Game Development Reference
Another potential insight into the target audience can be gained from the
online communities that focus on your game's genre. Not only is it valuable
to read what the members have to say on the latest releases within the genre,
if you have any particular research you wish to undertake many of them are
pleased to answer your queries or fill in your questionnaires. However, while
their views are valuable, the members of community forums can sometimes
be a little too hardcore and become obsessed with fine detail - such is their
love of the particular genre - and this often will cloud the bigger picture.
Expanding the audience
Once you know what kind of game the team is creating and you have been
able to define your audience and understand them in general terms, is it
possible to expand that audience? More to the point, is it possible to appeal
to players outside the genre without alienating the core audience within the
This is largely the realm of the design team - how can they add to the
gameplay and hold the genre's audience at the same time as giving the game
a wider appeal? - although the writing can be an important part of the
process and become a key part of such development. For instance, how can
you integrate a rich and complex story into a high-action game without
detracting from that action? How can character interaction be made to work
in game types that traditionally have no such thing? How can narrative
become a part of a car racing game?
Unfortunately, there are no simple answers to these and other questions
that will arise in the early stages of a game's development. Because each game
is unique, even within a genre, the solutions are going to be ones that fit that
particular game and which also work within the genre.
Work with the design team to incorporate interface features (elements that
often make a game unique - something cool that happens when the player
presses a button at a specific time or presses a combination of buttons to create
an unusual character move or on-screen effect) that allow you to tell the story
in a suitable manner. Define the level of character interaction with the
designers and get them to plan the game mechanics in a way which allows
you to maximise the quality of the writing within their defined parameters.
Look for ways of incorporating the new ideas so that the genre's traditionalists
can skip them if they wish and have an experience that matches their
expectations of the genre - for instance, when players begin the game it could
offer them a choice between a story mode and an action/arcade mode.