Week 6 – Game Genres

Genres are used to help to give a game form before you’ve played it. Without these to help show us what we’re in for, the game world we buy to play may be nothing what we expected it to be. Thus we go oh maybe I’m not so keen to play this. Game genre is always a tough one as the genres can be near endless.

  1. I personally don’t think we need a standardised genre format for video games. This is because games can be so different from each other yet have a standard genre in common. By giving game genre’s sub genres, buzz words and fluff the game will take on a form and explain to a player what they should expect. It perks their interest more. Although a games genre can be near endless, I’d always prefer knowing that it’s got a lot of personality then just being a clone of another.
  2. By sticking to genre when developing a game you can already create some structure. So if you know your game will be action adventure or open world you know what you’re in for. Any other genres or sub genres you add can be put in and formed around the original genre idea. For me I believe having a set genre in the beginning will help a developer create a starting point, you can always work around it.

3. The literary/film genre I’ve chosen is Fantasy. Fantasy is a favourite genre of mine because there are endless possibilities as to who, what, when, where and why. Fantasy doesn’t have too many boundaries. Some examples of fantasy genre movies are: Harry Potter, Pan’s labyrinth, Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Avatar etc. Some of these movies come from fantasy literature. Other fantasy book examples are Game of Thrones, The Broken Well Trilogy, Percheron Trilogy and the Trinity Trilogy.

a.The usual stories/situations and themes can be an unstable utopia or dystopia. Majority of the time it’s the light verses the dark.

b.The settings for fantasy can be endless, each of the examples above have different settings and different timelines. The books however were set in times before technology.

c.Characters can range from many different types of people/species. Some involve kings, queens, elves, hobbits, wizards and many more, a creator can make up his own species or group of people.

4. There is one recurring stereotype in the fantasy genre and that’s usually someone pushing the odds to fight the dark side, they’re usually the protagonist. There are also wise old people with long beards who are a stereotype as well, they can be different types in the stories.

5.The games that fit the same genre are the final fantasy series. Each new storyline that takes place throughout the series is unique in its own way. Creating a beautiful experience every time (SPOILER ALERT. except final fantasy 13 & 13 – 2 which was rude by making you go all that way for Serah to die anyway boooo).

a. The game type does fit the fantasy filmic genre as there aren’t boundaries and it can let the imagination run wild. They also stick to the good vs evil cliché.

b. The setting does reflect the filmic genre which can be many different unique areas that can’t be found in our world.

c. There are character types that are similar to the film genre. One of these characters is Vaan, one of the party members in final fantasy 12. He is a young protagonist fighting to get out of the slums and become a sky pirate. During this time he battles the enemy’s forces and proves himself to be a hero.

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Week 7: World Design

  1. a. My game world is set in the year 2201 where technology has flourished and machines are seen in every aspect of society. When i think of the upper class part of my world design props wise i see a lot of tall buildings, mainly the colors of white and silver. There would be different types of machines at every turn. I have 3 societies that also form the classes, these are High-Society, Middle-Society and End of Society. Each of these districts have a different atmosphere and would need different props.The strongest difference is between High-Society and End of Society. The world i described above is from High-Society, an incredibly clean and well organized society with a low crime rate. However End of society would have props such as make shift buildings, darker worn-down colours. The machines here are rusty and don’t work properly.

b. I introduced advanced technology far beyond what we are capable of currently into my game. There are advanced machines capable of understanding and exchanging orders and several unique functions. The world they live in however is a city located in America, known as a sanctuary. They’re isolated from the outside world so all the inhabitants know is a technology based living. The effects this way of living has on its occupants is they’re incredibly reliant on technology  (this only works for those in high society and middle society). If they were to head back out into the real world they wouldn’t know how to function. Those who live in End of Society have had to fend for themselves so are more independent than others. The sad thing about culture is that there isn’t much due to the simple way of living. The cultural norm is to live your life as simply and happily as you can in High Society, where as the culture of End of society is to survive.

2. a. The map types consist of Heaven, High-Society, Middle-Society, End of society, The Underground/The Sewers and The Outskirts. Due to the city being enclosed and separated from the outside environment there aren’t any weather conditions only night time and day time. The city is able to keep itself nourished and alive. Travel works by using The Underground/Sewers to get to your desired area they run through the whole city.

b. The humans in this world have the same physical laws as us, they have no magic powers or anything that boosts them into something else. The machines however always hold a physical advantage due to how they’re built and the strength they hold. My two main characters Darla and Tyro allow the player to control a human and a machine this enables them to play with different physical laws, unlocking different possibilities. For Darla she is stronger, capable of higher jumps and can influence other  machines.

c. There are some trees situated for aesthetic purposes, otherwise Middle-Society works with agriculture which is the food (vegetarian or animals), water and power production. This is where majority of fauna and flora live. Some people in High-society still keeps dogs and cats as pets. Enemy wise there are mainly machines and other people to get through. The machines range from Angel, Alpha, Beta, Omega which is a hierarchy of strongest to weakest. There are also defects which are machines that have not been able to fit into society or have failed to work properly, they are usually thrown down into The Sewers.

d. The history of my world is the world we know of under went severe environmental changes which wold lead to catastrophic events. Knowing this the world leaders decided that the creation of ‘sanctuaries’ for each country so that the humans may survive. It wasn’t until 2070 that the Sanctuaries were ready to live in and by this time the human population was already depleting fast. Fast forward to 2181, the city has grown to fantastic standards and the populations were growing. At this point in time there was High Society, Middle Society and Low Society but there was great social unrest, especially Low Society. In a short story, there was a failed revolt by Low Society towards Heaven which unfortunately led to the societies demise as well. Low Society was then completely separated from the rest of the city and was now known as End of Society, as symbol of what not to do. Move forward further to 2201, End of Society has a new group called The Revolution who will stop at nothing to enable equality through out the districts. The people here are all different depending on which district they come from.

e. The city is controlled by Heaven, who watch over everything in the city. Only the most qualified of people are able to work in Heaven there isn’t much politics as Heaven states the rules and the people are expected to follow or suffer the consequences. Even though the city is separated from the world, they still have a money system. People must still work and pay for wants and needs and the gaps between the classes are still relevant. The different societies have different currencies.

3.  a. Type of locations (End of Society), Tavern, Markets, Jerry’s house (weapons) The Revolution meeting room and The Rebels meeting room.

b. End of Society is the poorest district and has an incredibly high crime/death rate. It’s multi racial and doesn’t rely on machinery as much as the other districts. It looks run down and a lot of houses and areas are makeshift from the rubble around the area.

c. A stereotypical person i the tavern could be a man who was a part of the original revolt who can’t seem to get over it. Kind of like the old commander stereotype.

d. The man will get drunk and blurt out ramblings to those he doesn’t like and will state strong opinions to the current leader of The Revolution.

I hope my world Design has some structure as I worked to make it seem like a real place for my characters to live and interact in.

Week 5 – Character Development

For me personally I believe characters and character development are a major part of a game. I love feeling connecting and understanding the emotions a character goes through. A character doesn’t have to be realistic however, to get this response either. When writing games and creating the characters a designer must remember their audience and what they would connect to or like to play as. Whether the character is a protagonist or an Antagonist they each have qualities given to them by the designer to get the desired response from the gamers. Discussed in the lecture were four characteristics of characters such as flat, round, static and dynamic. The examples used were Gordon Freeman (Half-life) and Ellie (The Last of Us). Gordon was a flat and static character who showed no character development and didn’t have psychological ties. Whereas Ellie was a round and dynamic character who a player could connect to emotionally and showed strong character development. My personal choice for being the better character would be Ellie, when I played The Last of Us I could understand her emotions and grew along with her as she became more independent.

When connecting this lecture content to my own character creations I wanted round and dynamic main characters that the player would enjoy being in control of and enjoy being a part of their character development. A major part of my characters and their development was with dialogue. I have two main characters Tyro and Darla who have a strong bond which was not originally formed through dialogue but this makes the gradual dialogue more special due to the change it will bring to the characters development and relationships.

Not only are the playable characters important but so are the NPC’s, which is discussed in Freeman’s readings. Freeman states the cliché traits and what not to go for if you wish to create an interesting and unpredictable character for the game. An example used are space pilots who take on Han Solo’s traits (Freeman, 2003) which are swashbuckling, brave, have a dry wit and can be a bit arrogant (Freeman, 2003). For me when an NPC has cliché traits it’s almost as if I already know them and won’t be expecting much from the NPC. In Glassner’s reading it talks a lot about the story/plot line that we follow, this ties in the character development. Without the progressive storyline we wouldn’t have character development. Through the acts 1, 2 and 3 (Glassner, 2004) as the story goes through its changes and conflicts so will the character which leads into Rollings figure on the “Growth of the Character” (Rollings, 2003, p.135). The acts go in this order, limited awareness, increased awareness, reluctance to change, overcoming, committing, experimenting, preparing, big change, consequences, rededication, final attempt and mastery (Rollings, 2003). This growth cycle ties in with the Hero’s Journey (Rollings, 2003). Each of these readings have great value when trying to construct either a story, a character or combining the two. In my assignment and my game idea I’m relying strongly on my progressive characters and the in depth storyline. Tying in from what I’ve stated at the start I enjoy games that have strong unique characters that you can feel for which is exactly what I want to put into my own game.

References:

Freeman, D. (2003). NPC Interesting Techniques. Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering (pp. 46-59). Indianapolis, Indiana: New Riders

Glassner, A. (2004). Protagonist & The Hero’s Growth. Interactive Storytelling. Techniques for 21st Century Fiction. (pp. 76-83). Natick, Massachusetts: A. K. Peters.

Rollings, A. & Adams, E. (2003). Character Development. On Game Design (pp. 122146). Berkeley, California: New Riders.

Week 4 – The Golden Path

Week 4 was all about the ‘Golden Path’. This is about how the player experiences the game they’re playing, whether it’s high agency or low agency, the boundaries or it’s interactivity. Keeping the player into a game can be tough, especially if you want them to be interested and have a wide range of things to do yet not allow them to stray too far from the path.

Many different games display different ways to keep the player on the path, some are obvious where as some are subtle and barely noticeable. I myself prefer playing High Agency games where I feel like I can have an effect on what’s happening I also enjoy feeling what’s happening inside the game. By feeling I mean understanding the emotion, whether it’s sadness from a characters death, stress from battles or choices and joy from what the game brings. Although I will still play any game that is pure fun, low or high agency.

The readings for this week were also interesting when thinking about writing your own game script. In Bateman’s reading the importance of each element in gameplay is discussed. For example breadcrumbing, the spine and golden path, funnelling and the players peace of mind. Breadcrumbing is how the game designer will leave a type of trail for the player to follow. It gives the player reason to keep going on the intended path, it keeps the narrative going (Bateman, 2007). Breadcrumbing can come in many forms such as a physical trail, dialogue, trigger events and dead ends (Bateman, 2007). The spine of a game is how a player is expected to go through the story beginning to end, these events are mandatory for the narratives success (Bateman, 2007). The golden path is, as quoted by Bateman, “the route of least resistance and maximum reward” (Bateman, 2007, p.87). The golden path is different to the spine because the golden path is able to go different directions from the spine of the game (Bateman, 2007). In a game funnelling is used to keep a player directly on track to the spine, whether it be kill zones, a narrator or a NPC who tells the player what to do. By keeping in mind the players’ peace of mind the designer can make sure the player stays on the correct path and make sure they get the most out of their gaming experience (Bateman, 2007)

In Freeman’s reading different elements of Agency are discussed. It’s good to take note that the reading discusses the good and the bad of how game designers bring forth their game play. An example I will talk about are the motivation techniques, so a way a game designer can entice a player to keep going. Freeman talks about always giving players something to do, trying not to interrupt gameplay (when the player receives information are they brought out of the game?), give the player the rewards that they deserve, plot twists, consequences (Freeman, 2003) and many more elements are capable of motivating a player to keep going. It can be a real bummer if a player loses interest and they no longer feel the need to continue through to the end.
Activities Set 1:

For this activity I couldn’t think of a recent game that was non-linear and had a low agency. But the high agency game was something interesting to discuss.

A recent high agency game that I have played: Until dawn

  1. Until Dawn relied strongly on the player’s choices, the story would play out differently and there were intense outcomes due to them.
  2. In Until Dawn almost pretty much all choices you made were significant. Even if it caused a small change, there would still be a change. In Until Dawn I was never prepared for the choices. They would come up constantly at random times and you wouldn’t know what the outcome would be.
  3. The significance of each choice always left me in a stressful position. This was because I knew something big could happen as soon as I decided what action I’d take, I could never be sure whether it would be a good or bad outcome.
  4. The choices could sometimes be fun, if you were at a mellow point in the game (which was only the first chapter) choices seemed innocent and could be enjoyed. The choices however weren’t fair, but not in a bad way. As I played this game the unfair choices forced you to think about your action so as you played on you would think before you act. In some cases it could be a strong life lesson.
  5. Until Dawn had a knack for not letting you make up for poor choices, the auto save system meant you had to play through the game (you could repeat chapters yet to a lot of effort). If a poor choices leads to a death of a character you had to carry the weight on your shoulders for the rest of the game.
  6. To improve the agency in this game, the player should have more freedom to move around areas as they please. Until Dawn usually had a straight path (with optional paths to take that would lead to a collectable but not to a new location) so the player couldn’t wander as they please. I felt like I was walking into a trap constantly

References

Bateman, C. (Ed.). (2007). Keeping the Player on Track. Game Writing. Narrative Skills for Videogames. Boston, Massachusetts: Charles River Media.

Freeman, D. (2003). Agency & Motivation & Cohesiveness Techniques & Tying Story to Gameplay. Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering (pp. 327-353; 379-387). Indianapolis, Indiana: New Riders.

Week 3 – Linear & Non-Linear Narrative

Hi all. This week’s class discussed narrative structures of games and how they can be sequenced and the general guidelines story writers tend to follow. The guidelines came from Joseph Campbell’s story called The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) which displayed a pattern that has proved to be successful when creating good stories. The ideas were later updated by Christopher Volger which was called The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (2007). In class we were asked to think of a game that follows the points made by Volger. The game I chose was Tomb Raider (2013) and it fit into the categories thusly.

  • The Ordinary world – Lara Croft is setting out on her first expedition expecting to find new things, but still clinging to the world and activities she is used to.
  • The call to Adventure – The ship Lara and her friends were on crashes and sinks and Lara is forced to evacuate and is captured by an actual random who we still got no clue as to who he is. The call is being forced to survive and make it out alive.
  • Refusal to the call – Lara is yet to be a part of a real adventure and is scared and really whiny. She doesn’t have faith in her abilities and is constantly having a cry.
  • Meeting with the Mentor – Lara meets up with Roth, who is her mentor due to their close relations. Roth is a close family friend of the Croft family and has taken on a Father figure role as Lara’s parents are deceased. He boosts her confidence by saying ‘You’re a Croft!’
  • Crossing the first Threshold – Lara is forced to become the hard out Tomb Raider we all know and love (but she isn’t cause she’s a little bitch for ages) due to the fight for her life being pushed on her. The fundamental moment for this is her using the bow and arrow for the first time.
  • Tests, Allies and Enemies – The constant tests are puzzles and obstacles you must go through to find your missing friends who are your allies in the game also. The enemies are the messed up worshipers of the Sun Queen, shipwrecked mercenaries and others.
  • Approach the Innermost Cave – This is the point where Lara has figured out what’s happening on the island and how much danger Sam is in and puts majority of the scared thoughts behind her and hardens up to save Sam.
  • The Ordeal – Finding a way to Sam while fighting through all the crazy people and giant Samurai guys without getting killed.
  • Reward – Saving Sam
  • The Road back – After losing Roth Lara pushes onwards besides her grief.
  • The Resurrection – Losing Roth and wanting even more to save Sam she goes as hard out as she can during the final battle and fights through the odds to come out on top as Lara Croft, Tomb Raider.
  • Return with the Reward – Leaving the island with Sam and the friends who survived.

The readings for this week also followed the theme of narratives. The main idea I picked from Glassner’s reading was about the Three Act Form, this is due to the connection it had to our Game idea we had in class that we put into 3 different acts. The reading states that the Acts can be described as Complication, Development and Resolution (Glassner, 2004). Act One is usually at the beginning of a characters adventure where something rattles their simple world (Glassner, 2004), Act Two is when the character decides to take actions for various reasons (Glassner, 2004) and Act Three is where there is no turning back for the character (Glassner, 2004). The second reading by Sheldon also talks about narrative structure but more to do with Linear and branching the stories. Both readings are interesting and give insight into stories for games and the struggle game designers have when deciding if a game needs a strong story or if people would rather strong gameplay.

Glassner, A. (2004). Where We Are & Plot & Narrative Devices. Interactive Storytelling. Techniques for 21st Century Fiction. (pp. 1017; 53-67; 74-75; 99-108). Natick, Massachusetts: A. K. Peters.

Sheldon, L. (2004). Modular Storytelling. Character Development and Storytelling for Games (pp. 85-102). Boston, Massachusetts: Thomson Course Technology.

Week 2: Developing Game Ideas

Hey Everyone! Unfortunately due to illness I was unable to come to class and had missed out on your very interesting game ideas. This week was about creativity and you were all put in a position where you could fuel your creativity from each other, it was like building blocks as you worked from other peoples sentences to create a story that (I don’t think) someone couldn’t think up on their own. The hilarity of them was amazing and I would definitely play these games to my heart’s content.

This week’s readings were interesting and also very helpful towards creative thinking for our assignments. Creativity is one of the main skills needed when coming up with your own game idea because how else will you think of something that’s meant to be new and cool? Creativeness is in all of us, but not everyone can tap into it so that it becomes useful. “Don’t let your dreams be dreams!” – Shia Labeouf. To reach full creative capacity you must be able to embrace your creativity and grow from random ideas. Ideas such as these are discussed in Fullerton’s reading. Fullerton states that we all have ideas that come to us constantly throughout the day and while we take part in our daily activities (Fullerton, 2004) it’s good to take note during this reading as good points are made that could give an advantage to us. Points such as keeping notepads and voice recorders to write down or say your ideas as soon as they come to mind (Fullerton, 2004) to do this will allow you to keep hold onto small ideas that can be easily forgotten but could have great value in the future. A quote from the reading to back this up is “They’re impossible to predict or corral, and if you’re not paying attention, they slip right past you.” (Fullerton, 2004, p.140). Further reading discusses how to organize your ideas so that they won’t be scattered about and can be structured to mean something. Having a lot of creative ideas flowing about is great but without correct organization they won’t have much of an effect and will get lost. To study this reading early will provide a good working set up for those of us who get lost when trying to get our creativity pumping.

The second reading by Rollings is also very helpful when putting our game ideas down on paper and the continuing to give them structure. It’s a step by step procedure. The reading describes the procedure as putting it together like a skeleton and then adding more details, which is described as adding meat to the bones (Rollings, 2003).

Just an extra paragraph to add interest. As I’m writing this blog I am watching the Matrix which I watch purely for the Keanu Reeves fight scenes where he takes on heaps of foes with a magnificent jacket that flows elegantly. A fight scene in a movie can be fantastic if done correctly but with a game, it can leave a game changing moment where a player is so engaged in the gameplay that they believe their own life in on the line as they play. I’m sure we have all reached a boss battle in a game where we are on the edge of our seats furiously pressing buttons and trying to rethink our strategies. Some of these battles may leave you on the brink of insanity but the completion of it seems so much sweeter. What I’m getting at is the way engaging fight scenes can leave a viewer/player intrigued and willing to fight for their life. And I don’t consider Bloodborne or Dark souls to be in this category because their fight scenes are suicidal and insanity is the only thing you will get from them.

http://www.matrixfans.net/interview-with-shea-adams-stunt-player-from-the-matrix-reloaded-and-revolutions-2003/
http://www.matrixfans.net/interview-with-shea-adams-stunt-player-from-the-matrix-reloaded-and-revolutions-2003/


Fullerton, T., Swain, C., & Hoffman, S.. (2004). Conceptualization. Game Design Workshop (pp. 140-156). San Francisco:   CMP Books

Rollings, A. & Adams, E. (2003). Game Concept Worksheet & Sample High-Concept Document. On Game Design (pp. 53; 574576). Berkeley, California: New Riders

Week 1: Authors & Designers

Question 1.

My skills:

  • Gaming religiously
  • Story wiring and making in my own time in my creative moments
  • I have drawn in my time, but not as much anymore. I have taken part in Art ATAR classes, and intro to drawing for this course.
  • I look further into gaming than just what portrayed to me through gameplay. I look up origins, get more information on characters so that i get a more in depth experience.
  • Try my best for trophies and achievements

What skills I will need

  • Slight programming skills
  • A better understanding about the softwares needed
  • Broader knowledge of game concepts and what goes in to game creation

Question 2. 

I myself haven’t completed much that would help towards game design but hope to do a lot more in this unit!

  • Concept Art, such as books or sketches to see where a designer started and how they came to a conclusion
  • Documents of research into the environment or elements of the game. I believe this makes a game seem more realistic if it has facts or fictions that are a part of our world.
  • A game designer should keep all workings old and new as they progress through their game. They might like an older idea and try reincorporate it back into the later project. It’s also good to show workings.
  • Keeping back stories and backgrounds on the settings gives more depth into the story and makes it seem more alive.

Question 3.

For me I love the creativity side of game design. Thinking of new characters, stories settings and anything that contributes to the creation of the game. I would still love to greater my skills in level designing and the 3D design aspect. The creative side is more up my alley but to broaden my horizons I must have many skills.

Question 4. 

I do believe certain skills and attitudes will prevent a successful game designer. Because the industry is hard to crack and needs a wide range of skills and also the mind set to get through tough times. A wide range of skills is needed because if you can’t get into the field you were originally after you need to adapt and work your way from somewhere else. I do believe that writing is a priority to have and understanding story writing otherwise your games won’t have a base and you will be working from nothing. For the attitudes, a game designer will not become successful nor will they get very far in life if they don’t sort themselves out. Some poor attitudes would be bad communication or social skills, this is because you will always be working wit someone whether it be a client or a co-worker and being hard to work with could leave you unemployed or with little to do with the industry. Another bad attitude is always feeling the need to control or act as if the game is all yours and only for you as it’s not. The game is not simply for the designer, it’s for the clients or the players and if you can’t allow any input and go only by what you like your success rate is very low. Also clients won’t keep you for long if you won’t follow their guidelines. Another attitude is that you must be able to take a punch and know when your time is up. What I’m saying is you should know when something isn’t working and it’s a bust. You work from failure.

Weekly Readings –

The two readings of this week were interesting and informative. Fullerton stated the importance of design documents when creating a game with a large scale group where as Rouse showed the different kind of documents needed when creating your game. A good point made by Fullerton is how much gaming has progressed in the last 10 years and more people are needed to create games (Fullerton, 2004) which means getting an idea for the game across to everyone will be difficult work. The design document wasn’t precise enough to explain what everyone’s part was, the end result would be scattered by everyone’s interpretation as to what path to take (Fullerton, 2004). For me, I found it good to know what systems are used in large scale game designing and that everyone has their part to play and are given set ideas so everyone is working in their own way but in the same direction. In Rouse’s reading documents such as proposal, design, flow charts, story bibles, scripts, technical design (Rouse, 2000) and many more were discussed. A lot of detail was given for each of these as to what part they played and at what point of the game design they played a part in. Same as Fullerton, Rouse believes that documentation will help increase the success rate of games a quote that states this in the reading is “As a game designer, you should be involved and interested in the creation of all of the documentation described above” (Rouse, 2000, p.303). For someone barely starting their gaming career (still in uni) it’s good to get insight as to what goes on when actually doing game design and what you should expect.

References:

Fullerton, T., Swain, C., & Hoffman, S.. (2004). The Design Document. Game Design Workshop (pp. 371-376). San Francisco: CMP Books.

Rouse, R. (2000). Game Development Documentation. Game Design: Theory and Practice  (pp. 291- 303). Plano, Texas: Wordware Publishing.