Category Archives: DIGC310

Achievement Unlocked: A Reflection

When I think of game ideas I often begin with two main design points, the game purpose and  the beginning, progress and endgame (these I have bundled as one main point as they build off of each other). The past few weeks I’ve focused on developing and exploring these points.

Multi-platform, Procedurally and Randomly Generated, Rogue Likish, Twin Stick Shooter to Board Game

The Binding of Isaac board game I  was  designing forced me to explore randomness and board design. while dice rolls can make a game more dynamic, spending all the players time rolling die can easily become tedious and as Grant details in his blog ‘The role of luck: Why RNG isn’t the answer’, elements of randomness can degrade the importance of player skill , potentially leaving players alienated from the point of reaching endgame.

Board Free or Just Bored?

Personally I find conceptual game spaces to be incredible tool for involving players and building familiar premises for players to interact with. The first pen and paper game I created in week 3 did away with the idea of boards and pieces and focused entirely on the interactions between players. The second pen and paper game I created further explored this idea of a completely player focused mind game. By minimising physical elements of a game it can make a game quick to play while still being dynamic enough to play over. However the downside to this is a reduced sense of achievement. Because there is no physical representation of progression it can be  difficult for players to feel like they are succeeding in a goal other than one-upping the other players.

Blue Pill, Red Pill

Playing Betrayal at House on the Hill illustrated to me what Murphy is talking about when she states, “Playing a video game is a risk free and socially acceptable way of engaging in a bit of virtual body play” (Murphy, S). I feel this quote applies to more than just video games in that table top games also allow players to essentially ‘escape’ reality. Betrayal … uses common horror tropes and character archetypes, allowing players to put themselves in the role of another person in a fantasy setting which they most likely won’t encounter ‘in real life’. Expanding on this, I want to take something that is often encountered ‘in real life’ and represent it in a surrealistic way in a game format. Essentially the game ceases to be a platform for escaping reality but instead players are asked to engage with reality in response to the game, opening the game space to the virtual world, the real world and the players own mind.

Current leaps and bounds in virtual reality technology aims to bring the virtual world into the physical realm but I think an important side note to this is how the players experience is built upon  beyond opening their play space.

The 2nd Week: A Procedurally Generated Board Game

This week in DIGC310, as well as trying an oculus rift for the first time (which was an experience in itself), I began work on a Binding of Isaac Inspired board game. The Binding of Isaac, by Team Meat, is a randomly generated rogue-like game. This means many of the games elements such as level layout and item availability are  based on randomly generated numbers at the beginning of each game.

The board game I was developing takes a virtual space into the players physical space not only by becoming a physical object to interact with but by being procedurally built within the physical world. Taylor states “video game spaces are more than simply the sum of their code – they are experiential spaces generated through code and the player’s interaction with the execution of that code through the medium of the screen” (Taylor, L), suggesting that the element of a ‘screen’ is vital to the experience of a game. User interfaces and what a screen is focusing on, are mechanics unique to screens and as such alternatives need to be developed  in order to handle this.

As well as the transition from screen to board, developing a Binding of Isaac inspired game came with the major issue of translating the digital random number generation to a more analogue alternative.  As seen in the photo of my rough sketches, I experimented with dice but there are so many numbers it very quickly becomes too heavily laden with math to be enjoyable.

I have previously worked on developing and balancing game mechanics for video games, board games and card games. I play music as a hobby and have dabbled in video game music, both ambient and chiptune, I would gladly provide any input into these areas of a game.

Pandemic: Putting The Fate of Humanity in Your Hands

Pandemic is a four player cooperative tabletop game where you are tasked with curing humanity of four diseases. Each player plays a character with specific skills to be utilised in your endeavour to rid the world of these diseases city by city. If Pandemic were to be described in one word, it would be, ‘intense’.

The Stresses of Saving The World

Pandemic does an excellent job at simulating the feeling of running out of time even though there is no real time limit by not only having the threat of the disease actively increasing each round but keeping it dynamic in a way that makes the game different each time it’s played. While this keeps the game fresh and exciting it also creates the slight problem of the game sometimes being unforgivingly hard and other times it’s a soft pushover and this is entirely up to lady luck, but hey, when a game is this good playing it over and over again hardly gets stale.

You Can Always Just Try Again

The numerous player characters and the uniqueness in their skills offers varied experiences when playing pandemic, one playthrough you may be a curing powerhouse as a medic, another you may be an engineer, vital in the development of research centres. This, coupled with the variety in options for your four actions per turn, gives the game easy re-playability and opens up the possibility for custom “house” rules.

Besides, It Doesn’t Even Take That Long

Depending on how quickly you can set up the game and how fast you can make decisions, Pandemic will run around an hour long. I can see one easily losing a whole night trying to beat Pandemic but I can’t see myself hosting a game night with just this game purely due to it’s short play time and brilliant simplicity.

What else can I say, it’s a decent little game…