Interview

Mediatonic’s Arran Topalian on building a pitch from concept to doc

A great pitch provides the foundation needed for incredible things to be built upon it

Mediatonic’s Arran Topalian on building a pitch from concept to doc

The next round of PocketGamer.biz MasterClasses are only just around the corner and we can’t wait to show you what we have in store for you this time.

If this is your first time hearing about our MasterClasses, they’re a series of deep-dive workshop sessions that take an in-depth look at practical games design topics. We work with the finest industry experts to create professional, half-day activities featuring tutorials, lectures and breakout groups, all accessible from the comfort of your home office.

On June 8-10, you can expect to explore a range of key topics, from game pitching and mastering data, to live ops and UX. Today, we'd like to introduce Mediatonic’s senior game designer Arran Topalian who has eight years of experience in the games industry. Topalian will lead a session titled ‘Building a Game Pitch: From Concept to Doc’ on Tuesday, June 8th at 10am to 1pm (UK time).

Topalian has worked on games like Sea of Thieves at Rare and top-grossing mobile game Yahtzee With Buddies. Currently employed as a senior game designer at Mediatonic, he is working on an unannounced project, while continuing to help teams create life-long, memorable experiences for a new generation of players.

PocketGamer.biz Tell us a bit about your company

Arran Topalian: Mediatonic is an award-winning UK games developer with a penchant for rainbows and over 15 years spent making and playing games together. We are as comfortable creating the mass-multiplayer mayhem of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout as we are drawing you into the fabulous puzzle mysteries of Murder By Numbers - because every Mediatonic game shares our ambition to inspire joy, to remove barriers and excite new audiences.

We strive to connect millions of people around the world through positive, valuable gaming experiences that will stay with them for years.

What does your role entail?

As a senior designer, I'm primarily responsible for the design of a major aspect of a game such as combat or features, working with the lead designer to agree on a vision and then working with more junior designers under my supervision to deliver on it.

During my time at the company, I have also been a prolific pitch writer, having written over 20 game concept pitches to-date, as well as overseeing the company's pitch mentoring program.

What topic will you cover in your MasterClass?

A great pitch is similar to the ground floor of a spectacular building, in that it can provide the foundation needed for incredible things to be built upon it.

This MasterClass, designed to help participants of all skill levels, will cover three distinct aspects of writing a game concept pitch:

1) Conceptualisation

  • Every pitch starts with the seed of an idea, which eventually grows into a fully fledged document.
  • For many, this first step can prove to be the hardest part of writing a pitch - there's nothing more intimidating than a blank sheet of paper!
  • This initial portion will detail how I typically approach conceptualising a new idea, providing participants with a clear process that offers a solid foundation to build upon.

2) Page one

  • The first page of a game pitch is both the most challenging and important page of any pitch doc. It's the page that needs to simultaneously sell the financial feasibility of your vision, as well as quickly paint a clear picture of what your game involves.
  • As such, this second portion will provide participants with a breakdown of the format I myself have used and honed across years of pitching, as well as the opportunity to write one of their own in response to an example RFP.

3) Page two and beyond

  • The third and final part will cover several best practices across both formatting and copy when it comes to writing an entire pitch document, highlighting pitfalls I've experienced myself in the past, as well as tips and tricks I've discovered along the way that can really help a pitch sell and explain itself better.

Who is this MasterClass for?

This Masterclass is for anyone who is either currently trying to write their own game pitch, or wishes to start one but isn't entirely sure how or whether it's to meet an RFP or to get their first project off the ground.

Being a craft that's typically reliant on a combination of creativity and authoring concise, user-friendly documentation that both excites and communicates clearly, this course could also be of interest to designers looking to improve their core design skills.

My hope is to share what I've learned with as many as possible. As such, the course has been designed to be as inclusive and approachable as possible, allowing for any and all to attend regardless of skill levels in game design or creative writing.

Why is it important for your games industry peers to gain a deeper understanding of your chosen topic?

Participants can expect to have learned new and effective processes regarding conceptualisation, as well as several tips and tricks on how to express their game pitches on paper.

Whether it’s answering an RFP, selling a game's vision to publishers, or starting a new project, writing a professional game pitch document that captures and communicates the essence of an idea to others can be hugely important.

What’s more: a great pitch is similar to the ground floor of a spectacular building, in that it can provide the foundation needed for incredible things to be built upon it.

‘Lightning in a bottle’ games such as Fall Guys are testament to the transformative power of a great, well thought out idea- and like anything, without enough practice and the right knowledge, catching lightning is a skill anyone can learn!

Tell us a little bit about the key takeaways people can expect from the session

Participants can expect to have learned new and effective processes regarding conceptualisation, as well as several tips and tricks on how to express their game pitches on paper.

Additionally, through the workshops, attendees will also leave with a one-pager they wrote themselves using the guidance and advice offered through the accompanying presentations, providing them with practical experience as well as a strong foundation for their own future pitches!

Finally, what are your thoughts on the games industry going forward? What major trends do you predict over the next 12 months?

Given the incredible success of online-only multiplayer titles such as Fortnite and Fall Guys and the recent arrival of next-gen consoles, I personally expect to see many more mass multiplayer titles emerge that continue to push the genre both technically and design-wise, allowing more players than ever before from across the globe to experience new ways to play together.

With that in mind, given how many games players can choose from nowadays, I also believe that games as a service (or ‘lifestyle games’ as they’re often referred to) will become increasingly prevalent, especially for mass multiplayer titles that rely on retaining large user-bases through live ops content and convenient, approachable user experiences that foster continuous engagement.

Don’t miss!

You can hear Topalian dive deeper into building a game pitch in his MasterClass on Tuesday, June 8th from 10am to 1pm (UK time). Spaces are still available, but they're filling up fast and with strictly limited numbers for these tightly focused groups, don't hang about or you'll miss out! Book now!

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