So, this week the topic was communicating games design and how I as a designer should communicate my ideas to other people. This topic is very important as communication is the most important part of being a games designer as you have to be able to communicate your ideas effectively to your team as well as listen to other people’s ideas and incorporating them into the project.
Also, this week we had our first Iron designer challenge which was very bizarre as it was my first in person workshop since going to university. So, it was also a great time to experience working with other designers in person rather than online.
The Iron Designer Challenge
The Iron designer challenges are a weekly team-based challenge that we must complete. They are to help us improve our team working skills as well as meet other people on our course.
This week’s Iron Designer challenge was to take an existing video game and convert it into a board game. For this challenge my team decided to go with the game Overcooked. This game is a chaotic team game where you have to complete orders at a restaurant.
We wanted to keep the chaotic elements of the game and the best way we thought to achieve this was to make it a race. So, there are 2-4 players, and they will be racing each other to complete recipes. In order to add more chaos however, we wanted to add an element of chance so the players have to roll two 6-sided dice and if the number is outside of the accepted range (shown on the recipe card) the food would burn and they would have to start again.
We created 6 recipe cards that the player has to complete which are different difficulties. The players then have to try and get to the centre of the board (above) before the others. The blue tiles are easy, orange is medium, and the red are hard. The players start on one of the 4 outer green tiles and try to get to the inner green tile.
We purposely constructed the board to give the player options as to how they want to proceed, so they can either take the short but difficult route or the long and easier route. This gives the game an element of strategy as different players may want to try different approaches and it’s not just a game of chance.
If you want to read all of the rules for the game, please read this document: Overcooked Board Game
I think this challenge went very well and I am happy with the game that we created. In the future it might be better if we could playtest the game, but this was difficult in the time given and due to the fact that we didn’t have any pens or paper to hand.
The Weekly Challenge
This week, we had to write a description of a game of our choice, then another description about a completely different game of our choice, and finally compare the two descriptions. For this task I decided to pick Crusader Kings 3 and Beat Saber as I have played many hours of both, and they are very different from one another.
For the challenge I wrote the following.
Crusader Kings 3 is a real time grand strategy game, but the player is playing as a character within the game. So, the player can play as a king, duke, earl etc and makes decisions as this character. The player can choose what they want to do, whether they want to expand their territories, grow their economy, or spread their religion. This is a unique take on the strategy genre as it combines the strategy elements with a sense of role playing which allows the player to generate their own specific stories and history.
When your character eventually dies, the player becomes their eldest child so a lot of the game is focused on making sure that your heir is the best they can be to set you up for the future. The Crusader Kings games are well known for being complicated but once you learn the basics of how to play, it’s difficult not to spend hours managing your realm.
Beat Saber is a VR rhythm game where the player must slice floating blocks with light sabers to the beat of the music. There are 2 different colours which correlate to the left and right light sabers, and you must hit the correct colour with the corresponding light saber. Every block has an arrow which represents the direction in which the player must swing, and this combined with good level design means that it’s very easy for the player to reach a state of flow.
Both descriptions revolve around how the player interacts with the game and how they experience the gameplay elements within it. Crusader Kings is a lot more complicated than Beat Saber so it could take a long time to explain why every system is there and all of the possibilities within it, while Beat Saber is a lot more simplistic and therefore I can easily explain every mechanic within the game. I think this is a product of the linearity within Beat Saber and how everyone who plays it essentially gets the same experience while in Crusader Kings 3, anything could happen and even if you played the same exact way things would be drastically different as there’s elements of chance involved in the game.
What I learnt from this task is mostly how player focused my descriptions were and how most of my explanations came from the players perspective. I also then reviewed other people’s posts, and realised that in the future I should include some of the underlying themes in my explanation, as well as how the target audience effects the game decisions taken by the designers. I hope to use these more when describing my own ideas in the future in order to help get the ideas across to other people.
The Games Design Document
This week I have been focusing more on my other modules as I was put into a team and had to come up with various game ideas in order to prototype which means that I spent less time developing my GDD (Games Design Document). Instead, I developed the game concept further and came up with more of a narrative structure for the game itself.
The idea so far is that it will be a VR game where the player is presented with an empty room with a desk and a button. When the player pushes that button the button says “no” and disappears and reappears somewhere else on the desk. The button does this a few more times until eventually it shouts, “stop that or I will go on the roof”. Then if the player, does it again the button spawns on the roof which is much higher than the player.
After this, the buttons friend, Larry the Lever appears with a sign above saying “Gravity”. Larry the Lever shouts “Oi! You! over here! Yes, that’s me! I’m Larry the Lever!” When the player pulls the lever, gravity is then turned off. This allows the player to float up to the button to press it which upsets the button. After this the button says, “Why do you have to push my buttons?” followed by, “Why was the button permanently depressed? Somebody pushed them too far”. Then if the player is hesitant to click it again it says, “I don’t know why you are so afraid of pressing buttons. I just can’t put my finger on it”.
As you can see there is a very light humorous theme for the game as its meant to be quirky and sarcastic. At some point I want to include a whole deeper narrative, but I might do that either next week or the week after as I have lots of work to do with other modules.
FIBARO, n.d. THE BUTTON smart home automation. [image] Available at: <https://www.fibaro.com/en/products/the-button/> [Accessed 2 October 2021].