The key to a successful outcome with in any aspect of life is planning. Without such you can never guarantee what the finished product will entail. Which can be great, but when it comes to game production isn't what anyone needs. If you’re working to a deadline then you need to plan before to make sure that you will reach the end goal in the time that you've got; to make sure that the end goal is the result that you where striving for at the beginning.
This flow chart gives you an idea on how a game production pipeline works. Working from the top it shows the importance of planning and how the rest of the creation process relies on it. A major part of the planning phase is the concepting. It is with in this that different ideas can be explored and gives a reference for all people to work from coherently throughout the project. This is something that can be tweaked and worked on as the project progresses and new plans and ideas arise but is mainly done from the beginning to give a visual understanding of the ‘Mission/ Brief’.
Concepting is key to the visual outcome of a project as without it: one you haven’t explored the brief to its fullest, as it allows you to move through and improve on a range of ideas to find the best one to suit, two once there is a clear and well defined idea after the exploration you have something that everyone can work from. This is key to making sure that every team members work will work together and fit seamlessly with in the project. Without such you’ll constantly have people having to go back and redo work to fit as they have done it in a way that looks to different to that of another’s.
Planning that everyone is working from the same reference towards the same goal is vital. But also making sure that everyone is kept up to date throughout the project is equally as important. If a project is to change direction at any given point you need to plan on how everyone knows this and what resources they will have to make sure that their work will progress along the new path.
Here are some examples of how in the production of Diablo 3 the game moved from one visual aesthetic to another. The early development on the right, you can see the obvious change in how the game looks and feels now, shown on the left. This would all have had plans put in place pre-development to account for changes and the use on concept art would have been key to keeping the creators up to date with the visual look of the game at that point in development, as well as using it to further explore other variants it could go down.
You can see how without that underlying structure put down the development of a game wouldn’t result in the best outcome and could ultimately fail. The importance of planning and concepting ideas not just at the beginning but throughout the production process is vital to a coherent and well thought out product. This is evident as previously shown, the Diablo 3 we could have received to the one that was released. I know which one I’d rather play.
I am Elliott Pacel, a Technical Artist at Reflections, Ubisoft.