Tag Archives: Game Design

Fail Faster

The last Game Design was to create a dice game, and during the process of making my dice game. I certainly experienced why “Fail Faster” is essential for game design.

The first brainstorming idea I had came from Jesse Schell’s comment of balance between skill and randomness during lecture. I thought that a dice shuffleboard game would definitely require players’ skill to play  well but the game would also depends on randomness from the dice. And I thought that would be exactly what I wanted and I decided to give it a go. I first thought about making the whole thing physical but I settled down the idea pretty late so I did not have enough time to design all the parts I needed for play-testing. I decided to go for craziness and made the game digital in Unity.

Everything felt very good in my mind until I actually made the game. I certainly didn’t realize the biggest “marshmallow” (obstacle) I would face would be the digital format. I could not get the depth from a flat screen so there was no way for me to actually accomplish the shuffleboard feeling and I could not get the collier to work and it was just so hard to simulate the magical feeling of rolling a dice in the digital world. Besides, as mentioned in the previous post, after conducting couple play-tests. The results from the play-testing were astonishing as well. And one comments from the play-test made me to decide this was a failure: “Why would you throw a dice? I feel like the dice doesn’t play an important role in the game that you could replace the dice with anything.” That is very true, why would I throw a dice knowing that the result would change from time to time.

Screenshot 2014-02-12 18.25.54

(Try the game at: http://tianweiliu.net/dice if you would like. Unity Web plugin is required.)

However, failing is not  a bad thing. I still have one more week to go and I was very glad that I realized it was a failure sooner than I usually do and I did not put any more time on a failed idea. I have plenty of time to restart from the ground up with all the lessons I learnt and make sure I would not do it again. A week later, I had a Human vs Zombie board game. And by the time I heard “This game is fun.” from the play-testers, I knew I did it better than the previous one.

I never thought of failing would be a positive thing and I never thought about failing faster would be so essential in game design. But the fact is, nobody would know that I had failed and it would only be a failure if I did not realize how bad my idea was that soon or at all.

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Play-testing is very important and magical. Lessons learnt from Global Game Jam

The theme of the GGJ was “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” During Global Game Jam 2014, my three fellow teammates and I made a side scroller platform game called Union which player controls three different shapes that each has its own unique property. Cube can attach other shapes, circle can move really fast on a slope and triangle can destroy every other shapes with its sharp tip.

The game was made in Unity by fully utilizing its physics engine to achieve the sort of natural and cute looking that we wanted. However, it turned out that since we wanted it to obey to the real physics, the game is quite hard to play and quite hard to make as well. And we took every second we could get to make the three levels that Yan designed, by sacrificing not only our sleep time, but also play-testing time. We did not think play-testing was a big deal until we threw our final game into the crowd. All kinds of problem occurred but none of us could test it out on our own hands.

Union Tutorial

For example, the tutorial trigger for jump was a tiny little bit too late so that pretty much every player who played would bump the roof and got confused about why we wanted them to jump. Besides, the changing role tutorial was also a little bit too late that players would shoot all the way to the spikes not knowing they could switch in between circle and square after they attached each other. The tutorial got to a certain point that no one could go through it without us giving our oral instructions. We then went upstairs and made some small changes and went back down again. I was really amazed by how a little change can go a long way. To prevent players from not jumping and ignoring the circle, I placed a wall underneath the circle, and switched the order of shape switching and spinning tutorial. And those two small changes led every player who played the new version to perform the tutorial exactly what we wanted them to.

All in all, a big lesson learnt from GGJ. Play-testing is very important and magical.

Visit: http://globalgamejam.org/2014/games/union to play our game!

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