It is that “Eureka” moment. A developer gets a wonderful concept for a new game that will be liked by millions. All (s)he needs to do is, get started with the development.
But, the idea is still inside the developer’s brain; it needs to become characters, background environments and more, so that it can be developed to a full fledged game.
So, the developer engages somebody who is good in visualizing and creating sketches; they listen to the basic inputs and create a set of drawings which go through multiple revisions before they can be used for the actual design.
These diagrams are called “Concept designs”. They may not be very detailed, but they give a clear idea about what the final design might look like. Idea is to quickly draw something, create different versions of it and arrive at what we like better, before inking the details.
Typically, concept designs are created with a basic set of requirements; they may not be very clear or detailed; with the available information, a designer assumes many things and draws at least two or three concept and designs.
Hence, concept and designs start with ideas or rough sketches or doodles of what the artist has in mind. Concept designs might be for the main character, the enemy, the game level or an environment setting.
Studios that do not have concept artists working in-house will outsource this task to studios that do. Once the sketches are ready, they are reviewed by the client (means, the studio ordering the concept, or in some cases the customers themselves, who originally provided the concept).
As part of this review, they basically try to compare the concept art to what was in their mind when they visualized the character or the object. Based on this, they provide additional details which they might have forgotten to give earlier, or they may get a better clarity on the concept after they see the concept design drawings.
Based on these inputs, the concept design is revised, reviewed again and this cycle continues until the final version is arrived at. If the process takes lot of time, designer and the concept owner may get on a brainstorming mode where they draw on a piece of paper or white board before putting it in the system.
Once a concept and design is approved, it gets to the actual modeling mode, where more details are added. Now it will start looking realistic!
Generally, concept designs are created for characters, levels, props, objects, game UI, basic game play and other elements. Those who want to be experts in concept design need some specific skills such as:
• Ability to understand high level concept inputs, without any detailed instructions
• Working with minimum details, making assumptions wherever required, visualize the concept design based on these details and assumptions
• Ability to rework on the design quickly as more details are made available (or the assumptions made are not right)
• Ability to manage different versions of concept designs
• Ability to provide final design in a format that can be used for detailed modeling
• Ability to meet short timelines and provide reliable good quality concept designs
• Basic understanding of the field of design (for example, designing a house, or designing a robot needs some high level understanding of structural engineering, robotics. They may not know all the finer details, but should know how they are structured so that the concept design is not very unrealistic!)
There are expert designers and companies who specialize in providing concept design services. They have done this many times and can help developers by asking right questions to elaborate the concept before the designs are made. Their experience and quick results will help a developer or a company to visualize their concepts and use it to get further ideas or investment.
Choosing a good partner to take care of your concept designs will be a worthwhile investment. They will be able to bring to light all the thoughts and unique characters from your brain!