Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How-To: Pitch a Project to SGD

Have a good idea for a game that you'd like to develop with a team of SGD members backing you? Below are some guidelines for turning an idea in your crazy head into a full-out project for the group to develop (and get you rich and famous and deliver unto you everlasting fame and glory and all that good stuff).

The first requirement, one of which is obvious, is that you must be a member of SGD to pitch a project to pursue using SGD members and resources. Immediately following that, SGD policy dictates that you must have experience with at least one prior SGD project before you are eligible to pitch any of your project ideas to the to the club. This rule ensures that anyone pitching a project will have some sort of experience on a prior project team and has an idea of what is expected of him or her as a project director (note that if your pitch is successful, you assume the role of director of that project, meaning you are ultimately responsible for its completion).

If you meet this requirement, you're eligible to make a formal pitch to the club. To do this, the foremost thing to do will be to fill out a design document. The design document is a formal outline of what your game is, what features it will entail, specific gameplay mechanics, list of resources need, etc. etc. With regard to resources needed, you (and/or someone in a high-ranking position on your team as laid out in your design document) should be familiar with the resource(s), API(s), etc. that you wish to use to implement the project; for example, if you want to make your game in XNA, you and/or someone else on your team should already be familiar with XNA. The design document should also include a week-by-week timetable listing project goals for each week of development en rout to its completion. The SGD design document template can be found here (click).

Upon completion of the design document, you should promptly submit it to the SGD officers for review. The SGD officers will go over the document with you and help you nail down your game concept, provide constructive criticism to improve the concept, and firm up your proposed development timeline to follow for the completion of the project. Don't be surprised if you end up going to the officers several times before your project is approved; in particular, given the fact that anyone working on an SGD project is a student at The University first and foremost, time constraints will be a constant factor in any project you propose; you may be ask to cut some features from a broader concept, or spread the project out over multiple semesters. Ultimately, your design document must be approved before the conclusion of the club's pitch meetings, which occur during the first few weeks of the semester.

Once your project is approved by the officers, you are expected to pitch your project to SGD as a whole at the aforementioned pitch meetings. You'll meet with officers to set up a pitch presentation date, upon which you will present your project to the entirety of the club. The pitch itself typically involves explaining your game concept, elaborating on some of the key particulars and play mechanics of your game, and relaying other pertinent information from your design document to club members. This presentation is typically backed by a Powerpoint and lasts about fifteen minutes; more ambitious presentations might show off a functioning game engine, or in general have some sort of base to show off to give the club a better idea of what exactly you're going for with your game. Upon completion of the pitch, you'll pass out sign-up sheets for your project and offer positions to SGD members who do sign up.

Ultimately, successfully pitching a project to the club isn't overly difficult, but it requires a fair amount of dedication and work to complete and receive approval. The same amount of dedication will be required to complete your project over the course of the semester, however, so getting through the pitch process successfully is a necessary step in proving that your idea is worth developing and that you are in fact capable of leading the project to its completion, the rewards of which are eternal and everlasting. :)

Again, click here to download the SGD Design Document.

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