Discovering & Defining the Vision


Last week we put together a bunch of development GIFs for #ScreenshotSaturday. Each one showed the progression from scribbled concept thumbnail through to the final shot seen in the trailer (you can check them out here). It got me thinking about the development of the trailer, not just in terms of our process and the techniques we used, but also in terms of its purpose for us creatively, as an exercise to discover and define our vision for the game.

It was a very exciting time for both of us. We saw the vision for Röki coalesce out of thin air, going from cryptic scribbles (I have exceptionally illegible handwriting, Tom's is better I guess but it's not a competition) on notepads to solidifying, piece by piece on our computer screens. So with that in mind I thought I'd sit down and write a blog-post about that formative time for the game.

Now sat, fingers poised on keyboard, I realise that this actually straddles a number areas that may be of interest to you:

  • The trailer's role, creatively, in defining the game and driving the project forward
  • The trailer as the arena to define and prove out our art-style
  • The direction of the trailer itself as a dramatic video, and how we designed it to have the most impact.

...Woof! That's quite a lot of stuff! I'm a bit of a windbag and as I'd rather not outstay my welcome (I know you're all busy people) I'll hit these one by one in the blog-posts over the coming weeks. Sound good? Right, let's begin:-

Firstly, let's talk about the trailer's role in our creative process in defining our vision for Röki, and why it was important for us to tackle this up front.

When embarking on a new project it's easy to become overwhelmed by the possibilities. After all, you can create anything you want, anything at all. It's something that should be embraced initially. It's important not to limit yourself or to be constrained by your own perceptions of what you want to make. Cast your net wide, be open to the possibilities, you may end up surprising yourself!

Once the dust has settled on this creative explosion you'll hopefully be faced with many exciting options, all vying for your attention. With so many choices and possibilities open to you it can sometimes make it a little difficult to get going, frozen in the headlights like a deer called Mr. Chump.

So, now you have this world of options splatted across your walls it's a good idea to start narrowing your vision and begin to commit to ideas. These elements could be anything from genre, tone, characters or plot. However it's good to start with the big beefy ones first then work your way down to the smaller ones. Think of it like putting sticks in the sand, tent-poles to hang the rest of the game around. It doesn't mean these are set in stone (you can always grab one and shift it around a bit if it's not working with the others) but if you don't stick it in the sand to begin with you'll never know. Bit by bit, by committing to certain key elements of your game you will free up your mind, giving yourself the head-space to concentrate on the, as of yet, undefined areas, and slowly your vision for the game will emerge.

Now we'd already done a bit of the heavy lifting in some respects. We had chosen our broad genre, an adventure game (see previous blog-post here), and we'd decided to explore mythology and loved the idea of a dark contemporary fairy tale (see Tom's blogpost here), so we had some of the key ingredients and ideas for Röki but the vision for the game itself was still undefined. We wanted to use the creation of the announce trailer to help with just that, to use it as a creative exercise to chisel away at the broad lump that was the unrefined idea, and slowly reveal our the specific vision for our game.

This was also a good exercise to ensure we were on the same page. We've worked together for a while (ages) so have quite a good understanding of what the other is getting at when they're wildly gesticulating, scribbling and grunting, but the development of the trailer was the first time we were seeing the specifics for Röki emerge and could see if the visions in our heads aligned.

Now that the trailer is done and out in the wild we've been delighted with the feedback. Everyone seems super excited for the game, the setting, Tove, the tone/vibe it exudes and the art style, HUZZAH! And now that we've given everyone a glimpse inside the world of Röki, piqued their interest, and committed to the high level vision for the game, we can shift focus and drill down further and continue to build the game using the foundations we've set in place.

Next week we'll be talking about about things to consider when evolving an art style. Thanks for reading,

Alex & Tom

Alex Kanaris-Sotiriou