- Are players:
- Is the game too
- Do players understand how to play?
- Is level 3 too short?
- Do players have enough to do?
- Do players have too much to do?
- Are players over whelmed?
As we continue down the adventure of game design during this immersive learning seminar, we dig deeper to discover a balance between learning and fun for our target audience. At this point, an obstacle we are against is going beyond the development and pushing the limits to find something really valuable.
For the “Humanities Group” (aka. Non-Computer Science (majors)), we have designed a list of literature necessary for us to comprehend to iron out kinks in our system (as well as for accreditation purposes). The list includes, but is not limited to the following:
Steve Ince said in his book Writing for Video Games "...what players love are the characters and the stories told about the whole world they inhabit..." This book explains how vital the role of a writer is when it comes to the collaborative game design experience. The audience will be captivated by the setting, plot, characters, conflict, etc. rather than the point-click of a game.
In the past, designers used to be the writers. According to Ince, now novelists and storytellers are brought onto the team to enhance the overall quality of the game and player satisfaction. Designers and publishers recognize the value of a good story, strong characters, and a well written dialogue.
Ince describes professionalism in game design as essential. Through design to production, delivering on time is crucial. An acceptance of criticism must be expected, but furthermore, the consideration of said criticism and adjustments to prototypes need to be seriously considered. Anything less than professional is cheating players out of the experience and threatens their future financial support.
Interactivity is seen in endless modes throughout genres of games. Ince uses the example of cut scenes. Cut scenes can be rewarding for a player if it is shown at the end of a level. An option to spread audience captivation is to allow a player to skip past the cut scene. The diversity is opened up by doing so, rather than limiting players to a specific niche. This is best done when a player feels the story unfolding rather than meeting premeditated outcomes.
Though Ince thoroughly explains a handful of genre's, two specific fields are relative to this project. Children's games need to designed to have an easy interface, clear instructions, a unique reward unusual to more mature audiences, and generally run on smaller budgets. Educational games generally run on a series of fun activities rather than puzzles, fun sound effects and characters as incentives to play, and often have printable options to physically show progression outside of the game. I believe these are key goals that should be incorporated into our project this semester as we build an educational game for a targeted audience of approximately age ten.
Our paper prototypes are rapidly changing at this state in the process. I think that now we are at mid-sprint, it is important to make concrete decisions on the mechanics of our prototypes and remember our two key goals. 1.) Stick to a learning objective and 2.) Make something fun. Somehow there is a science in balance of those two goals with a beautifully written script and aesthetics. Is that the value we are looking for?
Hey, at least this is only Sprint 2!
Game design is hard. As somebody with little programing experience, the tediousness of play testing edits/versions of a game has been the most challenging aspect for me thus far. Every round is thoroughly critiqued and ideas are spit-balled by the dozens.
For new readers: our semester is broken up into two-week sprints. At the beginning of each sprint the team meets and conducts a morning meeting evaluating the goals we need to reach, the steps to accomplish the task, and time management those steps. Each day we have a SCRUM meeting for roughly 15 minutes where we individually give a brief and informative speech on what we accomplished yesterday, the goals for today, and hurdles we for-see having to cross. The final day of the sprint, the team reconvenes to evaluate the execution of the goals we set earlier.
Sprint 1 was intense. We had our individual responsibilities, but the main goal was to develop as many prototypes as possible. Prototypes of games needed to include key feature such as: be fun, relate to a list of topics that parallel to exhibits at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, and function logically after play testing.
Several people had many proposals. The primary focus: Creating a “fun” game. A majority of prototypes were sent to the “graveyard” in the first day’s trial. Personally, most of my ideas didn’t make it to paper prototype stages let alone even to play testing stages.
At the end of the sprint, the entire group discussed prototypes that out shined the others. Though a large handful made it to the white boards, three of which were heavily preferred when asked the big question, “Which do you want to present to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum?”
Thankfully each of the three teams has great minds working together, accepting creative progress, analyzing the best outcome, and working collaboratively to design pretty amazing prototypes. We will present these to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum within the month once we polish up the details.
There is a lot of respect between members and individual incentive is overall outstanding. Through the frustrations we strive and resolve to productive solutions. I wouldn’t jinx it by saying it out loud, but this is quite possibly one of the best environments for college students to create something amazing. It is inevitable for problems to arise throughout development. Our goal is to design the best solution in order for the final outcome to be fun, educational, polished, and meet our target audience's expectation. Game design is hard.