This week I researched different commonly used terms used in the study of game design and game development. The task was to find two different meanings to commonly used terms that are often differently viewed between different people, and then define them myself. I found Chris Crawford’s writing ‘The Art of Computer Game Design’ the most relatable of all the sources I looked at. He himself understands that in order to understand games and game design, you must determine what the word ‘game’ means (Crawford, 1982). From his writing and others (which I will mention shortly) I was able to recognise my own interpretation of these terms.
This month at the meeting we discussed game design with the creator of Tallowmere. I enjoyed the presentation and how honest he was about his process. The one mechanic in the game that stood about to me by a mile was the integration of player choice with the difficulty. Instead of adding level choices at the start (easy, medium, hard etc) he added a pile of kittens that you have to sacrifice in order to be stronger. I thought that mechanic was what made the game really stand out and become something i’d like to play. In my opinion a simple creative and unique mechanic like that is what takes a game from being average – to being great.
I attended the NZGDC 2015, and learnt so much about the industry. With speaking to Dean Hall – meeting people from studios and the talks, I feel like it was a great benefit and I was glad I could go. I spent most of the time listening to the design talks – although I thought I’d be interesting in the indie and art talks, design was the most interesting to me. I found a passion for level and UI design that I never had before – which is great. I feel these events are encouraging more and more of my passion for game design every time I go. I also got to learn more about the UI for Into the Dead – a mobile game I really loved before I even knew it was a NZ made game.
Artists and engineers as cats and dogs: implications for interactive storytelling.
I choose to look into this chapter as collaborating with other artists and developers is something I’m coming across more and more as the years go on.
Crawford states clearly the divide between programmers and artists and how it needs to be resolved in order to achieve a good story. In order to do this he says that programmers or engineers must make a solid effort to create tool for the artists that meets their needs. It also helps to learn some of the artists terminology. Artists must learn the basics of algebra, and must coherently express their needs to the engineers. Most importantly the artists and engineers must have mutual respect for each other.
How can we analyze the experiential outcomes to inform your practice or measure it’s success? I want to know if people playing the game can pick up the gameplay from the start. If they don’t understand what they have to do within the short time they’re playing it then it won’t be an engaging experience.We can find this out by playtesting vigorously with people who aren’t aware of what the mechanics are. It’s a short time-frame people will be playing so we want them to pick it up as soon as they start.
This week my task was to ‘Create chosen trees in 3D using the low poly style from style sheet’.
I basically looked at the style sheet and started to grasp an idea of how its suppose to look, then started a couple trial models to see what I could come up with. I also wanted to make sure I address any technical issues before the deadlines creep up.
- I was able to explore the different styles of low poly in order to refine a distinctive design.
- The ideas I had are different to my groups, I need to change my modelling style direction.
- Communication may be a big hurdle, the ideas getting across clearly and whether technically I can create from these ideas.
I’ll continue to update this post with info as I find it, but for now:
This blog post has been helpful in learning what i’m going up against:
These Youtube tutorials really help me grasp environment making in Unity and also learning the new updates with the transition to Unity 5.
We made a game called ‘Throw Your Face Off’, and ice-cream capture the flag shooter. We’re going to keep working on it and refining it. I mainly focused on the game and environment design.
It was a group of three of us. I focused on the design and map. It was the first time i’d ever attempted 3D modeling and I really learnt so much having been given such a small time frame to learn a whole new software.
So far I’ve learnt the basics of navigating through Twine. How to create new passages, how to record the amount of times the passage is visited, how to send a player back and forth through the game, how to display a text only once and how to create an inventory.
I want to learn how to create a simple web browser game. Finding Twine I discovered a away to play with html that isn’t too complicated as I have 2 Weeks to work with it.
Following the tutorials by user VegetarianZombie on YouTube, I’ve created a demo game following his narrative.
The aim is just to follow along, and learn how to create so that I can apply this to my own work.
This tutorial introduced, classes, particles and colour. http://channel9.msdn.com/Series/Sketchbooktutorial/Particles-Classes-and-Color
The most interesting part of the tutorial, that I learnt from and what interested me the most was the use of chaos and restraint with the randomization.
this.vx += random(2.0) – 1.0; <<here is the randomization
this.vx *= .96; <<< and here is the back pull that restrains it
this.vy += random(2.0) – 1.0;
this.vy *= .96;
(I’ve also tried to write notes next to the code to remind myself and show others what I’ve done and why I’ve done it.)
“Processing is a programming language, development environment, and online community. Since 2001, Processing has promoted software literacy within the visual arts and visual literacy within technology. Initially created to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach computer programming fundamentals within a visual context, Processing evolved into a development tool for professionals. Today, there are tens of thousands of students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists who use Processing for learning, prototyping, and production.” – https://processing.org/
Exploring MIT App Inventor is a tutorial within Lydia.com’s Simple Android Development Tools Course by Michael Lehman.
This course taught us how to use the webpage and app MIT App Inventor 2 to create mobile apps for androids with a simplified version of coding.
This version represented the code in what they called ‘blocks’ which explains in words and shapes where certain control, logic, math, text, lists, colours, variables and procedures fit in within coding your buttons, texts and sound etc. There was also a design page and a emulator available to make the process easier to understand and so you can see results quickly.
This tutorial gave me a great amount of understanding towards code as it visually broke down the basic formulas to broaden my understanding of the structure of code.
Tesc is a table top game based on the ‘Design Student’ community. It involves design, creativity, skill building and play. Similar to the game on more of an entertainment level would be the board game Cranium. Cranium is based on using a variety of skills to win the game. It’s similar to Tesc because in both games you have categories of activities that require different skills. The Creative Cat category is very relatable to Tesc as it involves creative activities, although unlike Tesc these activities are basic. The creativity and skill building within the game have ideas based around design exercises.
Some of the basic systems of Play I’ve incorporated in my game:
Player agency, the ability for players to make meaningful choices. This is a main theme of the game. Its structured around fast design choices and ideas. The player in this game heavily relies on skill instead of luck.
Rules, there aren’t many rules in the game. But the ones that are there are simple and important. Being a design game I wanted to create room for the players to explore, although within the guidelines of the game.
Time frame, each task has time frames and Levels by creating time limits and dice roll turns. This gives the game a predictable time frame needed to create an effective game. In Tesc. (Trait, Environment, Situation, Colour and Character) I gave the player the option to choose the games time frame by creating levels. This makes the game whatever the player would like it to be – either a quick fun game or a more intense experience game.
Goals, the main goals in the game is to have better ideas than your opposition. The sub goal is to increase your design skills and inspire further creation.
Obstacles and tension, the idea of picking up a couple random cards and choosing from them is a way to create an obstacle for the player. They only have to chose to design with what they are given and have to overcome any difficultly within that. Also adding a dice takes away more choice. The time limit creates tension.
This game can become co-operative and competitive and there is both competition against other players and the system.
I’ve included instructions, dice and cards to use these systems of play to involve the player in the game.
So he’res a link to when I talk about aesthetics and what I learnt about it at the start of the semester;
Putting this into play with my project became easier after this initial understanding. To use this idea, I looked at the previous designs in my project and thought ‘this isn’t how I want it to look.’ So I changed it, created a theme for all the designs and matched it to the over-all concept of my game.
The aesthetic I wanted to create was ‘experience’ and ‘imagination.’ So the designs on the front of the cards are all referring to a specific imaginary event. For example this card inviting you on a train to somewhere,
The covers are all random, along with the font in the instruction pages. This is enhance the bringing together of different ideas within your imagination. Quite a lot of time went into the designs (maybe too much) of the game itself. I went to great lengths to have a reason for every decision I made conceptually.
Being a game about design I felt like it needed a little effort towards designing the pages. Within each page and design I tried to incorporate Imagination (fantasy and mysterious moods) Experience (engaging the player) Bringing together ideas (contrasting/complimenting ideas) and Game and Play (Typical game colours, icons and aesthetics woven into the designs.)
I’ve learnt that aesthetics is what you do, and why you do it to create a specific experience for the player. My goal with the aesthetics was to create a table top/card game experience with a bold twist to make the game more interesting and unique. The game has an educational aspect to it, but I wanted that to be over-shown by the more entertaining and engaging aspects of the game.
I feel like this understanding of game-design aesthetics has helped me create a better, more interesting game.
This year I attended a few expos, classes and meetings to help inspire me for the future of the Gaming industry.
I started off with the Unity 3D workshop, which I’ve done a previous blog about:
I also went to Digital Nationz for the first time. Since I lived in Whangarei previously I hadn’t even heard of it before. What I liked the most is I was able to see all the New Zealand game Devs, and also talk to them about their work. I talked to Lianne Booton and Josh Smyth in depth about their game Druids of Gemmni. I played their game and they explained what they liked, what they didn’t and how they were going to improve it for the next convention. It was a great experience to be able to engage with Game Developers and see the process unfold. I also was able to see a talk about how they blow up things in Call of Duty, i’d be more specific about the details but to be honest I can’t remember the technical terms or the guys name – it was a long day. But I did get to see how they used Modeling software and editing software to create particles and other effects to bring a convincing explosion into a high detailed game.
I attended the Armageddon Expo, I was able to more progress being made on Druids of Gemmni and saw a talk with some more New Zealand Game Devs. It was very interesting to hear again what New Zealand Game Devs are up to and what is achievable. Hearing about their background, why and how they do what they do was very inspiring and insightful.
I also went to a Game Dev meetup run by the NZGDA, I wish I had been to them all but I can’t stay too late in town – I have a 40min bus drive and a 20min walk home in New Lynn (Murder Central right now.) I’m going to find ways around that for next year though. I found the writing presentation the most insightful, useful and relevant to me. I have a background in Journalism working for a paper before I started university. Being able to combine my writing skills iv’e learnt into game Dev and story telling is something I strive for. Although some people found it irrelevant I personally am very glad I was there to see it.
I’m currently working on getting the graphic design and artworks done for the game and it’s so amazingly fun what you can do with graphic design when adding the game element to it. Coming from my experience in graphic design with only working with posters and whatnot its great to be able to push the boundary and add interaction. Here’s some examples with what I did for the game cards. At first I wanted to have a card game theme, but it wasn’t quite enough. So I changed the whole theme to experience instead, and tried to make the cards front and back as interesting as possible. Here’s some designs in the works:
Some Ideas I scrapped:
When playing this game and watching people playing it, the most interesting part of the game is how focused people become. As designers the majority of us take design seriously and concentrate and that’s shown when playing the game.
The players are silent through the creating and designing part of the game, but when it comes to discussing their work they are more vocal and even laugh at their work on occasion.
Because some of the cards you are given to work with are quite ridiculous it brings an aspect of fun to the game.
From my observations and some feedback from class its evident that the game would possibly be more successful if it was based more on the design and educational aspect of it. But, this exercise is about experimentation with and exploring creative possibilities.
So for our Summative Assignment Vernissage, I want to make a game that is finished and as professional looking as possible. It will use the idea of design exercises to create a table top game that will build design skills, be competitive, engaging and entertaining. Entertaining and Interesting to play and to watch.
From the Crit I have learnt a range of little aspects that can help me refine this game. I will need more further play testing, case studies and research as well.
These are some pics from the culture final:
I looked into the website suggested for ordering cards, really expensive for the express delivery but worth it for the piece of mind. Usually I wouldn’t spend this much on an assignment, but, I may have found a one day job to fund the exact amount. Granted i’d spend the whole day in public in a onesie doing promotional work, but that’s a small price to pay for an awesome looking assignment.
On that note, Game Plan :
Because of the fact that time is sort of limited I want to acquire the basic resources first for the game, then i’ll shape the game itself around those resources so at the end of the project i’m not freaking out in a mad rush to get everything together.
The featured image is an ‘attempt’ at a sleepy cook. We tried out the sculpting play and had a lot of fun with it. We quickly brainstormed traits and occupations and gave it a go, trying out different time limits matched with the quality of work we wanted to produce. Most of us happily finished at an average of 2 minutes.
We’ve chosen to create a game for our design student community. So really what can we do for our community that will help the most? Well we can entertain them or we can educate them. The goal of this game is to create both. We want to use the knowledge that design students already have and expand on it.
For this assignment, we have to come up with to games ‘for’ or about a chosen community or sub-culture.
The discussion about the chosen sub-culture went forwards, and backwards fast. We came up with the idea of using the Design Student community, but then got stuck on the whys and hows. We went into perception, procrastination, not sleeping enough, heath, not having exams, assignment then something happened and we had a completely different idea.
After class I went over all the notes we made and came up with an idea. I looked into Design Students and Perception – but instead of the perception of design students as people like we did in class, I went into thinking about the perception of how Design Students think, and what makes their minds different.
Quickly after the release of Bioware’s Mass Effect 3, there had already been movements developing to change the ending of the game. Players had created a Twitter feed, Facebook page, many polls on Bioware’s forums and even a petition going to change and demand a better ending for Mass Effect 3. This, in my opinion was fully justified. The players are attempting to seize control back of the narrative from the developers, that I as well feel was taken from them.
This is an incident I remember from a while back, a YouTube clip about a boys reaction to his World of Warcraft account being deleted went viral on the internet. After watching it you can see why it sparked so many discussions online. This guy totally freaks out, like his world has just ended. In the video he’s so upset he beats his head with a shoe.
But why is this video so believable? When I first watched it a couple years ago I thought it was a fake, but as I grew older and learned more about the game I can now say that the video was probably real. World of Warcraft has a huge reputation for being addictive, Iv’e heard stories online and I’ve witnessed this in my own life with people I know. This video sparked up the debate ‘Is World of Warcraft too Addictive for Children?’
The debate of button mashing. Is it okay to button mash to win? Does it depend on who your playing with and the experience level? Is it a cheat, or an advantage given to the disadvantaged?
A specific and recent example I can give is when I was with a group of friends playing Tekken, a popular fighting game of Sonys. So this is a combat game where you essentially beat each other up until one of you gets knocked out or the timer runs out. There are three ways of playing this game, that not many people are consciously aware of. The first is learning all the characters combos and strategically beating your opponent. The second is getting a fair idea of what buttons do what, and then hitting them sort-of randomly to defeat your opponent so in other terms ‘button mashing’. The third is doing a mixture of both.
The Idea of the third week of the Aesthetics block is to look at the two builds and examine the difference in Aesthetics to understand better you own personal style and way of thinking about the project. I’m going to look into my interpretation of her work and her interpretation of mine. So to start off I should really look into the aesthetics of both of builds we have made and ‘extract and assimilate’ this new information to further create a new experience.
In class my partner for this aesthetics assignment gave me verbal and written ideas and aesthetics behind her work. Briefly, she wrote that most of the things she did she based on what she just felt like doing at the time and what looked good. For example the background was dark because it highlighted the fire and from that I took that she wanted the fire to be highlighted. Other things she highlighted were scattered objects, setting things on fire and a potential for a soundtrack . But its what she said to me that I took in the most, she said ‘I like to burn stuff, but i’m not a pyromaniac’ so I named it ‘i’m not a pyromaniac’ and I made a sketch where the fire is the center and is highlighted, the idea is to set things on fire.
I asked around on Facebook ‘what do u want to burn?’ So the game sort of makes you less of a pyromaniac for wanting to burn things in the game, because you are burning things that everyone wants to burn so, ‘its okay’ and you are then, ‘not a pyromaniac.’ Maybe its a game for closet pyromaniacs? But basically things people want to burn fall from the sky in a dark forest and you can either set them on fire or save them with water. I really enjoyed making this sketch, it’s defiantly more exciting exploring somebody else’s idea. It feels as if its more inspiring to see something and change it rather than improve your own ideas.
Some of the things included in the sketch are:
Books, trees, nyan cat, dota, World of tanks, villages, villagers, forests, oil rigs, gnomes, peasants, thatched roofed cottages, ‘TROGDOR’, babies, goat simulator goat and Voldemort.
If you have any other suggestions feel free to comment
This week were looked at everyone sketches, and are now given the task to take someone else’s sketch and develop their ideas. Here’s the instructions I gave to my partner, the reasons why I made this sketch and the basic aesthetics:
Over the last few weeks we’ve been learning about Mechanics and that they are the rules of the game. We learnt that the rules define how the game is prepared and essentially how it works, what actions the players can take, the rule enforcement mechanisms etc. Which is very important to creating a game, and another important aspect to games is Aesthetics.
Aesthetics is said to come from the Greek word Aisthesis, which means sensation or perception. From my understanding so far Aesthetics has to do with the senses, and with the type of experience of the game. The sensory phenomena, comparisons to other media or art forms, and the pleasure, emotion and sociability. Basically how the game presents itself to the player.
Our original game mechanics were territory, division, and capture based.
We used the grid format and the counters on top to represent the territory based mechanic. As you go along you claim more ground. (This coming from Sasha’s Territory Grid mechanic from everyday mechanic of folding washing)
We started by importing assets, then created our terrain. It was easier than expected to create such a awesome looking world. Basically we started by using the paintbrush tool to create colour and texture on the plane. We then lifted areas and created the mountains. After that we added more colours and trees and grass. Just the basics but it looked pretty cool.
We had to add a directional light, as the game doesn’t have any light to start off with. You can add multiple directional lights, and even change the colour of the light if your looking for more a an ‘early morning’ or ‘sunset’ mood etc. You can also use this tool to add shadows, and by rotating it you can create the effect of passing time as the light shifts. We then added a sky box and fog through the render settings to create the sky effect.
Pure Evil: Board Design
I started by working with plan paper, trying out different lengths, heights and widths of the board design we came up with to see which result worked, and looked better. I found out that the thinner prototype looked much better and held itself together nicer. Then I went to prototyping with card paper, and did a smaller model before creating the final board.
Now we just have to build the game and get it ready for the play testing on Friday the 22nd of August. Jeremy has already started working on the character and + & – cards. We now need to create a page with the revised instructions on it, and the board itself.
When getting feedback for our game we were faced with the question, why use a grid? Why can’t it be in stacked card form? The answer was that it could, but that’s not what we wanted. I thought about the positives to the grid and why we chose it. Really it’s because it makes the game more visual, you can see the ending and yourself approaching it. It provides a solid ending time frame that you are constantly aware of and provides anticipation and tension because of it.
How can I improve it?
This week we focused on defining our main concept and play testing. We made the game very decision based, and we felt as if we made the game to feel as if players at all times feel as if they have a chance of winning. The rules are simple and straight forward, yet the broadness of the game possibilities creates a balanced sense of complexity. The board is mostly covered creating a sense of randomness and hidden information, creating tension and suspense. The players know the 50/50 chance of getting a positive or negative card, and have the option of opting out. The game includes multiple goals; the main goal being finishing the game first and the sub goal being creating an interesting story.
From what I understood of the game from playtesting, the objective was to maneuver your way to the other side of the board, collecting as little points as possible by taking the shortest path and using your own counters as safety.
It was a recommended four player game, but we played with three. I think the game could be re-playable as the paths are self created. And as you play it more you could eventually develop a strategy, and I like that.
The best way to describe game mechanics would be an example.
So think about Call of Duty. When you shoot someone, it’s game mechanics that define how the bullet travels, its trajectory and speed. You’d also think about what happens when it hits the enemy. Changing the mechanics will consequently effect the game.
In class we were given the task to get into groups and randomly create a simple game. We made up random rules and winning objectives to create it. Then we used the boundaries within the rules of the game to make the game actually playable and enjoyable.
I found this helped me see how the rules in general are so important to the game, and essentially makes a game what it is.
We also were given the task to take a common easy to play game that we all know, and alter it to make it more interesting. As a group we chose last card, and assessed the good and bad features of the game to try and change it in a positive way. At first the changes were simple, but boring, so by the end the game became something entirely different-but very interesting so mission accomplished.