Digital Games (FW2011 – Section 1)

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Reflections and Recollections

Posted in General Posts on May 2, 2012 by Heather

Dear WordPress,

You are a time thief.

I’m really frustrated. I was almost finished writing a super long post – all of these personal reflections and how to’s for physical builds on multi-touch tables and then poof – moved an image and the post just disappeared, the page reloaded…and there went 3 hours of work out the door. Just like that. Even though I’ve been religiously saving draft every 5 minutes, all of the revisions are just gone and I can’t get them back in screen options. Forget save draft. It’s an illusion. You need to be command A and C’ing the hell out of your post constantly. Is this happening to anyone else? This is a very basic concept for a writing application. You do one thing: post words. And you keep effing it up and making it complicated. Your interface is confusing and your auto-formatting is wonky and commenting on images takes too long. WordPress, you need a re-design. You are a time thief and you need to just stop and rethink your actions.

Now back to the actual post. There was lots to reflect on post game design process. Here are some nuggets that I’d like to share because

a) the process was the kind of rollercoaster ride that is mostly very enjoyable, but the bumps in the road should be reflected upon.

b) there was a lack of information online about the physical and technical build of a very useful tool – the multi-touch table – so I believe this will help future multi-touch table builders with their quest to get it right and perhaps save them some time.

First…we spent endless amounts of time designing our concept. I’d say half our time was spent figuring out the what and the why. It majorly ate into our production time, but it was sort of inevitable. In hindsight, we should have limited this and been more organized about it, being that we took the mindset that big ideas needed to be hashed out, discussed and explored. And with big ideas come big productions. And we didn’t allot enough time for making and discovering…we wanted to learn new software and build crazy things in no time flat, and we also chose a theme that was difficult to pare down due to its broad spectrum and continual but never complete research developments: the memory. We both thought it was interesting to consider how encoding and retrieval could be connected through the physical and digital world. But as difficult as it was to commit to an idea along the way, once we’d committed, we really committed. We decided to drop everything and make it happen, and so it did.

Thanks to Emma, we were guided towards a way more personal and autobiographical approach that was lovely and explorative and awesome to go through. We had tons of resources to work with which was the best part – hours of VHS tapes and trinkets, toys and stories to reconnect with.In the process of creating this game, we both accomplished a huge, long-time, never really articulated goal:  successfully organizing and digitizing the massive mess of memories that we cherish, and we’d like to be able to facilitate this for others as well. It was an extremely satisfying process. Just like wordpress can steal time, time can steal memories. I would like to influence a change here so that it mustn’t always be so.

The next breakthrough in the design process was not to let technology limit our concept from moving forward. Around the time I spoke to Toronto designer Matt Gorbet who had produced a similar project – we started to disassociate the project with the RFID tags that were limiting in terms of size of their available reading surfaces and the reading of multiple tags at a time. Matt encouraged me to start simple and just start making stuff before it was too late and we never got anything off the ground. Starting simple is a simple concept but sometimes it’s hard to let go of ideas before you really ask yourself  ‘why the hell am I so attached to the idea of using this technology exactly in this way to get my concept across?’ Matt really helped us through that sticky moment and urged us to rethink why we were doing everything we were doing. Discussion of concept was so crucial along the way in our concept development and eventual fruition. As a group and one on one, it’s totally necessary.

Finally Maayan was enlightened through the TEI conference and we discovered multi-touch tables. We decided to focus on building a surface that could act as a memory box – reading artifacts tagged with fiducial markers through an open source software called ReacTIVision, that could speak to programming software MaxMsp which would allow for reading and playback on the tabletop. These 2 softwares are a lot of fun to play with, and we have Bentley Jarvis and Connor Dickie to thank for helping us through the trenches.

So onto the physical build. Here are some things that will be helpful for future multi-touch table designers…and let it be know that ours is up for borrowing anytime. No one really shows you online how to deal with the insanely annoying issue that the light from the projection interferes with the fiducial tags being read since they need contrast in order to be detected by the camera, and the underside of the table needs darkness, which doesn’t help the camera’s cause. There is a solution, but it takes some time to craft. Here are some helpful hints:

  1. We hacked a PS3 eye cam so that it could read infrared light. This involved breaking it, removing the IR blocker filter that came with the camera and adding an infrared light high-pass filter m12/CS. We bought a Vari-Focal m12 Lens, 2.8 – 12mm, so we could get a wider image so that the camera would detect the full surface of the table and read the fiducials clearly. Basically, once hacked and installed, the infrared lights illuminate the table surface in an invisible way to the naked eye so that the fiducials can be recognized by the camera and its infrared lens without making the projection disappear. Here’s what you need, where to get it and how to do it: – Peau is in the UK, so leave a week or two for delivery.
  2. Go with a regular data projector as opposed to a short throw: the NEC NP410 was great. Rest the projector on the ground and have the image bounce off a large mirror a few feet away, also resting tilted upright from the ground. Play with the tilt of the mirror so that the image is reflected up on the table surface. Works like a charm. You may need to lift the mirror slightly from the ground. We actually used a beanbag chair for this – prototype style.
  3. Make sure you choose your tabletop size wisely after you’ve played with your projector – it needs to be conducive to projection size. 2 x 3′ worked as a surface for us, but we could’ve been more accurate by cutting once we had solid measurements of projection size with the right projector in place and a distance from the throw we intended to keep consistent.
  4. We used a piece of frosted 3/4″ thick acrylic and a Lee filter from Technically Yours in Toronto: which gave us the perfect opacity, but you could always use clear acrylic and try out that spray frosting stuff. Might work too.
  5. install your infrared lights underneath the table frame using velcro strips which gives them flexibility for adjustments.
  6. play with different materials and sizes when printing fiducial markers: inkjet printers and photo paper work best.

See more images and more details here:

List of problems for Scurry Squirr

Posted in Assessed Work, Game Design Exercise, General Posts on April 18, 2012 by Cathy Pin-Chun Chen

Throughout the process of using Construct 2 as the game engine to create the game, we encountered few issues regarding the use of the software. Even though not much code sketches were needed in the process, other issues concerning the software emerged

Canvas Size
As the game is tailored for IOS, we targeted the size of the canvas to be 640 X 960, the resolution for iPhone 4s. However there was a program defect that obstructed me from changing the length of the canvas. We had to wait for the update of the software while working in the 80 wrong canvas sizes. This issue was eventually resolved, though I had to change the size of each canvas one by one.

Folder Issue
We developed each mini games individually, believing that sewing and connecting all the mini games together would not be difficult. However, mid way through the design of the mobile mini games, I discovered that in the free edition of  Construct 2, it does not allow for building folders, which disable the function of collaborative building remotely, which means I cannot stitch all the mini games that I created individually together into one big game.

Shino and I decided to buy the standard edition. We emailed someone in Construct 2 for tech support and inquired him about any education price. He offered us 10% on multiple computers with only one user. After all the inquiries, we quickly purchased the standard edition and started the folder building.

Moving all the mini games together in one big folder so they all can be connected later on became a big task, as I had several elements with one similar name; for example, squirrelNuts stood for the nuts that the squirrel eats in one of the game, it also stood for the bullet nut that the squirrel shoots in the other mini game. Through this naming process, I spent an entire day, moving each game properly in place with proper global variables that calculate points and lives. This process made me be more aware of the naming convention when constructing the ‘codes’ in Construct 2.

Change of Places
The game concept had to be shifted as the proposal for stairwell painting was rejected.

These are the reasons that the building director provided:

  1. Nothing is to be painted, adhered or cover the actual treads and riser of the stairs.  This causes problem with visual accessibility issues when using the stairs.   Artwork on the risers and treads creates a dazzle affect that makes it difficult when trying to navigate the stairs in normal times and can create havoc when attempting to use the stairs under conditions of egress in emergencies.
  2. In OCAD U’s liberal postering policy. it does not allow for work to be mounted in the stairwells.  An attempt was made to allow art work in a stairwell for esthetic purposes and to see if it cut down on graffiti.  It did not accomplish its goal and made graffiti even more of a problem.
  3. No artwork is installed, mounted, painted in a permanent manner on OCAD U buildings.  Artwork is allowed on a temporary installation basis under the policy for “Temporary Installation of Student Art Work”.  Which is reviewed by a panel to see if it conforms to OCAD Us standards.
  4. 205 Richmond still has tenants which under their lease agreements calls for a professional looking and conducted building.  This supersedes both the policy for temporary installation of artwork and the policy for postering at this time.

Even though Shino and I have constantly inquired about the status of our stairwell game proposal, the notice still did not arrive until the last week before the project is due. Shino and I thus had to figure out some other way to approach the building, having the game entirely under OCAD University’s property and management as well as asking permission from those who already claimed the wall. This admin side of the game was an interesting experience for us as we learned that when involving administration people in a project, there should always be a plan B; a no is easier to deliver than a yes.

Change of concept
Other technical issue we had is figuring out how to make the squirrel character jump well enough without falling on all sides, especially with touch and gesture interaction for mobile devices. Alternatively, Shino and I decided to scrap the original game idea and changed it to a moving block game, where players have to move the block to move the squirrel for the squirrel to move and achieve the goal of eating all the acorns on the page. I actually enjoy this idea better than the previous idea. I find the new idea more unique, less similar to traditional game concept.

Touch screen issue
This is both of our first time creating content for touchscreen devices. Therefore there are many issues and problems that we neglected, discovered, changed and improved. We didn’t know how to prompt up the text box on touchscreen devices. What is worse, we both have Android, which didn’t work as well with Construct 2 as IOS platform. This became problematic. We constantly had to re-upload the game to the web server and asking others if we could temporarily borrow their phones. It was interesting to build the touchscreen interaction that mimics mouse movement.


This is one of the defects that we wish to solve. Right now all the games are open to everyone, regardless whether the person has played the level or not. There is not that much difference between level 1 or level 2. Players can enter level 2 directly if they wish to. Players can also play the same game over and over again to gain multiple grids. Ideally, we would like to somehow limit some game access for players so they have to finish several easier games before tackling higher level mini games.

Forum for image submission
If possible, we would like to have a image submission forum so that players can upload their photos to the Scurry Squirr grid collections and users can choose which sketches they deem the best, most unique, and most interesting.

One of the interesting aspects of the game is that there is no regulations, no one looking over if the players have played the game before they sketch or if random people passing by the hallway sketch randomly regardless of the game. As of now, there are only several drawings on the grids that we are sure of players’ experience with the game; however there are several other grids that may be drawn by passersby, wishing to fill up the grids. This can also be an interesting phenomenon to observe how others perceive this space, and the seemingly freedom to sketch on the removable walls.

UI design of “Scurry Squirr”

Posted in General Posts on April 14, 2012 by Shino (Che Yan)



Storyboard of the game process. first, the player enters into the 205 Richmond building, scan the QR code, it will lead to the title page of “Scurry Squirr”, then collect codes to play the digial game or physical game. After winning the grid, he can draw the grid on the wall. During the process, player can know others through painting or clue collecting process.

1. wireframe of the game, after player choose the one of mini game, he can choose the level, and each level requires different objects to collect.

visual prototype of the game after wireframe process


As our game is build on Construct 2, which is a 2D platform, so all the user interface will be follow the trend of hand drawing. 10 icons represents 10 mini games extracting from the main feature of each game.


1. Puzzle game

after player read the instruction page, he need to collect 9 puzzle pieces, and put them into right position. then it will turn to the wining page, that inform player the place to draw.

2. pushing squirrel

after user choosing the level, he need to collect different stuffs to trigger the game, then he will have 3 logs for squirrel to stand on or to push with. If he successfully eat all the acorns, he will win, if he lose all the logs or lives of squirrel, he may lose. because whenever squirrel/logs reach the spider web, it will die or log will dispear.


3. feeding squirrel

player needs to collect different acorn bag from different floor, so that he can have enough food to feed squirrel. The acorn will go bad through time, the squirrel will get fatter once he eat fresh acorn, otherwise he will lose weight and beg for food. The score system below indicate how many food he get, after reach 15, player will win.

4. Looking for bad rats

The rats have invaded squirrel, they all hiding in the tree, the player need to pick out the rats (white scores 2, brown scores 1), to get 30 points to win the game. But the player need to be careful to tell difference between squirrel and rats, because he may lose score if he catch squirrel, getting the white one is even more severe (-2points).

 5. Shooting the enemy trashcan

the squirrel’s living envrironment is getting worse, he needs to fight the garbage using his acorn bombs that player offers him (by searching clues, of course). The player need to control direction of shooting using the pad at right corner, the squrrel may get scary and lose one life if he reach the trashcan. After shooting 15 trash cans, the player can win a grid.


1. find new place for squirrel

After rats invaded, a lot of tree house are taken by rats, there are 2 homeless squirrel needs new place to live. The player needs to find 2 new house for them. There are 7 tree house marker on 6/7th floor, 5 are taken by rats.

2. building squirrel a cozy home

after squirrel have a new tree house, he needs some furniture to decorate the room, so the player needs to find sofa, bed, and toilet to build him a living room, a bed room and a bathroom, so that the squirrel may feel satisfied with the living condition. If player input the wrong code, the squirrel will be sad.


 3. Count the different squirrels

now with the player’s help, the squirrels’ living condition improves a lot, so that more and more squirrels like to come to this building, the player needs to find them out by input the number of he saw of different colors.

4.Solving the Riddle

congrats to the player, the building has already become a community for squirrels, they have different roles. The player has to find the pink strip that on 6th floor, there’s a logical question on that, 5 squirrels has different jobs, the player needs to use logical thinking to solve the problem.

5. Find how many babies the pregnant squirrel gave birth to

here’s a mother squirrel hiding on either the 6th floor or 7th, the player needs to find her out, the baby she has equals to the tiles that on the stairwell. After the right counting and inputting, the mom like to show player all the cute babies she has, other wise mother squirrel won’t like player and hide babies from him.

Digital Game Artifacts

Posted in General Posts on April 14, 2012 by Shanyi Fang


Started by trying to draft the game concept document – this outlined the narrative/plot, the game characters, other assets (enemies/levels), system components, a game flow diagram and timeline for all of the work in stages. We ended up writing multiple Concept documents.

, we started to design the digital game artifacts.

1.Proof of Tech – a first prototype using the final game engine.



Game’s artworks design.

I think artworks of game are important. Good games with fresh, fun gameplay get ignored because they don’t have the look and feel of their peers.  Especially in independent and student games that many of the readers on this site work on, a large amount of games don’t get the chance they deserve because of their artworks.I’m not saying that more time should be invested in artwork planning than gameplay planning.  But I am saying that it should be something developers think about.  As part of the Aesthetic Layout, artwork is what makes our game come alive.


. Characters design


First character and walking cycle came out, but they don’t have many detail it need to improve. After we discuss, the final character come out



WAlking cycle design process




level  design





Design Process of Game Mechanics

Posted in General Posts on April 13, 2012 by Shanyi Fang
  1. Game Concept Document – narrative/plot, characters, game assets, system components, artistic style, game flow diagram, and timeline.

Started by trying to draft the game concept document – this outlined the narrative/plot, the game characters, other assets (enemies/levels), system components, a game flow diagram and timeline for all of the work in stages. We ended up writing multiple Concept documents.

The first game mechanism idea that comes to our mind is one in which the character has to collect miscellaneous items and avoid obstacles during his journey to the destination. The artifacts he collects or he avoids reflect the tasks in the real world.  The players can realize what activities the children would do in their related age level.However, we found that there are a lot of “gain” and “avoid” games, such as Super Mario and Paper Monster.

We would like to design innovative game mechanics. Puzzle game is a good way to exercise players’ brain.  We determine to make our game to a maze game.

The maze map is variable, and its difficulty is increased level by level. For our purposes, it may be more beneficial to study some of the more traditional board games or card games where players partner or form teams to “win” the game. It would be worthwhile analyzing the game mechanics within these forms to understand how they successfully foster collaboration. Our game is 1 player control 2 characters. Each level have the same objective. BIG and LITTLE begin their journey together at the entrance to the maze. The objective is to help them collect all of the activities in the maze and then reunite at the exit. From here they advance to the next level.

The player controls both the BIG character and the LITTLE character with the same set of controls (arrow keys). Different level have different control method. We have designed 2 level of the game.

Game mechanic of Level 1:the movement of one is the mirror image of the other – e.g. the left arrow moves one character to the left but the other character to the right. Likewise for the up arrow and down arrow keys.

Game mechanic of Level 2:the big character and the small character have different tasks, The big character is stronger enough to push the box, the little character’s body is small, so he can go to the small place to collect the coins. Each character has to move in turn.

  1. Sketches and Paper Prototypes – level and character development, and mimic gameplay.

The excitement of developing a game, and the eagerness to make a great product sometimes backfires when the creative process is overlooked. This also results in more serious issues down the road, when user research uncovers problems in the game’s core mechanics that are difficult to solve once they have gone deep into production. Many of these issues could have been resolved by creating a prototype of the interaction, and use that as a testing environment to experiment with a game’s fundamental mechanics.

Creating a tangible working model of our idea takes away some of the abstraction in the document. Paper prototype helps us iron out your ideas, and test what work and what doesn’t.

We design and test many different map for maze. To fix the difficulty of the maze map is a tricky thing. We have to figure out if the difficulty makes sense for the player. Either it is too hard or too easy would lead the player to lose their interests.

Finally, our map and game mechanics come up.

Process of building grids for “Scurry Squirr”

Posted in General Posts on April 12, 2012 by Shino (Che Yan)


Our initial idea of the grid on the wall. We were planning to draw the grids of several puzzle pieces using black paint. The idea of the puzzle pieces comes from that the painting will be collection of the work from the faculty, the little pieces will form a big  whole one.

The stairwell was the place we wanted to play with, but for some reason we can’t use it anymore. Fortunately we get permission of using  hall way on 6th floor, but only for a couple of month, so we decided to have some board pasted on the wall, so people can draw on the piece of board instead of painting on the wall, which is not permanent, and easy to take off. After discussion, paperboard and  cartonboard become our material. Because it has suitable nature color and easy to paint on.

Then we decide the form of the grid, since it’s easier to cut board into square or rectangle, we layout the shape with the the different size of quadrates. For this reason, pixel art can be a good reference, we search a bit then learn how to combine different color of  square together. We also took one of our digital game as the theme of the layout of grids on the wall- the little squirrel need to shoot to the evil trash can with acorn. For the material, we decide to use cardboard and cartonboard, for they are easy to cut and to paint on.

Firstly, we tear paper with different color into square pieces, then test the different layout of each object. Then find out best solution of showing each figure correctly, of form and color.

Then we spend whole weekend to do the grids part, from cutting to pasting. We start with testing layout with instant tac, mesh up the cardboards with different color and position, to find the best way, then stick them on the wall with either double side tape or hot glue gun. For the title part, we use the jute rope, and braid them as a thicker one, to make it looks more obvious.

The outcome of the Grids on the 6th floor, 205 Richmond st.



Cultural Differences in the RPG

Posted in General Posts on April 11, 2012 by Shino (Che Yan)

I was a big Chinese RPG fan before,  but unfortunately the Single-player PC game nowadays in China is severely going into decline, part of the reason is because of the rise of the online game, and also because of the popularity of the video game. Sadly there’re fewer and fewer single-player PC RPG developer. However, there was a time, about 10 years ago, when internet wasn’t so popular, was the heyday of the RPG pc game.

There was a game that influenced a generation. In China, almost every people who plays computer games knows this game. It’s called “The Legend of Fairy and Sword”(or The Chinese Paladin ) , its Chinese name is “xian jian qi xia zhuan” (1998). It’s known as representive of RPG games in China. The youtube video above shows the intro part. The game introject the ideology of Confucianism and Taoism dexterously, and incarnate them in the game very well. As it is a symbol of Chinese culture ,it contains a lot of beautiful tunes and poems. For the fighting system, it is turn-based game, which is typical in the Chinese RPG.

I’m not a gamer, but I’ve played a bit western RPG game before, like Prince of Persia, Diablo. In this article, I’d like to discuss the difference between wester RPG and Chinese.

1. story line

Overall, domestic RPG focus on the story, stressing the to Melancholy performance of the love-hate the game, but it doesnt offer player freedom to choose the plot. Generally player can not be independent to create something in the design of the script. Chinese RPG is more like a collection of popular literature, in particular, draws heavily on the mode of the martial arts. Chinese RPG likes to emphasize a “feeling” of love, friendship, family, and the Chinese players really love this kind.
While for the western RPG, its protagonist may be start as a hero. Not like the sense of Chinese RPG that needs steady growth controled by player from nobody. In the wester RPG. Even the close friend of protagonist may betray him in the critical moment for personal interest. These circumstances in the domestic game is very rare because the Chinese culture advocates brotherhood, that can not tolerate this betrayal. So even it has the plot of apostasy, it’s often happened when he has no other choice, and he may sacrifice for protagonist eventually. The traditional Chinese thinking emphases the positive definite always wins the evil side. The protagonist will never maintain balance of evil forces, he will always have to kill them, even if he will die.
In short, the domestic RPG is more emotional-based, the plot can’t be without “feeling”, while the western RPG pays attention to the obvious stake n. interest , which shows the cultural differences.

 2. character setting

As I mentioned above, Chinese RPG protagonist is often start as a juvenile with no skill, and then gradually grew up after travel with other roles. The partners join the team for love, friendship, affection or loyalty, then they support each other to go through hardships and villain. While for the boss the player need to defeat, they’re not total evil. For most cases they’re just heading for some weird goal or be pushed by others, they have their own reason. Overall, the typical Chinese RPG is not the kind of good and evil intertwined, but the tragicomedy of the ideals and beliefs.
hile most of the roles in western RPG join the team because of their own need, which is the embodiment of western’s  advocating of pragmatism. In the opinion of the Western game designers, everyrole has his own strengths, only the ability of mutual assistance, can form a strong team, which can be possible to defeat a powerful enemy . Team is a combination of characters of all mentality, when they are not in need each other, they can easily parted ways and even become enemies. Thus, the characters in western RPG rarely show clear-cut good and evil opposition. However, despite the very obvious evil things, RPG in Europe and America are not necessarily showing concept of of winner takes all, the evil often are complementary,  the complete world won’t be lack of any one. Even when the end of the game justice, after fight the evil, player may found that the so-called justice people have been already invaded by evil factor. Like in the diablo, the winner in Part 1 has become a puppet of devil in the Part 2.

3. Script

In some Chinese RPG game, the poetry is widely used, to show the plot and characters’ state of mind. It is not only just a few rhyming lines, but also renders atmosphere of the game, promote the development of the plot. The game is precisely to become a platform, showing the poetic images with string and wind sound, with the like of the mood of the poem. The beauty and feelings broke display in front of the player. Player will be hard to forget all of these.
To Europe and the United States RPG poetry has become a bard’s lengthy Records of the Historian. Their performance is to show mood or recollections, it is more similar to Chinese storytelling, singing introduce a legend.

4. battle

The vast majority of the Western games are real-time system, while Chinese RPG are more turn-based (ACT game or ARPG of a small number, even in the online RPG game). The real-time system requires a more intuitive awareness and operations, focusing on participation and balminess in the process. The Turn-based, focus more on strategy and layout of each round, focusing on the final outcome of the achievements of triumph.



Blogging about Blogtivist

Posted in General Posts on April 9, 2012 by Fayssal Mohammed Itani

Blogtivist is a game that creates awareness as well as encourages personal and social change. It raises questions about how social media platforms are being used. This game has been inspired by bloggers in the middle east who risk their lives everyday to either bring news to the world or by simply expressing an idea. In some countries, a comment, a post or a tweet can get you in jail.

Different places, different consequences:

Here’s a link to the 11 worst tweets of 2011:  At most, people were fired from their current jobs for posting “bad tweets”

Here’s a link to “The Next Web” (middle east section) a website that posts information about the internet technology, business and culture. if you skim the title of the articles posted on the homepage at the moment you will find the words: “arrested”, “jailed”, “censorship”, “Monitoring”, “Police”, “Arrests”.

How does it all  relate to gaming?

Games allow people to interact and deeply immerse themselves in the virtual experience presented to them. Gaming is the perfect platform to engage people, and make them experience the blogger’s journey. The gamer will then feel closer to the avatar and  relate much more to the cause that this game revolves around. Also social gaming has never been so popular thus again combining social media and games seem to be a good fit when it comes to building “blogtivist”.

As I was walking through a bookstore a couple of days ago, I stumbled upon a book called: “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal. I quickly went through it and eventually bought it. On the cover was written: “Why games make us better, and how they can change the world” I thought it might help me develop my concept since it relates to games for social change.It turns out Jane McGonigal is a big star in the gaming community. You can watch her TED talk here: After I watched her talk, i became a bit skeptical of her…As inspiring as her ideas were, she seemed to be too utopian for me. She got a lot of praise for her book, but also some criticism ( ).

So I’m still going through her book, looking to find something that I could use in my theory paper although i need to be focusing on Gonzalo Fresca’s work: A very interesting thesis that really coincides with what i’m doing: Videogames of the Oppressed – Video games as a means for critical thinking and debate.

I’ve got the domain name:, the twitter handle name: @blogtivist and the Facebook page:…Hoping one day to launch the game and make use of these links.

Monkey Ball Prototype

Posted in General Posts on April 9, 2012 by Fayssal Mohammed Itani

So, Monkey Ball again..this time in real life. I have got small metal plates and a chrome ball to simulate the game. Here’s what I got:

Two sizes (one smaller than the other) for difficulty levels. The ball is slightly heavy and it’s hard to keep it still on the metal plates. Shutting helped me in playing the game! Thanks Shutting!! 🙂

Here are the videos of her playing the 2 difficulty levels:

The plates were similar in size to the mobile device usually played on (iPhone).

Here’s a comparison between the iPhone game and the prototype :

1. Skill: Unlike when playing on the phone, the player needed to concentrate on the path he’s walking on. So it requires the skill to balance the plate (like in the game) and the skill to multitask: balance the ball and walk at the same time.

2. Death: the player seemed more concerned about the “life” of the chrome ball than the one of the monkey in the mobile game. The chrome ball was more palpable, it was heavy, shiny and would create a noise when fallen. The player would feel a major difference in weight between the plate with the ball and the plate without the ball. When the ball fell, the player actually expressed discomfort and directly kneeled down to pick it up. In a game of monkey ball, the player would most likely just wait for the level to restart without an exaggerated sign of discomfort.

3. Speed: The player was going at a fast pace in order to get to the “finish line” quickly before the ball would fall. In a monkey ball game, the player usually would move slower in order to keep the monkey balanced. It seems that the real prototype allows the player to keep his balance even if moving at a high speed. (the mobile game would not facilitate that, in the contrary the player would loose control  when moving in high speed).

4. Time: There was time allocated to the player to complete the levels while playing the prototyped game but it was not taken much into consideration. Unlike the real game where the player’s turn would automatically stop if reached the limit time, the prototyped game gave more control to the player: even though time would be up, the player would still be able to keep holding the plate and continue his journey disregarding the time limit.

5. Satisfaction: Although the player enjoyed completing the prototyped game. The mobile application seemed to give more satisfaction to the player where he would collect bananas, win extra lives, and unlock bonus stages. Not to forget the sounds, cheer and firework that the mobile game rewards the player with at the end of each stage!

Blogtivist “Level 2”

Posted in General Posts on April 8, 2012 by Fayssal Mohammed Itani

First, a big thanks to Lynn Ridley who gave me a crash course on GameMaker! Once I learned the basics, the rest was easy! Also, there was lots of tutorials and support online for it.  A small reminder, Blogtivist in Level 2 the player needs to take back roads, and narrow alleys, and reach the danger zone. Once there, he needs to shoot a video for a couple of seconds, and make it back to his house without being caught or killed.

So I first had to build the background or the city path that the player’s avatar would go through. I also added tanks that would follow a predetermined path that would obstruct some of the roads and prohibit the player to reach the danger zone in time. I eventually decided that the video would be a prop (that looks like a film strip) set in the “danger zone” that the player needs to collect. (that would be a symbolic way to represent shooting a video). After the video has been collected. A house will appear on the other side, where the player needs to go to. the player has 3 minutes to complete this dangerous task. (get video and go home). If the player touches a tank or fails to return home on time, he will be “captured”.

Here is the wireframe of game: (click to enlarge)

Here is the design of the game: (click to enlarge)

At first after i learned how to do walls on game maker, i thought I had to insert each block alone to create the whole maze. Luckily, i could insert the whole maze already drawn in photoshop as a png (with the path being hollow), and it would work! At that point my character was too big to go through these alleys, so I “masked” the character to another smaller shape. (another wondrous option in game maker!) So the character would stay the same, but now he could go through narrow paths. As I mentioned working with game maker was easy and enjoyable, the interface looks like something designed in the 90s…but it’s free, so can’t complain…

I also designed the interface of the first level: here are the 3 first scenes that a player would see:

The Homepage: (click to enlarge)

The user would connect via Facebook or twitter and log in to his own account. The page introduces blogtivist (briefly explains about the game) as well as displays real news about jailed bloggers.

The first screen with pop-up: (click to enlarge)

This will show the interface that the user will be on while playing the entire game. A pop-up comes up to inform the user about his mission. (connect to the internet & collect followers).

The first screen with open dashboard: (click to enlarge)


As blogtivist is an adventure game, where there is a lot of exploration and puzzle solving, the player will need to use several tools in order to complete the game. The tools are:

1. Save progress: this will allow the user to save progress or backup any work he’s done in case of electricity or internet cuts. (which will happen often in the game where the player will be suddenly logged out)

2. Browser: will allow the user to access online sites like Facebook, twitter, youtube or WordPress.

3. Mobile phone: will allow the user to text virtual other players and capture images and videos with his computer’s camera.

4. installer: will allow the user to install virtual softwares to fight internet censorship.

5. Mail: will allow the user to access his blogtivist email.

6. Media Library: will allow the user to access the images and videos that he took with his camera during the game.

The player will have to toggle between all these applications or tools to succeed and win the game. If the player gets captured, he will get a real news snippet of jailed bloggers around the world.




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