We put a lot of thought into what we were trying to do with our game. We were striving for something that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. The final idea was to have a cute alien that went around “stealing” people’s eyes and viewing the world as they see it. By using this mechanic, new parts of the level would open up depending on whatever eye the player had in, making it a nice puzzle/adventure game.
Coming up with the idea was probably the best part of the game for me. Starting a game feels like there are infinite possibilities, but once you start your path is pretty much cut out for you. Lazzaro said that games must be fun, challenging, and useable. We definitely took this philosophy to heart. We tried to create something that is fun to just run around in, still a challenging puzzle, and still useable. Out of the categories that she listed (Hard fun, Easy Fun, Altered States, and The People Factor), we really focused on Easy Fun. We wanted a game that a player could explore and discover new things. We tried to “grab attention with ambiguity, incompleteness, and detail”. Hopefully, the NPCs were intriguing, and the story made the player want to discover more about the world. The level puzzles were supposed to force the user to switch the eyes multiple times to try and get them to explore areas they didn’t originally have to using different visions.
I actually tried to take what we had read previously into designing the game. I wanted it to be a virtual space that people could explore, and something that both women and men would want to play. The NPCs are people of all ages, colors, and genders, and the game is probably as unbiased as we could make it. The way we designed it, there is no real drawback if you do something wrong. There is also a nice pay off to solving a puzzle because it leads you to a new area.
After planning out what all the levels and
characters would do, we started to plan out how the character would interact
with the game. We actually managed to follow
- Follow Conventional Usage, both in the choice of images and the allowable interaction
We tried to make the controls the same as usual flash games(arrow keys let you move around, climb and jump are both the up key), and to grab eyes you just had to walk up toward the NPC. Even though we added a couple of keys that aren't usually used in flash games, they are used in other games so hopefully the user would pick up on it.
- Use words to describe the desired action
We included a help screen with words just incase our design wasn’t intuitive enough for the user to pick up automatically. This would be especially nice for the short cut keys that a user wouldn't think to use.
We didn’t use any metaphor for our keys, it wasn’t necessary. Metaphor also has a chance of being misunderstood.
- Follow a coherent conceptual model so that once part of the interface is learned the same principles apply to the other parts
The controls were the same for every level. Once you grabbed an eye and learned how to switch it out, the controls were uniform for the rest of the eyes. By keeping the interface clean and simple the game was more enjoyable.
After the user interface was decided upon, then came play testing. Lazzaro said, “It is clear that educational and commercial electronic games can benefit from user feedback.” First we play tested using real pieces to see if our actual game concept would work. This put us through a bit of iterative design. The original game didn’t work out as well as we wanted, so we analyzed it, and then fine tuned it, and re-designed. We kept adjusting and play testing until we finally reached a viable option.
After the game was at a prototype level, we decided to put it up on Kongregate.com. This was a great idea because it allowed millions of people to play test our game, and leave comments. Within the first couple of hours over 200 people had tested our game and more than 10 of them left feedback for us. Many people said that we had to make the end easier, include a mute button, and make the game longer. All of these things would have been implemented had we more time. Considering the game was just a prototype, everyone said the idea was great, and they’d love to play more of it.
Other than the brainstorming for the concept, I’d have to say my favorite part of the game was making the levels. Choosing the different styles that each character would have, and the different mechanics that would be implemented in the game was really fun. Being creative and making each “eye” as exaggerated as possible so that the levels were as different as they could be was a real challenge and it was nice to get my brain thinking outside the box. Getting down to the nitty-gritty work was probably the hardest part, as sometimes things didn’t fit right, or the idea wasn’t going to work.
Overall it was a great experience and I learned a lot from this project.
Lazarro, N. & Keeker, K. (2004). “What’s My Method? A Game Show on Games.” In CHI 2004 Conference Proceedings, April 2004. http://www.xeodesign.com/whatsmymethod.pdf
Lazzaro, N. (2004-2005). “Why We Play Games: Four Keys to More Emotion Without Story.” Self-published white paper. www.xeodesign.com/whyweplaygames.html
Norman, D.A. (2004). “Affordances and design.” http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/affordances_and.html
Zimmerman, E. (2003). “Play as research: The iterative design process.” http://www.ericzimmerman.com/texts/Iterative_Design.htm