As the first major project for the Ludology & Gameplay module, we were told to create a time-management style board game!
We were told to from groups & using all the knowledge we had gained so far, create our very own board game from scratch! We were more or less given free reign to design anything we wanted as long as it kept to the criteria outlined below.
I teamed up with Fabrizio Valerio Covone & Bernhard Raml. We immediately set to identifying themes & mechanics we were interested in. Very early on we decided to create a board game centred around Irish/Celtic folklore/ mythology. We also decided very early on that the game would be an economy/resource management game as well as containing the time-management mechanic.
Our first presentation is below!
We chose “Na Celtigh” as the name for our board game. For any non-Irish speakers, that simply means “The Celts”! Below is the link to our dedicated “Na Celtigh” development blog.
Below is our final presentation, after the board game was finished & submitted. It details our overall conclusions & findings as well as some areas we could develop further in the future.
Overall this was an extremely enjoyable & worthwhile exercise as it taught us a massive amount about how to work as part of a game production team, among many, many other things.
This week we were given some puzzles to solve from Professor Layton & The Curious Village on Nintendo DS. We spent most of the class trying to figure out the solutions to the puzzles. In my case trying was more or less all I did! Needless to say, puzzles are not my forte!
After this exercise we were told to create at least 10 new puzzles of our own, based on the examples we had seen in class. This was a massive challenge for me I have to admit, but it was fun & really got me to think outside the box with logic!
My puzzles are in the presentation below!
For those of you who didn’t skip ahead, well done! Below are the solutions!
After this we were told to team up with a classmate & combine our best puzzles. We would then need to create some form of storyline to tie all the puzzles together, just like in Professor Layton! I teamed up with Sarah Bevan to create the zombie-wedding-themed puzzle story below (with solutions)! Enjoy!!
For this class we were tasked with playing a free-to-play time management game from a list & then using a the matrix method from the previous class, identifying the following:
- How does the game represent reality?
- What are the conflict scenarios?
- What are the interactions related to these conflict scenarios?
- What is the progression path & reward?
- Where is the game flow?
We would then make a presentation outlining our conclusions & findings. See below.
The feedback I received was pretty much what I expected; my matrix wasn’t detailed enough & the presentation overall needed more images & illustrations of of the actions within the game. In order to fully analyse the game the interactions, outcomes & strategy associated with the conflict scenarios would need to have been displayed in a matrix also.
However, overall my presentation was well received & other’s who had played the game agreed that there was little in the way of reward or sense of satisfaction in the game!
In week 4 we looked at the fundamental characteristics of games in more detail.
Games have four common elements: Representation, interaction, conflict & safety. We looked at how games represent reality or a particular subset of reality, letting fantasy fill in the rest.
We then went into more detail on conflict scenarios & their related interactions. This included identifying the reward & progression path in games. Conflict does not have to be simply represented by an enemy, it can also include the rules & mechanics of the game or limitations of the character or even the player themselves!
We paid particular attention to the maths behind conflict scenarios & the use of a matrix to predict conflict outcomes & establish optimum strategies. The optional actions of players are given a particular value &evaluated against each other. Below is the “Prisoner’s Dilemma” matrix where the best strategy for both players is to confess to a crime rather than stay quiet. This is called Nash’s Equilibrium.
For the next class we were told to pick a free-to-play time management game from a list & analyse the game according to what we covered on representation, interaction, conflict & safety. See next post!
Following on from our look at “Gamification” & the GDC microtalks, in week 3 we were asked to give our own microtalk on the topic of “My Life as Game”!
We were to explore 5 areas of our lives that could be turned into games & quickly explain how / why in a 5 minute microtalk to the rest of the class. We were asked to use Slideshare to make our presentation. See mine below!
This was a fun & useful exercise as it showed you can take inspiration for games from anywhere. From the reaction of the class to certain game ideas it was clear that often a mundane task that everyone hates can be really easily turned into something fun that they would genuinely enjoy!
My favourite of my own ideas was that of “Procrastinator”! The concept seemed to interest a few people in the class & it could be a fun idea to play around with so I may put it in my pocket for later! 🙂
At this stage we were also told to begin developing our blogs! This would help with idea development, inspiration, thought process & evaluation of all aspects of the course. So far so good!
In the second week of Ludology we explored the idea of “Gamification” which is basically the idea of turning mundane tasks/activities into games. We looked a little into game theory lectures form Stanford University. These would become particularly useful later in the module when creating our own board games!
We also looked at the the GDC (Game Developer’s Conference) microtalks. For me, these were particularly interesting. GDC microtalks are short-talk-format presentations where each speaker has a fixed time limit to deliver a particular idea based on a predetermined topic. In 2011, the topic was: Say how you play. Find the link to the UK Gamespot article below.
Another area we looked at was the moral / social value of games, particularly creating games which provoke thought & discussion on important issues. The link to one site which promotes this area is below:
Overall this was a really interesting week! It provided a LOT of food for thought & quickly got rid of my naive preconceptions that the games industry is all “fun & games” (for want of a better phrase!). It was refreshing to find that creating games can help raise awareness & understanding of various issues. One interesting example of this is the “Darfur is Dying” game below:
The 1st class for this module started out as my worst nightmare…being creative under pressure! Having not had a creative thought in over 3 years, I immediately felt the pressure!
We were tasked with creating a mini game for a minimum of 2 players in 10 minutes & just using random items we pulled out of a box of…stuff! We would then be put into teams to test out each other’s games. I ended up with some felt squares, dice, some Lego blocks, some straws, a marker, a pen & a sheet of A4 paper.
We had to write down the winning condition, the initial game set-up, the game rules & a description of the playing pieces. We were not allowed to explain the game verbally to the team members so it was vital that they understood the game fully just from the description on the paper!
I just about got my game finished in time! My game was a simple timed obstacle course of the random items laid out on the A4 page with a Lego brick as the start point & the dice as the end point. The twist was that you had to use the straws to blow the felt strips through the obstacle course!
Navigate the obstacle course to reach dice at the end point without hitting anything or leaving the page area, then roll even to win!
- Players take alternate turns on the course & have 1 minute to get to the end point.
- Players use straws to blow felt pieces through course.
- If you hit obstacles you go back to the start position. You only get 1 second try!
- If you fail your 2nd try, it’s the other player’s turn!
- 1st to reach the dice at the end point & roll even wins! If you roll odd, it’s the other player’s turn again!
- Rock / paper / scissors to see who goes 1st.
- Another player lays out the obstacle course on the A4 page in their own chosen layout, making sure the start & end points are clear & that the dice are at the end point.
- Suitable for 2+ players.
After each team member had played each other’s game, the best game from each team was chosen. We were than given 5 mins to make any changes we felt were needed to fix any flaws or make the game more fun! After this, we would swap with another team & play each other’s best games!
Though my game was a lot of fun, it wasn’t chosen as the best! 😦
Overall this turned out to be a fun experience & made everyone really think about what makes games fun & more importantly what makes them work!