Cycle 3 – Activity 3 – Gameplay and Player Stories

Game Concept Statement

In Cheese and Crackers, the player controls a mouse stuck in a hamster ball trying to complete a series of obstacle courses in a lab. The obstacle course is completed by manoeuvring around the hamster ball, i.e. rolling, jumping and wall jumping. The player collects cheese while completing the obstacle course to open the door at the end of each level. Various obstacles will slow down the player from completing the course, such as water pools, rats and mousetraps.

Player Stories

  1. Playing as a mouse, I will roll in my hamster to ball to move around
  2. Playing as a mouse, I will jump to move from platform to platform
  3. Playing as a mouse, I will wall jump to move from wall to wall
  4. As a player I will manoeuvre the hamster ball to collect cheese
  5. As a player I will manoeuvre the hamster ball to collect crackers
  6. As a player I will jump over water traps to avoid being slowed down
  7. Playing as a mouse in a hamster ball, I will jump over mouse traps to avoid being knocked back
  8. Playing as a mouse in a hamster ball, I will jump over rats to avoid being hit
  9. As a player I will press buttons to open doors
  10. As a player I will engage in friendly competition with the second player (deemed out of scope for the prototype and will not be implemented)

Relation to Target Audience

Sam enjoys making his own games

Sam loves to makes his own games using simple tools, it is assumed this includes tools such as Stencyl, Flash or Game Maker. Player stories 1 to 3 would apply to these sensibilities as it would allow Sam to understand the simple movement mechanics of the game and create a similar game by himself. Additionally, the simple movement mechanics means that the fun of making his own game would mostly occur in the level-making phase. This appeals to his creative nature of constructing and combining, as exemplified by Sam’s interest in Minecraft.

The game is a strictly G experience

Player stories 6 to 8 detail that the traps in the game do not induce a death state to the character, instead progress in only impeded by affecting the player’s speed and position. The removal of death as a mechanics applies to Sam’s persona as he is only allowed to play G/PG games. Though this does not necessarily tap into motivations, this strongly suits his persona, especially considering this is a family enforced restriction.

The game features collection mechanics

Sam has been shown to enjoy games that heavily feature basic collection mechanics as core gameplay, these being Pokémon Go and Minecraft. Thus, the inclusion of such mechanics would improve a game’s appeal to Sam. Player story 5 relates to this as crackers are a collectable to be found in game; though not mechanically similar to the collection of those in the previously mentioned games, this should still be a suitable alternative. Furthermore, it is planned for crackers to pose an additional challenge for the player and be inserted into areas that diverge from the path required to collect the cheese or in areas that would require backtracking.

A mechanic of this sort is likely to induce emotional and creative motivations, particularly joy and constructing. The challenge presented to collect these crackers requires the player to construct a solution, by enacting this solution and succeeding they experience joy. The joy from this is assumed given Sam’s pre-existing interest in collection-based games. The creative motivations are also assumed to link to Sam’s like of Minecraft and making his own games, a creative talent in its own right.

Sam likes playing multiplayer game

Given Sam’s tendency to play multiplayer focused games with elements of friendly competition, we have considered multiplayer for the full implementation of the game. More specifically, it is known that Sam has had his first gaming experiences with Wii Sport and Mario Kart, which are both family-friendly competitive games. Furthermore, Sam is a current fan of Minecraft and Pokémon Go; both of these games contain multiplayer features that enable competitive play, especially Minecraft depending on server setup and environment. As detailed by player story 10, the game would have had a second player, racing with the first player to reach the end of the map. This is also applicable given Sam could play with his parents, as his parents are both early adopters for game technology and already play Pokémon Go with him.

Multiplayer mechanics in the game would frequently engage in social motivations, primarily competition and secondarily cooperation. This is given a friendly multiplayer environment would pit Sam against his friends or his parents, giving him inherent motivation to beat whoever he was playing against. However, in cases where one player was struggling to learn gameplay mechanics or controls, it is likely the other player would help guide them until they no longer required assistance.

Cycle 3 Activity 2: Game Look and Feel

Having Sam as the primary target audience of the prototype, the game’s aesthetic will be based on his preferences and gaming background. Sticking with studio player experience goal which is stated in the quote below, and looking at Sam as the youth who is actively engaged to catch pokemons outside, the mood of the game prototype is made to be cheerful, happy, optimistic, excitement, and energetic. The style of the game will mainly be based on his favourite game PokemonGo, which appears to be cartoonish, colorful, and have many tiny characters.

Players will feel a sense of excitement and tension navigating around obstacles using their reflexes and agility

Style and Mood of the Game

Mood: Cheerful, Happy, Optimistic, Excitement, Energetic
Style: PokemonGo (Cartoonish, Colorful, Tiny Characters)

Fundamental Shape Structures

A post by Chris Solarski in Gamasutra relating to the aesthetics of game art and game design has given insights that most people grew up bringing the aesthetic concepts of the world around them by many senses. [1] Through sense of touch to the textures, people tend to automatically generate a mental to visually assess objects through their shapes to define the characteristics. In addition, people also generate that automatic visual assessment through sensing how different shapes respond differently to certain condition, for example cubes tend to stay balance in the table when it is shaken, but spheres will roll. So, people perceive the characteristics of each object based on its shape’s dynamics and attributes.

It is stated in the blog that circle represents innocence, youth, energy, and feminity. Cheese and Crackers is a game that is developed to bring excitement and some tension feeling to the studio’s selected player demographics. Sam, is a 12 years old boy that enjoy games that is friendly and less-punishing, and therefore characters that are designed from circle will psychologically satisfy his needs. The team decided to use circle shapes as the design foundation in this game to bring aesthetics feeling of non-aggressiveness and friendliness. The main character will be in a form of a ball which can only roll and jump, while the environment would be also made circle to create a harmony. The enemy characters, mousetraps, cheese and crackers would be designed using circle shape as the base to illustrate that they are less harmful and less punishing.

Spatial Dimensions, Size, and Boundary

Cheese and Crackers will be made in a 2.5D side scroller game environment. The boundary of the entire game world will generally be designed to be within a small rectangle, but still big enough for the player to move around and perform some jumps. The game scale requires scaling as long as it makes a clear sense to the players, but it does not necessarily to completely reflect the exact size.

The picture below illustrates how the game world of Cheese and Crackers is bounded.

Game Setting

The background of Cheese and Crackers is that player will play as a mouse who is under certain experiments in the lab to test how agile he is to collect crackers and cheese when is put inside a ball. The game setting is based on the future lab’s experiment box, which contains many metal platforms, pipes and panels that create a maze for the mouse. Most of the furnishings will depict sci-fi theme to bring the futuristic look of the world, which can be metal boxes, portals, metal buttons, etc. The only character in the game is the mouse in a ball which shows friendliness, unharmfulness, and quick-wittedness. The sound effects and background music will be made friendly and cartoonish to reflect the visual style of the game. The game will also display the score board under the experiment result background showing how many crackers players managed to collect. This is one insidious trend in modern game direction to convince players that a meaningless action (collecting the crackers) is meaningful by giving a psychological reward. [2] Human naturally likes to win, and when they have accomplished something, they want rewards. Showing a score board with a number of crackers players have managed to collect will give players a sense of achievements, which they crave.

Representation

 The Character The Cheese

 The Crackers The Mousetrap

Target Audience Analysis

The studio team believe that Sam, a twelve years old boy who played Mario Carts as his first game, is a long time fan of Minecraft and spent a lot of time playing PokemonGo with his parents, would love the Cheese and Crackers game prototype’s look and feel. Such designs that applies an appropriate metaphor to the game would not necessarily change how the game would function, or modify any contexts of the prototype. [3] With a game mechanic that reflects excitement and moment of tensions, the characters appearance and the world design can be made suitable to what Sam really likes. Looking at Mario Carts, Minecraft and PokemonGo, the game contexts show innocence, friendliness, and youth. Refering back to shape structures, Cheese and Crackers would be designed to be based on circle shape structure, which would best represent those elements shown in Sam’s favourite games. The mouse in the prototype would also be designed to be tiny and cartoonish, just as the characters in any of Sam’s favourite games. Moreover, the achievement score board look and feel will reflect collection and reward system which Sam is really interested in.

References

  1. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/185676/the_aesthetics_of_game_art_and_.php?print=1
  2. http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/DaveWilliams/20131030/202147/Designing_the_Design_the_Semiotics_of_Choice.php
  3. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/130734/game_feel_the_secret_ingredient.php?print=1