Rob Yescombe on how to pitch

Tuesday February 12, 2013

With experience in both Indie and triple A development, Rob Yescombe has truly seen it all. Today Rob shared with us his techniques and secrets for creating a well executed games pitch to a developer, using a misleading yet fantastic analogy involving onion gravy. “Today, we’ll be running through making onion gravy” was uttered to the surprise of the audience. He walked us through how you make onion gravy, starting with the planting on onion seeds (ensuring not to neglect the correct soil pH required for onion seed to thrive!) and walking right through to the final steps in cooking.

This all seemed strange and irrelevant – until he revealed to us that this was a case of bad pitching, before moving on to explain why. “Bad pitching tells us the whole recipe. We don’t need to know the whole recipe, we just need to smell it when we walk into the restaurant and think, “I want that””. He showed us a delightful video of himself rambling at a convention about the game Haze – he told so much information that I don’t even need to play the game to be an expert in it. He showed us that a pitch just needs to tell you the basics and to generate excitement – leave the recipe to the chef!

He proceeded to point out that pitches only need to include 8 core pieces of information about the story. They were all 5 “W” questions – who, what, where, how, why. He told us that all we need to pitch is who our hero is, how the audience will empathize with him, where the hero is before the story begins, what events start the story, what is the hero’s motivation, what is the main conflict, what will the hero learn in the end and what stories is this similar to. With these key eight steps, we had the fundamentally basic knowledge to make a pitch – and that’s exactly what we did!
Divided into groups of roughly six people, we had a short amount of time to make a pitch for a movie or game based around the premise of our hero having been poisoned, and having only either 2 hours or a day (Or any other short period of time, in fact) to solve his own murder. We had to present our pitch at the end of our time limit; we had no longer than 120 seconds to pitch, so we had to keep it short and sweet.

The experience, whilst focused on the discipline, allowed speedy creativity to flow freely as the room bustled into life as everybody frantically discussed their ideas and proposals. Once the time was up, each spokesperson for each group one by one arose to the stage to present their groups pitch – and whilst each one missed something or other, such as a comparison to other pieces of work, or too much detail, they all performed staggeringly well for the amount of time and experience we have.

Rob taught us some essential idea making skills and disciplines, and in the space of less than two hours, taught us how to make a successful pitch to a developer or potential investor. His advice and techniques are invaluable and I envision great things coming from his short session.

Confetti Industry Week Guest Post By
Lewis Brandley