Target market for a portfolio project:Target market for a portfolio project

As with a most groups its apparent that our project has 2 target markets. The project target market, industry professionals, has some overlap with the games target market, but they are different groups, and need to be addressed as such.

The target market for the project is tied to our project goals: creating a quality portfolio piece, to impress industry professionals, to gain employment. The project targets industry professionals, people who have been in the industry a number of years. Primarily this project targets industry professionals in game development, however as an animator I also wish to display my skills to those in post production and animation.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found that in 2012, 91.3% of those working in game development were males. The same report showed that 69.7% of those working in post production were male (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, July 12). This report did not go into specifics of age, ethnicity, or disability. Remo’s (2010) Gamasutra article explained that the majority of people working in the games industry have been employed for between 3-6 years with an average age of 30. Looking at the, somewhat outdated, 2005 report from the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) the average person working in games is a white hetrosexual male approxamaly 31 years old who is not disabled (International game developers association 2005, October). These statistics give us a, somewhat unsurprising, generic “30 year old white male” demographic, given what we had covered previously in the units of overview of industry, and cultural studies.However the problematic, cultural implications, of exclusively targeting this demographic, and pigeonholing all game designers in to this demographic is far beyond the scope of this post.

We want to make a game that our player remembers fondly. Our industry professional target market will see many games with many styles of art and animation. Being driven by this our first idea was to ensure our game was of a high quality and polished. To effectively display the skills of the different disciplines we decided to make a combat brawler. Callan, Lukas and Cameron will explore the programming side of combat, level generation the many other systems they want to use to display their skills. Soren inspired by the roguelike genre, endeavours to create a game that has items, power ups and boss fight, where all mechanics are balanced to create appealing gameplay. Myself and Ben will be displaying the creative and technical aspects of modeling and animating for games.

A brawler type game is highly dependent on quality animations. To give us the best base to animation from, the models need to be built, and rigged, to create the best deformations. The animations of the player and the enemies in a brawler game give the player feedback (Swink, 2008, p300) something I will be exploring more deeply in a future blog post.

We also wanted the game to have a point of difference. Achieving the goal of high quality polished game is meaningless if it is generic and boring. The target market industry professional has seen every game where the player is a knight with a sword, killing goblins, in the dungeon. This is where the Abigail, as the unsung hero, aspect came in. We are still working on incorporating this element into the game, trying to ensure the player interprets our intended meaning. We are currently discussing the different ways in which we can link Abigail’s gender,character design, and profession in the game in a way that is not problematic. A game that is interpreted as problematic could harm our reputation as artists within industry.

To create a quality, meaningful, memorable game to satisfy our project target market of “Industry professional” we also needed to think about the games target market. When initially designing many of the ideas for the game, the project tarket market, was more important than the games target market. Now that we have decided on what elements we wanted to build our game from we have, admittedly,  somewhat backwards engineered our player target market. Usually in industry this would be undesirable since the target market should inform the product. However our project is a portfolio piece aimed to display our particular skills in specialised areas, because of that a certain amount of backwards engineering was going to happen. Understanding our target market for the game from this point will help us develop the game over the next trimester and a half.

Our games target market does slightly overlap our project target market in that the age group is approximately 15-30. We have not aimed it at a particular gender, instead Soren recommended looking in to the player types of the Bartle test especially the explorers and achievers. Reading through Bartle’s (1996) paper it became apparent that explorers and achievers were our target. The game is single player due to time restrictions and scope, explorers and achievers are world based players, who don’t rely on other players for their primary enjoyment.

The game has certain elements that should appeal to these types of players. Achievers should be drawn to the ego stroking combat gameplay, rewarded by defeating enemies with skill and precision. This is where myself and Ben will need to work closely with Callan when animating for the combat system. We will need to ensure the player animation is responsive while giving the player feedback and a sense of difference between the different attack types.

The enemy animations need to have enough anticipation to communicate to the player their next move so it can be blocked or dodged. To achieve this we have looked at a few games with similar play styles. Games like Alice Madness Returns (Spicy Horse. 2011) or Darksiders 2 (Vigil Games. 2012), have play styles, and therefore animation principles, that we are going to try to emulate in our project. To hold the attention of the achievers, we need to ensure the player feels like they are responsible for their success ,dominating the game through their input skill. To further reinforce and reward this skilled player we are looking to implement a scoring system. The Achiever will find satisfaction in the score readout at the end, tracking and displaying their superiority (Bartle, R 1996).

Explorers will enjoy the item collecting and room clearing / exploring elements. The more thoroughly a player explores a room the cleaner that room becomes, this may also affect future rooms cleanliness. Items can be collected from exploration, with possibilities of combining or trading items, this element is still being discussed as it ties in to our above mentioned cultural message, and how the player interacts with the unseen authority in the castle above. The unusual character choice, and cultural undertones, should also appeal to the explorer as these details are creating an underlying narrative for the explorer to interpret (Bartle, R 1996).

As previously mentioned some of these elements are still being developed, keeping our target marked in mind throughout our project will help keep us focused.  This focus will in theory enable us to develop and evolve our concept into a stronger piece.

References

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013, July 12)  8679.0 – Film, Television and Digital Games, Australia 2011-12. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/8679.02011-12?OpenDocument

Bartle, R.(1996) Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who suit MUDs Retrieved from http://mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm

International game developers association (2005, October). Game Developer Demographics:

An Exploration of Workforce Diversity. Retrieved from http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.igda.org/resource/collection/9215B88F-2AA3-4471-B44D-B5D58FF25DC7/IGDA_DeveloperDemographics_Oct05.pdf

Remo, C. (2010, May 21) Study: Game Developers Increasingly Newcomers To Business  Exclusive. Retrieved from http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/118984/Study_Game_Developers_Increasingly_Newcomers_To_Business.php

Spicy Horse. (2011). Alice Madness Returns [Computer Software]. USA: Electronic Arts.

Swink, Steve (2008). Game feel a game designer’s guide to virtual sensation.

Burlington: Elsevier

Vigil Games. (2012). Darksiders II [Computer Software]. USA: Nordic Games

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/134842/personality_and_play_styles_a_.php

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