Monthly Archives: February 2017

Building Trust

How can we build trust as game designers? This is a question I’ve been asking myself, and in doing so came across an awesome video by James Everett, Lead Game Designer at Magic Leap (talking at Game Connect Asia Pacific).

In the above video James discusses the following.

Saruman vs Hobbit

Don’t be a Saruman, someone who ‘dispenses wisdom’ from an ivory tower. Instead be a hobbit. Be a comrade, a facilitator, filter, and collaborator for the people around you.

Trust

Everett breaks down trust into two components.

Logical

The logical component is based on the societal structure that we expect from normal, rational human beings, comprised of:

  1. Contractual obligations
  2. Past behavior
  3. Following social norms
  4. Following the law

Emotional

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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Team 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
  6. Week 6 – Focus, meeting with Zynga
  7. Week 7 – GDC!
  8. Week 8 – First digital prototype playtests
  9. Spring Break! – Playtesting!
  10. Week 9 – Puzzle crafting
  11. Week 10 – Further puzzle crafting, playtest day
  12. Week 11 – Finishing puzzles, map and reward system, deeper puzzle analysis, scaffolding introduction
  13. Week 12 – UX Considerations and more polish

Grapes of Wrath – Map Design Lessons

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

I initially split design into two segments. Theme & Structure.

Theme

Given an aim to create a post apocalyptic theme I began my research with reference images.

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In addition to reference images I sought out other forms of media such as movies, book and games that were set in a post apocalyptic setting.

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What struck me most when reviewing this material was the desolate landscapes, and ruinous infrastructure. I intended to include these elements in some manner in the map I designed.

Structure

In the context of Battlefield 1 I define structure as map objectives, points of interest, unit design, and player flow.

Research

My research into structure began with two of Battlefield 1’s modes, Conquest & Rush, both of which I intended to accommodate within my map design.

Modes

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

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Unit

I then looked at Battlefield 1’s units. A study of the different infantry classes, tanks, airplanes, and vehicles revealed sub-categories, each of which had different play styles:

  • Air
    • A fast but weak plane
    • A slow but powerful bomber
    • A hybrid plane
  • Tanks
    • Glass cannon artillery
    • A fast but weak tank
    • Slow but powerful tank
    • A hybrid
  • Infantry
    • Short
    • Medium
    • Long range
  • The Behemoth – A lead breaker

Battlefield 1 is a web of balance, and what I found was their vehicles cater to extreme playstyles with disadvantages, and usually a third averaged option.

Cerebral Design

Combining map knowledge and player elements I created a ‘cerebral map’ for Rush and Conquest. These maps included player flows, and major elements such as the Behemoth route, and an underground bridge.

For Rush mode the map intended to convey that attackers would become weaker over time, and defenders stronger whereas in Conquest it should be balanced strength. I hoped to achieve this experience with various measures such as:

  • Placing map objectives progressively further from attackers and closer to defenders in Rush
  • Giving more elite kits and vehicles to defenders as the attackers captured objectives in Rush
  • Balancing elite kits and vehicle spawns in Conquest

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My cerebral map was an initial pass at an experience, which was all well and good, but it clearly was not a map! What I had created was akin to a disfigured skeleton which needed a layer of flesh, and its bones tweaked.  A location was needed to root these abstract concepts in. Therefore Location became the third segment of my design process.

Continue reading Grapes of Wrath – Map Design Lessons