Experimental Games

Cory McKnight

Game Title: Store Story

Game

Cory McKnight

Game Title: Store Story

Game Reflections

Store Story     Bad Game Project

Develop relationships and make moral choices as you identify with a teenager who must navigate through his neighborhood that is stricken by poverty as he is faced with hardship and obstacles. In the process of creating this game, I thought about how one’s life might be from a background of extreme disadvantage and tried to create a story that explores that area.  Some of the inspiration for this game perhaps came from the television show – The Haves and the Have Nots.  While that show also deals with the lower class, their characters are completely different and that show also looks at their interaction with the upper class. If I were to continue working on this game then I would play with the ending even further and would explore the interaction between the rich and the poor as well.

This game is experimental because it ends negatively for the player no matter what they do.  If the player happens to not lose, the happiest ending they can have is one where they are convicted and sentenced to life in prison, which is hardly winning.  I believe good games should have a message that is uplifting, where the player can take away some sort of positive message with them for potential application into their real life.  However, instead of giving the player hope, this game is one leaves the player hopeless.  The intended message for the player is that no matter what you do, you don’t always get a happy ending.  

The player is also able to take away the message that one must always expect the worst possible outcome, so they are able to prepare for it beforehand and be ready for anything.  The player should be able to empathize with people of disadvantaged backgrounds after playing so that they can come to understand them a little better in real life.  

Dance Craze    Body Game

  1. How would you describe this game, in a single sentence?

Show off your dance moves to your friends and be the life of the party!

  1. What were your creative goals and how is this game “experimental”?

My creative goals in this game is to get people to have fun together at parties and become more social with each other.  This game is experimental because it’s a game that isn’t for everybody, since some people will not be comfortable showing their moves in front of others.  However, for those that are it should provide a fun experience for them and should get people to laugh.

  1. What is the main experience and/or value that you want this game to communicate?

I want this game to communicate the aesthetic of delight for the sake of play and to get people to be more comfortable around each other so that they can form friendships easier.

  1. In what ways does this game respond to or emerge from the assignment?

This game has players use their body in creative ways because players are able to use their dance improv skills to get people to laugh and have fun.

  1. Very briefly describe the process of designing and developing the game.

In the process of designing and developing this game, I spent hours tinkering with another completely different idea that involved the Hololens along with the Kinect.  After I realized that, that idea would be out of scope for the amount of time I had, I thought of a much simpler game.  Despite it’s simplicity in not needing external equipment or materials, I found that it could be just as fun, if not even more fun than my previous concept.

  1. What inspirations (games, readings or other art) did you draw from?

I drew inspiration from Dance Central, Hip Hop Dance Experience, Card Against Humanity and Resistance.

  1. If you were to continue working on this game, what would you add or change?

I would look into more ways of getting people to further express their creativity and laugh or I could look into adapting it for the Kinect

Who Are You?

  1. How would you describe this game, in a single sentence?

A story driven JRPG where you reflect on yourself.

  1. What were your creative goals and how is this game “experimental”?

My creative goals were to have the player question themselves and their ideals.  This was an experimental approach to game design because it is more direct than most games in exploring the player’s belief systems.

  1. What is the main experience and/or value that you want this game to communicate?

I want to expose what views are selfish and which are virtuous of the player.  Through this experience I wanted to communicate a promotion of introspection where the player would reflect upon themselves in evaluation of their outward perception of reality.

  1. In what ways does this game respond to or emerge from the assignment?

The player is supposed to take a look at their own identity while playing this game.  The player is asked questions that are designed to explore their beliefs and ideologies that influence how they see the world and shape their identity.

  1. Very briefly describe the process of designing and developing the game.

In creating this game my first idea was to create a simple 3d environment and tell a story through dialogue systems.  Doing this in 3d turned out to be unfeasible due to inefficient workflows, which caused scoping issues so I decided to look into different methods to convey the theme of identity faster.  I decided to give an engine I glimpsed over a while back a try called rpgBoss and found out how simple it was to implement systems.  I wanted to be able to use this productivity speed boost to flesh out the world adding dialogue options, game music and visuals.  The end result of this game left me with a satisfying outcome.

  1. What inspirations (games, readings or other art) did you draw from?

I drew inspiration from reading about alternative story structures that don’t focus on conflict.

  1. If you were to continue working on this game, what would you add or change?

I would make expand the world more so that there would be more to see and interact with.  Also, I would make it so the previous decisions of the player influence the battle at the end of the game so that they’re stats and abilities reflect those choices.

Gambit

  1. How would you describe this game, in a single sentence?

This game is a game where you combat skeleton zombies that inhabit your physical world.

  1. What were your creative goals and how is this game “experimental”?

This game is experimental because it uses the Hololens in ways that breaks the fourth wall in the sense that it is not a contained experience behind a flat screen while exploring the possibilities of these affordances.

  1. What is the main experience and/or value that you want this game to communicate?

The main experience of this game that I wanted to communicate is that the player should feel powerful, heightened spatial awareness, astoundment, and tension.  The player is also supposed to feel empowerment and excitement, awe, and amusement in an immersive experience that inhabits the player’s physical space so as to increase the emotional pull.

  1. In what ways does this game respond to or emerge from the assignment?

This game responds to the assignment because instead of making a ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ game, I wanted to explore feeling in a more broad and abstract sense, emoting different kinds of aesthetics in unexpected methods of play.

  1. Very briefly describe the process of designing and developing the game.

For this idea, I spent much of my time exploring my weaknesses in programming as I developed a number of systems involving ai, controls utilizing Hololens api’s, dynamic path finding, animation systems, health systems, and projectiles.  There were also other systems that I explored, but couldn’t implement due to time constraints, which include spawning and knockback.  It took a very large amount of hours throughout the week and I had to cut back on many features that I started on.   The final idea was supposed to be easy because I thought I would be able to find assets and just make a simple battle system, but instead proved to be difficult.   However, despite the challenges, I learned a lot about scope and time management.

  1. What inspirations (games, readings or other art) did you draw from?

I took an interest in the book Game Feel in that I wanted to experiment with the details put into a polished experience that provides satisfying player feedback. However, because of everything that had to be cut out, I was unable to meet that philosophy.  The reading about fantasy vs realism also influenced this game because it plays with incorporating fictional characters into the player’s non-fictional world.

  1. If you were to continue working on this game, what would you add or change?

I would focus on the core aspects that provide a meaningful experience, emphasizing feedback of the player while scoping down on areas that are less relevant in providing the desired experience.  I would also change the visuals to be more inclusionary in appealing to a larger demographic audience.

 

Documentation of Gambit: Hyperflux

This game is a game where the player must defeat a barrage of skeleton zombies that are after the player’s ‘HoloVisor’.  Their special visor grants them the power of sight and interaction with the coexisting world that lies parallel and in tandem with the wearer’s own world.  It also grants them the ability to fire powerful magic projectiles, however when synchronizing with the alternate world, the HoloVisor user is made vulnerable to being attacked by enemies of that world.  Along the way, the player teams up with one of the zombies who wants to co-operate with the player and against the other monsters.  The player is supposed to go through the experience feeling varying degrees of being taken by surprise, exhilaration, empowerment and fun.  The dynamism of the ai and combat systems allows for different variables to influence the game state giving rise to emergence of gameplay.

The rules of the game are that the player must defeat the zombies.  The player moves around in their scanned environment by relocating their body.  By doing a tapping gesture, the player is able to shoot out a projectile based on their gaze position.  The player is also able to use a secondary controller (either the clicker or a bluetooth xbox controller) to tell the friendly skeleton ai where to go also by using their gaze.  After the ai goes to the position, the player can press X on the xbox controller to have him attack.  A planned feature to simplify the controls is that the friendly skeleton will automatically attack the closest enemy, allowing the game to be played using the clicker instead.  The zombies die when their health runs out and the player dies when his/ her health runs out.  In a future iteration, for each zombie that dies, 2 more will spawn in it’s place and there would be a high score system implemented to rank the track of player progression.

*Note that the environment will conform to the player’s space and any black areas in the screenshots will appear transparent when viewed with the Hololens.

 

My Story

Project: Intimacy Game

  1. How would you describe this game, in a single sentence?

Experience a sense of heartfelt intimacy as you manifest yourself inside an emotional narrative based on a true story.

 

  1. What were your creative goals and how is this game “experimental”?

The creative goals I had for this assignment was that I wanted the player to feel empathy.  By playing through my experience, the player is supposed to be able to relate to me, by in a sense, ‘stepping into my shoes’.  In having the player come to feel empathy, I also expect them to develop a sense of compassion towards others.  As a result, I aim to have the player become more aware and sensitive to people around them in their everyday lives.  This game is experimental because it attempts to use games as an interactive storytelling medium to evoke the feeling of intimacy through unconventional means of personalization and psychological embodiment by manifestation.

  1. What is the main experience and/or value that you want this game to communicate?

The main experience that I want this game to communicate is that when an individual continues to endure through repeated instances of mental pain infliction, as long as they never give up on themselves and keep pushing forward, better times will come.

  1. In what ways does this game respond to or emerge from the assignment?

This game responds to the assignment because by telling a personal true story of mine.  By doing this, I am conveying one experience that I feel was intimate in my own life experience.  Additionally, at the end of this story, I account that despite these specific hardships I’ve faced at that time, later on I felt blessed.  Perhaps the reader will feel closer/ more intimate with God after witnessing how he might work in other people’s’ lives.

  1. Very briefly describe the process of designing and developing the game.

While designing this game, one design challenge that became clear during playtesting was that guys who played my game were able to talk about times where they’ve gone through similar experiences, but girls were not able to relate as much.  To remedy this, I promote inclusion by asking the player whether they identify as male or female at the beginning.  After this, all corresponding gender roles for the characters are switched in the story to tell my story in a much more relatable way for the player.

  1. What inspirations (games, readings or other art) did you draw from?

I drew inspiration from the readings Narratology Vs Ludology and A Cyborg Manifesto in portraying a story that utilizes more narratological methods while evoking a controlled sense of agency from within the player.  Inspiration was also drawn from Katawa Shoujo, Clannad and If My Heart Had Wings as good examples of visual novels telling meaningful and heartfelt narratives.  

  1. If you were to continue working on this game, what would you add or change?

I would add music.  Specifically, interactive layered sounds and/ or melodies that express tension or relief according to corresponding moments in the story.

 

Greatest Final: Project Gambit Redux

Original Project: Feelings Game

1. How would you describe this game, in a single sentence?

This is a game where you are a mage who must defend against skeleton zombies that invade your physical world.

2. What were your creative goals and how is this game “experimental”?

The idea for this game is experimental because it takes the mechanic of shooting skeletons/ zombies and explores emergent design by utilizing new technologies. The affordances they provide and the use of proceduralism in the design allows for innovative, original forms of play with modular systems that can stand alone or be added upon further for increased depth/ complexity.

3. What is the main experience and/or value that you want this game to communicate?

The main feeling that the player should feel in this game is a sense of fun. I plan to achieve this in a number of ways. One way is by breaking the 4th wall, or the illusion that the game is taking place behind a screen where the actors cannot see or hear the audience/ player.  The 2nd way I plan on doing this is by creating a heightened sense of immersion by making the player feel as though they are inhabiting the game space and that the game space is inhabiting their own world, while also appealing to their senses.  The third way is to engage the player by triggering their emotions in having them observe something and invoke a response based on what conditions are met.  The 4th way is by having the player feel accomplishment through the mastery of a skill (in this case, being able to overcome enemies), by having them learn the most efficient methods for success and giving them positive feedback with systems in place that indicate their progression.  

4.  In what ways does this game respond to or emerge from the assignment?

This game responds to the greatest experiment assignment because I’ve had an idea to make a game like this for a decent amount of time now.  I’ve always wanted to explore Hololens development more and the affordances the device provides.  I was also excited to explore Game Feel more and systematic procedural design.  I thought that a Hololens game of this type would be great to show to employers as well.

5.  Very briefly describe the process of designing and developing the game.

I had a few goals that I wanted to achieve in developing the final version of it for class. Those were to: 1 finish implementing the health/ damage system, implement a better real time navigation/ pathfinding system using the new features in Unity 5.6, implement an iterative random location spawning system, implement a high score system, and lastly add “juice” to make the “game feel” better.  I was able to achieve navigation, targeting, animation playback, health, damage, projectiles and a spawning system.  At this moment I also have partial work done on win/ lose states and level restarting, while having fixed many major bugs that came up along the way.  In developing this, I found out that these higher level ideas would have additional layers of complexity associated with their implementation.  For example, getting everything to work within the Hololens environment and fixing game breaking bugs that would proceed thereafter that I had little experience in addressing.  However, I was able to learn a lot about programming in doing this project.

6.  What inspirations (games, readings or other art) did you draw from?

I took inspiration from a number of readings upon doing further research in game design.  The book “A Theory of Fun” provided much insight in the relationship between games and the notion of fun. “Reality is Broken” gave me more awareness into the psychology of play and the 4 components of a game – the goal, rules, the feedback system and voluntary participation.  “Aesthetics and Design” gave me insight in breaking the 4th wall and using games for learning systems.  “Designing Games” gave me insight about triggering emotions based on events that affect how we perceive our human values.  “Game Feel” helped in identifying the importance of having the player feel like they’ve mastered a skill.  It also talked about appealing to the senses of the player by adding “juiciness,” to make the game more fun to interact with.  Lastly, the reading about fantasy vs realism also influenced this game because it plays with incorporating fictional characters into the player’s non-fictional world.

7.  If you were to continue working on this game, what would you add or change?

I would fix any major bugs currently in the game.  The enemies were not grounded on the floor and the lose screen had a bug where it wouldn’t go away.  I would also balance the difficulty, make it so hitting an enemy’s shield does no damage and add more juice in the form of player feedback.  Once the game feels better to play, I could work on some original art for the game instead of using the Skeleton Pack asset and perhaps incorporate different types of enemies as well as systems to add more variety.