All posts by J

Educational Interest

As part of my Masters in Entertainment Technology I am working on an educational game project at The Entertainment Technology Center. My team aims to essentially create a living 360 degree angle system for fourth to six graders to interact with whilst solving puzzles. We hope that through our demographics interaction with this system we will:

  • Clarify misconceptions about the system
  • Build a familiarity with the system through puzzles which require students to use estimation

In approaching this problem we have gone through an extensive ideation process, and the result is that we finally nailed down a core mechanic that makes considering angles essential. The following is a prototype of what we came up with:

Currently in our project we are at a point where we have to create the puzzles that will make up the heart of our educational game. To do this properly requires the creation of an interest curve; but not just any interest curve! As well needing to be an entertaining experience we must go one step further, and include the element of educational value.

Design Process

With the objective of gamifying the material that our client uses to teach their students we began designing an interest curve. The first part of this process is to study the material which took the form of common core sheets.

We looked at each of the sheets, and broke down the different tasks involved which were as follows:

  1. Create an angle using a protractor
  2. Obtuse, acute, right, and straight problems
  3. Visual identification of obtuse, acute, right, and straight
  4. Identification of obtuse, acute, right within different shapes
  5. Given a protractor diagram identify the angle
  6. Estimate an angle between two points
  7. Find the missing angle given a total angle
  8. Find supplementary angles
  9. Finding complementary angles
  10. Find missing angles in a cross shaped
  11. Find angles in portions of a circle
  12. Find the angles in a triangle

Next with these tasks we looked at what tasks were best suited to the game we have created which was 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12.

In parallel we created a number of game elements to help us create these problems:

  • Clockwise Gem
  • Anticlockwise Gem
  • Beam Generator
  • Power Gem
  • Receivers & Obstacles
Game Elements

We then identified what is essentially our core gameplay challenges that our player will face:

  • Dragging angle gems into beam generator/receivers
  • Remove angle gems from beam generator/receivers
  • Value deciesions between angle gems
  • Clockwise angle gem addition problems
  • Anticlockwise angle gem addition problems

Given our design and students curriculum, we made some assumptions about these challenges:

  • We consider clockwise movement a more advanced topic
  • Increasing complexity means increasing challenge, which can be achieved with more mirrors, angle gem slots, and receivers with obstacles

Now with these elements we imagined an interest curve.

Continue reading Educational Interest

Gladiator Rumble – Story Citadel

As part of our Game Design course taught by Jesse Schell at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center we were required to create a tabletop RPG. The following is an adaptation of the document detailed Gladiator Rumble, the game I submitted for this assignment.

A brief description of the process you used to create your adventure. Include any brainstorming notes, etc.

I begun the process of creating my adventure with a theme/fantasy. I had a number of ideas including:

  • A sports adventure theme
  • A wild west themed game
  • A game with vampires

I settled on doing something set in the time period of the Roman Civilization. In particular I loved the setting of the movie Gladiator so my intention was to recreate a similar storytelling experience.

Next I searched for an interest curve that roughly mapped onto what I wanted to create.

Next, based on the five point on the interest curve I imagined the main scenes of the story with a brief description of what I wanted to achieve in that scene, and the main story beats.

  1. Capture – I wanted the player to be captured.
  2. Training Ground – A scene in the gladiator house of them learning skills and familiarizing themselves with their new world
  3. Gladiator Battle 1 – First gladiator battle, high intensity
  4. Villanus Mansion – A more social situation, with a puzzle
  5. Gladiator Battle 2 – Last gladiator fight, high intensity, kill the boss to win one’s freedom, or kill each other.

I was inspired by the game Shadow of Rome, and wanted to find a system that support combat and social situations. I could have used the roleplaying 101, but I instead chose to use a system from a tabletop RPG game I had played before called Vampire The Masquerade (VTM). More specifically I used Vampire: Dark Ages (medieval setting) for their armour, and weapons.

To flesh out my world of I needed to perform significant research, namely:

  • Be aware of the different types of gladiators to give my players and generated enemies some grounding in the world
  • I also wanted to include animals at one points so I found applicable stats.
  • Made a list of important characters and some of their traits to help me roleplay them.
  • Each scene needed a map so I drew one, including details about who was in each scene.
  • Refamiliarize myself with VTM’s leveling scheme, social and combat systems.
  • Found example stats to base my NPC’s on.

There were also a number of things I did not do:

  • Also thought of adding in some currency and letting players by equipment but thought this might add too much added complexity.
  • Thought of adding special sections such as chariot racing but left it out due to the added complexity.

All of this I compiled into a long supporting document I used whilst DM’ing that I will include in the following section.

Continue reading Gladiator Rumble – Story Citadel

Tiny – Week 8

We began week 8 with preparing our digital prototype for playtesting, iterating on various artistic, and functional elements including sound, and animations. The following was used for our first internal digital playtest.

Playtesting

After playtesting with a number of members of the Entertainment Technology Center community, the feedback was as follows:

  • UI/UX – More focus needed on the angle tool, such as an angle measurement would be helpful
  • Gameplay – Add treasure for rewards in the Indiana Jones style
  • Art – Use particle effects for mask head instead of using the beam

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In addition our professor Jesse Schell commented on a number of insightful areas for us to consider, such as:

  • Why there were multiple slots on the beam generator in a level with only one gem
  • Why the second mask had no fire coming out of its nose
  • The light coming from the power gem was confusing
  • The treasure should be in same space as the game
  • Make world more juicy through interactions
  • Make the world funny, silly and surprising

Continue reading Tiny – Week 8

Tiny – Week 6

Based on a focus on Treasure Hunter at the end of Week 5 we added various design additions to the idea which was shaping up to be a dungeon adventure where players:

  1. Could move around a character
  2. Had an inventory (method of dealing with many gems in a level)
  3. Could defeat monsters (requested by our audience)
  4. Could pick up gem bags (method of incrementally introducing gems incrementally to our puzzles)

Features 1, and 2 were integrated into the following early prototype.

A New Perspective

We met with a designer from Zynga who was visiting The Entertainment Technology. She had a look at our idea, and advised us to focus on our core mechanic which was the slotting gems into the beam maker.

Image result for zynga

So based on the feedback we:

  1. Removed gem bags.
  2. Removed inventory.
  3. Made our main character stationary. The character would now be an assistant who would act like guide (akin to Dora the Explorer games) giving advice, information and hints but not actually solving the puzzle directly.
  4. Constrained problems to only 180 because the teacher requested it.
  5. Finally created 10 levels at the end of the week.

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Simultaneously our artist continued to make aesthetic progress.

Treasure Hunter Concept Art

Tiny – Week 5

Quarters

On Monday we had quarters which gave us lots of feedback from the faculty.

Quarters Feedback

Considering the feedback from quarters we went about revamping our ideas.

Revamp

One concern was raised regarding the complexity that physics considerations adds to the game which were not core to teaching angles to our target demographic. Since both our current ideas had an element of physics we took this feedback on board. We then changed the design direction, and made decisions to minimizing the element of physics.

Pirates Life

  • Since we are firing a cannon ball, we wanted to change the perspective to lessen the look that the cannon ball is making an arc so that players don’t consider that aspect of physics.
  • To enhance learning we also would not having monsters move when missing, instead we would give them a new problem.
  • To give us more design flexibility we would have the pirate ship not be fixed to bottom center of ipad, instead have it so that it can be move around but remains fixed so as to allow us to create more types of problems.

Alpaca Toss

One critique was that in both games angles were not a core part of the experience, and so we ‘tossed’ Alpaca Toss. Yet we used some of its core in a new idea.

This new idea came about whilst playing Tomb Raider, and remembering a scene from The Mummy that involved light beams that lit up a room.

The idea was essentially that we used ‘angle gems’ to move around a source of energy that charged up a power stone that opened up a door with treasure behind it.

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We named this new idea Treasure Hunter, and designed five levels on Wednesday to try out the new mechanic.

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On Thursday we prepped to visit Colonial School on Friday. We fancied up the Treasure Hunter prototype, prepared a playtest format, planned a drawing activity for the kids, and prepared some questions for the teacher.

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Continue reading Tiny – Week 5

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