A Mentor from Ubisoft
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A Mentor from Ubisoft

Over the last couple of weeks, we had 2 workshops conducted by Mr.Jitin Rao, Producer at Ubisoft Pune. He’s a programmer turned producer and has formerly worked at Gameloft as well. We feel very lucky when a guy like him steps up to mentor for game students like us. Through the course of the two sessions, he guided us through the process of making a ‘pitch’ for a game and also how to start off when making a game.

Jitin Rao, Producer at Ubisoft Pune.
Jitin Rao, Producer at Ubisoft Pune.

In the first session, he showed us how to create a good confident pitch for your game idea.

Defining The Core Mechanic – First, define the Core Mechanics. The Core Mechanic defines most of your game as, the Core Mechanic of your game is what the player will be doing for 95% of the game. If the core mechanic of the game is not fluid,chances are you’ve already lost your player. Getting it just right is very critical but we also don’t want to spend too much time on that at this moment, so we go and make a quick prototype to test where to start our pitch.

Digging Up Your Rivals – After the core mechanic the next step, is finding games similar to yours. Finding games with similar mechanics,looks, ideas etc. Research and review the game. Find out how many copies it sold. What worked in the game? What didn’t work? Then you take what works and build on it. Take it from there. It’s also important to know what didn’t work in the game, since it gives you an idea as to what not to do. Understand where the makers of that game failed, and improve and build on it.

Jitin interacting With Our Senior Batch.
Jitin interacting With Our Senior Batch.

What’s your Standard? – After you have your core mechanics and know similar games, you can move to the next step. Which would be setting your benchmark. We aim to set 3 benchmarks. Decide how much depth you want to add to the design. How much to build on top of what works. So, benchmark for design. Another one to set is for Visuals & for sales. When working on design it is important to remember, The user doesn not care about updates, they just care about the fun you deliver to them.

Knowing Your Limits – Another important point to remeber when pitching your idea is to know the strengths & limitations of your team. Oftentimes, you have to bend your game to fit the skills of your team. Like having to drop a mechanic because you don’t have the programmer with the right skills. It is also important to remember you can’t make the player learn a skill to play your game. (Like having to know how to play the guitar for a guitar hero) Either make an app that teaches him to play. Or make a game he can play without having to learn to play the guitar.
We then put this to test with a practical where we followed the 5 points to pitch our board game, Dungeon Escape!

Season 2

In the second session, we then decided to take a step ahead and we’re going to try and push out the game in the next 6 months. We’ll learn how to progress and what needs to be done after the pitch as well. We will be targeting to make the game for the iOS. We then had to make a call. Do we want to make a casual or an engaging game? That would change our design accordingly.

Control System 1 - The Semi Circle
Control System 1 – The Semi Circle

We were told now to further define our Core Mechanics, and concentrating only on Exploration/Navigation. Navigation is not meant to be engaging, built for accessibility for the player to access the experiences the designer wants to give the player. We then had a brainstorming session for Navigation, and finalised on 2 ideas for now, which will be prototyped and tested and we will then test it out and decided which one feels better. We dropped quite a few ideas since we didn’t want our player to block the character with his thumb. The two ideas we fixed for now are:-

A semi-circle at the bottom of the screen for movement. (Figure Adjacent)
The second idea started off as splitting the screen in two.

Control System 2
Control System 2

And we place a map in the bottom half and trace the path on that. But this removed the exploration bit, since the player would now see the entire map. So we added limited visibility, like in the Pokémon games when you enter a cave.

Only some parts of it are visible. We wanted to avoid using an on-screen joystick.. It doesn’t have that physical feedback that you should get with a normal joystick.

We’re now waiting to test the navigation prototype.
So, the first step after the pitch, is to further explain your Core Mechanics. More on that later, as we see for ourself! 😛

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