DIGC310 · Digital Media

#DIGC310 GUEST TALK: Game Design Process (ft. Expose Yourself)

Just in case you missed it, I had a little guest presentation in the 2017 DIGC310 class to talk about my process of creating a game – how I approached it and what techniques I used to get to the end product.

• Although there are two different Soundcloud recordings, they are slightly different.  (I think the first one is more concise, but the second one has some really nice tangents as well).
•There is also a script at the bottom.  This is also different.  Pick and choose.  I work really well at writing down some of the things I want to say, and then deviating from the ‘script’ I write.
• Bolded, bracketed sentences in the script indicate a new slide.
• If you want to ask me more questions, feel free to comment below or hit me up on twitter (@orangesarepinkk) – I won’t bite!  I can talk your ear off about how graphic design can play a role in your game prototyping – I used it not only to make it look pretty, but also to categorise cards and decks for my game.

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 10.14.54 pm.png


9.30am DIGC310 tutorial, 24/03/2017

1.30pm DIGC310 tutorial, 24/03/2017

[Hey guys!]
So Chris asked me to come in to talk a bit about the game I created for this subject last year and the experience I had creating it.

Now, I could totally pitch my game to you, telling you what it is, how it works and why it’s awesome, and don’t get me wrong, I’m more than happy to tell you all about it, but I’m going to focus more on the processes I used to get to the end product of my game because it’s something that I think can help get you guys started with making your own games.

I’ve broken up this process into four main categories:

  • Ideate
  • Design
  • Prototype &
  • Playtest

[The ideate and the design stage kind of go hand in hand.]
but before you design, you need an idea.

Now, your idea doesn’t need to be overly complex.  As an example of a simple game idea, we had someone in the class last year make a quick mockup of a game which was about parking at UOW because that was a common problem he was having.  And this is a perfect example of creating an idea based off something you are familiar with. As a quick tip, making a game about something you already know a lot about makes your job ten times easier. I also did this.  I’m a graphic designer, and my game was a comment on the freelance industry, how designers are undervalued, and unappreciated.  Because I have experience in the industry myself, I was able to recreate it into a game with the aim to share this understanding with other people in a fun and satirical way.

[The next stage is coming up with your game mechanics, or the game design.]
What is the system you will use to convey your experience into a game that works.  This is the point where you explain how your game idea will play out.  I mentioned earlier that the ideate and design stage go hand in hand, because a rough idea of how it will work should be done immediately after you have your idea. The idea/design stage should initially be your game draft which you can refine as you go in later stages.

[For context, this is what my idea and design stage initially looked like.]
Your rule design doesn’t need to be the final set, it just needs to be enough to get you to a point where you could plausibly start testing it out.

[Some of the key things that you need to think about here are:]

  • How does the game start,
  • How do you advance in play, &
  • How do you win?

[I had three core elements I used to get these questions answered:]

  1. A need: You must have cash. If you run out, you lose
  2. Problem: Not everyone wants to pay you in cash, they just want to give you exposure
  3. As a result: You are competing against other people in your field, racing to be the first player to get a full time job, which in theory, would be a steady cash supply.

[From there,]
I decided the start stage was to deal 5 cards,
the advance in play stage was to draw three cards, place cards onto the field to earn game commodities, and discard to end the go, and finally,
the win stage was to earn enough commodities to be able to redeem a full time job card.

There are of course, more details to that (as you can see in the picture), but a rough guide/overview is really all you need to get started and move on to the next stage:

So as I mentioned earlier, this stage isn’t about how it looks, in fact, I highly recommend just scribbling things down on pieces of paper.  It’s quick, easy, and does the job.  Your prototype is pretty much the physical pieces you need to make your game work.

What is it you actually need to play this game? Cards? A board? Cash? Meeple?  What your game uses is up to you and the mechanics.

[My game had a mixture of cards and pieces]
So in this early playtest, you can see my rough cards, with little cubes on top tracking how many turns it will take before the game commodities are earnt.

[It turned out having cubes track time was inconvenient]
So with feedback from someone who I talked to about it, a board was suggested instead, so you can see my rough prototypes of a board here and the final design I handed in with my dossier.

[I initially also used different coloured cubes to track exposure]
And was met with similar issues, it was easy to lose them, and when in larger quantities became hard to count.  So this is a game piece I came up with to resolve that problem I found through playtesting.  That being said, I think I sketched this up in week 12 or 13 during a music class.

[I also had chip pieces]
which I used to track skills earn in game.  These were a lot fewer and I designed them large so they were hard to lose.   I thought it would be cool to have them like interlocking lego pieces which you could 3D print, so that’s what I mocked up for my dossier.

[And that brings me to play testing!]
In case you didn’t get that clearly though the reflection of the prototype pieces I just showed you, play testing was SO SO SO important for the development of my game because you got feedback!  While you can get some pretty good feedback in the form of comments on your blog posts, the most valuable feedback will always come from those who have an experience playing your game.

[I think my first playtest from memory was done in week four after I finished writing up the design idea because I was meeting with friends that night.]
Other times I play tested was at uni bar during a break between classes, and on holidays when I conned my family into a game.

Of course, with play testing you aren’t just playing a game, you are observing what works, what doesn’t work, and trying to figure out how to improve it as you go.  Make sure you ask your players what they liked and didn’t like.  One of the most common pieces of feedback that I got was that it was long, and while I didn’t mind sitting down for a decent amount of time, everyone else did.  I also had a little book with me for every playtest where I wrote down the feedback immediately and reflected on what the best and worst elements of the playtest were.  If people had ideas, I’d get them to write it down so I wouldn’t forget.

[Don’t just play test once.]
You should be play testing, revisiting your rule design, amending the prototype as needed, and play testing again.  This is a constant loop.

Also, if you get different people to playtest, you might get new feedback from a different perspective that your other group of friends may not have considered.

Through play testing you find the faults, which will allow you to fix them up and make your game even better.

[If you do want to find out more information]
about my actual game, and more detail than this brief overview, then feel free to check out this prezi later.

[I’ve linked]
my blog posts for weekly process, my dossier if you do want to see what an example of the thing you hand in at the end might look like, and my rule set which I had separated because I had a pretty solid set at that point in time.  It has of course changed since because I’m still updating and refining it as I go.

[So if you want to stay up to date]
I have twitter, Instagram, a mailing list, which doesn’t send much out at all.   And of course, I tend to pop in to these classes, especially because I don’t have many assessments at this stage, so feel free to ask me questions, and have a look at the little kit I have which has my prototype parts in it.


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