We were recently invited to write a small project pitch on our own.
I can’t say if it was a genuine invitation to pitch new ideas or just because management needed a follow up project, but I kinda liked the idea.
Usually, a GDD (Game Design Document) fills up several pages, or better: an internal project wiki; while a full blown pitch takes at least 30 slides of media presentation with a concept video, several concept artworks and a presentation of the studio of the same size. The pitches on Kickstarter give you an idea for what I mean.
Which is why a “1 Page Project Pitch” — or “1PPP” to introduce the term — seems like a good idea to publish a game idea, however ripe this idea might be.
Let’s lay out a few rules to allow the 1PPP to be as precise and brief as possible.
1PPP — the rules
Brievity: at most one A4 page
A 1PPP should be short and not exceed a A4 page when printed out in a readable font.
Precision: focus on defining the core idea
A 1PPP should focus on describing the core game idea, the game’s core mechanics, the game characters (if the characters play a rather major role in the game), and optionally the game world and its inhabitants.
The latter points about characters, world etc. are prone to change anyway between the idea pitch and the GDD creation, so I wouldn’t lose time detailing them more than needed to convey the idea.
Ludistic Pitch: where’s the fun?
The maybe singlemost important point of the 1PPP: where is the fun in the game?
Focus on describing how the game mechanics laid out above will end up being fun. Also, lay out its genre (if it can be classified) to give a more precise idea.
Financial Pitch: where’s the money?
The second important point of the 1PPP: how is your game going to generate money?
Ok, I’m sure, a lot of readers will now argue that games should be fun and not worry about physically things like money, but at the end of the day, the developers have a life as well and need to pay rent, feed their family, etc. Plus, if you’re pitching the idea to a publisher, this is a point he’ll be most interested in.
Another point to cover if the minimum technical budget (engine licences, platform licences) you would see fit for the project.
Artistic Pitch: what look for the game?
Optional pitch #1: is there a specific look you want for the game?
Sometimes, a game idea rotates more about the general look-and-feel of game than the main mechanics.
Music and sound choices also go in here.
Technical Pitch: anything technical goes here
Optional pitch #2: is there any specific technique you want to use for the game? This can cover everything from rendering, to special inputs, to code specifics. And as all other ideas, this is prone to change.
Optional pitch #3: everything story-related, from game world, its inhabitants, the main characters etc. should be covered by this. The ideas might change, but sometimes they lay out the particular atmosphere you want to pitch as game idea.
Optional pitch #4: everything else. That’s open to you.
Realistic: stay down-to-earth
Stay down-to-earth with the previous pitches. It’s good to expect money by making 10 million sales, but unless you’re Rockstar pitching the next GTA, you probably won’t get that much sales anyway.
Also, for the financial pitch, try to come up with plausible values.
References: keep them to a minimum
Referencing other games is easy. But a “like Final Fantasy” or “like Pokemon” is not enough to describe game mechanics, even less to describe the core game mechanic.
Also, your readers will probably have a different approach, or perspective, or just opinion, about the games you’re referencing, so a comparison goes against the “precision” part explained above.
Plus, as opiniated as your reader may be, your readers might dislike the games you’re referencing, hence the comparison is a sure way to kill your pitch.
Comparisons can be helpful if you just scribble down your ideas on a note to expand and iterate on them later. They should better not be part of the 1PPP.
Furthermore, too many references will make you look like a copy-cat from the start, whereas describing the game mechanics, even if they are 100% similar to the title you would be referencing, will not.
Platform: what will the game run on?
The part can be optional, but since the game mechanics might depend on it (eg. touch controls for smartphone games VS joypad for console games VS mouse&keyboard for PC games), it’s probably better to note them.
Control schemes aside, different platforms introduce different technical constraints, which, even if not addressed in the 1PPP, should be covered later in the GDD.
Also, the platform part might decide the budget you can spend on the realization of the game. (See financial pitch).
With these rules laid out, I’ll be applying them to my own game ideas and publish them as 1PPP on this blog sometimes soon.