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Level Two: Polishing
Beat 1. Hypocenter
Creating the Wave
Your pitch presentation starts with the core elements of your concept: title, tagline, and logo; vision statement and synopsis; USP, target audience, and platform. Let’s go through preparing each of these elements one by one.
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to create your working title. Aim for something short, emotional, and vivid, perhaps with a subtle literary or cultural reference, that meets your game’s overall theme and mood. Coming up with a working title, of course, is much less important, and less demanding, than coming up with a release title that meets both your game’s creative vision and its marketing requirements. But you should give your working title your best shot. If that’s not your strong suit, maybe hire a writer for a reasonable fee!
Your tagline will serve as your advertising hook. Create something catchy and descriptive that refers to your game’s most important aspects—theme, mood, USP, or game loop. Think Halo’s “Combat Evolved,” Asura’s Wrath’s “Rage Never Dies,” or Dark Soul’s “Prepare to Die.” Or, less succinctly, but forcefully nonetheless, Warhammer 40K’s “In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only War.” Or Heavy Rain’s “How far are you prepared to go to save someone you love?” Or similar. Again, there’s the option of hiring a writer.
A provisional logo will give your title and tagline more weight, and it will serve your presentation as a visual anchor. You can follow the same basic rules that apply to your working title. You should give it your best shot, but it’s not a release logo. Nobody expects it to meet your game’s vision and marketing angles perfectly. If neither you nor someone from your team feels comfortable with this task, there’s the option to hire an artist who specializes in logos for a reasonable fee.
As an aside, for your working title, your tagline, possibly your provisional logo, and your presentation and proposition document as a whole, you should also choose the right fonts that serve your purpose best. Most likely, Arial or Times New Roman won’t be it. If you don’t have any experience with typography, you can either read up on it or ask someone who has! (While font licensing needs to be sorted out, it isn’t an issue right now as you’re not publishing anything.)
Title, tagline, and logo should be on your first slide while you briefly introduce yourself and, if applicable, the studio you represent. These will be just a few words, but you need to prepare them too. (You will introduce yourself and your team more thoroughly during the third part of your pitch; we’ll come to that in Beat 3. Propagation.)
The next thing you have to prepare is your vision statement, which corresponds to your desire-driven goal that you developed in the Procedure phase. Check if it still rings true, both for your treatment and your target audience! However, you might want to correct or polish it a bit, now that you did all the conceptional work during the Process phase.
Then, your synopsis, or log line, which corresponds to your design-driven goal, also developed in the Procedure phase. Check its three key elements again—growth, insight, and experience—and see if it’s still doing what it’s supposed to be doing: summarize your game’s projected playing experience, its plot, its central conflict, its mood, and the goal of the player.
The final triad of elements in this beat consists of your USP, which in this context is also often called the “hook”; your primary and secondary target audiences, the former corresponding to your motivation statement; and your platform or platforms. You’ll find all three in your documentation from the Preparation phase. They made sense back then, but you’d better check if that’s still the case! During the Process phase, your game concept might have undergone subtle changes that you barely noticed. Is it still the right game for the right players with the right value set with your USP at the center on the right platform or platforms? If in doubt, rework or fine-tune. Do not proceed before you made sure everything fits together seamlessly. And don’t be nonchalant about platforms either. Justify your choices with clear evidence for each platform that it is a perfect fit for both your USP and your target audience.
After you gathered or created all these elements for the first part of your pitch, polish them. After that, keep polishing. Your pitch presentation is your best, and possibly only, chance to set your treatment on track toward becoming an actual game. Thus, make it shine.