This was my original game idea. After playing around with it, I found that it was beyond my skill level in terms of coding, and also lacked appeal – I struggled to find a pleasing visual aesthetic, or a way to make it more fun without adding to the complexity and making it even harder for me to code. With this in mind, I decided to change my game to the Water Fighter game.
This part describes my design process for the filter game. The water fighter game is below it.
My initial idea was that player would place parts (possibly found in a platformer/exploration level) together like a puzzle, which would form either a water pump or filter. I decided to go with the filer, since I have more personal knowledge of how a filter works, and it would cover the lack of water purification knowledge in the pumphouse exhibit.
I did research about how water filters can be made, along with other methods of water purification. The two I found easiest to fit into my initial idea of a click-and-drag puzzle game were the filter method and the evaporation method. I found some simple DIY methods for both, to use as a basis for my game.
I decided to focus on the filter method, and leave the evaporation and other methods for later implementation if I finished the game quickly. I created a simple game loop: the player would click certain areas on screen to drag materials to the funnel. They would then check if they had done so in the right order; if they had, they’d win, and if they hadn’t they would have to try again. The win and loss conditions would be shown via the water result. There would be three potential outcomes: clean water, which would give a win screen, and sandy or black water, which would result in a loss.
I got as far as coding the click and spawning parts of the game, before I decided to switch my idea. I made sprites for the bags, materials, beaker and the cone (with each variation of materials placed inside), but I didn’t find any of it to be visually appealing. I think that this idea would have turned out to be technically good, and probably educational, but not interesting enough to hold a kid’s attention or be memorable.
I came up with this game idea after we learned how to code objects to follow the mouse in a game, in week 8. The game is based around the idea of boiling water to kill germs, a simple method of purifying water. It is nostalgic for me, as my family once had to do this constantly, as our tank’s water filter was broken.
My initial idea pages. Includes some concept sketches of characters, posters and game loop.
In the game the player will move their mouse around the screen to guide a hot water drop, which will kill the germs floating and multiplying in the water. Due to the fact that I started this idea with only 4 weeks left, I will be keeping it fairly simple, with my more ambitious goals kept as potential future expansions.
I have managed to make a simple prototype in time for our playtest at MOTAT. The game works as planned, with win and lose conditions as follows: to win, the player must destroy all the germs on screen; if the germs multiply to 100 or more, the player will lose.
I got a lot of feedback from both the kids and staff members at MOTAT. From the kids:
- Positives: cool, liked wiping the germs away, good, love it, makes me win, like Xbox 360, great, I’ll take these germs down!, amazing, love messing around with the mousepad
- Negatives: too fast, too easy, needs levels, germs should appear all over the screen
- Needs more mechanics – different germ sizes, progression/difficulty levels, longer play time, records or leaderboards, things that you don’t want to hit, germs with different appearances/behaviours
- Possibly a pipework/maze level structure
- UI needs to be improved – germ counter, start page, reset button
During this week I focused on fixing one of the main problems in my game: the original prototype was too easy. I tried a number of things, such as:
- slowing the water drop’s speed
- which worked but making it too slow seemed to make the game less fun
- having multiple germs at the start of the game
- effectively giving the germs multiple spawn points from the start
- this solved the problem of the player being able to win the game instantly by killing the first germ as soon as the game started
- adjusted the germ’s spawn area
- making it cover the whole game area means that the germs no longer cluster around their ‘parent’ germs, forces the player to have to move around the whole screen
- sometimes when there are only a few germs left, the next one will spawn on the other side of the screen, prolonging gameplay
- adjusted germ spawn rates
- not as effective as I’d hoped
- basically just made it impossible to win (with other changes) or did nothing (with original version)
- adjusted germ size
- also not effective
- possibly more effective if germs moved at all
I also adjusted the background so it filled the whole screen instead of a section – I had originally set the screen size for a portrait screen, imagining that the game would be played on tablets.
This week we did practise elevator pitches. These were my slides.
This week I created a start page for my game, using a free font I downloaded to create my title and start button. I looked through several bubbly and watery fonts, but splash was the only one that was free for commercial and personal use.
There are still things I’d like to do with this game, such as implement more of the suggestions I got from the playtesting session and doing a complete overhaul of the visual aspects, but overall I am fairly happy with how far I’ve gotten in the time I have had to work on this.