Project: Final

Let’s figure out the projects worth completing.
Miro board

Let’s look at some criteria for completion:
Works as artwork – does something innovative, it’s in dialogue with contemporary artmaking, it tackles complex issues.
Works as experience – the player understands what to do, it’s aesthetically polished, it’s well presented and enticing, the difficulty level and learning curve are adequate for the intended audience.
Works as game (if applicable) – the gameplay is not broken, there are no dominant strategies, the gameplay succeeds in its own terms (a roguelike is replayable, an exploration game makes you want to explore, a match 3 game is addictive).
Works as software – it runs, the features are complete, it doesn’t crash, there are no bugs.

Project management

Elect a project manager in your team.
The project manager is not going to be the “boss”, or somebody who is more responsible that others, but rather a person who:

  • schedules meetings
  • writes down notes, tasks and meeting decisions
  • structures and maintains the project management system codecks.io
  • oversees and identifies issues in the workflow
  • acts as a liaison with the professor outside of class if needed

Nobody here has real experience with project management, so volunteer yourself if you think this could be a possible direction of your life after graduation.

The project manager is still expected to do creative work in the team, but if you already have the impression you are going to contribute less than others for any reason, this could be a job for you!

We are going to use codecks.io for project management.
It’s a tool for tracking tasks similar to Trello, but oriented to game development.

I (the prof) will act as producer and I may add tasks or set milestones for each project.
The project management is part of coursework and it will be evaluated so take it seriously.

As a team, add all the tasks – from bugs to missing features – to the system and assign them to each team member.

Title and logo

You can have a tentative title for a project until the very end but considering how marketing has to start way before the release date this is a good time to find one.
Brainstorm a bunch of title ideas on a document. Consider things like:

– Is there already a game or thing with that name? (search steam, itchio, app stores)
– How searchable is it? What’s the google page ranking of the search? (can you potentially land in the first page)
– Is it referencing a game genre or a type of software that already exists? Does it need to? (eg. simulator, the use of terms like “super” to denote a retro arcade tie)
– Is the domain and social media handle available?
– Can you do something interesting visually with the logo? (eg. the A in Fall Guys’ logo references the iconic character)

When you found a title design a logo for the game. It may seem premature but it will force you to consider some aspects of tone, color and style you may have not encountered in the prototype.

Screenshots are not always the best way to present a game on a distribution channel.
Sketch out an image that can function as key art or cover art. What are the distinctive visual motifs of your project?

Does your logo work in 2 colors (black and white)?
Does it work overlapped on a screenshot of your game?
Is your logo legible when you shrink it a lot?

Firewatch’s key art inspired by WPA national park posters, helped define the look and feel of the game.

 

Session plan
Branding/market “Research” discussion
Logo and key art presentation
Prof to Team meetings to identify:
A- specific technical needs – what’s something you haven’t done before that concerns you the most
B- core features to be implemented for the next Session playtest

Marketing “Research”

Find a couple of successful projects (feel free to define your own notion of success) of the same scale/tone/genre as yours.

-Look at how it’s presented on its official website or store listing.
-Look at how outlets covered it and how people on social media described it.

Discuss:

What’s the tweet-long synopsis of the game?
What’s the headline a blog or website could use to describe it? Does it describe 1000 other projects?
What’s the tagline?

What’s the one paragraph listing on a hypothetical store?
What’s the visual hook that distinguishes the game? What screenshot or key art would you use to promote it? 

Session plan
1. Playtest schedule hereRead the guide first
-Playtester think out loud in screenshare. Creators take notes silently.
-After a first play, ask the playtester to intentionally break the game (QA)
-Finally, have a discussion developer to developer

2.Team to Team Game Feel discussion

3. Prof to Team meetings to identify:
-post-playtest adjustments
– Game Feel / non-mechanic features be implemented for the next Session playtest

Game Feel / Juice

The term Game Feel was Coined by Steve Swink (article summary here) and is used more or less ambiguously to refer to the “tactile” quality of control systems in spatial games. Basically how the game responds to the input.

The main idea is: a game should feel engaging to play even after the plot, points, level design, music, and graphics are removed.

Some games aren’t much more than a control system:

The even more vague but related idea of juiciness relates more to the visual feedback, the effects that are not strictly necessary to the gameplay but give it a character and a make it satisfying.

 


These talks are casual, a bit goofy and performative but they describe aspects of the game that can really make a difference: how the game provides a feedback, how to make every action feel satisfying, what are some simple strategies to make a game feel more alive and dynamic…

Also check this reader collecting articles expanding the notion of game feel beyond the arcade.

Such game development tricks can be applied to non arcade games as well as UX in general

 

Easing functions are a common “juice” trick.
Easing cheatsheet
iTween Unity asset

What are the parts of the experience you need to improve the most, in terms of control, feel and usability?

What are the elements and actions that make sense to emphasize with effects and other “juice” tricks?