Building Trust

How can we build trust as game designers? This is a question I have been asking myself. The following article is considerations of an awesome video I watched recently by James Everett Lead Game Designer at Magic Leap talking at Game Connect Asia Pacific.

In the video James touches on a number of things.

Saruman vs Hobbit

James Everett says to not be Saruman. To not be the person that ‘dispenses wisdom’ from an ivory tower. Instead be a hobbit. Be a comrade. Be a facilitator/filter/collaborator for the people around you.


Jason Everett breaks down trust into two components.


The logical component is straightforward. Based on a societal structure it is what we expect from normal, rational human beings. It’s simple and clean.

  1. Contractual
  2. Past behavior
  3. Social norms
  4. Lawful
  5. Contractual

Everett then goes on to talk about the emotional aspect.


Emotional trust is:

  • The default in healthy teams
  • Reciprocal
  • Pleasant and efficient

Everett then discusses three ways in which designers can build or break trust.

Continue reading Building Trust

Tiny – Week 4

Week four was spent further fleshing out our two prototypes for our 1/4s presentation.

Design decisions made at the start of the week were:

  • Making each monster advance towards you each turn in order to provide more interesting angle challenges
  • Adopting a Pirate theme for our Crayon King prototype because the fantasy of being pirate and destroying and looting fit our demographic better than a king ruling subjects

By the end of the week we presented the two paper prototypes to our supervisors. They suggested focusing on them, and make them more visually appealing.

Fancying it Up

In order to improve the prototypes visuals we first adapted the Abstract Ball Glue prototype into Alpaca Toss (alpacas somehow often turn up in our brainstorming process!). The aim was to make it more appealing to both genders as well as root it in something more realistic rather than the current abstract idea.

Armed with these ideas our artists spent the weekend doing just that with the following results.

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In addition our lead programmer developed digital prototypes with two interfaces. One prototype used the gyroscope and the other with slider we tried different ux methods for game.

Tiny – Week 3

Kicking this week off we completed a paper prototype of idea 2 from week 2.

The paper prototype had the player make a sequence of angles including obtuse, acute, right angled, and straight angles to defeat a single enemy who approached them in a turn based manner. The decision for turn based gameplay over real time gameplay was made because we wanted to encourage strategic thinking. We named this prototype Angle Ninja.

Meeting Jesse

We met Jesse on Tuesday who looked at each of ideas and gave us some advice.

During our meeting Jesse suggested the use of various lenses.

Jesse also commented that ‘spatialization’ was a good avenue to investigate for teaching angles. So considering his advice we adapted Angle Ninja. Instead of making gestures to create obtuse, acute, right angled, and straight angles to defeat a single enemy we would instead have multiple enemies which we would attack from a fixed position on the iPad.

The shift in design was due to wanting to focus on the fundamental lesson of teaching familiarity with angles rather than the more advanced one of the special properties of angles.

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Continue reading Tiny – Week 3

Tiny – Week 2

At the start of the week we presented the ideas we had in mind from week 1 to our supervisors. Our supervisors gave us feedback and we filtered down the initial ideas based on complexity and technical issues.

On Wednesday, we met Jesse and presented our initial ideas to him. Jesse gave us advice about our project suggesting we look into a number of educational games such as Battleship Numberline, and create lots of prototypes.

On Friday, the team visited the clients. We met Audrey from Intermediate Unit 1 and the students & teacher from Colonial School. We used the visit as an opportunity to collect information about our client and our players:

  • We presented a number of pictures to the students to gauge their art interest.
  • As them what kind of games they played
  • Asked them what kind of music they listen to
  • Spoke the the teacher and narrowed down a subject

We documented this research.

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Based on what we learned from the visit, we had a better understanding about our audience. We then came up with many new ideas based on angles which was confirmed to be the main subject.

Our lead programmer Carl then built a prototype on the iPad based on one of our ideas. The prototype detected the drawing of acute and obtuse angles to explore teaching the special properties of angles (obtuse, acute, straight, right angle).

Tiny – Week 1

The new semester has finally started, and we are excited to work on this new project with Colonial School!

In the first week we setup our project room, had a bunch of meetings with our advisers and came up with a general idea about what we are going to do.

Later in the week we spoke to our client Audrey Mory who offered us lots of freedom in scope as long as it is an entertaining math-based educational game for children from 9 to 11 years old. The deliverable at the end of the semester should be an ready-to-ship game for Apple store.

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We then started with competitive analysis playing many educational games available on the market, and decided what worked for them and what did not. We also had a brainstorming session, sketching out 10 game ideas.

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Project Tiny

Team Tiny is a four person project at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center tasked with building an educational iPad game for Colonial School in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

The following is a week by week look into the project with a focus on design.

  1. Week 1 – Setup & Initial Brainstorming
  2. Week 2 – Client meeting, more brainstorming and first prototype
  3. Week 3 – More prototypes and iterations on prototypes.
  4. Week 4 – Development of ideas for 1/4 presentations
  5. Week 5 – Playtesting and new direction

Grapes of Wrath – Level Design Lessons

Last week I designed Grapes of Wrath, a multiplayer level for Battlefield 1. Reflecting on the experience I will detail my process, and lessons learned.

Conceptually I split design into two areas. Theme & Structure.


Given I was aiming to create a post apocalyptic theme I searched for reference images several of which inspired my design.

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During this consideration of theme I considered the games structure.


In the context of Battlefield 1 I define theme as the map objectives, points of interest, and player flow. My research in this area began with Battlefield 1’s two game modes, Conquest & Rush which I intended to incorporate into my map.

Not only did I experience these modes by playing them, but used spectator mode to watch the battle play out on a meta level. This allowed me to more easily see how objective placement and points of interest affected player flows.

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I then looked at the the different units, studying Battlefields different infantry classes, tanks, airplanes and vehicles. I found categories of each which had different play styles:

  • Air – A fast but weak plane, a slow but powerful bomber, and a hybrid plane
  • Tanks – A fast but weak tank, a slow but powerful tank, and a hybrid
  • Infantry – Short, medium and long range infantry
  • The Behemoth – A tie breaker

Battlefields vehicles cater to extreme playstyles with disadvantages, and usually a third averaged option. Combining map knowledge with player elements I created a ‘cerebral map’ of objectives with player flows and major elements such as a Behemoth route and an underground bridge. I had an idea of the experience I wanted to create though this clearly was not a map!

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What I had created was akin to a disfigured skeleton which needed its flesh added and bones tweaked.  A location was needed a to root these abstract concepts in.

Continue reading Grapes of Wrath – Level Design Lessons