Secret Mommy Makeover

Mommy went away for the weekend, and she left her special secret drawer unguarded. Finally, now’s your chance to try on all of her makeup! Except… what is all this stuff? How do you use it?

Link to the game:


(to run the game locally, run the command “python -m SimpleHTTPServer” inside the directory and go to localhost:8000)

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Reading: How to prototype a game in under 7 days

This post had some extremely valuable takeaways for someone getting started in Game Development. It was written by Kyle Gabler, one of the graduate students at CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center. The group’s goal was to build 50 new experimental games in one semester. This is a post of their lessons learned. The author’s key points were:

  1. Rapid is a state of mind
  2. Structured brainstorming is a myth
  3. Nobody knows how you made it, and nobody cares
  4. It needs to be fun

Personally, my favorite lesson is something that I’ve already learned a lot in this course: “It needs to be fun”. You should be able to run the game over in your head, and think, “this is going to make people excited and here’s why”. The author of the article said he and his friends spent a ton of time in the brainstorming phase, listening to music and looking at art that inspired them. They would often spend 3-4 days out of the week doing this, and then spend the last 3-4 crunching down, doing development and sound design, and creating art. They said the creative ideation phase was actually the most valuable, and one of the best things you can do is think all the way through what makes your game “fun” before you write a line of code.

I also enjoyed what they said about structured brainstorming, even though I don’t always find it true. They said you can’t schedule time for creativity, and it just has to happen. Personally, I still think scheduled brainstorming is really valuable, though you definitely can’t force it.

Finally, I appreciated the mindset of “it doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to work”. It’s easy to waste a lot of time getting caught up in the details of making something perfect, and never stop to think if it actually needs all the bells and whistles for a real reason. I loved this post, and I’ll be taking it to heart!

HomePlay – Spaceteam

Spaceteam is actually one of my favorite games! I’ve played it thoroughly in the past. I think the game is brilliant in that it easily creates a high-intensity atmosphere with a strong sense of urgency.





Basically, it’s a game that you can only play when you’re on the same WiFi connection as people, i.e. you are together in person. You and your friends work together to fly a rapidly failing space ship. Each of you is continually receiving a set of instructions that is ever-changing, and only one of you has the required buttons and dials on the screen to fix the issue. For example, player A may have “set the thermoblasters to 5”, and player C has to hear their instructions, and realize that they have control over the thermoblasters. It’s an excellent, easy to understand, quick, silly game.

Game Creation

Spaceteam is an iPhone and Android game created by Henry Smith. It was released in 2012. Originally, Spaceteam was actually an experiment for Henry Smith to learn app development.


Spaceteam was widely successful. Many major video game news outlets have reviewed it highly, and it has been downloaded over three million times. It hasn’t made much money though, but that was never Henry Smith’s intention. Critics are widely in favor of it, but some reviews I read have said that there isn’t much variety if you continue to play the game many times. It won Game City Prize’s Best Game of 2013 award, IndieCade’s interaction award, A MAZE Indie Connect Festival, and Excellence in Innovation at the 10th Annual International Mobile Gaming Awards.


Update the Classics – Candy Land Squad (Squandy Land)

Candy Land – Make it deep, strategic and adult oriented.

Anna Henson, Adam Thompson, Nitesh Sridhar, Andrew Chang, Caroline Hermans

What are Candy Land’s core mechanics?

  • Competitive Race: The game is a race to the finish line.
  • Determinism: The movement is based on a deck of shuffled cards, where the order of the shuffle determines the entire rest of the game.
  • Turn-based: Each turn, you draw a card that determines your next move.
  • Random Special Moments: There are several elements in the game that keep things interesting – such as the special character cards and the rainbow bridges.


What makes it distinctive?

  • The gameplay is very simplistic, and players don’t need to plan their next move, which makes it ideal for younger children. The game can also help children learn about colors. The game board is bright and inviting, and the characters make the game distinctive as well.  
  • Even though the game is deterministic, it feels as though there is an aspect of chance. Still, there is some level of excitement before every turn, where you don’t know which color you’re going to draw next.


What are its best and worst aspects?

Best Aspects: Candy Land requires no reading and the most basic of counting skills, making it accessible to the majority of people, and especially to young children; the game is a simple introduction to following rules, and as such is a good primer for more developed game play later in life; the game is quick to set up and quick to play, making it ideal for families, especially those with small children

Worst Aspects: Candyland requires no skill and its outcome is entirely a result of chance; the game eliminates all personal agency; the game glamorizes unhealthy dietary choices to children; pre-2002 versions of Candy Land featured no diversity in character depiction; the game imposes no real consequences for straying from the path (early versions of the game were aimed entirely at “finding the way home”).


What made it successful?

Candyland was invented during the outbreak of Polio in the US in the late 40’s / early 50’s. Candyland first came out in 1948, and was invented by Eleanor Abbott, a victim of the disease who was a former teacher. In the Polio ward, she noticed that children were alone often – their parents were not there and they needed something to entertain them. The game could be played easily; it had a low barrier to entry as it did not need reading, just recognition of colors. The game was also designed as a loop – it did not need to end, so the children could play for hours without having to declare a clear winner. The designs of colorful candy worlds would entice and enchant the children whose lives were often constrained to hospitals or homes. The original game board also featured a little boy character who wore a leg brace – to identify with many of the kids who had to wear leg braces as a result of Polio. The game was bought by Milton Bradley in 1949. In 2005 the game was inducted into the National Game Hall of Fame. The game has been successful in iterations as other characters were licensed to theme the game, such as Winnie the Pooh, Dora the Explorer, etc. Candy Land builds skills in socialization by playing together, patience in taking turns, color recognition practice, learning and following rules and directions.


What was its evolution?

Early iterations only had fictional locations that you passed by. The narrative was also just about children finding their way back home, but getting distracted along the way. Later, the setting moved to a fantasy candy world and characters were created, which appealed to children. They removed Plumpy from the game.

Fixed the last square by making it rainbow instead of purple (god bless).


What are some similar games?


Develop the prompt

Deep: More than just about candy. (Polio?) Games with high depth are strategically interesting and underlying options help create a system that can be played through multiple times without boring audiences.

Strategic: “Strategy” has been defined as “the art of planning and directing” and so our research might focus on how decision-making, deal-making, and deal-breaking might alter the dynamics, depth, and length of game play.

Adult-Oriented: As Candy Land is designed as a game that is both educational and entertaining to children, our research into an adult-oriented version will also focus on how the game can be entertaining and educational for adults. We might begin with the question: what is a valuable basic life skill that all adults need in order to build other skills and function within any society?



We see our prompt as two parts: a new theme, and a strategic game design. We did some initial prototyping of injecting strategic gameplay into Candy Land. Some of our various experiments were, in no particular order:

  • Instead of drawing one card each turn, you start with a hand of five cards.
  • You can’t move yourself, you can only move other players. When you draw a card, you move the other players forward by that amount.
  • If you land on the same square as another player, you have to battle. You play the card in your hand that can move you forward the farthest. whoever‘s card moves them the farthest gets to go there, whoever loses has to go back to the closest card with their color.
  • Each character is a boss battle, and no one can pass the character until you collectively defeat the boss. You defeat the boss by playing cards that correspond to the boss (they’re different for each boss).

Some of these were fun and some weren’t, we’re still looking into more possible dimensions to add to the game, and we plan on testing new mechanics one by one.

Next to explore: what if it was a resource management game, and you could trade with other players to get better cards?

Some possible themes – requires more brainstorming

  • you can play as adults trying to stop children from having fun
  • medical illness and medication
  • “Brandy Land” alcohol themed

Minimal version of the game

There are a deck of cards with numbers on them. You draw a card with a number on it. You move forward that many spaces. Whoever reaches the end first wins.

RUSH HOUR – Jake Bittner, Sydney Ayers, Avi Romanoff, Caroline Hermans

Ideation & Brainstorming

We started with the one question: how can we take advantage of the community spaces on campus in order to create a playspace fitting for a new game? Our solutions varied between very different approaches. One set of ideas was to acknowledging the “class wars” culture between majors at CMU by re-inventing the spaces at Carnegie Mellon to become something like an airport, where certain users (majors) have special access. Other ideas that our team members came to the table with involved spontaneity, interactivity, and simply entertainment.

Our team settled on one idea on the basis of concrete planning, genuine excitement, and relevance to course content. This idea was to transform the walkways of CMU into highways and streets via chalk, inviting passersby to engage in the experience of mimicking a car’s actions by obeying traffic laws and driving together with your peers. Due to the lack of competitive nature for such an exercise, and the heavy reliance on mimicry, we brainstormed more ways to add to the experience by focusing on vertigo. Ideas included making cardboard cars for people to put on and drop off from points A to B, to play upbeat, radio music on a bluetooth stereo, and to have some team members wear orange jackets with whistles and use loudspeakers to project the rules. Though the cardboard cars idea was abandoned due to the decision to prioritize “ease-of-entry” into the game, many of these tactics to create a more immersive experience stuck around.


After the team convened to map out the right location for road transformation and deciding on what road signs to make, we set out to playtest.


Certain aspects of road transformation we focused on were quality of chalking, resource limitations, and how bystanders adhered to the new lines. The quality of chalking was a primary focus because we believed the more realistic the road-lines appeared to be, the more interested people would feel in getting involved. We tried different designs for the yellow, middle lines and agreed that one solid, dashed line up the middle looked most realistic and saved us chalk. We got a good idea of how much chalk we’d need to gather. Finally, we noticed that bystanders didn’t care too much about “staying in the right lane”. Many folks passing by didn’t seem to care much, and were walking on whatever side. The insight we gathered from this is that we would have to be more keen towards making the rules on how to play the game very visible, and interactive. Maybe the road signs could only be used for the rules, or possibly we could hold the signs and read them to folks passing by, asking if they would like to play the game.

The final aspect to our prototyping face involved walking around The Cut, imagining that many of the walkways were sketched as roads, and playtesting our game. We wanted to test if it felt awkward to walk around with our hands up, and see if the rules we designed were realistic and fun. A summary of the insights we gathered were that yes, it is awkward to walk like that but is less weird in groups, and there were too many rules to be accounted for (person with red shirt means stop, person with green shirt means boost, person with white shirt means pull over, etc.) and so they would need to be consolidated to increase ease of playing and reduce confusion.

What We Did

In preparation for the big day (Thursday 9/21/2017), we completed three important steps: re-defined the ruleset, implemented a marketing campaign, and set up the playspace. The ruleset was too complicated and thus too confusing for people to jump in and play, so we narrowed it to three simple rules.

  1. To play, hold your hands up like you’re holding a steering wheel

  2. Stay in right lane

  3. Stop if someone in a red shirt passes you


We agreed on this ruleset thinking it would find the happy medium between enough rules to be engaging and not too many rules to make it easy to play.

In terms of marketing, a Facebook event was created and publicized to a popular group of Carnegie Mellon students. Our main goal here was to give people an idea of what the game is before arriving and maybe even get some folks excited about playing. Below you can see the event page from Facebook.

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Finally, we set up the playspace.  On the morning of, at around 7:45am, we chalked the walkway going from the UC to Doherty. Two signs were made to post the rules of the game in a quickly readable way. One rules sign was tied to a tree at the first entrance, while the other was stored away to be used later in the day at 3:45 when the game would begin.


What We Expected
We expected people to be open and receptive to the idea. We expected it to work something like 99 tiny games, where people would see a fun intervention and think “oh cool!”
We wanted it to be something that wouldn’t distract anyone from their goal, which is walking between buildings. We made it easy and tried not to make too many rules so that people would feel like it was a fun intervention into their daily routine. 

What Actually Happened
Most people were disinterested in the game. People found it weird. A few people played along, mostly our friends. It wasn’t clear that it was a game to a lot of people – they weren’t sure what our intentions were. 
People didn’t feel comfortable expressing themselves in public.
Some potential sources of ambiguity were that people thought we were protesting because we had signs. One person even commented that they thought we were trying to promote safer driving.  Because the game had no clear objective, it wasn’t clear to people that it was a game. 
That said, there were a few shining moments:
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What We Learned
  1. If you’re asking people to play a game, it needs to be obviously a game
  2. Don’t make people embarrass themselves
  3. The magic circle should be a safe space

7 Micro Games – Caroline Hermans

Notice me See how long you can stare at someone you don’t know without them looking back at you. Do not avert your eyes.

Tower of Sleep – See how many things you can stack on someone without them waking up.

Anti-staring contest – Choose a friend. The object of the game is to not look at each other. If you look at each other, you both lose.

20 questions, spatial memory edition – one person thinks of a landmark on campus. They can only describe the landmark using memories they have of that location (i.e. I had a math class there, I study there, I had a music lesson there…)

Clipper – If someone clips a hair clip to your body, you have to clip it to someone else’s body within an hour or you lose.

Capitalism – Whoever dies with the most toys wins.

Sonic Attention – Look towards the loudest sound you can hear. As your surroundings change, continue to shift your gaze in the loudest direction.

Caroline Hermans

Hi! I am Caroline

Here is my website

Here is a recognizable picture of me:



Factual things:

I’m a Senior studying Electrical & Computer Engineering and Art through a new Engineering BXA program. I was a software engineering intern at Apple and a UX design intern at Magic Leap and I actually have a small feature in the iOS 11 camera.

Emotional things:

I’m really really excited for this class and everyone is so cool and creative and I can’t wait to see what people come up with. I care a lot about creating things that view people in interesting ways, and I really like using humor. Can’t wait to get to know everyone!!!!