Are you considering having a serious game developed by an external studio? A good choice, when you don’t have all the knowledge in house, or simply don’t have the time. A specialized game studio takes a lot of work off your hands. But you are still closely involved in the development process. Are you curious about what is expected of you during the development of a serious game? Then keep reading!
Chances are that, before you read this, you’ve already scanned the article to see what’s expected of you and thought, “that’s quite a lot”. It kind of is, but that’s what will get you to the best results.
Fortunately for you, most of the work consists of sharing knowledge and information about your field and the target group. In addition, you provide regular feedback on delivered parts of the game and help us get in touch with domain experts.
Let’s take a closer look at the six points in this article.
1. Determine when the project is successful
The reason you want to have a serious game developed is that you have a particular problem and want to solve it. In introductory meetings with a game studio, it was concluded that a serious game project could help with this. Before the game studio starts development, you need to answer two more questions:
- When is the serious game project successful?
- What conditions must the serious game meet?
The first question consists of drawing up the main objective. This must be specific and measurable. An organization may also have other objectives besides the main objective. All these objectives together constitute the ‘project success’. Once we know what this is, we can measure the results during and after the serious game project and check whether the project is successful.
We also ask you to deliver the preconditions of the project. These support the objectives and set the framework for the project. Some questions to think of are:
- How much time does the target audience have to play the game? In other words, will they play it for short sessions during their work break, or will they play for half an hour on the couch in the evening?
- Where will the game be played: at a venue or at home?
- Is there any supervision needed while playing?
- In how many languages should the game be available?
- How will we measure the results?
2. Sharing domain knowledge and network
To make a serious game successful, knowledge is needed about game design, but also about the client’s industry. We call this domain knowledge. A game studio needs as much information as possible about the domain. For instance, information about the target group, the problem, and other external factors that influence the problem. To increase the project’s success, we engage with the client, your partners and domain experts.
3. Giving access to the target audience for testing.
We ask the client to give us access to a select group of people from the target group. During the development process, game features or prototypes will need to be tested regularly with the target group. During these tests, we check if the game does what it is supposed to do and we ask the target group what they think of it.
4. Bi-weekly feedback on serious game components
The development of a serious game consists of several phases. From a creative concept to the final game. For example, if Grendel Games partners with you in a project a serious game project, there will be bi-weekly meetings with the development team. This development system is typically described as ‘sprints’. In this meeting, the work from the past two weeks is reviewed with you to ensure we are aligned on the objectives of the project.
5. Helping to set priorities
Another part of this bi-weekly consultation is to determine the priorities for the subsequent weeks because if there’s anyone who knows best what the end-user wants, it’s you. With your input, that of the team and that of other stakeholders, With input from your team and other stakeholders, the Product Owner (of your development partner) determines the priority for the coming sprint. The Product Owner estimates which development will add the most value for the end-user at that moment and how much time this development will take. The team then starts working on this for two weeks.
6. Make a plan for launch and marketing
When the serious game is ready, it can be launched into the market. As a proud client, you are ready to make your new game available, sell it or bring it to your target group in any other way. You set up a solid marketing plan and plan a festive launch. This way, your target group comes into contact with the serious game and we can actually achieve the objective.
However, marketing a serious game doesn’t always go according to plan. Often there is the expectation that the serious game will automatically be downloaded and played. Because your game is fun! Yet experience shows that a good, fun game is half the battle. The other half of the success lies in how the serious game is positioned and marketed. This is a process that takes quite some time. In the meantime, you need to respond to the queries of existing players, whiles updating game features and fixing bugs.
For writing a marketing and launch plan, your development partners can assist their knowledge about the (serious) games market and your knowledge about the target group, we can come to will help create a solid marketing plan that ensures the project goals are met.
We have identified six areas in the development process of a serious game where you need to take action. Giving feedback and determining priorities takes place structurally every two weeks. Other activities, such as determining the ‘project success’ and giving access to the target group, are one-offs. So most of the work is done by the serious game studio.
Are you currently in the orientation phase for choosing a serious game studio or are you gathering information about serious game development? Then we have some other interesting articles:
- How to choose the right serious game studio?
- What knowledge is needed to develop a serious game?
- How long does it take to develop a serious game?
Want to know more about serious games? Please feel free to contact Tim Laning to discuss it: