Saturday, November 12, 2016

Homework 11: Game Design

Great games that I have played and enjoyed:

1. Killer Instinct (2013): One of the games that I have enjoyed playing in the past is Killer Instinct. I like Killer Instinct because it is a fighting game and has one-on-one combat. While there are earlier versions that have been released that I have played (Nintendo), the one I remember recently is through Xbox. One of the first noticeable qualities of the game is that there is a variety of characters to choose from when playing. Schell (2015) evaluates the nature of game characters and finds that “players are crying out for more—they want their games to have richer, more meaningful characters and storylines” (p. 347). The game manufactures were able to design compelling game characters that also included detailed background storylines. You can view the characters and their storylines through the game’s website. When you click on a specific character, it will show you that characters traits and storyline providing more interesting character relationships for the player to enjoy.
                The game also has a great balance of skill versus chance (Schell, 2015, p. 214). Since each player has distinct advantages, there is some chance as to the outcome of the fight depending on the player you chose versus your opponent. However, there is also great skill involved because the player can use automatic combos, ultra-combos, finishing moves, and combo breakers during a fight to battle their opponent. All of these options are based on the player’s choice and strategy and introduce the element of skill to the game. Another reason I like the game is that it is not too long that it becomes boring or I lose focus. There are clear goals in the game and the task (to win the fight) is evident. Additionally, there is direct feedback. As you play the game, you see your life bar draining if you are losing or you see your opponent’s life bar draining if you are winning.  Clear goals and direct feedback are two elements listed by Schell (2015) as maintaining a player’s focus (p. 139).

2. Super Mario Kart: I really like playing Super Mario Kart. When examining Super Mario Kart for game balance, it excels at balancing many aspects of game play as defined by Schell (2015). When looking at “fairness,” the player can choose a character and each has differing capabilities creating an asymmetrical game. However, each character is faced with a variety of obstacles to make the game challenging. It also adds to the player’s ability to control the game experience because they have the choice as to which character they want to play. Additionally, the game is balanced with appropriate layers of challenge and the player is able to choose the difficulty level, as well as single-player or multi-player modes. The characters in the game are the same across all Mario games, like Super Mario Brothers, which creates a memorable brand recognition as well as familiarity with the characters. Growing up with Mario games, I appreciate that the characters remain true to their design across game platforms and game versions. Mario will always look like Mario and Luigi will always look like Luigi, etc. For me this has given me a sense of familiarity and comfort with the game, as well as nostalgia when I play older versions. This is one of the reasons I like this game. Additionally, the game is simplistic in nature but still provides mental stimulation, which is Schell’s balance type #11 (p. 226). The ruleset is simple and clearly defined but there are multiple, complex game situations.

Great games that I have played and did not enjoy:

1. Tomb Raider: One of the main reasons that I dislike Tomb Raider is because I find it too expansive of a 3D space involving too much problem/puzzle solving and less linear play. This is actually interesting that I feel this way because it is in direct contradiction to Schell (2015) who reports, “Studies have shown that males generally have stronger skills of spatial reasoning than females…accordingly, puzzles that involve navigating 3D spaces are often quite intriguing to males…” (p. 122).  I really dislike puzzle solving in game play because it involves a lot of reading of onscreen text or time in completing the level. However, that is just a personal reaction and most likely due to the time involved rather than skills or ability to complete the game. Schell (2015) states that a game is made for a player and the variety in games available is necessary to attract the various demographics who enjoy gaming (p. 118). In younger demographics, time is less of an issue and this game might be more enjoyable. However, in older demographics, time is more of a precious commodity and longer or more extensive games detract from career or family responsibilities (p. 119). Therefore, this is a good reminder that it is necessary to consider the target audience or demographic when designing a game.

2. The Sims: The first reason why I dislike games like The Sims is due to the lack of a purpose or a clearly defined goal. There is not a set purpose or task to complete but it is more of a free-for-all, building, designing, playing combination. Schell (2015) found that games like The Sims that have more multitasking skill involved have a stronger female appeal, which might explain my initial dislike for the game (p. 123). Another reason that players might like the game according to Schell (2015) is the joy of creation (p. 406). All of this depends on the reason the player is playing the game to begin with. As chapter nine details, “the game is made for a player,” and game design might vary depending on what a player wants. Males and females have different interests (p.120). Schell (2015) describes Bartle’s taxonomy of player types, which includes achievers, explorers, socializers, killers (p. 129). I am more of an “achiever,” in that I want to achieve the goals of the game. Since The Sims does not really have clearly defined goals, it is not the most suitable game for my ‘player type.’ However, explorers or socializers would enjoy playing The Sims.

Source: Schell, J. (2015). The art of game design: A book of lenses. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Homework 10: Interfaces

List ten examples of interfaces between people and the real world.
  1. A keyboard will allow a user to type on a computer.
  2. A television remote will allow a user to turn on the TV and change channels.
  3. Car keys will allow the user to turn on and drive a car.
  4. Money will allow the user to purchase goods.
  5. A lighter is an interface to create fire or burn down a building.
  6. A weapon is an interface for hunting.
  7. A leash is an interface to walk a dog.
  8. A magic wand is an interface for magic.
  9. Headphones are an interface for listening to music.
  10. The washing machine is an interface for clean clothes
Give an example of a good interface between player and game. Explain why it is a good interface.

A good interface between a player and a game is the Xbox controller. It is a good interface because as Schell (2015) describes, “the goal of an interface is to make players feel in control of their experience” (p. 254). The Xbox controller allows the user to feel in control of their experience by providing multiple functions in the one remote. It offers the two triggers, 4 paddles on the top (2 on each side) and a joystick control for both thumbs, as well as buttons for the right hand side. This allows the user to control various functions throughout the game. In this image, you can see the various buttons and functions for each button within the game Grand Theft Auto V.  It really allows the user to customize their own experience because they can control their weapon, aiming, camera view, character selection, movements, and more. Additionally, Schell (2015) warns, “copying existing physical interfaces is an easy trap to fall into” (p. 258). With the Xbox Controller, the design is specifically improved upon from previous controllers to aid in comfort when holding the device as well as streamline the number and placement of buttons. 

Give an example of a poor interface between player and game. Explain why it is a poor interface.

For an example of a poor interface between a player and game, I would like to use my online chess game through Gamecolony as an example. I personally love the interface with the chat box, player stats, time box, and movement displays. However, many times, I have tried to make the window of the game larger and it will not get bigger. The window itself will get bigger but the chessboard itself stays the same dimension in the upper left corner (see image below). Looking at Schell’s (2015) “Interface tip #1: Steal,” the chess game through Gamecolony seems to be just a clone of other chess game interfaces already in the market. According to Schell (2015) if the game does not offer the user anything new or exciting it will simply feel like a clone (p. 274). In this case, the chessboard on Game colony does appear to be a clone. Change can lead to more change which will morph the interface into something different. For this game, definitely making the game board resizable would be nice, but maybe also being able to customize the color of the pieces or the style of the pieces would be interesting to see and lead toward Schell's goal for interfaces, "to make players seem in control of their experience" (p. 254).

Source: Schell, J. (2015). The art of game design: A book of lenses. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Homework 9: Balance

1. Fairness: According to Schell (2015), a game is asymmetrical if opponents have different resources or abilities; additionally, it is asymmetrical if there are more opponents chasing the main character (example: Pac-man and multiple ghosts) rather than a 1:1 ration (p. 203).  For these two reasons, Fly Fairy Fly is an asymmetrical game because our Fairy has more powers than the opponents do in the game, but there are multiple opponents and obstacles that will be introduced to slow the fairy down. This creates an interesting situation for the player of the game, yet still maintains a bit of fairness because the increased powers of the Fairy are balanced with obstacles.

2. Challenge vs. Success: One of the biggest challenges in game design is balancing the challenges and successes for the player (Schell, 2015, p. 209). There needs to be enough of a challenge to keep skilled players interested, but also enough easy successes to keep novice players interested. Additionally, Schell (2015) states that games should increasingly get difficult, but allow for passage of levels on varying grade levels (A,B,C).  Our group has designed various levels to the game that will increase in difficulty as the game progresses to keep the interest of all skill levels.  Additionally, players will have the opportunity to increase health, power, and time in each level.

3. Meaningful Choices: Meaningful choices are provided in Fly Fairy Fly through various design elements. We have avoided the dominant strategy of having one choice that is clearly better than the other is and followed a relationship of triangularity. Schell (2015) details that this is a relationship of ‘balanced asymmetric risk’ where there is a low risk/low reward option balanced with a high risk/high reward option (p. 211). In Fly Fairy Fly there are options for the player to advance the fairy rapidly through the level without collecting coins or bonus features but completing the level alive or the player can advance more slowly and collect all the coins, bonus features, and gain more points but the risk of death in the level increases.

4. Skill vs. Chance: Fly Fairy Fly will use more skill than chance. The majority of the game will be skill and work on players improving their skill to complete the levels faster or with more points over time. However, according to designer David Perry, “…any time players are taking risks, they are up against chance, in some way” (as cited in Schell, 2015, p. 214).  In our game, there is the opportunity for chance because the players can take the risk of going slow through a level and collecting more bonus features or take less risk and speed through the game as mentioned in the previous paragraph. This will provide the element of chance in our game slightly balancing the skill requirement.

5. Head vs. Hands: It would be ideal if the game had an equal balance of brain effort and physical activity in the game. There is some balance between the physical activity of moving through the level and the brain effort of strategizing or devising a plan to successfully complete the level. When reviewing the questions posed in Lens #42 by Schell (2015), one question posed was, “Would adding more places that involve puzzle solving in my game make it more interesting” (p. 216)?  When I was considering this question, I think that there are an appropriate amount of challenges in the game that will make it stimulating without being overly challenging or intense. I think the game provides an appropriate balance of “head vs. hands” to keep the player engaged and stimulated.

6. Competition vs. Cooperation: Currently, our game is a single-player game so there is really no sense of competition or cooperation with other players. Competition can be introduced by competing against one’s own record, maybe tracking the high score to create a competition as to who can beat the high score. Additionally, friends might be able to compete against each other to see who can beat the level or game the fastest or with the highest amount of points. There is no element of cooperation in Fly Fairy Fly.

7. Short vs. Long: Fly Fairy Fly is designed to be a relatively short game. First, it needs to be developed within a short amount of time so introducing extensive game playing options is not feasible. Additionally, the game runs the risk of becoming boring if it carries on for too long. There are only so many bonus points the fairy can collect or obstacle the fairy can beat before it becomes boring. Therefore, the gameplay is appropriately balanced with timing to limit how long a player spends on each level. The player can rush through to move on or slowly advance to gain more points. There are also additional time bonus features that a fairy can collect if they need more time on a level, this will help novice players be able to complete levels that are more difficult because they can add to their allotted time.

8. Rewards: Schell (2015) outlines multiple types of rewards available to offer players during a game (p. 220). Fly Fairy Fly utilizes praise, points, prolonged play, and possibly spectacle. Our game will offer praise when completing a level, probably with a “Great!” or “Good job!” popping up on screen after a player successfully completes a level. The game tracks points and the player can earn additional points by finishing in a certain time or collecting coins. There are also bonus features in the game that give the fairy more “life” or “health” which can serve as a reward.

9. Punishment: Punishment increases challenge and in our game, the punishment used is “shortened play” and “terminated play” (Schell, 2015, p. 223). The fairy has the possibility to lose health or lose a life throughout the game. If the player loses all their lives or health, the game is over and the player must restart.

10. Freedom vs. Controlled Experience: The freedom of the player is limited in Fly Fairy Fly and the player is offered more of a controlled experience. The player has small freedom to choose how to approach the game (i.e. fast or slower, earning points) but the actions take place in a controlled environment.

11. Simple vs. Complex: While our game design is simple, it is not “so simple it is boring” (Schell, 2015, p. 226). The game avoids “innate complexity” but offers more of an “emergent complexity” in which the game has a very simple ruleset that allows for numerous complex game situations (p. 227). If the player chooses to collect coins, then the player will be faced with obstacles to battle. The player might choose to rush through the game and will be challenged with obstacles or time. The rules/design is simple to avoid too many complex rules that the player is annoyed with trying to understand them all. However, the game play is designed to offer a variety of challenges that create varying complexity of game play.

12. Detail vs. Imagination: As an introduction to gaming class, our game reflects our desire to learn and provide a very detailed game, but with time constraints and ability constraints, our game does not have extremely advanced details. We have tried to provide detailed fairies to make the game interesting, as well as some of our bonus features are detailed and the surrounding area. The game will require the player to fill in some of the details and use their imagination.

Source: Schell, J. (2015). The art of game design: A book of lenses. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Homework 8- Blender to Unreal to Git

I developed the female fairy for our game. The female fairy's body needs to be visible during game play because it is a third party game. Additionally, she needs to have wings and be able to animate flying. I began creating the female character in Blender and used third party plugins to experiment with animation. I designed the fairy's wings using Illustrator and imported them into the game and parented them to the female body. I created the shirt on the fairy in Blender. I used Manuel Labs and MakeHuman when experimenting with the fairy's appearance and animations but was ultimately able to get the running animation through MakeHuman's program.

Left: Picture of female fairy in Blender
Right: Picture of female fairy loaded into Unreal

Left: Female fairy running (created via MakeHuman) in Unreal
Right: Female fairy in play mode in Unreal

Photo: After exporting my female fairy as an .fbx file and loading into the Github repository. I tried to then download the project and collect all the assets. Here my fairy is pictured next to Nick's male fairy and Sunny's objects, however she has lost her color. I know this is probably a minor issue and is easily corrected. I will continue to work on processing the file through Github so that the female fairy may appear as she does in the previous photos. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Homework 5

I started off with an anime model that I uploaded to my blender project from Manuel Labs.

I added a plane mesh. I placed the plane mesh over her body then I subdivided the plane mesh seventy-five times. With the B-select button, I isolated the area for the shirt. Then, I hit 'inverse' and deleted the other vertices on the mesh.

I switched the normals on the back side so in the game, the back side of the shirt will show.

I had the big square shirt with the mesh. I adjusted it to curve around the body shape of the fairy. After getting it to look more like a real shirt, I colored it.  I still don't know how to modify it into a cloth or parent it so that it stays with the body at all times.

I went to adobe illustrator and converted a regular 2D picture into a 3D scalable vector graphics - SVG. Then, I enabled the import SVG on Blender and imported it into the program. I still haven't figured out how to attach the wings to the body or to parent them so they follow with her. I also have to fill in the wings.

Git Repository

Username: Pablocorrea1
Team Repository:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Homework 3: Unreal First Steps

I started with the starter content to create a new scene. I erased the starter content, then went to file and added a new level. I hit the default new level option. I added a cylinder from the Geometry shapes, I reshaped and resized it and played around a bit with it. I added a curved stair leading up to the cylinder. I made a higher cylinder and spiral staircase in the sky, sort of like another level that the fairy in the game might be able to fly up to.  At this point, I also added a directional light and played around with the shadows which were cast.

Next, I changed the scale of the floor for X,Y, and Z to 5. I began adding texture to the stairs and cylinders. I added a cobblestone texture to the stairs and a chose the ground grass texture for the base floor.

Here, I right-clicked and added a actor, and chose the camera actor option. The following screenshots shows the camera actor view. 

Here, I just began adding additional content from the content folders. I chose the boulders to help add more objects in the scene.

Thank you!