Digital Games (FW2011 – Section 1)

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Perceptions on Game as Art

Posted in Theory Readings on May 2, 2012 by Heather

I wanted to focus on a few changing perceptions that I didn’t really describe in our final paper, because they were a tad off base in terms of our goals for expression and theory. Thinking about our game as a form of art I think is actually quite interesting. First, off, we weren’t sure in starting out if this exhibit-like stroll down memory lane coined ‘The Memory Capsule’ could actually be qualified as a game. But as described in Pearce’s “Games As art: the Aesthetics of Play”, it seems that The Memory Capsule is a game indeed. Through the incorporation of the following:

  • rules (read the clue, guess which artifact it refers to, choose the artifact and place the artifact on the table, etc)
  • a goal (discover the corresponding stories / memories that match the memento)
  • obstacles (more mementos than actually incorporated in the stories to increase difficulty and variety in memento selection)
  • resources (clues, selection of artifacts)
  • consequence (wrong, try again message to incorrect artifact selection)
  • information – both known and unknown to the players (mementos are unknown, clues are provided, videos are revealed providing context)

We are providing a playful environment that also has artful qualities in the curation of the content into meaningful stories.

In terms of developing competition between opponents, our game was slightly different. There was a sense of friendly competition and cameraderie between the large team of players who cheered each other on as they guessed and solved the clues, and chose the proper artifacts. I suppose we could’ve set up a point system for the player in the group that guessed the most correct artifacts. That would’ve potentially created a more competitive atmosphere that may have been more challenging. But since we were presenting the game in prototype phase in a critical and educational environment, we saw it more as an opportunity to focus on exhibiting the game’s artistic nature, discuss the relation between the physical and digital environments, and describe the coding mechanics and the physical setup, rather than exhibit the mechanics  of the competitive nature it does have potential for.

In terms of game strategy, there is lots of room for improvement. The issue with the Memory Capsule as it is coded now, is that chance doesn’t factor much into the equation as we have programmed it to follow a sequential order, which would only allow for it to be played once with the current coding before it got boring. Players in this regard don’t have a lot of control over game destiny. Player control begins and ends at choosing which memento to place on the table based on their understanding of a clue and its relevance to a set of objects. In order to have players be involved in solving part of a bigger mystery, we talked about having a more important, visual goal of trying to fit pieces of a puzzle together represented by a brain or a person that needed to be reconstructed. It could work as a metaphor for personal identity reconstruction through memory retrieval and storytelling, and essentially start fitting back together and regaining form as the player identified certain artifacts and memories that matched a particular character in the game. Here I’m implying that there could be several characters simultaneously introduced in the game, perhaps competing against each other to be the first to have their puzzle reconstructed. The stories could go deeper and the game journeys could lengthen with more players present and involved at a time. Combinations of artifacts could also be integrated into the code to make for more difficult solving on higher levels, as originally intended. All of these aspects in fact were part of the initial discussion. But as it turned out, the physical build of the multi-touch table and learning to code in Max Msp took up so much time and focus, that we found we didn’t have the knowledge and technical means to develop the code further to more complex levels where chance and bigger challenge factored in, creating more “hard fun” for the player.

In other future developments, we hope to make the game accessible online, which would diminish the important physicality of the game, but could be interesting in terms of having users generate their own content. The game could even function as a gift you send to a close family member or friend whose content and artifacts you could get a hold of and curate into the game with the code already built in. We’d just need to adjust it to work as a seamless interface with user generated content.

There are many possibilities for the game to develop and I think it has potential. Most of all, I must say what I enjoyed most from the experience was the art of collaborating involved in creating the game, the video editing and the experience of sharing memories with people who appreciated them. It was really a lovely experience overall that I hope continues to grow and change, as I’m sure our perceptions of it will.

 

 

GDD of Stairwell Hunt – Cathy Chen & Che Yan (Shino)

Posted in Theory Readings on April 6, 2012 by Shino (Che Yan)

work with Cathy Chen,

see post

http://blog.ocad.ca/wordpress/digf6b08-fw2011-01/2012/02/gdd-of-stairwell-hunt/

Art Games

Posted in Game Design Exercise, Theory Readings on March 18, 2012 by Jessica Knox

Well, the reading last assigned was very timely for me. While my game is about art, there’s no doubt that games as art can provide both inspiration and guidance as I seek to refine my design.

In Pearce’s writing on ‘Games AS Art: The Aesthetics of Play’, the idea that games have a structure that needs to be understood by the player in order for him/her to engage with the game or subvert it, is an important presupposition. It begs a couple of questions: one, if you do not know that you’re playing a game does it still make it so? Is a declaration “this is a game!” the strongest way to draw the magic circle? Secondly, how does this presupposition relate to other types of artwork, beyond games as art? Surely the act of knowing more about the structure or ideas behind conceptual art leads to a greater appreciation or intellectual/critical response.

The idea that Pearce discusses about how in games as art, the artist much surrender some control of the artistic process, to “give yourself up” to the viewer as a participant rather than just a recipient, is an issue that is relevant across disciplines as the possibilities of interactive digital media are challenging traditional notions of the artist, the author, the expert. I got into a twitter spat recently because someone said that the web platform is to film what a bag of chips is to a 4 course meal. Clearly there are those who don’t see viewer control and input as an extremely valuable potential that emerges from technology-enabled art-making. In some ways, this is the Situationist dream come true (or maybe interactive media provides a false sense of control and participation when really it is the ultimate spectacle). Artists like Lozano-Hemmer are certainly exploiting the possibilities of audience participation in art with awesome results.

I love the idea of patches as art – however, it evokes one of the greatest questions of contemporary art, namely, what makes these patches art and not, say, gaming as cultural critique? Is it, in the case of Nideffer’s Tombraider patches, the fact that he references Duchamp? Is it the maker’s profession? Is the the context of its exhibition (gallery vs conference/paper)?

One of the most useful sections of this paper to the game that I’m designing is the section on chance and digital entropy. Particularly in my quest to create a meaningful and engaging interaction for the act of abstract expressionist creation, which from research conducted involved a tension between control and freedom/randomness. During the process of creating a proof of technology, I’m trying to experiment with accidents and errors in code to yield a richer play experience.

Which leads me to the research end of it. Laura Dimarco has been a great collaborator and has completed some very insightful research into the abstract expressionist process of creation and nature of the work. Some things that have stood out to me in her research are that before the term Abstract Expressionism was coined, these works were referred to in a pejorative way as belonging to the ‘splatter-and-daub school of painting’. It might be fun to subvert this into ‘splatter’ and ‘daub’ modes of creation.  Also that for Pollock, the paint sat on top of the canvas and was built up in layers. Finally, a series of descriptors that Laura collected have been inspirational: linear, dynamic, flat, rhythmic, chaotic, performative, gestural, heroic, liberated but controlled.

Wanted to post the flow chart that I showed a couple of weeks back that takes a closer look at the game design. You can find it HERE.

 

 

About Play

Posted in Theory Readings on March 5, 2012 by Heather

Reading Huizinga’s ‘Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon’ forced me to reconsider the seriousness and importance of scheduling play on a more regular basis. As drab as it sounds, and as much as the thought of play as being consistently spontaneous is romantic and beautiful, it just isn’t realistic. It needs to be prioritized or it simply won’t happen, as pathetic as that is. My childhood and adolescence were SO great for this. Other people handed me opportunities to play on a platter. Did you want drama or photography as an elective? Go ahead, join the ski team – you get credits. There is also gym and art class once a week in school and parents who encourage me to take ballet, swimming, painting and piano lessons after class. I miss having more than half my life revolve around play. Thinking about adult play in a more modern cultural context, we tend to forget that it remains a part of our natural instincts to have fun, and in it’s simplest form, having fun is about a relaxing interlude…at least for me.

I can be deeply immersed and exerting myself in a physical activity or a game and still find it relaxing and fun if my mind is at ease…but the trouble comes when your mind is reeling because your game isn’t up to snuff and then the fun tends to dwindle in the act of playing. Learning is part of it, but when the learning curve is slow as it inevitably is as you get older and your range of motion and ear and brain are developed to a level that makes you less malleable than you once were…conditions can be less than prime. Take golf for example: I just came back from a 4 day trip to Florida where I was coerced into 4 games of golf with the remainder of my foursome all men, all scratch golfers. I am what they call a hacker – in layman’s terms, this is someone who probably shouldn’t be playing a serious round of golf, which resulted in my choice to take the game into a new realm – I call it ‘infinity score’ which basically means that the more shots I take, the more exercise I’m getting and so that is my own little win. Needless to say at the end of the game, I’m totally exhausted as I have vigorously and sometimes angrily swung my clubs at the little white ball more than double the amount that any other player has…and perhaps more than all the players combined. Games, when we suck at them, can be dreadful and daunting. Play can be frustrating if you’re not good at the game, but therein lies the challenge if there is at least a flicker of hope that one day you can connect with the process and make it work for you. Improvement is what brings me back. It’s the one nice shot that lands on the green and not in the water. What’s fun these days is for me to be in a play situation either with others who can respect differences in my level of skill in relation to theirs, or to have a certain amount of freedom to do what I want with the game…which makes me a terrible teammate, but a big advocate of UGC and a believer that a player’s own identity shaping an experience can improve a connection to a game and increase enjoyment in the act of playing overall. Growing up, my mother always let me win when we played, which has given me an instinctual and innate confusion at the concept of losing – or maybe it’s just the feeling of having a playful experience feel impersonal or that it offers little reward. A refusal to accept that the game can be over if I have lost has filled me with shame on an occasion or two I must admit and overall, it’s also made me an extremely competitive person. Learning to play gracefully remains a work in progress, but luckily modern game culture has so much to offer in the way of increased freedom through player control, that I believe play has now become more conducive on the whole to our enjoyment.

This increased level of engagement is what we hope to make an important aspect of our final project. Allowing the user to contribute to the process with their own artifacts and seeing what happens when they provide their own content would induce a much more personalized experience. One of my concerns is that others playing with our autobiographical content won’t offer enough significance or opportunity for connection necessary to provide the maximum level of enjoyment we’re hoping for. It might be as simple as asking the users to SMS a picture on the spot from their phones and /or leave an artifact behind so we can incorporate it into the story. This part of the game has yet to be developed,  but it’s always been a part of our discussion as an eventual add on once we finish hashing out the storyline, which is a process that my next post will focus on.

 

 

 

 

Assignment 2 – MDA Framework: LA Noire

Posted in Theory Readings on March 4, 2012 by Heather

I had originally posted this on the other (no longer) blog, end of January – realized I should probably migrate it over here.

I’ve chosen to focus on 3 elements of LA Noire and consider how mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics tie into each.

 Sensation – The filmic aesthetic nature of LA Noire provides an exhilarating balance of sensory pleasure, both intellectually and emotionally. From the dynamics of suspense in the chase, to the musical score and sound effects – impending doom and investigation tunes when you enter a crime scene,  to the clues and innuendos you must keep track of, senses are tickled throughout. The mechanics of the elaborate facial expressions and the adorable, tiny clue notebook I write in all tie into the creation of the overall sensory pleasure experience. The fighting and verbal beat downs are not so great for me, but I can see how the verbal abuse and blood would appeal to a mass audience. Cole’s partner is very one dimensional in his cynicism. It’s a constant in the conversation, and you don’t have a choice but to listen to it. It makes me wonder about the demographic here – is this dynamic really suitable for the younger crowd it could be targeted to if it were just a bit less abrasive? The aesthetics definitely deliver the biggest sensory experience for me overall, just by virtue of the way they truly nail the feeling of a post war LA period piece. Challenge  – The greatest obstacles of LA Noire come with the criminals and the mechanics and dynamics of chasing and catching them, fighting them, gaging whether they’re lying or not based on their expressions and the time pressures surrounding all of that. So again, there is a nice mix of stimulation here on an intellectual level, delivered through the dynamics of and mechanics of fighting, interrogating and catching a crook. You have to analyze and figure out, gage and guess based on instinct and clues, and the physical fight involves a high level of skill and practice. Perhaps the big gap is the lack of player control to experience anything of substance outside the predestined path. The options are limited for exploration. You’re guided from place to place, so navigation isn’t much of a factor. Furthermore, the mechanics of driving are less than impressive as a design from the producers of GTA, especially with Noire’s aesthetic concentration on cars – you can virtually drive any car available on the streets that exist from that era and the cars are all beautiful true to life vintage designs. I believe there are 95 models to choose from in the game, which is a delightful treat if you love old cars as much as I do. There’s a lot of driving to be done from scene to scene, and not a lot is left to the skill of the player. Cole drives like a maniac. I got carsick sitting at my kitchen table. And oddly, there are no skidding tires, a classic GTA trademark. Cars simply glide around corners, even though they should technically be skidding (the fun part) which leaves the player wondering, why the big focus on cars without the mechanics to support it? What’s interesting is that certain partners of Cole’s will complain if he enters a car they believe is below their status, such as an ambulance or a truck.  This plays into the whole dynamic of rankism that is very much a part of the challenge of LA Noire. Cole needs to solve crimes to climb the ranks and diminish the abuse from his partners. Essentially, I’m unsure about the overall challenge of LA Noire. From the little I’ve seen, this is definitely an element that I’d fine tune mechanically to live up to the high aesthetic bar, starting with improving on the important details of driving that can provide simple enjoyment and light challenge between tasks. I’d give players more option to free roam in a way that would lead them off track and provide a better challenge than just going through the motions directed by the very a propos narrative.

Narrative – To catch a crook is the main deal. It’s a rough job. Mechanically, this is administered in the form of gathered clues, grapple attacks and headlocks followed by hints on where to turn your attention during the scene – new objective: search Schroeder’s apartment. What’s nice about the dynamic is that you can actually enjoy spending time reading things, thinking and solving without doom always breathing down your neck. But again, free roaming is definitely not an option, and so the narrative isn’t as versatile as it could be. In fact, it’s a tad predictable. The recurring harsh attitude from partner is coupled with flashback scenes from hellish experiences in the army. I’m not really sure I understand the point of them, other than to build on Cole’s character and motivation, which is to right the wrongs of a past dealing with crooked assholes in positions of power. But yet again, the mark is missed in the form a drill sergeant screaming obscenities for what seems like half an hour per flashback that culminate in not much more than what seems like an irrelevant consequence. Again, the challenge in this kind of flashback narrative is that the player’s hands are tied and they can’t interact with the game. The banter is interesting when it provides clues, and this it does during car scenes, which I believe I now understand as the sole purpose of being in the car altogether. The dynamics of the narrative (aside from flashbacks) are what I’m finding to be the main focus of the game and the artery to advancement – figuring out how the cookie crumbles helps Cole climb the ranks of the LAPD.

Game Culture

Posted in Theory Readings on February 28, 2012 by Thuy Linh Do

According to an article published last year, while American online gaming industry is growing stable yet slower, Asian market, especially Chinese market, on the other hand is blooming rapidly and provides more space to develop domestic online games (source). Ever since its first appearance in Asia, online gaming has become a culture phenomenon: nowadays it’s no longer strange to see people going to stores where they can play games online together (picture).

Picture of an online gaming store in Vietnam

A lot of people, especially guys between 18-30, become addicted to this habit. This addiction sometimes can lead to bad result, even death  (Article on a Korean college student died after 12 hour playing game continuously – source). Last year, in my country Vietnam, the government decided to pass a law restricting online gaming hours to reduce people addiction  (Source). Whether or not it is a good thing, we can see how gaming industry has a huge effect on the people lives in Asia. The interesting thing about Asian online gaming industry compared to Western, in my opinion, is that, it allows new games to emerge and grow. In America, Warcraft has long been considered to be the most popular game that dominates the industry; In Asia, every year several new games will be out and the ranking of popular online game changed rapidly. Each time a new game emerges, it more or less affects the culture lives of the gamers. This week I’m going to analyze the cultural impact of the game “Audition” that used to be very popular in Asia in general, and specifically Vietnam a few years ago.

Audition Online (Korean: 오디션 온라인), also known as X-BEAT in Japan, is a downloadable multiplayer online casual rhythm game produced by T3 Entertainment. It was originally released in South Korea in 2004, but it has been localized by various publishers around the world. Audition Online is free to play but it earns its revenue by selling virtual items such as clothes for the player’s avatar. It currently has over 300 million players worldwide

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audition_Online

Audition can be considered a “Dance Dance Revolution” Online version while instead of stepping on a real dance matt to score point, users press their fingers on keyboard.

Dance Dance Revolution Matt

For the fact that the game is run using upbeat, exciting and popular songs, beautiful stage settings and characters, it quickly became popular across Asia right after being released. Because they use the dance moves as the way to compete between characters in the game, there is no tension between players like usual fighting game, Audition is considered much more peaceful and the main focus of the game lied in decorating your characters and finding a dance partner or team. And as the result, Audition offline meeting attracts its gamers just as much as playing the real game, at the offline events users got to meet the people they team up with, playing the game with new updates, or dancing together just to recreate the experience they have online.

Since the game allows its users to customize their own character (which in 2004 when the game has just been released, is still a new experience), how a character dress usually can speak a lot about its owner. A lot of gamers even going to the offline events dressing exactly like their characters (cosplay).

Characters in the game can be in various styles and looks

How similar the characters look like the real people

Some pictures of the offline events

At the same time, the game allows users to chat while playing so it creates a platform of social networking online, where players can make friend with each other through the game. Audition also has an online forum for its users to exchange tips and stories of their playing experiences. Throughout the time, the forum also opens a section for users to post their pictures up to and show how they look like their characters. This section got so much attention that later an offline contest called “Miss Audition” has been created in order to find the best looking female player of the game. This show has even been shown on national television channel in Vietnam.

 Miss Audition Contest

Also because the game allows its user to configure their characters, some fans even build characters that look like their favorite singer/ dancers, taking pictures or letting the characters dance together in the game and record it as a fan made movie.

Example of a fan made picture of real film poster

 

MDA of legend of Zelda : spirit tracks

Posted in Theory Readings on February 26, 2012 by Shino (Che Yan)

MDA Analysis of Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

 

Sorry for the late work…

Legend of Zelda is the a is a high fantasy action-adventure video game series created by Japanese game designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka.

The Legend of Zelda games feature a mixture of action, puzzles, adventure/battle gameplay, exploration, and questing.

AESTHETICS

Fantasy: The main feature of the Role Play Game is to make the user fall into the story created by the game developers.

Legend of Zelda create a kingdom that has its own history and running system. The world is full of magic. The player

will use the certain tools, magic and method to get over every difficulties.

Narrative: the game has a integrated story, the main storyline is to control the Linc to save the princess Zelda. In the

 mean time, the Linc will finish some other requirements to get certain tools that defeat certain enemies. All the

 requirements come as a full story, followed by the timeline.

Discovery: the route map is dived to 4 main lands, each land have a different theme, like desert, grasslands…

It will have different monsters on the way and different final boss. The player need to get map and certain notes

from the people in the game world to explore the new lands.

Challenge: as I mentioned the game is mixture of puzzles, battles, exploration, questing, the player will be not

 only limited to keep fighting with the enemies, but also need to think out  all the puzzles, some maze can be very tricky.

Submission: Zelda is mixed by a lot of mini games, I’d have to say it’s a good way for pastime. Once the player finished

 one, he can sooner get rewards from that, maybe get through the path/ get weapon/ kill the monster. The missions come one by one.

DYNAMICS

The dynamics part of this game is various.

Narrative comes from the dynamic that player need to keep talking the certain characters in the game got clue to the next stage,

the conversation and tools for maze…will trigger the main storyline and the animation telling stories. Discovery is the most

 interesting part, besides the main story line, the player can search carefully in every village or in the wild, there will be other

clues leading to the subline, the world map may become broader, and player can get more precious collections. Challenge

 encourages player to have more unexpected experience during play by setting different enemy boss using different strategy

to defeat and puzzle mini games using different tools (or it can be same tool but different using method). The challenge for

 player is that they need to think when play the game, in another words, intelligence is more important in this game instead

 of force/ violence.

MECHANICS

The mechanic of the game help the player to enjoy the game not only visually, but also physically, for example, it provide

 different mini games using the different function of NDSi, the touch pad, and the mic, that player can have interactive

experience, which can attract player to discover more in this game. And the battle system is not as same as the old school -using the weapon to beat continuously, instead, the player will think out different strategy using different tools. The condition to

 trigger the battle is different, there are some small monsters appearing suddenly on the way, but in the maze, player need to

 find the entrance to meet the final boss by using keys or get out of trap. The diversity of the game experience are the attraction of this game.

MDA Reading – Monkey Ball :)

Posted in Theory Readings on February 11, 2012 by Fayssal Mohammed Itani

After having done a close reading on Monkey Ball, here’s an MDA reading on it.

Aesthetics:

– Challenge: Above all, monkey ball runs as an obstacle course game. The player is constantly faced with obstacles that he needs to avoid to reach the desired area.

– Discovery: As each level is designed in a different way, there is always a sense of discovering new worlds, new mazes, and new obstacles. The player looks at the maze as whole to decide on his tactic.

– Submission: As the game becomes redundant, (mazes change, but controlling the game remains the same), the game becomes a pastime as the player constantly repeats the level over and over again until he wins.

Dynamics:

As the monkey is quickly driven through the maze, the player carefully moves the phone (accelerometer) in the right direction to guide the ball into the final desired destination. A time limit is set to make the game even more challenging. As some areas of the mazes can be tricky the player will slow down the speed of the rolling ball, it is then when the time countdown becomes critical. If 10 bananas are collected the player is rewarded with an extra life. Also, when the monkey reached it’s destination, the player gets to experience a new maze. (a new level).

Mechanics:

The rolling ball containing the monkey, the iPhone accelerometer that moves the ball, the mazes, the bananas that can be collected, and finally the circle or the final destination that the monkey needs to reach. All these mechanics stay the same throughout the whole game except for the mazes that constantly take on new shapes and bring on new obstacles.

TICKET TO RIDE (MDA)

Posted in Theory Readings on February 7, 2012 by Marc Nicholas De Pape

Late… better than never.

Ticket To Ride: Challenge, Narrative, Fantasy

AESTHETICS

The aesthetic experience of TTR is primarily one of competitive strategic challenge, with escalating narrative drama as the game progress, all set in a turn of the 20th century rail industry. In a certain sense claiming routes could be considered a discovery aesthetic, but since the whole map is exposed from the very start I tend to want to categorize it as part of the game’s narrative.

DYNAMICS

Because only half of every player’s scoring is visible (train cars on the map with route cards hidden until the end), every player is actively engaged and contributing to their final standing right up to the end. This masking not only provides a wonderful final reveal, but it is also responsible for the narrative drama: as the board fills up with train cars, the players can only make a guess as to how well their competitors are doing while also evaluating their own strategic plan. The uncertainty combined with the visual progress on the board builds up great competitive tension. Consequently, the tallying of scores can be almost as enjoyable as the process of playing.

The challenge of the game comes from competing for the same territory while not knowing the other player’s intentions and motivations. Individual decisions about whether or not to add more risk via additional route cards add to the challenge. Not only because the routes are unknown prior to drawing them, but also because of the limited number of train cars and meaning strategic efficiency proves to be a major key to victory.

MECHANICS

I wrote about the route selection mechanic in my previous post, so I will focus on a couple others and how they relate to some of the game aesthetics and dynamics.

One of the mechanics that greatly helps the dynamics of the game is the strategic importance of particular connections coupled with a forgiving map. This can penalize by forcing a detour, but also ensures that such a detour is not a catastrophic failure keeping all affected players in the game.

The coloured card selection is well designed to ensure that each player feels like they have the opportunity to progress. By having both a deck to draw from and face up cards, the players are able to weigh their options either playing it safe with the face up cards or gambling on one from the deck.

 

In general Ticket to Ride’s mechanics feed the dynamics quite wonderfully, which ensures a varied yet enjoyable aesthetic experience every time. This much I knew from experience, however, the process of the MDA analysis revealed just how crucial the masking of the scores was to the enjoyment of the game. Not only to ensure the narrative and challenge but also to provide a great finale via the reveal. I had completely overlooked this simple design choice, but now I’ll be adding it to my tool kit.

 

 

MDA Framework Analysis: Doodle Blast

Posted in Theory Readings on February 5, 2012 by Jessica Knox

Given that the last game I played (Call of the Wild) was disappointing and limited, I chose a new game for my MDA analysis. I was introduced to this game because the middle-aged gentlemen sitting beside me on the airplane (who were on their way to a carpet conference in Vegas, I might add) were completely enthralled by it. I asked them to explain the game to me and let me play. We played for hours, sharing the challenge amongst us and often screaming aloud at the results. This really hit home for me the joy of games. I also realized that Doodle Blast is in fact a “learning game”, that any game has the potential for learning. Elements of physics, usability and design can be extracted from this game experience without any explicit reference.

This game is available online here but seems only to be available for tablet on the Blackberry Playbook.

 

This game amazed me for two reasons: the simplicity and the aesthetics.  My MDA analysis is below.

 

Mechanics

The mechanics are simple. A jar of limited ink. An eraser. Number and size of balls varies between that drop according to a gravity function and bounce proportional to their size.  Planks that slant at various angles and lengths throughout the levels. A cup at the bottom of the screen acts as a container. A play button.

 

Dynamics

This game is heavily weighted towards challenge. With a limited amount of ink, players are asked to draw free form lines anywhere within the activity frame using their cursor (laptop/desktop) or finger (tablet). When the player is satisfied with their lines, they can press play to drop the balls. The goal is to ensure that when the balls drop, they are collected in a cup. The lines drawn by the player must work in conjunction with the pre-existing planks to achieve this goal. At higher levels, planks are set up to strongly deter the balls from dropping in the cup. At times the slightest curvature of the lines drawn can impact the game outcome. Challenges are rewarded with a pass on to the next level.

 

Aesthetics

Sensation, Challenge and Submission are most prominent in Doodle Blast. The sensation that a hand drawn line can become a structural part of the activity screen and physically interact with the dropping balls is pleasurable. The game is primarily based on challenge, as the dropping balls navigate the obstacle course of planks and lines designed by the player and the game in collaboration. Finally, this game has the feel of Submission – it is simple and repetitive, conjuring the traditions of Sudoku and Tic Tac Toe as pastime.And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the visual style of the game (lo-fi, “drawn” images on lined paper) added to the joyfulness of the experience.


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