or other hardware your game might require. If you want to go overboard, jot down the minimum hardware you want your game playable on. Use specifics: PC, iOS, Android, screen sizes, required graphics detail, etc.

4. What are you designing with? Who?

It's important to know what kind of work you'll need to outsource, and if you're not outsourcing work, what tools you are comfortable with or plan on using for your project. Not only is this information good to know right away so you have an idea about what you'll be working in, but it's also good if other devs need to know where you're standing software-wise to help. If you're working with a team, establish that team. If you plan on having a team, that's okay, but teammates need to be dependable so if you feel awkward writing them down here, they might not be the best choice.

5. What is your Target Audience?

Your Target audience is who you expect to play your game or be interested in it. How old are your players? Are they 12 years old or 30 years old? Another important question to ask is: Where are they located? Is this a US-oriented game? Do you want it to be globally accepted? If so, think about localization and language support. How educated do you need to be to play your game? If you use larger words, deeper concepts, and tough logic, you start targeting a smarter demographic.

6. What does your game appeal to / how will it affect people?

A game can have both emotional and functional appeal. Emotionally, is your game meant to make people feel sad, happy, worn out, or joyous? How do you want people to feel playing your game? Your game might also have a functional benefit. Is your game being made for a charitable cause? Will it raise money for something or someone? Is your game educational? It's highly likely that your game will have an emotional appeal. It's not necessary to have a functional appeal, but your game might provide one.

7. What are some inspirations?

Most well-known artists had their inspirations, and you shouldn't be afraid to be inspired either. In the gaming space, it's especially important to draw from inspirations and make judgement calls about how you want to design things, along with what you want to do differently. Here, relax and write down some of your sources of inspiration. It's always good to go back and see why you were inspired by them in the first place and talking about them gives people a great idea of where you're heading with your game.

8. What are some competitors to your game?

It might be hard for some of us to admit, but you're going to have competitors. Many games sticking to strictly designated genres will have quite a few things to list here. It's important to know your competitors not only so you don't do the same thing as them, but when you want to do something you'll know the standard way it's approached.

9. What will your game do different from them?

If you took the time to really mull over the last question, you will have an easier time answering this one. If you want your game to stand out from the crowd, you must think about what you do differently than the other fighters in your arena. Lots of successful indie games have been successful because they did something different or unexpected; however, plenty of games can still get away with being nearly the same and only differentiating themselves thematically. This can still be a selling point. Try to decide what sets your game apart. If you're making a clone, you don't need this design brief as the game you are cloning is your guide.

10. What is your budget?

Unexpectedly, this can be one of the hardest questions to ask yourself, but also one of the most important. What are you willing to pay for assets? How much do you need to make your game? How many people do you need to pay? Do you plan on using Kickstarter? These are all important questions to ask yourself at this stage because without the budget to finish your game, it will never be finished. Start thinking about how you're going to pay for your game and how much you want to invest. It might also be a good idea to jot down where you plan to sell your game and what pricing you're targeting so you have an idea of the game's worth.

Title Your Project

This isn't necissarily the actual name of the game, but just a title to help organize the idea. "Untitled Platformer", "Spacerace Game", and etc. are all acceptable answers here.



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© 2014 James Hostetler