Three playful activities I did this week…
I have found that the freemium game style has dominated my experience with mobile gaming, and while I don’t hate it enough to not play them if they interest me, I definitely don’t enjoy the general experience. This week I played two games, one of which was freemium and another that was paid, which was a very new experience for me.
Playing Monument Valley
This game was new to me in many ways and I found it refreshing, as a game that had a definite start and end, didn’t require any sort of in-game currency and had a story that wasn’t purely created with the dialogue in cutscenes. The gameplay was interesting and engaging – I very much enjoy puzzles that require me to think carefully and try things out, and this delivered.
Playing Kingdom Hearts Union X[Cross]
This is a game I have played for a while now, and I have enjoyed it a lot despite it’s freemium status. Some of the things I think help mitigate that are the frequent 0 AP events (which allow you to play without having to wait for any cooldowns), and the similarly frequent gifts of enough premium currency to purchase new medals in the shop without having to spend real money on it. One thing I really don’t like is having to spend so much time messing around with the medal fusion and evolution. The fact that inventory space is so limited (and requires premium currency to expend) is incredibly frustrating as having a full inventory prevents you from playing the actual game. Part of my frustration is probably due to the fact that I have never been super into the ‘collecting and raising things’ types of games – my love of Pokemon/Digimon/YuGiOh/etc stemmed from the animes I watched as a child before I ever got my hands on any of the games. I prefer games with constant action and story over fiddling around with weapons or pets.
While I still haven’t finished The World Ends With You, I have found it to be extremely inspiring with the unique style in the art, gameplay, music and story. I spent some time doing a lot of sketches inspired by the clothing found in the game, and made a sort of minigame for myself with it, based on some of the ‘lore’. Each of the 12 main fashion brands in the game is representative of one of the animals of the Chinese zodiac – I challenged myself to make up outfits for characters entirely from the items in a brand that matches their zodiac year. For example, being born in a Year of the Ox, my brand is D+B (Dangerous Buffalo), so my self-portraits in this exercise mainly consisted of miniskirts/shorts, tall boots and cute tops.
Indie Prototyping – Jon Blow
- I really agree with the idea that even if it didn’t make a successful game, if you learn something, it was a successful prototype
- A lot of the things mentioned – like scrapping things because they don’t change the game enough or they don’t feel good or fun – reminds me about my own process with some of my past prototypes. Especially the repeated comments about “if I don’t get it, how can I expect other people to?”. I had the same problem with one game idea, where I was constantly asking myself “If I don’t think it’s fun, how can I expect others to play it?”
- The issues with art and gameplay development are interesting to me. I’ve tried making a game with just ‘programmer art’ for the prototype stage, but looking back I think it was more a lack of inspiration than trying to save time.
- I found the comment about ‘Japanese spin off games just add “Tactics” to the title’ funny.
Play Without Pixels
- Paper prototyping is a lot easier for me, since I come from a traditional art background, so I find both digital art and programming are harder and more time consuming than making something with paper.
Creativity – John Clease
- The penicillin example kind of sounds a bit dodgy to me – a scientist is supposed to question everything, to look at an unsuccessful experiment and ask ‘why’? So what, in a different state of mind he would have disregarded the scientific method?
- I can recognise some of the behaviours and mental states he mentioned in myself, and I have to agree with some of them, but also disagree. If you’re doing something that’s simultaneously work and creative – like for example iterating on a game design – are you supposed to be open or closed? If you’re open, and supposedly can’t work well, then how do you get the idea made? But if you’re closed and not creative, how do you look at what you made and come up with a new idea for it? If you need to rapidly switch between the two – like in a game jam – then how do you get the apparently necessary space and time to do so?
- Actually, a lot of the talk sort of makes the whole game jam process sound really bad in terms of creativity – limited time and limited space for the open mode to come out, having to keep going to make the deadline instead of taking breaks every one and a half hours. In some ways it depends on the jammer, but overall it sounds bad.
- “It’s easier to do trivial things that are important than it is to do big things that are not urgent” This is so very true.
- This time was very brief, as we quickly went on to working on making a game prototype
- One thing we did discuss that stuck with me was the idea of ‘stealing like an artist’, which I didn’t know much about and find hilarious when considering how much of an issue people make about plagiarism and how many online artists I see worried about art theft.
- Stampin’ Up – a company that sells papercraft supplies – has a slogan for it’s representatives, who often do craft classes to showcase their wares: C. A. S. E. which stands for Copy And Share Everything. Basically, steal all the ideas, but give credit where it’s due.
- Our game brief was to make a game about a political issue in a randomly selected area of the world. We got the Carribean and decided to focus on Cuba in particular. Our game is about the oppression of people – how the government will arbitrarily throw people in jail for any random thing, which can be as small as taking a video of something, or peacefully protesting. It is basically a roleplaying game with elements similar to Mafia (except without a specific goal, the players choose actions individually, and the game master is the ‘mafia’).
- Each player is given a role – worker, reporter, political activist, game master/government
- Each turn, the game master gives the other players a scenario – a hurricane occurs, someone has started a protest for workers rights, there’s been a car crash.
- Each player decides on an action fitting their role – the reporter might decide to report on the hurricane damage, for example.
- The game master takes their actions and decides if and how they affect the next day’s scenario – the game master’s modus operandi is to be extremely heavy handed with the ‘go to jail’ results, unless the player is keeping their head down and just working like they’re supposed to.
- We have written several suggestions for actions that may or may not get a player sent to jail, designed to illustrate how some seemingly innocent things may get you a disproportionate punishment.