QUO is a game on a 2D collaborative platform where the goal is to reunite a scientist (player 1) and explorer (player 2). While they are exploring ancient ruins their time machine breaks and the scientist is sent to the past while the explorer is left in the future with the time machine. The only issue is the time machine can only send things to the past because the power source isn’t working. The two must work together to get through obstacles and find the power source to fix their time machine. Once this is done the two will be reunited in the present day.
There are several aspects that went into developing the game. We needed to consider the interactions between the players and if it was even possible to implement some of the actions. The best way we were able to approach these issues was through play testing. This allowed us to take advantage of Iterative Design (Zimmerman). Iterative design is when developers reinvent the way the game is played based on previous developments. After each play test we received positive comments and constructive criticism. Using this feedback allowed us to change our game mechanic to best fit the users. One criticism we received was that players did not understand what buttons needed to be pressed, or who was in the past or future. We fixed this issue by adding the cut scene and dereasing the number of buttons a player needed to press to navigate the game. Zimmerman said creating game is “a design methodology based on a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a work in progress.” we definitely discovered it is easy to come up with an idea and hypothetically implement it but actually implementing ideas and creating a flawless game mechanic is a different story. Through these play tests and iterative design we were able to achieve a better game mechanic.
Lazarro talks about four different types of fun. They are easy, hard, serious, and people fun. Easy fun comes from exploration and creativity. Hard fun comes from overcoming challenges and achieving goals. Serious fun is when a player feels excitement over changing the environment and players. People fun is created through competition and cooperation with other users. Our game used serious and hard fun to give the user a sense of people fun. Users can change the environment to affect their own world or the other users world. They must also overcome obstacles to reach their goal of finding the power source. Through these two aspects of our game we have created an environment where the user feels “people fun” because in order to be successful the players must work together by changing their environment to overcome obstacles. For example, There is one moment in our game where the scientist is stuck at the bottom of a ledge, but the explorer is physically able to move on. If the explorer chooses to move on he will find that there will be obstacles later in the game that he cannot get through without the scientist there to change the environment. This then forces the explorer to help the scientist and vice versa. While the game was not created for “easy fun” AKA exploration and creativity, it is possible for a player to explore the environment and there are a few solutions to some of the obstacles so the user is able to get creative.
I was in charge of the background art and the item text that pops up when a player picks something up. The biggest challenge of this task was making sure my art matched the art of my other team mates. It can be difficult to make the work of several different artists look like it was made by one person. The idea of creating text popups was an idea that came after users were having trouble what to do with items or when they reached an obstacle. We used the popups to let users know the capabilities of each item and the necessary actions to get over an obstacle. For instance, there is a pillar that is fallen over in the game. If I was playing the game I would not assume that I could use it as a ramp without some sort of indication. We added a popup that appears when the user gets near the fallen pillar that hints they can use it as a ramp. We used visual affordances such as these popups and a cut scene to help the user perceive what we want them to do. It is important to give the user some guidance throughout the game without outright saying what the solution to an obstacle is. (Norman) This balance was delicate, but eventually we came up with game interactions that make it easier for players to know what to do.
Overall I feel like we successfully implemented our game and I enjoyed the whole process. I definitely believe the cut scene was a necessary and interesting addition to the game. It told the back story and helped the users understand what to do during the game. Before we implemented this idea users were easily confused and the game play became somewhat disorganized and unsuccessful. After it was implemented we realized the class liked our game much more because they understood the point and game mechanic.
Lazarro, N. & Keeker, K. (2004). “What’s My Method? A Game Show on Games.” In CHI 2004 Conference Proceedings, April 2004. http://www.xeodesign.com/whatsmymethod.pdf
Lazzaro, N. (2004-2005) “Why We Play Games: Four Keys to More Emotion Without Story.” Self-published
white paper. www.xeodesign.com/whyweplaygames.html
Norman, D.A. (2004). “Affordances and design.” http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/affordances_and.html
Zimmerman, E. (2003). “Play as research: The iterative design process.” http://ericzimmerman.com/files/texts/Iterative_Design.htm