Cycle 3 Activity 5 – Interactivity and Choice

A diagram of the choices available to the player branching down from winning the game to smaller decisions is attached here:

For the action of killing the enemy:

Choices available:

Not many choices available – timing when to attack There are only a few choices available to defeat an enemy as combat in our game was designated as an extra feature not the focus of the game. The only real choice available is when the player chooses to engage the enemy.

How the UI conveys these choices:

The enemy moves in a specific pattern. The player can notice this pattern and choose to attack when the enemy is moving away from the player or attack quickly to keep moving

Actions available:

Due to the nature of a side scrolling game the only action available when fighting an enemy is to attack.

The game worlds response to the player’s choice:

The game world responds to the player’s decisions through the enemy who will react to the player’s choice.

Feedback to the player

When the player is successful the enemy is defeated and changes visually to reflect that.

A storyboard detailing this decision is attached here:

For the action of moving past a platform:

Choices available:

As the game is a side scroller the choices available to navigate past a platform are to move or to wait.

How the UI conveys these choices:

These choices are conveyed through the UI by design of the platforms themselves. Moving platforms will naturally suggest the player jump while long flat platforms imply moving forward. Other visual and audio cues denote when an obstacle will pass to suggest the player wait.

Actions available:

The player has the ability to move left, right, jump or take no action based on their choice.

The game worlds response to the player’s choice:

For the platforms the game world does not respond to the player. This was deliberately chosen so as to encourage the player to recognise patterns and timing to naturally improve their ability to pass platforms as the game goes on and more platforms are created.

Feedback to the player

For the task of moving past a platform feedback to the player is instantaneous as the camera and the player avatar move along the platform and eventually when the challenge of passing the platform is completed the platform disappears from view.

Cycle 3 Activity 7 – Joel Aldridge Playtests

The method of playtesting selected for this task was based on observation with the testers asked to verbally communicate any good or bad aspects they came across while playing. 3 tests were conducted starting with a colleague to fix any problems from a game design perspective then an experienced player to improve gameplay before testing the game with someone close to the prescribed target audience to find any target audience specific improvements.

The playtests were conducted with a clear goal of understanding faults within objectives and goals, visual design and player controls and interactions.

After each testing sessions notes were made on improvements that could be implemented based on the testers performance and comments.

The following improvements were made based on playtest sessions:

  1. Added a green cloud to the top and bottom boundaries of the game to simulate a gas cloud and give a visual warning and reason when the player dies from touching either boundary. Removed option to restart the current level as this could allow players to die intentionally until the random level generation produced a level they could easily complete without any challenge. The random platforms order was adjusted so more challenging combinations of platform orders were less frequent.
  2. Menu was simplified to only explain the core gameplay elements. The random platforms were again adjusted. The number of levels within the game was reduced from 5 to 3. A new mortar platform was added to increase variability of every play session.
  3. Random platform generation was again altered this time every platform was adjusted for the possibility of it being placed next to every other type of platform to remove all unwinnable scenarios.

Links to the notes produced from each playtest are found below.

Playtest 1 – Colleague

Playtest 2 – Experienced Player

Playtest 3 – Target audience member

Cycle 3 – Joel Aldridge Reflection

Approach to learning new things:

As I am studying a dual degree with a mathematics component my approach to learning new things did not change much throughout the 3 game design tasks. When presented with a mathematical problem the first step is to identify what needs to be done and then if it is not clear how to do it either attempt a way that could be correct or search available resources (online or textbook) for an example detailing a possible approach. This method of combing intuitive attempts with internet research has worked well for me across a variety of maths and gaming units and this unit was no exception.

Non-Technical skills:

In this unit I have seen major developments in my ability to take a step back from tasks. With creative tasks I often feel an overwhelming desire to create the exact product that I personally would enjoy. In this unit I made steps to improve on this as working in a team and working with specific constraints meant that I was forced to face my desire for control and put it aside for the benefit of the final product.

Strategies for group and individual work:

Our strategies for group work within this unit I feel worked well. We would all show up to the workshop and lay down the design and theory choices we ran into over the week. Together we would then come to a consensus on what would work and what would not.  My strategies for individual work however were not as well refined this semester. I often found myself overestimating my abilities to complete assignments in both this and other units and would leave assignments until late as I felt they would be easy so I focused on other tasks. The final game for this semester is a prime example of this problem as I focused on other assignments and did not start designing specific elements of the game until a few weeks before release. This impacted the quality of the game and the visual aspects. In future units I will endeavour to weight tasks appropriately to allow for more time to polish the final products.

Ethical considerations:

When working within a group with a shared design task it is important to take into account several considerations. All members must participate even when they are not skilled at the current task as their point of view may provoke an invaluable discussion leading to a breakthrough. I often had to force myself to provide input in the visual design tasks for all the games designed in this unit because as a programmer I did not feel I had much to say on the topic, visuals have been my consistent weakness throughout this unit and I will strive to work on them in future design units. Our group struggled with respect to setting specific tasks between group members. As our group member studying an animation major dropped out early in the second game we found problems sourcing and applying models and animations, in the first 2 games I worked and supplied my specific tasks of coding complex aspects however for the final game I did not organise my time well and thus failed to be of much use to the group with respects to coding. Paul on the other hand consistently rose to his specific tasks with respect to design. In our group we put in place and stuck with a policy of always being honest with each other regardless of what we discussed. This is important in group work as not being honest can quickly grow and jeopardise the final product as members has different understandings of what has been done and how.

Cycle 3 Activity 1 – Player Experience Goals

Target Audience: Sally

Age: 21

Gaming Background:

First game: Warcraft 3

Current favourite game: SIMS 4

Likes PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds

Mobile games: Two Dots, 1010!, Pocket planes

Does admit to playing Kim Kardashian game

Gameplay experience:

Has been playing games since she was 10

Plays approximately 1 hour per day

We choose to develop a game for the hypothetical character of Sally as from the 4 available personas as had an enjoyment of a broad style of games and was a good medium between pro and casual gamer allowing for us to implement more challenging gameplay mechanics and themes without having to go as detailed if creating for a hardcore gamer who spends several hours at a time.

Big theme / Idea

For the side scroller game we chose the big themes of heroism and friendship

3 initial player experience goals

Players will experience a sense of Sadness designed to bring about deeper thought on the big theme – This goal was suggested as it uses a small game to impart a larger meaning acting as an reflection to the Kim Kardashian mobile game.

Players will experience a sense of excitement as the overcome obstacles within the game to feel more fulfilled when the reach their goal –This goal was suggested as it creates a world for the player where you slowly build upon basic skills to perform complex actions much like world building in the sims series.

Players will experience a sense of dread from analysing the game world and its suggestions of the challenges to come – This goal was suggested as ties to the target audiences enjoyment of world of warcraft. The idea is to use visual and audio clues to prepare the player for the challange ahead much like the design of areas before a raid in World of Warcraft hinting at the style of gameplay and challenge to come.

2 game ideas – how they fit the big idea

A good / evil style game where the player switches between a dark and light world to save a friend from evil – The game would be about self-sacrifice / going through evil world to save friend. This has a thematic connection to players unknown battleground where you can fight for yourself and a people you are working with.

A soldier collecting his fallen friends bodies during war. The game is about about honouring friends memory. As the target audience is 21 years old friendships will be changing as people drift apart so the theme of staying with your friends even at difficult times will be relevant.

Final PX goal for game

Players will experience a sense of Sadness designed to bring about deeper thought on the big theme. This PX goal focuses on emotional, physical and cognitive types.

Emotional – creating a feeling of sadness for the player character who risks his life to honour his friends

Physical – avoiding environmental hazards and defeating enemies

Cognitive – Interpreting visual and audio cues to prepare for the next section accordingly

For the final 2 candidates for our game idea this PX goal creates a bridge between the core gameplay (changing between good and evil or collecting fallen friends) and the theme of friendship and heroism.

 

Cycle 3 Activity 3 – Player Stories

(Note: This activity was set to be written by Two Nguyen however he has dropped out of this unit. As player stories are referenced in later tasks the decision was made to include the activity as worked on in the relevant workshop)

The player attempts to bring home their fallen friends after a war. This is achieved by avoiding / defeating various obstacles. The challenge in this game stems from the various environmental obstacles and the emotional weight of a survivor honouring his dead friends. The setting for the game will be a mostly abandoned war zone.

Player Stories:

  1. Playing a soldier, the player will defeat enemy combatants through melee combat to progress through the level
  2. As a friend, the player will traverse the hostile environment to find their friends.
  3. As a friend, the player will collect the bodies of their fallen friends to honour their sacrifice during the war
  4. The player will jump over obstacles to reach the end of the level without dying
  5. The player will move with specific timing to pass moving obstacles without dying
  6. The player will adjust their movements with the type of platform they are on to work against the platforms movement
  7. The player will plan their movements based on visual and audio cues to be prepared for the type of challenge ahead
  8. The player will increase their focus on the game as each level progresses in difficulty
  9. The player will feel for their character as they fight for their friends
  10. As a soldier, the player time their engagements with the enemy to take as little damage as possible

3 most relevant to the target audience:

3: The theme of friendship is relevant to the target audience as in a persons early 20’s friendships are changed dramatically as friends move and pursue different goals. The idea of honouring friends who have been lost is therefore something the target audience should have some level of emotional connection with.

1: As the target audience is said to have enjoyed World of Warcraft and Players Unknown Battlegrounds the idea of a melee combat game should feel familiar and enticing to the target audience

7: The target audiences enjoyment of Players Unknown Battlegrounds suggests an enjoyment of studying the game world for clues what style of game play proceed with making it an element worth incorporating into our game.

Joel Aldridge Cycle 2 Reflection

This cycle gave me much more to reflect on that the previous game.

Professional development:

I feel for this game my professional development has slowed since the last project. The quality of my coding skill has increased and I have learned a lot about game design, mainly the fact that no part is too hard it is simply the fact that to get a good result you need every aspect to be worked on by a separate specialist. The problem I had with this game is that while the game worked I was not happy with the outcome as in the end I found many little things that annoyed me with the game but were bound to other elements and therefore being too difficult to remove. I suppose it is logical for a larger scale project to have this but for the next game I will try to polish and be happy with each part before progressing. I also noticed with this project my computer struggling to run the game as it became more complex and should look into investing in a better computer as I wish to continue in game design and programming into the future.

other majors:

A major take away from working on the first-person game was the importance of the different majors. Before this project I didn’t think of the majors as all that different but after trying my hand at 3d animation and modelling I now understand that each major is distinct and important. The game design major is important as they create the hooks for the audience to come back and create the core of the enjoyment of the game while the animators visualise these elements and ensure the animations and characters look as they do in the team’s vision, Finally the programmer works more behind the scenes connecting everything together to make it work. All the majors are important for a game to feel full and not like a prototype.

Most satisfying element:

The most satisfying element in this project for me was a small feature I implemented into my game where the player can in some circumstances jump over the instakill car that drives down the street. I wanted to create something like this because personally some of the most memorable moments in games come from the player attempting and succeeding at a creative solution that they don’t expect to work and I wanted to be able to bring that feeling into my own games.

Ethical issues of First person game based on real events

I feel that there is a major ethical concern with this game in both the task given and our teams interpretation of it. Creating a game based on a news story can be quite problematic as the news generally reports more on bad news and making a game from bad news is difficult to pull of without feeling insenstive. I felt this in our game particularly as more features were implemented and attempted to push away from the initial news story of a drunken fight outside of a kebab store to be more respectful to the saddening cases of people who are killed in random drunken attacks by shifting the story away from fighting people to fighting clones. Next game I intend to look more at what my game is saying even if it is unintentionally saying it.

Cycle 2 Activity 7 Joel Aldridge Playtests

This cycle i used the same series of playtesters with an adjusted form of playtesting to focus on the session goals established.

The notes take from the playtests can be found (here) with the results sumarised below:

Key findings across players:

A common element noticed during the playtests was that the difficulty in general was too high with players rarely winnng the game.

The story of the game was also found to be lacking with none of the playtesters able to explain what the game was about.

Improvements:

Fix building colliders to prevent players becoming stuck in the buildings

The controls were better synced with the animations for a more streamlined experience

The car was slowed down

The enemies movement speed was slowed

The enemies damage was lowered

The change in enemy spawn rate based on the players drinking was improved

A story section was added to the how to play menu  so players would better understand what the game was about, the title was also changed to reflect the story. With more time ideally i would have incorporated the story better into the game itself rather than a wall of exposition text.