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  • Writer's picturebaran ataş

The Vertical Slice: What, When, Why and How?

Vertical Slice Photo

We've been talking about making Pixeria's Vertical Slice for a while now, and while we've been working on it, we've also been doing some research.

While it's on our agenda, I wanted to write a blog that would answer the first questions that would come to an indie studio's mind when they think of Vertical Slice: What, When, Why and How?

Creating a vertical slice for your game is like an artist painting a miniature, a tiny, intricate piece that captures the beauty and promise of the greater work.

What is a Vertical Slice?

Imagine you're a chef, and your game is a gourmet dish. A vertical slice is not just any sample; it's the perfect bite that includes nearly every ingredient, cooked to perfection, giving your patrons a taste of the culinary masterpiece that awaits them.

This perfect little bite is the playable section that highlights the main features, artwork, and gameplay of your game while offering a streamlined version of the entire experience.

When to Craft Your Vertical Slice

Timing the creation of your vertical slice is like knowing when to harvest grapes for wine—too early, and it lacks flavor; too late, and it's overripe. The sweet spots can be:

Post-Prototype: After you've validated your game's basic mechanics.

Pre-Production: Before you dive deep into full-scale development.

**This guarantees that the base of your game is strong and ready to WOW.

Why Make a Slice That Is Vertical?

While there are difficulties involved in starting to create a vertical slice, there are also many benefits:

Potential Investors Will Want to See It: Think of it as your elevator pitch, giving publishers and investors a concrete idea of what you hope to accomplish.

You Can Show It to Your Community: Excitement and anticipation are raised when early fans receive a taste of what's to come.

Refinement: It provides a targeted scope for you to test, refine, and iterate on important game components.

How Should Your Vertical Slice Look? (In-Detail Components)

Gameplay mechanics

Core gameplay loop: Present the main actions that players will participate in repeatedly, making sure they are both engaging and representative of the final game.

For example

if your game requires puzzle solving, offer a puzzle that elegantly captures your game's distinct approach to challenges.

If combat is a core mechanic, highlight a battle that demonstrates the depth of your combat system, such as combo moves, tactical decisions, or environmental interactions.

Unique Interactions: Highlight any unique mechanisms that distinguish your game, such as traversal methods, crafting systems, or social interaction elements.

Environment and Art Scene Aesthetics

Use color palettes, lighting, and textures to create emotional responses.

**Consider a dimly lit, rain-soaked alley for a noir-inspired game, or a brilliant, sun-drenched meadow for a more pastoral scene.

Character Design

Include a variety of character designs that represent the diversity of your game's universe, such as major characters, NPCs, and opponents.

**Pay attention to the motions and expressions that bring these characters to life and help the player engage with the game world.

Storytelling and dialogue

Narrative Hooks: Introduce the main narrative thrust or an intriguing subplot that will keep gamers wanting more. This might be a puzzling incident, an unexpected character reveal, or a tantalizing look into a greater battle.

Dialogue samples: Create dialogue exchanges that highlight your writing style and character voices.

**Ensure that these discussions are contextually relevant to the gameplay, such as dynamic banter during exploration or key chats during cutscenes.

Audio & Music

Soundtrack: Use music to compliment and enhance the present on-screen action, atmosphere, or scene.

**Consider how music might change dynamically with gameplay conditions, from relaxing exploration themes to intense combat melodies.

Sound Effects: Create sound effects that provide dimension to the environment and movements, such as the clinking of armor and the rustling of bushes.

**Ambient sounds should add life to your game settings, making woodlands whisper and cities bustle.

User interfaces (UI) and user experiences (UX)

HUD & UI Elements: Create informative yet inconspicuous HUD elements like health bars, ammo counts, and minimaps.

**Menus and inventory panels should be user-friendly, allowing for simple navigation and item management.

UX Design: Ensure that the entire user experience is seamless, with logical transitions from one game section to the next.

**Tutorials or assistance prompts should be effortlessly integrated into the game, providing guidance without disrupting immersion.

Case Study : Creating the First Vertical Slice for "Game X"

(I wonder which game is a similar example…👀)

An important milestone in the development of "Game X," a pixel MMO with a wide range of features, was the creation of the game's first vertical slice.

The goal of this first showcase was to distill the core of "Game X" and provide the groundwork for further development and investor interaction.

Detailed Inclusions in the First Vertical Slice

Island Customization & Farming

The game's emphasis on creativity and self-expression through constructing and farming is highlighted in the first vertical slice, which takes players to their own islands.

Engaging Tutorials

New players are guided via embedded tutorials, which highlight the game's approachable design and are essential for creating a good first impression.

Common Areas for Community

To showcase the game's community-centric concept, specific spaces for player interactions are included.

These areas facilitate straightforward exchanges and cooperative activities, highlighting the possibility of a thriving player ecosystem.

Adventure & Quests

A number of quests in the first vertical slice highlight the adventure element of the game, providing players with an early look at the story and PvE content that is meant to pique their interest.

Quest UI

The quest interface is praised for being user-friendly and transparent, which motivates players to engage with the game's objectives and plot.

Strategic Aspects to Be Considered

Deliberate thought went into deciding which aspects, like fully fledged PvP warfare or intricate crafting systems, to leave out of the first vertical slice:

Simplicity and Focus: To provide a focused and memorable introduction to "Game X," the team concentrated on making the first vertical slice easily accessible while highlighting aspects that would appeal to investors and new players right away.

Future Development Opportunities: By leaving some features out, they will be able to introduce them in different ways in later vertical slices or updates, based on user feedback and gradually expanding the game's presented material.

Q&A: Understanding the First Vertical Slice Strategy

Q: How do community interaction areas in the first vertical slice attract investor interest?

A: By showcasing thriving player interactions, the game demonstrates its ability to foster a strong community, which is critical in maintaining player engagement and supporting various monetization strategies.

Q: What prompted the decision to remove PvP material from the first vertical slice?

A: Introducing PvP too early may alter impressions of the game's focus. By first developing the game's universe and cooperative components, the team may then integrate competitive elements in a way that enhances the overall game story.

Q: How does the first vertical slice address potential issues with player retention?

A: By displaying a variety of engaging activities and assuring a straightforward user experience, the first vertical slice demonstrates the game's ability to engage and keep players over time.

Especially for indie studios, it can be quite difficult to prepare the vertical slice while working in the background to make your game "perfect".

But rest assured, it's worth every bit of extra time. Vertical Slice will provide insights not only for outsiders, but also for you during your development.

As Pixeria team, we are also making these preparations while creating the Pixeria universe.

If you want to be informed about the developments, you can join our Waitlist!⏳💪

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