Throughout the semester, I have learned many things about game design in this class. The class has taught me to look at games from many different perspectives. Never would I have thought that there would be so many social and cultural factors that have affected games throughout history. The final project was a test of all the knowledge we have learned in this class. More importantly, it was a chance for me to try out new ideas and work with other people to create a new play experience.
In our initial brain storm session we had a total of six different game ideas. Each game idea was constructed with a parameter of play values to target a certain type of game play(Zimmerman). Eventually we settled on the Cupid Game idea for its originality and target audience. The game industry consists mostly of males making games geared toward a male audience(P2 Hegemony of Play). We wanted to make a more gender balanced game. The central theme of match making in the Cupid Game will appeal to female players while its point and click shooting system will appeal to the traditional gamers.
I was assigned the role of lead designer and artist by the group. Having control over these two elements of the game made my work flow more fluid. A major part of the game design is the representation of character stereotypes, and the interpretation of the character trait database on the user interface. I designed the art and game mechanics around each other so they could work together to form a play experience without sacrificing much of the art aesthetic values.
I approached the art following conventional usage(Norman). High school and romance is something that everyone experiences at some point of their life. It is something that everyone can relate to one way or another. The game provides the player with different high school stereotypes to choose from during the match making process. There are a total of ten different character stereotypes. My high school had a very diverse student body, so I used pictures from my high school year book as a reference to stylize the look of each stereotype. The compatibility of the characters is based on their character traits. I used standardized symbols on the user interface to show these characteristics to the player. For example, I used the boy and girl sex symbol to show sexual orientation of the character.
After going through a couple game prototypes, we finally locked down the basics of the game. All the concepts were coming together to form the basic layout for a game. However the game was still missing the mechanics that induce difficulties into the game. It is not fun if all the player has to do is point and click to rack up a certain amount of points. The game needed a challenge to focus attention and reward progress to create emotions such as frustration and Fiero(P3 Lazzaro). Thus the love meter was born into the game to measure the progress and accomplishment of the player in the game. Every action of the player affects the level of the love meter one way or another. The love meter ties together all the different mechanics in the game, making them somewhat dependent on each other. In addition, the love meter also provides meaning to the game mechanics. As the name suggests, the love meter measures love. The power of the cupid is based on love. Therefore the power of the cupid is dependent on the amount of love power available.
Toward the later stage of the project, power ups were implemented in the game to award or punish players for different behaviors. Instead of using graphics as a cue to the power ups, sound effects are used. At any given time on the screen, the game has a lot of movements. The player has to constantly examine the character traits in the user interface and look for the right characters to make the best match possible. Adding sufficient graphics to represent power ups on screen would make the screen too busy. As a result, the sound effects add a very humorous touch to the overall sound texture of the game which contributes to the easy fun of the game(P4 Lazzaro).
Play testing was absolutely vital to the formation of the game. This is due to the fact that the Cupid Game relies heavily on a complicated database system. The feedback from all the play testing inside class and outside of class helped us to refine the game. It was absolutely frustrating to watch a player playing our game looking really confused and bored. Many times I was very tempted to step in and show the player how to resolve the situation in the game myself. On the other hand, the observation of the player’s reaction is exactly what the group needed to tweak the game(Zimmerman). Many new features were implemented due to the result of the play test to simplify the game for the player.
Even though the Cupid Game did not completely live up to our vision, I feel like we have created a solid frame work for a game that has many unexplored potentials. The game may lack certain things as a single player game, but it may fulfill its potential as a social game on social networking sites such as Facebook. Additional features would have to be implemented in the game such as a llowing the player to match people up on his/her friend list. People will get a notification when they get matched up with someone else and they can comment on it. Overall the making of the Cupid Game has taught me many things about game design. I am going to use what I learned in this project and apply it to future game projects.
Fron, J., Fullerton, T., Morie, J. & Pearce, C. (aka Ludica) “The Hegemony of Play.” In Situated Play: Proceedings of Digital Games Research Association 2007 Conference. Tokyo, Japan, September 2007. http://lmc.gatech.edu/~cpearce3/PearcePubs/HegemonyOfPlayFINAL.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