Monthly Archives: January 2017

Bicameral Mind

Platform: Unity  | Time: 48 Hours | Role: Designer – Programmer | Team Size: 3

Story: To smoke or not to smoke! That is the question! Control a jammer’s good or bad conscience, and convert their brain waves to help them make the “right” choice! The game is about two sides battling to gain control, the neurons resist the attack themselves and the player gets a limited amount of time to conquer all they can.

Design Challenge: To design a game that captured the concept of Waves as dictated by the theme of the 2017 Global Game Jam.

My Contributions: I directed the design of the project as well as assisted the lead programmer with tasks such as adding the neuron layer on top of our atom system. As well as programming the user interface surrounding the game.

Source Code: Available here

GitHub Repository Link:

Executables: Available here

Global Game Jam Link:

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Hopscotch Hamlet

As part of Jesse Schell’s Game Design course at The Entertainment Technology Center we required to analyze and ‘improve’ the game of Hopscotch.

The goal of the game is to complete Hopscotch Toss the fastest.

  1. In Hopscotch toss there are two teams which compete against each other on a standard Hopscotch board.
  2. Both teams have two players, a jumper and a catcher.
    1. The catcher stands at the final safe square on the Hopscotch board
    2. The jumper at the start of the Hopscotch board
  3. The jumper throws out three markers:
    1. When a marker is thrown the timer begins
    2. If a marker misses a square the marker is placed on the first square
  4. The jumper begins playing hopscotch with the aim of collecting and throwing markers to the catcher one at a time.
    1. If the catcher drops the marker the jumper must return to the start
  5. Once the jumper reaches the catcher who must have three markers in hand, the jumper turns round and continues playing Hopscotch.
  6. When the jumper reaches the start position reverse jumper and catcher roles. Now the second round of Hopscotch Toss starts.
  7. First team to complete two rounds wins.


Part 1 - Analysis & Brainstorming

What makes a hopscotch a good game?

  • Simple to understand rules
  • Requires little equipment
  • Trains limb coordination
  • Easily extensible to multiplayer
  • Clear win state
  • Gamifies natural hopping movement
  • Low skill entry barrier
  • Immediate feedback on game state

Problems with the game your design might try to solve.

  1. Not friendly those with physical disabilities
  2. Can become boring due to its simple rule set
  3. Primary mechanic is jumps
  4. A static game space
  5. Minimalist Aesthetics
  6. Has no story
  7. Does not incorporate elements of modern technology
  8. Tests the body but not the mind e.g recall of facts, events etc.

Brainstorm 50 ideas on how you could improve Hopscotch

  1. Blindfolded
  2. With someone on your back while playing
  3. Jumping only when music is playing
  4. During a handstand
  5. On a climbing wall
  6. With multiple tokens
  7. Whilst singing
  8. Where you start with no squares and draw one turn by turn
  9. Three legged
  10. On stairs
  11. Backwards
  12. Eating icecream
  13. With two people at once
  14. With only one square
  15. On a board with tiles that turn in a pool
  16. Played using your fingers
  17. On a trampoline
  18. Interplanetary
  19. Over Skype in different countries
  20. Where you cant jump in squares based on a coloured dice, or coin?
  21. Story based, and where marker was thrown player has to participate in a story event and if they lose they dont get to score a point by playing a round of hopscotch
  22. Edible, where a player can eat one square but has to make another one with provided food
  23. Where the game space drawn from star constellations
  24. Meta – smaller hopscotch games feed in a larger one. Two people play against each other in each mini game, and the winner moves forward on one square on the board till they reach the meta game marker and return as in a normal game
  25. Color coded special square events which if a person steps in they have to do like shout a word, if they fail they have to go back to the start
  26. Place the marker not by a throw but by a dice roll
  27. People are put into teams based on costumes
  28. The person has to do a dance move when spinning round at the end
  29. The person has to do karate punches on each jump
  30. Throw the marker again when it is picked up
  31. Two people have to mirror each other on different games
  32. It is attached to another game that based on your speed gives you more points/ progresses more in the level
  33. In VR with rivers of lava
  34. Where each item rotates round and one has to jump from square to square
  35. One player throws the marker and stops at that position. Then throws the marker forward again. The next player jumps to the position of the last player who jumps to the next place the marker is now at. The process continues until the marker has been returns to the beginning.
  36. Competitive, two games of hopscotch, the marker can be thrown onto another hopscotch game to make it harder for them to complete the round
  37. On a dart board. Objective is to hit the center of squares avoiding the one other player threw the marker dart at.
  38. Three legged – two people tied together play
  39. Relay, where the marker has to passed from game to game.
  40. Players stand in Hopscotch squares and pass the marker to other players to complete the game.
  41. Where the panels light up and one must jump only on lit panels
  42. On the moon
  43. On a single wheel cycle
  44. With sword fighting battle rounds per block, losing sends you back to the start
  45. Complete Hopscotch in a tiger cage before the tiger is let loose in it
  46. With a slide at the end of the game
  47. There are two markers and those are the only ones that can be jumped in
  48. There are markers on every square and winning is jumping and picking up as many as possible in a given time.
  49. One person is continuously jumping and another person throws a marker and tries to have the player jumping fall on that marker.
  50. On a keyboard one has to press the 1-9 keys in the same pattern, and avoid the marker square set by the computer.

Part 2 - Selection

From your list of ideas select three and describe them in more detail

Based on number 25, 39 and 48

  1. Picto Hopscotch – Hopscotch is played in the traditional American school yard manner except for one difference. Each row has a picture associated with it. When the player jumps on any square of the row they must shout out the picture. If they do not the player has to go back to the beginning again.
  2. Relay Hopscotch – Two hopscotch play spaces are set up. One person from each hopscotch space begins playing, and completes a game and gives the marker to an awaiting second player who plays a game of Hopscotch. First team to complete both hopscotch games win.
  3. Hopscotch Toss – Two teams play Hopscotch competitively. Both teams have a jumper, and catcher. The jumper plays hopscotch and collects the markers and throws them to the catcher. The team with all the markers in the catchers hand and jumper at the end win.

Part 3 - Improvement

Hopscotch Toss

An Attempt at solving problem 3 by introducing throws

The goal of the game is to complete Hopscotch Toss the fastest.

  1. In Hopscotch Toss there are two teams which compete against each other on a standard Hopscotch board.
  2. Both teams have two players, a jumper and a catcher.
    1. The catcher stands at the final safe square on the Hopscotch board
    2. The jumper at the start of the Hopscotch board
  3. The jumper throws out three markers:
    1. If a marker misses then the player rethrows
    2. When the last marker is thrown the timer begins
  4. The jumper begin playing hopscotch with the aim of collecting and throwing markers to the catcher one at a time.
  5. The team is fastest to get all the markers in the catcher’s hand and the jumper at the end wins.

First Loop

The first iteration of gameplay showed me various areas that needed more detail and consideration. Useful moments that occurring during my playtests were:

  • Instructions should be short and concise otherwise they bore playtesters. So I should better prepare my rule for fast and easy digestion.
  • Great design moments had laughs or confusion which immediately drew my attention to areas of the game I needed to work on.
  • Playing the game exposed rules that I needed to clarify such as how to handle drops, fumbles of the jumper, missed throws.


  • I did not consider adding the throw to the timed phase of the game. Doing so might add tension to that part of the game.
  • The catcher reported wanting to do more.
  • I had only one game setup at a time, it would have been more enjoyable to have both games occurring simultaneously.


  • Players clearly enjoyed throwing markers and catching them.
  • The game was picked up very quickly due to its rule set

Second Loop

With the second iteration I intend to adjust the rule set to include new cases for when the jumper and catcher fumbles.

  1. The jumper throw phase is included in timing.
  2. If the marker is thrown out of boundaries it is placed on the first Hopscotch square.
  3. If the catcher drops the marker the jumper stops moving until the catcher picks up the marker and returns to the safe zone.

Playtested with the above changes had the following effects:

  1. Heightened the tension during the beginning of the game.
  2. Made jumpers more careful with their throw. They would take safer shots, but those who successfully made riskier shots got greater rewards.
  3. Heightened the tension during drops, particularly on the catcher as they scrambled to get the marker..

Playtesters reported having an enjoyable more fluid experience. They also made two suggestions:

  1. The experience be ‘circular’. When the jumper reaches the catcher who has three markers in hand, the jumper turns round and continues their Hopscotch game (without the markers) instead of ending the game. On reaching the beginning of the Hopscotch board the Catcher now switches roles and becomes the Jumper, and the game continues.
  2. The jumper returns to the start if the catcher drops the marker.

Difficulty in Difficulty

How does one convey difficulty levels?

The most common method in video games is through a menu from which players choose terms to set the difficulty of the game. Such menus generally take the form of the following:

  1. Easier than Easy
  2. Easy
  3. Medium
  4. Hard
  5. Harder than Hard

With each term developers have two ‘paths’ they can take. A generic or idiosyncratic term.

  1. Generic – Commonly used terms which have no thematic basis in a game
  2. Idiosyncratic – Terms that have a thematic basis in a game


The following are examples of generic terms:

  1. Beginner
  2. Easy
  3. Medium / Normal
  4. Hard
  5. Expert

A clear advantage to using such terms is they are established concepts in the gamer zeitgeist making them more likely to be know across cultures, and languages.

On the other hand a number of issues arise when using generic terms such as:

  1. Different MeaningsNintendo Hard’s easy is harder than Western easy
  2. Different Connotations – There are many interpretations of the term. For example Easy can have negative connotations to a players self sense of skill though it may be appropriate. This may cause them to choose a higher difficulty than is appropriate resulting in a less enjoyable experience.
  3. Not Thematic – Alone they add little flavor to the game

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Shadow of The Colossus, Visual Story Assignment

As part of our Visual Story course at Carnegie Mellons Entertainment Technology Center we were required to briefly analyze visual imagery in a piece of media. I choose the game Shadow of The Colossus as my subject matter.

Diagonal Lines

As the game begins with an eagle in the distance. The eagle descends into a mountain range flying rapidly, in a titled manner past our hero creating a momentary clear diagonal, and frame within a frame. The combination of techniques draw our eyes into that area of the screen where we our introduced to our hero clearly contrasted in brighter colors against the dark mountains.


As our hero continues to travel under the cover of darkness, we see the moon peer out from the canopy. the contrast between the moon and the dark leaves draws our eyes in which the director then uses for a smooth visual transition to the next scene which has a horse’s feet moving at the position of the moon.

As our hero approaches his destination he encounters a pass. Our eyes are drawn to our hero in his bright cape, and the glowing pass which contrasts with the stone grey scene. The techniques help setup our eyes on to our hero and where he is heading.

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Entwined, Impressions

Entwined is a rhythm game developed by PixelOpus for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.

Warning there be spoilers ahead! Read at your own peril!

Entwined’s gameplay can be broken down into two sections:


  • An on the rails experience in a tube game space with a fish and bird respectively confined to a half of the tube.

  • Each side of the tube has a PowerUp bar that is filled by the player collecting objects contained on that side.
  • Objects are collected through the player moving the fish and bird using their controllers joysticks.
  • When the bar is full the player morphs into a dragon and goes into the SkyWrite section.


  • A freeroam experience where players use their controllers joysticks to fly around a fixed area collecting orbs till the sections PowerUp bar is filled.
  • Once the PowerUp bar is filled the player can SkyWrite leaving a persistant trail.
  • When SkyWriting is complete the player can proceed to the next PowerUp section to continue the game.


  • Beautiful visuals
  • When the bird and fish come close together their color melds into a green, which is the same color of the dragon they later morph into.

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  • Little orbs used to direct player to fly interesting areas

  • Powerup system links into joystick controls well
  • Great tutorial. The developers employed practical examples with clear visual indicators in both PowerUp and SkyWrite sections.

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  • Good use of orange and blue which are strong color themes throughout game

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Almost Famous, Heroes Journey Assignment

From suburbia to rock heaven and back again, Almost Famous is a story of an out of place boy sent into the unknown, to return with the truth.

Warning there be spoilers ahead! Read at your own peril!

The Known

The Heroes Journey of Almost Famous begins with our protagonist William, and his known world. William is a boy ahead of the curve, being significantly younger than his classroom peers.

Despite Williams gifts, he has his share of troubles due in part to two differences:

Physical examples:

  • Where are your pubes? – incident in Williams High School.
  • Looking out of place when brushing his hair in the bathroom due to not having a beard

Mental examples:

  • His joy when others are corrected – incident with the ‘Xmas’ painter where William happily looks on
  • An intense interest in his mother’s interests – whilst cooking soy cutlets
  • Nobody includes him. They call him “The Narc” – this is indicative of Williams dislike of drugs, a quality presumably gained from his mother

Due in part to internalizing his mother’s choices at a young age, William is an abnormality in the ordinary world, and he is scorned by his peers for it. Williams mother, and their home is what he knows, and is thus symbolic of the known world. The known world is not without conflict though.

Troubles manifest themselves through William’s sister who rebels against against the known. During this time William is shown not only to have a limited awareness of his problem, but is unable to influence his world. 

Watching helplessly Williams mother and sister fight infront of him. Ultimately Williams sister abandons the known for the unknown world, though not before aiding William. Williams sister increases his awareness of a need for change, through her music records.

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