How to follow a top-down rational approach when making free-to-play games

September 6, 2019

As well as being one of the founding members of Assassin’s Creed and having worked on titles such as Far Cry and Watch Dogs, Stephane Assadourian (consultant at GameProdExpert) is a real expert in production and creativity.

His more than 20 years of experience in the industry have led him to develop a top-down rational approach. This method, which he shared in his public talk at the F2P Campus, focuses on the context and objectives of the business to make the game as successful as possible.

C. O. V. R. to discover

When applying this method of videogame development, it’s important to first think about the business and then the product. For this the producer needs not only to evaluate the business but also to change the way he thinks:

  • Business is not about features, it’s about results.
  • Don’t tell the team what to do, tell them what to accomplish.
  • Display the business objectives for everyone to see.
  • This project exists only because you need to satisfy these objectives.

For this purpose, Stephane Assadourian recommends following this mantra: C. O. V. R. to discover.

  • Business Context: Is there a business opportunity?
  • Business Objectives: Can we seize it?
  • Product Vision: What’s the right product?
  • Evaluate Risks: What are the risks?
The scope is crucial

At any stage of the project it is vital to keep a handle on the scope of the game or you may lose control. This is crucial because:

  • It’s the center of all dependencies: budget, release date, team roster, business objectivesโ€ฆ
  • Controlling the scope prevents gigantic feature creep.
  • It’s the heart of what the player will be able to experience.
  • It’s linked to the strategy of the product: EA, sim ship consoles, DLCs, content updates for F2Pโ€ฆ
  • It forces you to organize the quantity of content into core systems.

When it comes to controlling the scope of the game, it’s important to look from both the business side and the technical side. For this you have to ask yourself: Is it what our audience wants? Can we actually build this?

With the answers you can now begin to understand what the game youโ€™re going to build will be like, and what it will need. From there on you just need to organize all the systems and see which dependencies they have in order to develop it as efficiently as possible.