Archive for September, 2012

Feeble Attempt with TwoLoc and Ogre3D

Posted: September 30, 2012 in INFR 3110
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Over this weekend, me and my group sat down and tried to tackle the TwoLoc engine provided for this year. We tried to figure out how it worked and how to make it do what we wanted it to do. I will be going through my experience through it this weekend.

 

 

It sucked.

 

 

Yea I know I shouldn’t whine about it, but seriously. I’m not trying to say TwoLoc or Ogre3D sucked, by no means am I trying to say that. Rather I’m trying to say that me trying to grasp how it worked and trying to use it sucked. So in the end I suck.

I attempted to go to Ogre3D’s website to try and do some tutorials but I didn’t even manage to setup a project to try and do a tutorial. I even installed CMake and tried to get it to install I don’t even know what. I just browsed the website and stared at the triangle logo.

I spent a fair amount of time just staring at this tri-colored triangle.

 

Overall, I think my main problem is I just don’t know where to start. Trying to find a starting point in a large project and just diving in is, as I find anyways, difficult! I guess I’ll keep trying and try to get some insight/advice from my peers but I have to start cracking down on learning how to use it all. After all, the homework questions need to be done for this class and the cut off dates for the easy questions are coming up along with the midterm! Yikes.

 

I will be posting as I learn more, what I learn and my personal progress. Hopefully learning TwoLoc/Ogre3D starts to pick up.

 

 

On another note I need to get my team together and start committing some code for our GDW project!

What on earth is the title about? Well actually, it’s about the next prototype I need to create. Let’s get some ideas down along with some facts to help me think!

What does the prototype I’m going to create need to be about?

Well, the theme of the game is, if you haven’t already guessed: Medieval Fantasy.

Along with that, it needs to be a turn-based strategy game. The mechanic in the game is for players to deliberately break rules of the game, while their objective involves chasing of some sort. Then to top it off and to challenge me more, the major design challenge is to somehow incorporate fine art. Yepp. So to summarize it needs to include:

  • Medieval Fantasy
  • Turn-based strategy
  • Deliberate rule breaking
  • Chasing
  • Fine Art

Oh! And it needs to use this as the game board:

A world map! With lines across continents, bridges perhaps?

The Game: Current thoughts and ideas

Me and my group tried to think of some ideas last week in class, and from what I remember I will try to summarize the ideas for this prototype in point form.

  • Players will be assigned/choose races which relate to the medieval fantasy theme. This means: Humans, Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, Unicorns, or whatever floats your boat
  • During the game, there will be certain turns where either a dragon or magical wizard appears on a random unoccupied country on the map. Players will want to reach the dragon/wizard because they hold a piece of an ancient artifact/art piece that needs to be recovered. This in theory will involve the chasing aspect with a twist of fine art
  • Art pieces will also give players and their armies certain buffs to help them in battles against other players
  • When players are not chasing art pieces, they will be fighting to expand territory and their armies
  • Players will be able to “duel” other players when they fight for certain countries
  • There will be event cards where certain bridges across continents will be temporarily broken (i.e a tsunami has hit the coast of…) which promote rule breaking, or buffs for player’s armies (i.e there is a rainbow shining on South America, Unicorns recieve +5 attack on dice roll)
  • Players will uncover other art pieces on unoccupied countries/undiscovered space

Overall these are some smashing ideas I think, but they need to be hammered out with actual rules to help the game play be smooth and fun.

Hopefully I will be able to follow up with another blog post once I get working away with concepts with my group members on the prototype. The full prototype will come soon!

 

Warriors of the night assemble! Rawr.

In the recent couple of weeks, an assignment for one of my classes, INFR 3330, or better known as Game Design II was to create a level with a group with Portal 2’s puzzle maker. I and my group decided we would each create a short level to put together and call it our group’s level. This gave us as game designers a lot of freedom when creating the levels, which let us flex our creativity muscles.

Even though we were allowed to create a level from our own designs, we agreed as a group collectively we should have the levels at least progress logically in difficulty. I was assigned level 2, so I tried to design a level which would have somewhat of a beginner difficulty, while trying to satisfy the assignment’s requirements. Overall I had some fun with it, which helped me create this level:

Grand scheme/view of my level

So as you can see there are a few rooms in my level. It is actually quite a small level with just a few components. Since it was more of a beginner level, I wanted to keep players entertained during my level, since I wasn’t trying to focus on extremely difficult elements/puzzles. So in essence, I decided a level to thrill the player, rather than challenge/frustrate the player. I wanted to create a level where things were kept simple, fast paced and made the players feel something; an emotion while playing my level. By approaching level creation this way, I believe this would leave a better impact on the player, rather than trying to win them over with extremely difficult puzzles. Have fun, not headaches!

How did I achieve this you ask? Well I’ll list a few things.

1. I made the start of the level look extremely easy, and I mean extremely. 

Here is the entrance to the level. Hey look, it’s the exit, a laser field and fizzler attached to a switch? That’s it?

I thought that creating the starting passage like this would instantly confuse players and get the player to start thinking/get paranoid about what this magical switch does. Does it really just let them through and teach them how to use a switch? Well to those paranoid players to suspect it’s too good to be true, good for you. Because it opens the hatch below where you fall down into the rest of the rooms; the fun begins.

Down the hatch we go. Uh oh, lasers!

2. Safe and cheap thrills. Get the player to think they did something wrong/are in danger

As you can see in the above screenshot, after hitting the switch, the player immediately plummets down a chute into a room below lined with laser field. This will make players think “Oh no, did I screw up pressing that switch? Was there another way to get across? I’m going to die” Then the players see some hope in the faint blue hue of the tractor beam which will catch them, giving them a ride to safety and a view of the room.

So many bright shiny things! Wonder what’s below?

3. Little mini games

After tractor beaming it to safety, I present players with a simple puzzle to get some gears in the brain moving. It’s all behind some glass to give it a little mini game feel. My level tends to give players a quick taste of some elements from Portal 2.

Players will then fight a turret hiding in the room, where they get a Companion Cube! Yes I chose to use a Companion Cube instead of a regular cube to give players a hint. You should probably keep it with you after you use it, you might need it! It’s your companion after all!

Move onto the next room!

4. Give players big rooms and lots of space to give players a sense of freedom vs. a confined room

Players leave the tiny room with the mini game into a contrasting large room.

Me and my Companion Cube versus the world. 

This large room has a few buttons to solve some gizmos to raise some platforms which create a bridge across the deadly goo to the next room. I always thought it was cool to have hidden things in levels appear, which is why there are platforms hidden under the deadly goo which rise, along with flipping panels. Not everything it what it seems to the eye.

Bird’s eye-view of the bridge across the goo.

5. Fun with goo

The first level didn’t use goo, so I thought it was a good time in the second level to introduce a fun goo into the level. The bounce gel. This room has gel flowing from above in a corner. Notice the Companion Cube too, another clue! The gel in the corner will provide a simple puzzle/mechanic which involves players bouncing up the walls like a ninja to the switch. Simple, but fun to do and watch!

Players have to find a way to coat the walls in bounce gel to help them ninja their ways up the walls.

6. Think of the players…

For some reason about 50% of the players who play tested my level thought it was a good idea to douse the Companion Cube in bounce gel, which would prove troublesome when trying to seat it into a cube switch. It would just bounce everywhere! This is why I had to install a cleaner in the next room to help clean the gel off. Yes the next room, didn’t want to tell players not to douse it in bounce gel. Why? It’s fun to watch a cube bounce everywhere and players try to recatch it after.

Oops I covered it in gel, I’ll just set it down.

It’s bouncing everywhere!

Ah that’s better, all clean. Happy Companion Cube.

7. Make the player feel like a winner at the end

I have players be raised on a platform to the exit of the level. This implicitly means that the winner has won, almost like rising to the top of a podium. It pushes players up to the top, where they are presented with a button to open the trap door to the exit. Success and congrats! You win!

Success! 

Conclusion

It was a fun assignment, to create a level to challenge and entertain other players. It feels great when players say it was a fun/good level. There were design challenges of thinking outside the box and trying to think in the players’ shoes rather in the aspect of a designer trying to hit every point for level requirements. If I were to just plug in all the requirements of the assignment, it could have turned into a very bland, boring and unmotivating puzzle level.

So I decided to thrill the player and keep him/her happy. Cheap fun and thrills, not cheap levels!

Chips, Chips, Everywhere

Posted: September 19, 2012 in INFR 3330
Tags: , , ,

During today’s class, we were once again greeted with a hands on activity to do during class. We were given a game and told to follow the very vague rules written on a sheet of paper. From what I recall, here were the rules written on the sheet:

  • Take a chip from the bag
  • This chip will now be the shooter, and placed on the edge of the table
  • Player will tap the chip
  • If the chip goes off the table, the chip is given to the next player and it is placed in their bag
  • If the chip hits any other chip on the table, those chips are taken by the shooting player and placed in his/her bag

That is mostly what I recall being stated on the sheet, along with certain point values per color of chip. It did not explain much of the goal cards, but I recall it being explained as:

  • Player at the end with most goal cards wins
  • When players receives a goal card, there is a secret goal to do on the back

I thought it was very confusing at first, not knowing exactly how to play the game, but me and my group tried to give it a go and attempted to play this chip game.

Not very enthused faces/confused on what was going on. Derek’s (OwO) face.

As we went along and found things we didn’t know how to do, we kind of just made up our own rules. Eventually Professor Nacke told us that he actually did this on purpose and the rules of the game he gave us were incomplete. He wanted to see us struggle interpret the game ourselves as we went along.

So how did we actually play the game? Well at first we immediately had a discussion about if we were to flick the chip’s overhanging lip or just flick and shoot it. We concluded we needed to shoot the chip horizontally across the table surface since some goal cards involved knocking certain chips off the table. In addition to this we added a few more rules and essentially made the game playable as follows:

  • Place all chips in middle of table
  • Using the chip where there is only one of them, in our case red, player shoots chip at other chips in middle
  • If the red chip hits any of the other chips itself, the player takes those chips and keeps them
  • In the event that the red chip is shot off the table, any collisions along the way are void and do not count
  • The red chip is the given to the next player
  • This process is repeated.

The non red chips are placed in the middle of the table to be shot at.

As for the goal cards, we placed them along the table so everybody could see them. We also started a timer to help enforce the time limit goals.

In the end…

For these goal cards, we changed the fact that you were aiming, as a player, to get as many goal cards. In the end though, we decided to change that “whoever has the most goal cards wins” to whoever completes a secret goal first wins.

Why this change?

We figured that having to get as many goal cards as you could before they ran out would be a challenge since there were several goal cards of different varieties. In addition to this, by playing with this goal in mind, the secret goals weren’t being used effectively as an element in the game. By changing it to whoever could complete a secret goal first, it would make the game more appealing since there would be new elements and advantages provided in the game. For example, the more goal cards you got, it would give you more variety of secret goals to choose from which helped your chances of completing one of them first. If you were lucky, you would get a goal card with an easily completed secret goal.

Overall, we thought this way of using the goal cards was more effective and fun in the game.

And with that, the week is over for Game Design. Looking forward to next week classes and possibly more in class activities! Time flies during these lectures.

As an in-class exercise to help us think of game design and level design, the class was split up into 2 teams, A and B. The two teams were then each given a ball, Team A the infamous green noopsie and Team B a new blue ball. We were then told to create a game where the main goal was to get the ball into a bucket, which was placed in the middle of the room. Of course we as game designers, need to make this mechanic/goal more interesting and fun; create a game out of it.

NOOPSIE BALL!

Team A’s Ball Game – “Chaos Bounce”

Team A decided on doing a game which involved having two teams of 5 player each, standing on the tables in the lecture room. Each player was allowed to place one chair each onto the tables as an obstacle. From what I remember from the explanation and demonstration, the rules were as follows:

  • Each player is only allowed to take 3 steps every time the ball switches holder
  • To catch the ball/pass to another player the ball must bounce off a surface before another player can catch it
  • Goal is to get the ball into the bucket, set in the middle
  • Players can go around on the desks, blocking, throwing and catching

Layout of the game and players. RED is team 1. BLUE is team 2. GREEN is the bucket. BLACK are the chairs. BROWN are the desks.

I found that this game was essentially a slightly modified version of Handball, on desks, with chairs in the way. Was it a overall good design? There was a lot of movement and interaction involved, but I just found it slightly dangerous to be hopping around/running on desks 4 feet off the ground. I also did not really see much of a point the chairs posed as obstacles. At one point one of the chairs just fell of the desk and into the aisle, I think the chairs were just thrown in to make the game more intricate/complex when really it did not add much complexity to the mechanics of the game.

Team B’s Ball Game – Human Foosball

The other game that was thought up by Team B (which was the team I belonged to) was very similar to table soccer/foosball, except we use real people in rows and use our hands. The setup involved 4 players per row, first two rows were Team 1 players, third row was Team 2 players, fourth row was Team 1 players, and last two rows were Team 2 players. This allowed for 2 rows of offence per team and once row of defense for each team near the bucket. The goal is to get the ball into the bucket in the middle. The rules of the games can be summarized by the following:

  • Every player can move to each side by 1 step
  • Players are to hit the ball if it goes to them right away
  • No catching the ball and holding onto it
  • Teams must face their appropriate direction
  • If the ball goes out of bounds, ball is passed to the opposite team that the ball was hit out by

Here is the layout for the game from Team B. RED is Team 1. BLUE is Team 2. GREEN is the bucket. Arrows represent the direction which the players on that team must face. 

This game didn’t seem as involved as the previous games, since there were a lot more players (24 versus 10) so there was less room. In addition to that the inability to catch the ball made the ball bounce between players very quickly, so there was less time to react and move if the ball was headed into your row. This resulted in a swatting of the ball back and forth between players with minimal body movement.

Also I found that having 4 players per row caused a challenge of actually getting the ball in the bucket. I believe it would have been more “action-y” if the back row had 3 players, second row with 2 players and defense row with 1 player. This would create more of a challenge and a higher chance of the opposing team getting the ball into the bucket! I just noticed with 4 players on defense it was essentially a wall and near impossible for teams to score on one another.

Comparison Between Games

I found that the two games were decent, albeit rough ideas. Respectable and playable ball games made in 10-20 minutes.

How did the games do compared to one another?  Team B’s game was not as involved as Team A’s and what that means is there was not as much player movement, it was more stationary since the players themselves were the obstacles (defense). As Professor Nacke indicated, this game was more of a Level Design, where the vast amount of players included (24) into the game were obstacles as well, but all got to play the game; versus Team A’s game which was more focused on Game Design itself. The difference may sound insignificant, but Team A’s game focused more on the concept of the game and how it worked itself, while Team B’s game focused on how we can include the players and get everyone playing in the game/how we can have players interact with one another.

Hopefully as the semester goes on, I will learn more about good Game Design, which will help me think of better games for these in class activities.

Get those gears moving and think of more ideas!

As the new school year starts, more game related work has begun to start piling up alongside textbook readings.

The first chapter of The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses for Game Design (INFR 3330) has an interesting way of starting off. The textbook declares that yes indeed, anyone can be a game designer and apparently all you need to do is say out loud “I am a game designer.” Now if it was only really that easy. I suppose it is true you can say you are a game designer and start designing games, but there is a huge learning curve to being a good game designer, versus a poor self proclaimed game designer.

After declaring that you only need to say you are a game designer, it then lists a large set of skills a game designer needs. So in reality, not everybody can be a game designer then, since it does require specific skills no? Things such as animation, anthropology, architecture, brainstorming, business, cinematography, communication, creative writing, economics, engineering, history, management, mathematics, music, psychology, public speaking, sound design, technical writing, and visual arts. That is a huge slew of skills that a game designer needs to know/posses is it not? I don’t think an everyday shmoe can declare “I IS GAME DESIGNER” and be on his way.

Although I may be twisting the words of the book to prove my point that no, not everyone can be a game designer, the textbook does list what I am paraphrasing.

I think those people who are game designers or are on a journey to become one aren’t everyday shmoes. What they have is a passion for something they enjoy and want to enrich themselves on. Just because you think it sounds cool, or the job looks cool doesn’t mean you can just become on. I believe the journey towards being a good game designer is a hard and long one; where you improve continuously applying new concepts and skills.

Here’s a good example of someone who tried to be a game designer, but didn’t end well. Kanye West. Yepp. That’s right, Kanye West tried to be a game designer when he was younger. Taken from the magazine Details, an interview with Mr. West reveals:

“First beat I did,” he recalls, “was in seventh grade, on my computer. I got into doing beats for the video games I used to try to make. My game was very sexual. The main character was, like, a giant penis. It was like Mario Brothers, but the ghosts were, like, vaginas. Mind you, I’m 12 years old, and this is stuff 30-year-olds are programming. You’d have to draw in and program every little step—it literally took me all night to do a step, ’cause the penis, y’know, had little feet and eyes.”

Source: Details Interview: Kanye West

Although the idea might seem hilarious to some, I don’t think reskinning Super Mario Bros. with a penis for its main character seems like a good game design choice/project. Not trying to ruin anyone’s phallic starred blockbuster game, but this idea lacked the skills of a good game designer and was not thought out entirely.

Later on though, he changed his focus to just music. Thank goodness.

Contrary to the textbooks belief, maybe not everyone is cut out to be a game designer.