How have I developed my ideas & How did my work change through the project?
My game has changed over the last couple of months quite dramatically, my original idea (Prototype 1) was a game about having two people show up and only having the option to save one of them from death within 15 seconds. This game was based more on the individual person making a decision based on how they judged the two people that they saw. I felt like the mechanic of choosing 2 decisions, that could affect something was a good idea but there wasn’t an end goal, no point to the game on my first prototype. It was just meant to be something people played… Like a social experiment, seeing how people react and judge people they don’t know based on just their age, picture and what they’re about to die from.
The second prototype, that is my final version of the game, has a less dark approach. I kept the decision choosing mechanic but you choose the decision of what to do through out the day, whilst making sure you keep your stats (Hunger, Sleep, Happiness Social) above zero. The objective of the game is to last as long as you can without dying or going crazy(stats going below zero). The final version also includes the feature of adding a pet to make it harder. This feature was fun and added more difficulty to the game but was a waste of time. It wasn’t necessary to the game and took a lot more coding and research than planned.
I think the method I was using to show my development was more effective than just describing everything because you can’t comment on everything like code because there’s so much of it. I used a similar method for my play testing research, using OBS to record the screen and the players reaction at the same time.
How much reference material did you find? Do you think you should have done more
For research, I found a lot of material to work with. The first piece of research I did was a questionnaire on SurveyMonkey and posted it on Reddit. This gave me a basic idea of how people like to play the decision kind of games.
For my second set of research, I looked into existing games that is controversial. I did this because my first prototype could be considered as controversial. My game wasn’t controversial for the same reasons, my game was controversial because of how dark it was.
The next piece of research I did was making my first prototype. I did this to make sure that my idea was even feasible to make, within a couple of days I got basics workings(2 Decisions, Count down, generate image, generate name & generate info). This allowed me to find a lot of bugs and restrictions that I wouldn’t ever imagine without making the first prototype. After changing my idea I started to make my second prototype for the same reasons as my first prototype. To find bugs, restrictions and to see if it was even feasible to make in a short amount of time.
The last piece of research I used was my play test, I used OBS(Open Broadcaster Software) to record people playing my game whilst also recording their face reactions from my webcam. I did this because I wanted to see if they were showing expression of fun at certain places in the game or expression of frustration. This made it easy to refer back to my research without relying on notes because I could see everything and hear everything instead of reading notes that may not be detailed or may not explain a bug properly.
What artists or game art have you looked at to help and inspire you?
The biggest inspiration was the game “Papers Please”. This is because the game is based on the idea of making decision as you play as an immigration inspector at border control and not a lot of other games use the decision mechanic for the main game.
For the Sound and art work I wanted to look towards a cartoony look, like the game Adventure Capitalist. I also like the sound and music from Adventure Capitalist because it’s a basic sound and doesn’t sound too cluttered with the background music.
How have your skills developed during the project?
I think my programming and idea generation skills have improved significantly. From programming I have learnt more efficient ways and work around’s for problems and bugs without having to use a lot of help from the internet. A big problem I was having was generating the name with the correct picture. This was a big restriction because the image couldn’t hold any data along with it, for the application to know to choose the correct word along with it. The fix I did for this was simple with a quite hefty amount of If Statements. The word will first generate from a listbox full of words, hidden on a second form(not efficient but fast and easy to change/edit with less errors). An If Statement will check the generated word and will send the picturebox and address of the (application folder + variable + .png).
For my idea generation I think I have developed my skill on thinking of more unique ideas based on original ideas. I think I am better at developing a couple of ideas into a big idea, an example of this is my transition from my first prototype to my second prototype. I used my original idea of the decision mechanic but changed the overall game and goal.
Are there any aspects of your studies that you wish you had explored further?
I feel that I could’ve removed some restrictions if I used a game engine instead of using an application based program. But I felt VB.net and Visual Studio would be better because I am more confident with Visual Studio and had to make the prototypes fast. I would also want to explore more into the art side of my game because it looks boring and ‘plain’. The last thing I wish I had explored was using Databases. This would have made my game have less bugs and instead of reading from 30+ variables just for basic information I could read from database tables but I felt that I didn’t have enough time to research into databases.
Are you happy with your final piece? Are there any elements you like in particular?
I am satisfied with my final game piece. I feel that the general Idea is a good idea and I think if I used more professional software to make it into a game(not an application), it would make the game more fun. Another element I like is the in-game clock, to make the game run faster and not real-time, I made and coded my own 24 hour clock but every real-time second equals an in-game minute and based on what number it would be, the time of day will change from Midnight, early morning, morning, dinner, evening, night and back to midnight.
Is there anything you would change? Why?
I would change the engine I coded it in, instead of Visual Studio I would change it to a Game Engine. This is because it isn’t efficient trying to make a game in a program that isn’t intended to be for games. Because of this it made a lot of issues and bugs that could have been avoided if I used a game engine. An example of this is the Picture doesn’t contain information issue. In a game engine like GameMaker:Studio I would make an object and use a sprite. This would create an object with the necessary information whilst using the picture I wanted.
Another thing I would change is my time management towards the Final Major Project. I spent far too much time coding and was left with very little time to fix bugs, add themes, add sound and write my documentation for it. Because of this, I can’t add the detail I want into my game without rushing into making decisions, leaving me thinking “That’ll do” when I want it to be as perfect as it can be.