Cycle 3 – Activity 4 – Mechanics, Objects and Rules

Player Stories & Mechanics

  • Playing as a mouse, I will roll in my hamster to ball to move around
    • Physics-oriented – Movement
    • Acceleration based movement to a maximum speed
    • Roll left
    • Roll right
  • As a player I will manoeuvre the hamster ball to collect cheese
    • Progression – Locks/keys to control progress
    • Several cheese to collect per level
  • As a player I will manoeuvre the hamster ball to collect crackers
    • Economy – Collectable
    • Points given on collection of cracker
  • As a player I will jump over water traps to avoid being slowed down
    • Progression – Scenario to provide challenge
    • Upon entry of water trap player will slow down immensely
    • Not necessarily adverse effect but is still frustrating to player
  • Playing as a mouse in a hamster ball, I will jump over mouse traps to avoid being knocked back
    • Progression – Scenario to provide challenge
    • Knocks back player to impede/reverse progress
    • Not necessarily adverse effect but is still frustrating to player

How These Mechanics Appeal to Sam

Physic-oriented (Movement)

Through the other movement related player stories not included above, the simple movement system for the game appeals to Sam as the controls themselves pose no challenge in an of themselves, allowing him to “pickup-and-play”. Consequently, the main learning curve is not present in the core control system but instead lies with the challenges enabled by that movement system. Examples of games where core control systems are a challenge are those in the Street Fighter series (learning frame perfect input) or Mirror’s Edge (timing and contextual input).

Progression (Locks/keys to control progress, Scenario to provide challenge)

Both progression related mechanics appeal to Sam but in a more general sense that most players would derive incentive to play from the existence of a challenge. Focussing more on Sam however, these challenges will not be made too difficult to allow for a lower barrier for entry in terms of player skill.

Economy (Collectable)

The appeal of the collectable aspect of crackers has already been detailed in Activity Post 3, describing how Sam enjoys games with collection mechanics as a main focus. Though used typically as a standard staple of simple game mechanics, a basic means of challenge and player incentive, it is assumed that Sam would further enjoy collection mechanics based on his persona.

An aside from mechanics

On a more personal note, I find that commenting so extensively on the appeal of particular mechanics for Sam is a misguided effort. I say this with the experience of working with children of similar age to Sam in making platforming games. They do not focus on the mechanics of the game, though not to say that there are not those who do enjoy breaking down gameplay to its core, but instead they more focus on the construction, look and feel of the game world. Reasoning similar to this could the rationale as to why series such as Sonic or Mario, though limited in mechanic scope, were popular among children at the time and with subsequent generations. These series have such a heavy focus on their characters and stories, while maintaining a “pick-up-and-play” simplicity that made their games so accessible to younger audiences.

In light of this, I feel there is a much stronger need for a game catering at Sam to hold an emphasis on the graphics and consistency of game look and feel. Delivering on these fronts may be a major problem given the lack of an artist in the team but the key aspect is to at least plan for the game world to be cohesive and immersive. An example of this is the inclusion of a key mechanic being the cheese, as opposed to a real key, or the water trap to prevent hamper progress, as it would better suit the current theming of a lab and the mouse as the player character.

Object Table

Game Object Purpose Attributes Relationship with other objects Rules, events and effects
Cheese A key mechanic to open the exit door. One or more cheeses may be placed on a level. ·    Collectable

·    Non-moving

(No interaction with other objects) ·    Collected by player
Water trap A trap to slow down the player. Not directly harmful to player but designed for frustration. ·    Slow down player upon contact

·    Non-moving

(No interaction with other objects) ·    Slows down player
Mouse trap A trap that knocks the player back with strong force. Designed to impede player movement. ·    Triggered when player is near trap

·    Knocks back player back on contact

·    Non-moving

(No interaction with other objects) ·    Knocks back player
Rat A patrolling enemy that knocks the player back with strong force. Designed to impede player movement, while moving around. ·    Patrols in a designated line

·    Knocks player back on contact

(No interaction with other objects) ·    Knocks back player
Cracker A collectable coin-like object for a rudimentary point system. ·    Collectable

·    Non-moving

(No interaction with other objects) ·    Collected by player
Button A button requiring the player press it to deactivate barriers impeding player progression. ·    Can be pressed

·    Non-moving

(No interaction with other objects) ·    Pressed by player
Barrier A barrier to block the player from progressing further, deactivated by pressing the related button. ·    Blocks player if active

·    Deactivates if button pressed

·    Non-moving

(No interaction with other objects) ·    Blocks player

·    Deactivated by button

Platform/Wall General world objects for platforming around and onto. ·    Can be stood on

·    Can be wall jumped off of

·    Non-moving

(No interaction with other objects) ·    Collides with player to allow contact
Booster An area/zone increasing player speed upon contact. ·    Speed up player on contact

·    Non-moving

(No interaction with other objects) ·    Speeds up player
Exit door The door to complete the current level, only unlocked when cheese has been collected. ·    Finishes current level if cheese has been collected

·    Non-moving

(No interaction with other objects) ·    Entered by player to end level

 

Cycle 3- Activity 5: Interactivity and Choice

After detailing some of the objects and mechanics within the game the studio started to use those objects to create a hierarchy on the games completion. This hierarchy detailed the process a player would take to reach the overall goal of completing the entire game. This breakdown is shown below:

Hierarchy

We then broke down these goals further by discussing the choices the player has, the players actions required to achieve that goal, the rules that come with the goal and the response to the players choice. For simplicity, we went through two of the challenges associated with two different goals. The first goal we decided to look at was on the fifth level over half way through the level. The last task the player must do to complete the level is collect the cheese to open the portal and win the game. The goal we decided to break down for this was the process of collecting the cheese. Starting on the platform above the portal, the player will attempt to jump on the platform positioned on ground. This platform is right underneath two platforms. One of the platforms comes directly down from the roof, the other is attached to the side wall. The cheese is placed at the top of the platform on the wall.  The platform on the ground has a gap between where the player started and a gap between the side of the level. At the bottom of the gap a mouse trap is placed which will fling the player up. To reach the platform the player will have two options: try jumping onto the platform from the left, or land on the mouse trap, fling up and try and land on the platform. Once the player successfully lands on the platform on the ground they will proceed to jump towards one of the platforms above them. This will bounce the player towards the other platform propelling the player upwards. As soon as the player’s character reaches the other platform they will have to press jump again. This will be repeated til they reach the cheese at the top of the platform along the side of the level. Once the player reaches the cheese and rolls over it with the hamster ball it will disappear while playing a mouse that is eating sound. This will open up the portal home and play an opening portal sound. This takes in to account rules of the world where the player’s character can bounce off walls and can’t be damaged by traps.

The next challenge we discussed was on the third level. This time right at the very beginning of the level. The goal for this challenge is to reach a cracker placed at the top left side corner of the level. The level has a platform that comes down from the top and nearly reaches the bottom only leaving a gap for the player to travel past the platform. The platform also has a backward L shape cut out of it at the top. The cracker is placed inside the L shape position. There is gap between the platform and the side of the level. The player will roll forward to build up speed and after reaching some speed they will jump at the side of the level. This will cause the player’s character to bounce to the wall of the platform. Just as they reach the wall the player will press the jump button again. This action continues till they reach the L shape section of the platform. Once the player’s character travels over the cracker a sound effect will play and the cracker will disappear. This will count to the player’s final score that will be displayed at the end of the level. To help visualise the first challenge a quick set of sketches were drawn up to show the process of collecting that cheese. These sketches are shown below:

Pic

These choices are important to show that all the actions the player could or will take have a reason behind them. Now that the studio has knowledge of the player overall, player experience goals and our target audience target Sam. We also have the idea of our games look and feel, the games mechanics, the game’s objects within the world, how the player interacts and the choices of the player. The next step our studio has left to do is plan for the game’s play testing phase.