Simple Game Design by Polish, Appeal and Measures

The cycles to achieve simple game design
The cycles to achieve simple game design

If you would like to read my master thesis, go ahead and get it here. Otherwise, read on and get an overview of my thoughts behind Simple Game Design through Polish, Appeal & Measures.

With a vantage point in the term Game Polish, I have proposed a simple method for designing games independently from any specific production methodologies.

The study was made in the spring of 2009 through correspondences with members of the International IGDA Game Design SIG and other forums dedicated to game development.

The main cornerstones of the study is Polish, Appeal, and Measures – all elaborated in the report.

Simple Game Design through Polish, Appeal & Measures. This method proposed in my master thesis, explain how to make a game or on what to focus designing it.

An Idea in a Master Thesis

In this thesis the reader will be presented with a definition of the nebulous term Polish used in relation to computer games, mainly derived from literary sources. The term has been processed from different perspectives and split into three overall topics: Polish, Appeal, and Measures.

The topic of Polish relate to the elements used to add Appeal to a computer game. The topic of Measures relate to how the intentions of the game’s Appeal are being verified through the pre–production and the production phases in the making of a computer game. These three topics will form the cornerstones of this master thesis.

A Simple Game Design Method

The overall methodology of the study consist of two parts. The first part being a series of correspondences with game designers via e–mail and online discussion forums dedicated to game design issues. The second phase of the methodology has been to verify the responses through a series of interviews with professional game developers working at different levels in the game industry.

The results are presented according to the cornerstones, Polish, Appeal and Measures reflecting the respondents’ opinions on how the elements of Polish are being evaluated in pre–production and production of computer games. It is clear that players are not included in pre–productions as much as in productions. The elements of Polish should not be treated as those with functional and pleasing purposes separately, as there are rarely added any elements of Polish that does not have a distinct function in the game.

Several aspects of game design are being discussed, however an effort is made towards making the proposed methodology independent of the established definition of staged software development. In relation to this there is being proposed a more fluid way to describe the process of game development through the terms Concept, Design, and Content.

The conclusion of the thesis proposes a simple methodology of designing games that is independent of software production methodologies.

Audio and game programmer at DADIU’s Exodroid

While doing my MSc in Medialogy, I took part in two productions at DADIU (Danish Academy for Digital Interactive Entertainment).

My second production was Exodroid and was made in Unity using C#. This production took place in March 2009 while I was writing my master thesis, so these projects are highly interconnected.

As game programmer on this project, I gained experience using C# with Unity. Furthermore, I took an active part in developing the design and the production itself.

I participated in the project while writing my master thesis, therefore much of the discussion and conclusion is somewhat related to this project.

Casual game, -gaming, -playing, -gamer, -game player…

Well, ain”t that a rant…

I”m writing this post because I recently read a paper seeking to define the term casual in relation to video games (check the presentation slides that comes with it). Then I found a post on indiegamer.com discussing this very question.

My approach is grounded in the academia but moving towards the real deal, the practical implementation, or you might say, the geeky know-a-lot-but-haven”t-really-tried-it-properly-yet approach. That is except for my experimenting in my spare time and at the university not to mention my recent internship in a game company called Titoonic in Copenhagen.

In short the paper categorizes terms of “casual” in relation to games into the following:

  • Casual Games:
    The games that are casual or designed to belong to a subset of games, meant to be played casually. Mostly defined as having “generally appealing content, simple controls, easy-to-learn gameplay, fast rewards, or support short play sessions” [Kuitinen et al.].
  • Casual Game Player:
    A person that plays games labeled or designed to be Casual Games. The stay-at-home wife 35+.
  • Casual Gamer:
    A person who play ANY games casually (notice the difference from above).
  • Casual Gaming:
    The general attitude or approach towards gaming. (Hardcore gamers do not play for leisure).
  • Casual Playing:
    Describes the way a casual gamer would play a game. “… in small time bursts or in a low cognitive state” [Kuitinen et al.]. Playing without effort.

In my humble oppinion it is nice to have a clear definition eventhough some people think it is waste of time and goes “no speak – make game”. I wonder where the cultural and technical evolution would be if everyone thought like that when they discovered the wheel.

Anyway… I want to give my support to the guys in Tampere that like to explain the buzz. Kudos!

Using Game Design Patterns in Casual Online Game Productions

9th Semester/Internship

Spending time in “the real world” was a great lesson for me. Besides the academic work, described below, I gained first hand experience in what it takes to deliver production quality flash games. Through this I tried using game design patterns in casual online game productions.

Games should be fun and plenty. If game developers should make plenty of fun games they need efficient tools to design them. Game designers today use existing games as references when discussing game design. Pattern languages may offer a common reference frame and Game Design Patterns may help game developers design more efficiently.

This case study was made to find what it would be like using game design patterns in casual online game productions in a small casual game company. Among the findings was a positive attitude towards the methods, however if a company is to benefit from them there has to be taken measures towards educating staff and redesigning production models.

Whether Game Design Patterns are in fact useful remains uncertain. This study offer suggestions to what is necessary to succeed in implementation of Game Design Patterns based on Björk’s and Holopainen’s research.

Jul i Sonofonhuset

This was a project where I took part as game design and programming intern in Titoonic a/s in late 2008. The production time was one month. My main tasks on the project was game design, sound design, and sound programming (where the sound engine was added to the company’s codebase).

The sound manager class which is an adaptation of Matt Przybylski’s code found here.

Physically Modelled Sound and Immersion in Computer Games

(8th Semester)

In the early days of computer games the sound was created using simple synthesis techniques, but as the development of better processors and larger storage media, the development lead towards the use of wave-table synthesis, which has become the most used technique in current computer games. Since the introduction of the wave-table synthesis the development in audio creation and playback in games has stagnated.

One of the latest fields within sound synthesis is physically modelled, which holds great potential, within games and interactive environments, because of its more dynamic nature. An area in which very sparse research has been done is measuring the impact of physically modelled sound in computer game environments. This has lead to the following problem statement to be formulated: To which degree does physically modelled sound enhance physical immersion in first person computer games?

This project has analysed theories proposed by several authors within the fields: immersion, narrative and gameplay in computer games, audio in computer games. These fields and their different theories have formed an ontology for the project, upon which an application has been build. The application consists of a Half Life 2 modification, which makes use of the Nintendo Wii controllers, together with a modal sound synthesis.

Continue reading Physically Modelled Sound and Immersion in Computer Games

Questioning established definitions of semiotics on relation to human computer interaction

There is no such thing as human computer interaction (HCI) as there is a human, in the role of a designer, behind all computer systems. The concept of HCI is therefore a way to describe interesting ways* for humans to interact through computer systems. Hereby I propose that there is no such thing as HCI because computers do not provide information in any form. Computers are tools to mediate information between humans. What is being discussed here is the interaction between a human and a machine concerning the information that is being exchanged. One might argue that the interaction between a human and a machine is possible, however, this is without meaning because an interaction is an exchange of information and only living things can provide information. Continue reading Questioning established definitions of semiotics on relation to human computer interaction

Localisation of 3D Audio Sources in Augmented Reality

As human beings, we are dependent on our ability to navigate by 3d audio since it provides us with many clues about how we are to navigate and behave in our surroundings. The fact that we from birth have been equipped with two ears placed on each side of our head makes us able to perceive the azimuth of a given sound, in fact we are able to localize a sound source within 2 degrees of azimuth; the design of the pinna or outer ear and our torso provides us with the ability to perceive the elevation of a given sound.

During the past decade there has been an increase in interest within 3D sound or spatial audio, both within entertainment, industry, and research; within this period several methods and systems has been developed to reproduce spatial audio. One of the methods is called head-related transfer functions (HRTF), which uses several audio cues in order to provide the listener with a broad spatial soundscape.

Continue reading Localisation of 3D Audio Sources in Augmented Reality

Bringing Direct Social Interaction to Computer Games

Bachlor thesis at Medialogy: Bringing Direct Social Interaction to Computer Games.

In this project we did a lot of research in the social factors in play and gaming. We established a framework for describing the immersive factors in a game and tested the framework with a computer augmented card game that displayed the players’ stats in a pseudo–holographic display, which enabled face–to–face communication while following the displayed stats.

How can we improve the advantages of a board game with the technologies provided by a computer?

When the tendency of playing games becomes an asocial thing, it is a scream to the developers to change the course.

The ever growing and impressive features of computer games have long suppressed the power of conventional games. The still fast development in technologies allow for still more extraordinary graphic engines. But what is happening to good old tabletop games.

We have delved into this aspect and investigated the relation between immersion and socialization as a method to create a relation between the idea of board games and the power of computers.

Direct Social Interaction in Multiplayer Games – The Petri³

A bachelor thesis about direct social interaction in multiplayer games. The Petri³ is pronounced “petri cube”.

The Petri³ was a tool for my bachelor thesis at medialogy, with which we tested the degree of direct social interaction in an immersive augmented reality multiplayer card game. Besides playing around with cool next gen tech, we wanted to see how people responded to digitally augmentation of a card game. We ended up with a contraption that tracked a card game with image recognition and displayed the game’s status on a holographic display.

There were several elements in the project. The card game, which was an extremely simplified flavor of the mechanics from the Munchkin games. A game tracking engine that read the cards when played and kept track of scores for the players. Lastly the pseudo-holographic display, which we made out of a truncated pyramid in plexiglass with a back light projection on the top.