CSE Game Design Lab

Innovation in game design

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Game Prototypes

Posted by on April 23rd, 2010 · Uncategorized

Hey I can’t put my flash files (.swf) on here, but if someone can help me please tell me 🙂

Otherwise you can access two version of my game on http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~nsch392.

The only difference between the two versions are the visual representation of the sunburn gauge.

I know it is incomplete but have a play around, any feedback would be great

Movement-based game design

Posted by on April 14th, 2010 · Uncategorized

Over the years game input devices have slowly evolved. Where we once used joysticks and buttons, or a keyboard and mouse, we now have digital guitars and motion-sensing remotes.

In late 2003, Sony released the Eye Toy for the PlayStation 2. The Eye Toy is a camera that uses the player’s body location in a 2-dimensional range as input. The Eye Toy has had a fair amount of success, selling over 10.5 million units by November 2008 – according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia.

Microsoft has been working on Project Natal for the XBOX360, which uses an infra-red camera to track movements of players in 3-dimensional space. The system is expected for release later in the year.

There is a company called Softkinetic that has created a similar system, which I will be using for my game design thesis. The main question that I will be addressing is, “Is this new system fun to use?”

People are almost assuming that this input device will be fun. There has so far been very little research performed on such a device, but it can be compared to other movement-based game systems like the Eye Toy, Nintento Wii, and the famous arcade game Dance Dance Revolution.

I will therefore make a game that uses either a keyboard or the infra-red camera. Player-testers will play the game with both devices, and give feedback regarding which one they preferred. This will be difficult to examine, as enjoyment is a subjective opinion. My intention is therefore to see how well the new system competes with traditional game design.

Games for Sighted and Non Sighted

Posted by on April 4th, 2010 · Uncategorized

With the major requirement that a game be created for the sighted and non sighted, my previous games are debunked.

I have thought of other games;

  • Beach Scavenger in this game the player will have to scour the beach for anything of value and with the items that have been found the player can sell them and buy upgrades for their equipment. Whilst looking for buried treasure, the player will have to be mindful that they do not get sunburnt.

    The player will be using a mouse to look for the valuables (or not so valuables) and as the cursor gets closer to the hidden item, a sound will go off, like a metal detector. The level of sunburn on the player can be reflected by a sizzling sound that will get gradually louder. I am trying to keep the number of resources to a minimum because I do not want to overload the sounds in the game.

    The visual will simply be a beach background, with the mouse being a metal detector and when the player clicks a location then the digger will walk to the location and start digging.

  • Eavesdropper – this game is esesntially a “Where’s Wally?” game with audio. There will be a lot of white/background noise and the player will have to find the sound they are listening for.

    This type of game can be applied to many game stories, like an espionage/spy game.

  • Fighter Pilot – You will be a pilot, and your RIO will be telling you where the bogeys are; like “Bogey at 12 o’clock”. Then you will turn your plane and then you will have to try and locate the plane, not sure if this will be a good game for the blind
  • Magic Combat – You have energy, and with this energy allows you to manipulate a sound frequency and/or amplitude. Then the two combatants will fire their sounds at each other and then there will be a resultant sound which will cause damage to one of the combatants.

Milkshake – new prototype

Posted by on March 30th, 2010 · Amblyopia project, Games for health, Malcolm's Projects

There’s a new prototype of the milkshake game available. Important changes:

  • The straw is transparent
  • The milkshake is strawberry.
  • A bulge appears in the straw at the current point.

The last of these changes was particularly chosen to address the common iPhone problem – you can’t see what is going on under your finger. We’ll see if it works.

Amblyopia project – now on the iPhone

Posted by on March 30th, 2010 · Amblyopia project, Games for health, Malcolm's Projects

Using Unity iPhone (and after a lot of fussing around with the Apple Provisioning process) I have managed to get the prototype milkshake game running on the iPhone, as shown above.

Conference with Blind and Visually Impaired

Posted by on March 23rd, 2010 · Uncategorized

Today I was fortunate enough to talk to people who are blind or visually impaired that use the computer a lot. All the participants in the conference were in R&D for adaptive computer techonologies and equipment.

They found that the games for the blind became boring very quickly. Once they learnt the game they felt it was boring, however this may be because of their R&D background. Lots of games for the blind are not exciting for the sighted because of the lack of graphics. If I want to create a game for both sighted and non sighted, I must engage both audiences so I need to provide visuals in a context that makes sense but not necessarily disadvantages the visually impaired.

Another consideration that came out of the conference call was that I should not look towards adaptive technologies because not everyone will have accessibility to the necessary hardware. So my previous idea of using the Novint Falcon may not be a wise design decision because it is not accessible to everyone, so instead I should focus on audio.

Multiple games based on different input device

Posted by on March 23rd, 2010 · Uncategorized

In my thesis project, I wish to design, prototype and create multiple games, with each game taking at maximum of 1 month.  This idea is based on the Experimental Gameplay Project carried out by students at CMU, where one person would create a game in under 7 days.

I deviate a bit from that in the choice of themes.  Instead of designing a game based on themes like “gravity”, or “sunshine”, I wanted to experiment with creating different games for the different input devices out there.  This would involve the touch screen for the iPhone, the Natal motion detector, a Wii remote, and the traditional joypad.

From this project, I wish to research and learn about the process of rapid prototyping and development, which is a contrast to the traditional design method for games.  It’d also be a good opportunity for me to look into the impact / pros and cons of each input device, and how the method of game input can drive the game design and enhance the overall gameplay experience.

Experience Driven Game Design

Posted by on March 23rd, 2010 · Uncategorized
It’s too often that I see a developer look at a game and say: “I could have made that”. Every time, I make the point of replying: “Why haven’t you?”. Playing a game and acknowledging the development experience is very different to actually building a game from the ground up. It’s a creative process in which the developer must recognise and manipulate exactly what sparks enjoyment in the human psyche. I intend to do things a little differently in my project. As opposed to creating a game to answer a question, I intend to research a particular paradigm of game development by creating a game and documenting the process. I have recently been working on articulating and refining what is for me the most constructive and fail safe approach to game design; Experience Driven Game design.
Essentially, Experience Driven Game Design is a game design paradigm that encourages developers to fully consider, research and ultimately design the game around the type of enjoyment end product will imbue in the user. This is as opposed to designing a game based on mechanics. This methodology also helps the game to develop into a holistic experience as opposed to a collection of mechanics. I’ve written an article which summarizes this approach, which can be found here. I should also note that this is by no means a revolutionary design paradigm, I have done some preliminary research which would suggest that it is often used, even if it is not necessarily recognized.
In this course, I intend to further research this topic in a number of ways. Firstly, I intend to research what knowledge already exists on the paradigm within the field of game design. In addition, I intent to look into goal driven models of development in other entertainment mediums, such as films. Lastly, I intend to develop a very simple game using this methodology, which focuses on a single user experience. To do this, I plan to research, deconstruct and document a number of games which have a similar central experience, and apply my findings in my own game.
I’ll ultimately develop a game, but more importantly a report which documents the Game Design process, and also records what I have learned on the subject.

Amblyopia Project – The Milkshake Game

Posted by on March 22nd, 2010 · Amblyopia project, Malcolm's Projects

The School of Optometry are interested in exploring the use of computer games for vision training to help treat Amblyopia (lazy eye) in young children. I have taken on the task of implementing some simple eye exercises as interactive games, and I’m using it as an opportunity to learn Unity.
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Real Life Quest: roleplay for good, not evil

Posted by on March 21st, 2010 · Uncategorized

Much has been made in the news of the perils of World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs. These devil games are so addictive we can expect otherwise rational beings to play them so hard that they game to death!

Slow news days and sketchy journalistic ethics aside, there’s no denying that role-playing games, with their neverending cycle of quests and rewards, have a certain captivating quality that makes them hard to step away from.

Meanwhile, on the New York Times bestseller list, we find three books this week purporting to help you achieve your goals (including my personal favourite, by doing nothing). The internet’s productivity flagship, Lifehacker, is roughly the 800th most popular website worldwide. It’s clear there are a lot of people out there looking for ways to get stuff done.

So there it is: we have trouble achieving useful goals in real life, but in a game we’ll happily sit there for hours whacking bears to collect bear pelts. My project with the Games Lab is an attempt to unite these two halves of the human condition; to make a game out of your life that rewards you for achieving your goals. I call it Real Life Quest.

I’m not the first person to think of this, of course. There’s the venerable Chore Wars, which turns your housemates into a ragtag group of adventurers and your housework into a quest. thesixtyone is an online “music adventure” where different ways of finding new music are quests that give you in-(game?) rewards. There’s also Jesse Schell’s excellent presentation at DICE 2010 – skip to 21:00 for a harrowing future where XP, loyalty points and money have merged, and our lives are ruled by the fearsome lovechild of Big Brother and FarmVille.

I think the secret sauce in this case is understanding exactly what it is about quest systems and roleplaying games that makes them so compelling, and applying that to create a productivity system that isn’t just a to-do list with swords, but something that makes you think about your goals in a fundamentally more game-like way.