Introduction: Angle Jungle is an award winning puzzle game built by a team of students at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center in 15 weeks for Pennsylvania’s Intermediate Unit 1. Angle Jungle has value to first graders and above, its primary purpose though is as a supplement for 4th to 6th graders learning basic geometry.
Platform: iOS | Time: 15 weeks | Role: Game Designer | Team Size: 4
Design Goal: The goal of the project was to achieve the following transformations in our target demographic:
Primary Transformation: Build familiarity with the angle by having players solve puzzles that use a mechanic that encodes the numeric and spatial representations of angles
Introduce positive and negative angles
Introduce clockwise and anticlockwise rotation
Introduce angles greater than 180 degrees
Build familiarity with the protractor tool
Design Challenges: We faced a number of design challenges during this project:
Protractor tool introduction
Finding an mechanic which made angles essential
Crafting fun and engaging puzzles
Crafting additional sources of motivation
My Contributions: As the game designer on the project I took the lead on directing our creative efforts. My efforts helped create a well received, fun, and engaging experience which made a good attempt to achieve our transformational goals. Other areas I made significant contributions in were:
An ideation process that created the main mechanic of the game
Introduction: A Playroom was a developed on the HTC Vive. A virtual reality device that allows a guest to walk around a calibrated virtual reality space with hand held controls.
Platform:HTC Vive in Unity 3D | Time: 2 weeks | Roles: Designer – Producer | Team Size: 5
Story: The setting of the game is in a play room where the guest encounters a ghost boy who needs help in-order to ‘move on’.
Design Challenge: To design a game for naive guests, conduct play tests, and make three predictions of what the guest will do all whilst having the guest ‘feel free’.
Design Goal: Round 2 of Building Virtual Worlds was indirect control round. This required we build an experience that felt free, and was intuitive enough for a guest to play from start to finish without any instruction or guidelines.
My Contributions: I analyzed, and designed the guests interactions as well as wrote our main non playable characters dialogue. In addition I conducted play tests which gave us invaluable feedback which we used to further develop the experience.
I focused on interaction development by first analyzing what we currently had. From that I wrote a draft story design which was a rough version of what we would aim for. Our current gameplay was clearly a linear story experience, and I believed we could achieve a greater sense of freedom by allowing a player a choice of what game to play.
From this notion I created two different interaction models.
I then met with the team, presented my two plans. We choose plan 2 which I further developed into a more detailed version.
Audio would play a vital aspect in driving this interaction model therefore I worked with our sound designer on a script for the game which we iterated over based on feedback (script documents).
Once the various audio cues, and interaction model was implemented we went about play testing the game. I conducted play tests with over fifteen naive guests which included an audience of fellow students, professors and non-students. This feedback was then used to polish elements of our experience.
In conclusion we correctly predicted each of the three interactions, and the guest understood our story, all with no guidelines or instruction from us.
We began our project with brain storming, and research into the platform on which we were developing. We came up with several ideas including:
Darkness– Use light to guide the guest through a street.
Space Exploration– Explore the universe, and pick a planet to colonize.
Dreaming – Flying a plane, flying elephants, flowers turn to buildings (freedom from constraints).
Empty Room – Furniture place (guide them to a correct place).
Having difficulty grappling with the concept of ‘freedom’ we spoke to a member of The Entertainment Technology Faculty Jesse Schell. After meeting with Jesse Schell we honed in on an idea of a ghost boy which we would help in some manner through objects around him.
Next we thought about location, which was first a storage room due to it making sense to have many object, we then changed to a play room as it offer the potential for a ‘warmer’ environment for guests to feel comfortable.
After creating a basic room with a simple number of interactions which included:
Place a train on the train track.
Hide & Seek.
Give a hug.
We had a prototype ready for interim.
After interim our two main points of feedback were
Make the boy and game generally less ‘creepy’.
To develop our interactions.
Point 1 was a significant design challenge which we tackled by investing time into solving by:
Making our main game character look more human like.
A warm game atmosphere.
A friendly, light and clear character voice.
I decided to tackle point 2 by first analyzing what we currently had, then writing a draft story design which was a rough version of what we would aim for. Our current game play was clearly a linear story experience, and I believed we could greater the sense of freedom by allowing a player a choice of what game to play.
From this notion I created two different interaction models.
After meeting with the team, presenting the two plans and convincing them of the need to carefully design the experience, we choose plan 2 which I then further developed into a more detailed version.
Audio played a vital aspect in our experience so I worked with our sound designer on a script for the game which we iterated over three times based on feedback (script documents). In addition to audio we used a number of other techniques including:
Lighting – To direct the players focus.
Color – Brightly contrasting objects such as with the yellow train on a blue chair, and a red book on a beige floor caught the players attention.
Uniformity – A suggestive picture fragment was placed in the frame, and other similar looking puzzle pieces were placed around the level.
After implementing these features with a new interaction model we went about play testing the game. We conducted play tests with over fifteen naive guests which included an audience of fellow students, professors and non-students.
Based on the feedback we received we continued to polish elements of the game. The end result of our work was that not only did we accurately predict each of the three interactions, but the guest completely understood the story behind our world all with no guidelines or instruction from us.
Introduction: Seize the Sky was built during Building Virtual Worlds at Carnegie Mellons Entertainment Technology Center. The world was constructed using Oculus Rift, and Leap Motion. Using these technologies we put our guest into a virtual reality space with an ability to use a natural interface in our world.
Story: A mighty giant heads towards a town with murderous intent. A country side boy notices, and cries to Zeus for help to defeat the giant to save the city. You are Zeus, save them all!
Design Goal: Our design goal with Seize The Sky was help character A (the boy) who is afraid of character B (the giant).
Incorporating a satisfactory use of Leap motion.
Achieving our a sense of character A is afraid of character B.
My Contributions: As the lead programmer on Seize The Sky I made large contributions to the code base for this project. I also took an active part in the design process with working with the team to develop various aspects including game play, and level design.
The development process started with being assigned teams. In our first team meeting we made clear our skills, started brainstorming ideas, and kept good development processes in mind.
During brainstorming we tried using several appropriate methods, such as gesture centered brainstorming (due to our use of Leap Motion). Finally we had five initial ideas:
Help mend relationship between characters.
Play piano to make baby sleep.
Use light to guide a character home.
Keep animal safe growing to adulthood.
Hold characters hand to guide them.
With our initial ideas we further boiled them down to three concepts with the following reasoning:
Concept one was hard to conceptualize compared to our other ideas which seemed simpler and more clear.
Concept five could be incorporated into concept three.
Creating sketches of each concept we then sought out the advice of our professor Jesse Schell.
With Jesse Schells feedback we went with concept C, because we wanted to explore squeezing in Leap Motion.
We then began further conceptualizing the idea with sketches, and research into the capabilities of Leap motion and Oculus.
With this in mind we began assigning tasks to complete, considering game play, and used a scrum board to assist us in tracking tasks.
On the technical side we used a NavMesh, and simple A.I. to run the behavior of the Hunter and Deer. The behaviors of the two agents were essentially:
The deer always moved to nearest tree that has an apple.
The Hunter patrolled around fixed points, and if it came close enough to the deer it began chasing it.
The result of our hard work was the following.
We then received feedback at interim, which sadly wasn’t good…
Design Goal: To create an aesthetically pleasing well balanced Japanese style decorative painting.
My Contributions: As the designer of this project I researched, and drew the initial sketch of Pursuit as well as painting and supervising the whole of the way through.
Pursuit started with a need for decoration, a desire for an oriental style painting, then a theme of the pursuit of ‘something’. Next a sketch with notes on elements that formed the foundation of this project.
Considering what I wanted, I paid Kuwait’s arts shops a visit for canvases. On finding said canvases I collected the dimensions of what was available.
Using those dimensions I created my desired layout with Google Sketchup, which I then printed to scale on A3.
With a solid idea of various details for the painting I sketched up a detailed draft of Pursuit on a to-scale A3 layout.
Once the detailed sketch was complete, I next created a digital copy by scanning the document. Using the digital copy and a projector I traced each section of the painting onto its respective canvas.
Meanwhile we constructed a easel to hold every canvas in the correct layout. In addition I thought it wise that before the first brush stroke, to create a colored digital image to help in visualizing the final product.