All games start with an idea. But where that idea originates can be traced to one of several sources:
- An original concept presented by an employee
- An original concept pitched to the company by an outsider
- A sequel to an existing game
- A spinoff based on a character from an existing game
- A game based on an existing character or story (such as movie, TV or comic characters)
- A simulation of another game medium (such as board games and card games)
- A game targeted to a specific demographic
- A simulation of a real world event
- A game designed to take advantage of a specific game platform (such as the Internet or an advanced interactive game system).
Once the idea is accepted by the company as a viable game, then a preproduction team is assembled to begin developing the idea into a fully realized game. How the game develops depends greatly on what type of game it is. The story line and design of a game based on an existing movie or comic character are going to be much more restricted than those for a completely original game concept. Likewise, a simulation based on a real world event, such as a baseball game, usually has definite boundaries in what can be done.
Video games can be vastly different from one another. And while there is a huge variety of games available, most fall into certain broad categories:
- Sports (Madden NFL, Tony Hawk)
- Strategy/Role-playing/Adventure (Zelda, Final Fantasy)
- Fighting (Mortal Kombat, Soul Caliber)
- Puzzle (Tetris)
- Shooter (Halo, Call of Duty)
- Platform (Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog)
- Racing (Mario Kart, Tokyo Xtreme Racer)
- Conversion (American Arcade Pinball, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?)
Of course, a lot of games include aspects from more than one of these categories, and a few games are in a category all their own.
In the case of Portal Runner, 3DO took a character from one of its more popular franchises and gave her a spinoff title of her own that falls into the platform category. The character, Vikki Grimm, has figured prominently in the company's Army Men universe. Portal Runner is not considered a sequel because 3DO took one character and built an entirely new game universe around her. As you learn about the development of Portal Runner, remember that many of the steps in the process can change significantly for a different title based on the nature of the game being developed.