Hothead Games was approached by a client with an exciting proposition: creating a demo that would be used as part of an internal proposal to attain funding for a larger project.
Please note that while we are very excited to talk about this project, we unfortunately are under NDA and are unable to publicly share information on the specific unreleased project, and the client. All images in this case study are AI generated for illustrative purposes only.
The client's goals were to:
Present the look and feel of the project
Explore the link between a specific music genre and a virtual world
Demonstrate monetization and branding opportunities
Highlight social features
Finish a working demo within 2 months
Working on building a metaverse was something completely different and unique, and gave us a chance to further our experience within the space. The prospect of working on a niche music genre was both intriguing and challenging. We knew there would be lots of room for creativity and innovation.
Despite our enthusiasm, there was one major hurdle: we knew little-to-nothing about this specific music genre going into the project. With limited time in preproduction, we had to understand the cultural pillars as quickly as possible. We read wikis, watched documentaries and interviews, and researched the attributes most valued by fans. We also sought guidance from our client's experts to ensure accuracy.
At the halfway point, we faced an unexpected change in the art direction and which band would be the focus. This is when the experience of a veteran team is vital.
We made sure to understand why the change was being made, allowing us to embrace the new direction fully. We reviewed all affected assets, scoped the required work, and developed an efficient strategy for implementing the changes. Staying calm and adaptable is key in such situations.
Another challenge we encountered was making sense of the various interactive moments in the open-world game. We wanted to ensure that each action felt purposeful and offered a consistent experience for all players. To overcome this, we put the demo on rails, creating a story that motivated the character's actions and made the interactions meaningful and interesting.
Unique Clients Mean Unique Opportunities
Monetization and marketing opportunities were crucial for the demo, but we wanted to do something fun and unexpected. Since we were building a virtual theme park, we knew we needed retail options. However, instead of opting for a generic retail chain, we did some research and discovered that our client owned a variety of different brands. We took this and integrated these brand crossovers with our monetization features. This addition received an excellent response from the client and turned out to be one of the highlights of the demo.
Our team took a holistic approach to the required deliverables, and laid it all out in an easy to approach, digestible format. We wanted to show the complete capabilities of the project, so we organized the demo as a continuous flowing player story with narrative beats that showed off the game mechanics and organic brand monetization opportunities in a beautiful interactive world.
To handle the work, we put three of our senior team members on the project, including: Creative Director Eric Webb, Senior Producer Mike Ockenden, and Art Director Dylan Scott. They assembled a team of 14 developers, including:
2 UI experts
1 audio specialist
1 project manager
We also had support from approximately 5 people from Unity, providing design feedback and engine features.
At the end of the project, we had produced a short interactive demo of a theme park, including interactive background elements and characters, monetization and social features, store fronts, customization capabilities, and so much more. Unfortunately we are unable to publicly talk about the client or show any of the assets.
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