I love to read about screenplay writing, story design and movie concepts. And I recently came across a great site that covers these topics in a fun, insightful way, full of Hollywood insider stories.
While reading through the many articles, I came across this one that covers one of my favorite topics: How to create an appealing high concept. Many writers despise formulas and checklists, claiming they rub against their grain as "artists." But I see checklists as tools, not rules, and you've got to master them rather than let them master you.
"[T]he concept of your movie should be unique -- something that hasn't been done before -- and at the same time, it must 'attract' people to it. There must be some aspect that is compelling, enticing, and intriguing. Some element that is so inventive, so alluring, it has people in Hollywood kicking themselves for not thinking of it first. Kicking themselves so hard, in fact, that they're willing to give you lots of money because you did think of it first."
Boy oh boy oh boy oh boy, does this so easily applied to the game industry, too!
Too many games are sunk from day one because they lack a compelling concept. And even though these games may get made with the highest production values and polish, they will find only a small audience. If you think about the best selling games in recent years, practically all of them have a compelling, unique concept.
When designing a new game, it's imperative to base it on a winning concept that grabs people by the throat. In fact, the game's concept may be the most important decision you can make regarding the success of your game. To test if you you have a winning concept, see if it can jump these hurdles:
o Uniqueness (don't be a copycat) -- you should be able to say: "Wow, why hasn't anyone else thought of this?!"
o Easily conveyed premise (e.g. Tomb Raider = female Indiana Jones) -- Has anyone attempted a female James Bond, yet?
o Gives the lead character an interesting, meaningful story arc.
o Creates a rich game world, capable of supporting continued adventures.
o The concept is so distinctive that if anyone else does it after you, it'll be obvious where they got the idea from.
o Is the concept based on a very niche subject that few people have any interest in?
The bottom-line: Don't bet your chips on a weak concept. The concept must be enticing, otherwise who will give two cents about your game, let alone 40 bucks?