Concept Document

For this assignment teams will submit a concept document for a game. Our format for this document will be slightly different than it was for CS/INFO 3152. In that class, you submitted a traditional 2-3 page document. This time around you will be creating slides that will be used for a talk and the documentation.

The key element for success is to remember the audience the the team’s slide document: a potential investor or publisher. This is your Shark Tank moment. These slides are supposed to be a presentation that you might make to secure funding. Everything should still be short and to the point without excessive text. Sketches that provide a vision for the game’s feel and basic play are welcome, but do not overload your potential publisher with details about game mechanics or software architecture. Game publishers don’t care about small details. They just want to know if the game is fun and if it will sell.

Table of Contents

Document Foramt

The iPad game Over the Arctic Hills was one of the first games in this course to use this format, and is has set the template for everything that follows. You will use that document, and more recent ones, as running examples throughout these instructions.

Title Slide/Page

The title slide/page should have the project name (e.g. the working title for the game) as well as the team’s “studio name.” See the initial page for Over the Arctic Hills (or more recent documents) for what we mean here.

Think of your publisher. What would get this person’s attention during this opening gesture? A picture of a concept? A tag line? The opener shouldn’t just be boring title. The team should brainstorm and put forth an opening that will catch the attention of a jaded investor who has money to invest.

Big Picture

Again, keeping with the idea that visuals and design are compelling, provide the investor with visuals and basic information that will inform an investment decision. The document for Coalide is a good example here.

On this second slide, teams should indicate the platform, genre, and release date. You do not need to give the language or development tools (that is for the Architecture Specification). You do not need to highlight this information more than listing it.

Give prominence to the high concept statement. For those who took 3152, you should remember this. This is a short statement of the core vision of the game. It is one or two sentences and should be player focused. That means it should describe what the player can do, not what happens to the player. Excellent word choice here is key; your team is trying to inspire someone to give you money!

As a great example of a high concept statement, consider this example from Family Style in Spring 2019:

The restaurant is packed tonight, and you’re the only chefs in the house! You and your friends must pass ingredients, scramble for dishes, and complete orders amidst a chaotic kitchen. You’ll need to communicate and cooperate to cook meals like your restaurant depends on it.

Note the structure above: one sentence to set the scene, and another describing what the (multiple) players do in it. The final sentence emphasizes the primary design goal of the game – communication and cooperation. The design of the slide should emphasize this statement and make it pop out.

Design Goals

On this slide (or slides), tell us what the team is trying to achieve in this game. Who is the gaming audience, and how do you plan to reach them? It is not enough to tell us who audience is; justify why the game will reach them. Otherwise you are just going to tell us that you “plan to appeal to core and casual gamers alike,” which is meaningless.

Side note: Your players cannot be “everyone.” Think clearly about who, truly, is the audience/purchaser of your game. Some people like war games; others won’t touch them. Some like “cute” games; some won’t go near them. Some folks will pay for games; others never will. Drill down into your true vision of who your players will be and what they are looking for.

Design goals are also where the team tell us what types of feelings or emotions you expect the player to experience. If you subscribe to the Earnest Adam’s “wish fulfillment” school of game design, now is the time to say what wish you are fulfilling.

Look at the design goals for Over the Arctic Hills. They have three categories which they spread over three slides. They tell us their goals for gameplay, the intended audience, and the emotions their game should inspire. You do not need to have this exact breakdown, but it is a good starting point.

It helps to have illustrations with the design goals if possible. It can be as simple as the icons in Lunar Lasso. Just having some form of visual reference makes the document feel that more professional.

In the first version of this assignment, before the team has done any revision, these will likely be simple sketches, not hame art. For this first draft, teams are welcome to scan in sketches and drawings if they are clear and legible.

We do not want six slides on design goals. Give us at most two (brevity is an important skill). Make sure that the first has all of the important goals. The second, if it exists at all, should have a single illustration showing how you expect these design goals to be realized. Again, look at how the image in Over the Arctic Hills highlights the emotional impacts of the game.

Game Mechanics

Describe the core mechanics of the game. Remember that mechanics mean actions (verbs) plus relevant interactions (environmental behavior), but you should not use these words. Actions and interactions are designer terms, and are not meant for an investor. Challenges can be included, if desired. Even more so than design goals, this is where a player mode diagram is incredibly important.

Once again, Over the Arctic Hills does a stellar job here. It describes the core action mechanic and then provides several interactions listed as Additional Mechanics. For each mechanic there is a simple but clear illustration showing off the mechanics in practice.

As a more recent example, Family Style has a concise, laser-sharp set of slides (pages 5-11) that allows the potential investor to see how the playstyle works and how unique it is. We also recommend slides (7-10) of Coalide as a great conceptualization of mechanics.

Finally, we would like you to look at Split from 2018. This document shows that sketches can be effective means to convey complex ideas for early game promotion. Not everything needs to look like a finished screenshot.

When writing this section, please do not default to using bullets. None of the examples above use bullet points because it is just one idea per slide (or half of a slide). If you do use bullet points, remember to follow the writing guidlines. and use them correctly.

Competitive Analysis

Those of you who had 3152 understand that there was a similar competitive analysis in 3152. In this section, we want teams to take a serious look at current market competition. Which games are most like your propsed game? What makes your game uniquely appealing? In particular, we want teams to identify some games that have similar audiences (so no AAA $30 mobile games), and answer the following questions.

  • Why does your game share the same market/audience as this competitor?
  • Why will your game appeal to people in this audience?
  • What differentiates your game from this competitor?
  • What price point should your game be, based on this competitor?

To design this section, we have provided you with a Competitive Analysis Worksheet to help you. In the Google Drive folder, each team should recreate and fill out this worksheet completely. This worksheet gives each team an organized, logical way to compare the proposed game to other games out there. Seeing the qualities of the various games in a comparison table provides an overview for the team that may be otherwise somewhat scattered.

Once that table is complete, pull out the most important bits and translate your findings into the Concept Document. We do not want you to just copy the worksheet directly in to the slides. Each team should present the material well so that the important issues pop out. Is your game too much like Game XYZ? Who really are your players? Why do strategy games seem to appeal to players in ABC demographic? How do we reach those players? Is any cost too much for this game?

Look to Laser Penguins for a good example of going in to detail about your competiton. Howver, another interesting approach is from Squeak & Swipe You will notice that the competition section is very terse but it conveys everything that we need to know.

More recently, the 2019 game Stelliform provides a strong balance between these two approaches. This game keeps the competitive analysis short and sweet, but with enough details to reach an investor not familiar with other games. It uses strong wording to promote its strength versus games already on the market. The visual design also helps the audience to parse the information quickly.

This section will ask for screenshots. Because you are getting screenshots from other sources, the sources need to give credit where credit is due. There are two ways teams can choose to accomplish this important step:

  • Add a final “Sources” slide that has links to the games or websites where you gathered the screenshots.
  • Hotlink the visual itself to the original source in each slide.

If you do the former, you should organize this Sources section in a way that makes it very clear which hotlink goes with which screenshot or visual. Beyond that, we will not ask for these to be formatted in a particular way (we will save that for later).

Other Details

We do not require any additional slides, but sometimes you have information that you feel is critical to your pitch. And example of such a section can be found in the concept document for Aphelion (originally Project Mainframe). This document ends with an outline of their proposed level progression, giving us some idea of how the game will proceed. It is short and to-the-point, which is what we are looking for.


The last slide should close out the pitch. Remember, this slide deck is both spoken and seen. Teams need a concluding gesture and a slide that allows them to say, “Are there any questions?” In the past, we have allowed for simple endings like the one for Discarded. However, more recently, we have asked for actual conclusions that move the investor to action. See the conclusion at the end of Lunar Lasso for an example of this.

Presentation Style

As always, the concept document is not a treatise. It is a pitch document in order to secure funding for your game. It should be easy to understand, punchy, clear, and direct. Notice how the examples have short, but descriptive, sentences. Any text should effectively convey information so that we do not need a person presenting it to understand what is going on; that is, have just enough text so that someone missing the pitch meeting could look at the slides and be knowledgable about your proposed game idea.

Use bullets sparingly, if you use them at all. Bring them in one by one as needed, and follow the other advice provided in ENGRC lab.

If you are unsure about our requirements, we have included some writing guidlines to help you with the documents in this course. This should make our expectations clearer. While most of you have already satisfied the technical writing requirement, we will still grade all of this assignments like an official technical writing course. Take these style guidelines seriously.

Pay particular attention to the guidelines for writing guidlines. You should never have a call for more than three levels of nested bullets. If you do, your should rethink about how to split this information over several slides. In addition, presentations should use a font size of at least 20 points. If you need a smaller font, you have too too much information on the slide.

Finally, remember to use Google Slides to create the deck/doc. Do not overuse flashy graphics that detract from the information; only show what you need. Pick a background style that is complimentary, but does not overpower the team’s pitch. The focus should be on the game inventors, not the slides.


We have quite a few good examples for you to look at. Indeed, we have been referencing them through the instructions. However, as is always the case in this class, use these examples for inspiration but do not emulate them.

Lunar Lasso

The most recent game on this list, the 2023 game Lunar Lasso had very simple mechanics. Generally, a game this simple would not get the attention of a producer. But this concept document demonstrates how proper use of illustrations go a long way. Even the simple icons in the Design Goals section go a long way to livening up the document and getting the message across. They also have a solid, but succinct, conclusion slide.

Yeti Set Go!

Another recent game on this list, 2022’s Yeti-Set-Go does an excellent job of selling both the gameplay and the artistic style in this concept document. The competitive analysis is a bit wordy, with two slides for each game. However, we like how they clearly differentiate their game from the other games.

Cluck, Cluck, Moose

The pitch slides for 2019’s Cluck, Cluck, Moose, act as both pages of a document and as workable slides for a talk. They use nicely-formed packages of information with pairings that work well. The high concept is paired with tech details. The Audience target is paired with the emotions the game aims to draw out. Later, the team switched to one main idea per page. The competitive analysis is brief and highlights how Cluck, Cluck, Moose tops its competitors.

Family Style

The viral sensation and 2019 Audience winner Family Style is another good example from the same year. It has an extremely strong and clear presentation of its gameplay mechanics. You learn everything you know to play, but the document does not get bogged down in complex game design jargon.

Stranger Seas

Stranger Seas is another game from 2019. The pitch slides for this game also balance the needs acting as a document and supporting a talk. In the Design Goals section, the simple approach is striking and allows comprehension as a document while not being overbearing during a talk. Note, too, that this team included sources cited at the end for the screenshots and icons they used, which is an important move.


Coalide was the audience favorite in the the mobile division during the 2018 showcase. It had very simple mobile controls but also had a lot of similarities to other games on the market. That is why their competitive analysis was so important.


The game Split won “Most Polished” in the mobile division during the 2018 showcase. We provide this example as a way for this year’s teams to see that sketches can be effective means to convey complex ideas for early game promotion. Look at the Game Mechanics section and see that not everything needs to look like a finished screenshot.

Over the Artic Hills

Over the Artic Hills won “Most Innovative Game” in the mobile division during the 2014 showcase. It is also the one of the first good examples of a concept document in 4152. It is clear, concise, and has excellent illustrations to emphasize its main points. It also uses bullet points effectively, avoiding our main concerns.

Laser Penguins

Laser Penguins was the audience favorite in the the mobile division during the 2017 showcase. It is a cross-platform networked game that has fast top-down s hooter combat. It is a clean and simple concept document.

Squeak & Swipe

Squeak & Swipe won “Most Innovative Game” in the mobile division during the 2016 showcase. This concept document is a very tight document with just the right amount of information – no more or no less. You should particularly pay attention to the Competition section.


Due: Sat, Feb 10 at 11:59 PM

There are two steps to handing in this assignment. The first step is to submit the file. From your Google Drive, teams should convert and then submit a PDF file called conceptdocument.pdf containing all of the information above. We ask that the file be a PDF so that we can annotate it and return it with feedback for possible revision. Understand, too, that the grading team will be looking at your Google Drive to evaluate the equal and fair writing and editing contributions by all team members. This is done by opening up the revision history in the Google Doc.

The second step is to complete the CATME survey. Later in the semester, we will distribute these surveys at the same time that your two-week report is due, but we want an initial survey to see how your group is doing. You should recieve an e-mail instructing you how to fill out the survey. The link inside that email is specific to each student. Use it to enter the survey (you cannot log in using another method).

As the prospect of revision implies, this is not the final draft of the concept document. Teams will have later opportunities to revise the concept document. However, you should take this assignment very seriously, as this staff will use this assignment to evaluate the suitability of your game (e.g. is it feasible, is it suitably difficult, etc.). If the team’s proposed game idea is rejected for whatever reason, then all the staff’s concerns must be addressed in a revised concept document within one week. Then, if the game proposal revised concept document is still not acceptable, the team can no longer receive an A for the project grade.

With that said, this almost never happens in this class. We always try to provide extensive comments on this assignment so that each group can be back on track by the revision.