After the long process of creating game designs that came with brilliant ideas and inspirations, the next step depends on whether the designer wants to self-publish or hand the game over to a publisher.
That decision is often closely linked with the type of project that this game is – and there are two types of them.
Types of Games Projects
1. Commercial projects
It is all about designing a game with the best chance of becoming commercially viable, which usually means handing it over to a publisher.
The commercial approach tries to establish quickly if a game can appeal to customers’ current tastes and do so in a profitable way. A fair amount of thought goes into how the final product might look and what it will cost to produce, at what price it could sell, and how many copies can realistically sell. A game designer will not necessarily look at all the commercial factors, at least not in detail, but will have a rough idea if a game could be profitable.
Some games are just not viable at a certain point in time, so they are shelved until the time is right. Other games might just need to be developed in such a way as to make them viable. Designers sometimes have to make a judgment call or get in touch with a publisher’s developer to make that decision together.
2. Passion projects
It comes from the heart and is more about turning a dream into a real game, but not necessarily into a published product.
Passion projects are all about making a game idea close to the designer’s heart into a real game – but not usually into a published product. Even though many game designers hope to make their passion project a commercial product, such a game will rarely come through the development process unscathed and unchanged. The reality is that to turn a profit, games will need to be chopped and changed.
If these games do ever make it into production, they are usually self-published such as Gloomhaven.
Of course, there is also a big grey area between commercial and passion projects. It’s not entirely black and white, and some designers may turn a game that is close to their heart into a commercially viable product, while some commercially developed games may turn into passion projects. Projects also change over time, possibly starting as a passion project but then morphing into a commercial project.
Once a designer takes the game into production, either by handing it to a publisher or self-publishing, the design process is usually done. However, there is no clear cut here, even though the game now goes into development, which is not really a type of design process, but about adapting the game to a publisher’s expectations.
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