Great Dane Games

Great Dane Games

Great Dane Games - all things gamerelated

This weblog is the digital playground for Anders Højsted. I'm a philosopher, indie gamedeveloper, writer & all-round renaissance man.


Game DevelopmentPosted by Anders Højsted Fri, January 07, 2011 10:19
Hi, it's been two months since my last update.

The time hasn't been uneventfull, but very few of the things happening have been related to gamedevelopement, so I haven't really had anything to write about in here.

I 've been working for a while as a sysadm and haven't had time to develop on my game. I also took a week-long course about the Unity-editor; I'm considering using it for the next game.

Right now I'm (co-)arranging the Nordic Game Jam 2011 at the end of the month. Greg Costikyan is coming to do the keynote and I'm doing all the arrangements regarding this. If you can make it to the NGJ, you should. It's crazy and amazing mad fun (but in a good way).

On top of this it's election year in Denmark and I'm politically active in an attempt to get a new goverment. We still have "our" Bush-administration.

Since last I've made a few levels for the game, added some interaction (new challenges) and made a small demo. I need to focus on the gameplay-experience of the game and do content that will go into the final game. My original idea was to call the game aMAZEd, as it is a maze game, but this title is already taken for an Android-game, so it would confuse things somewhat. I don't plan to release it on Android, so I'll have a talk with the guy making the game to hear if he's ok with me using the title for a PC game.

So for now the title is Amazing (which is very pretentious; I like that); the demo is here: Amazing Demo. This is the alpha of the demo, so a lot of stuff is missing. There's no sound, the levels aren't balanced and the basic idea is just to make a presentation of what is going on. It's still a work-in-progress; I hope someone will give me feedback on it.

The design philosophy behind it is to take the ideas from my thesis about challenges, tools & flow, create the simplest interaction possible and se if the theories are adequate enough to make a good game.

The conclusion is so far that they aren't. I've learned the following:

Before a person can achieve flow during an activity, he needs a motivation to begin the activity and needs to learn how to master the activity before the difficulty can increase and he can achive flow. So the game needs to entice the player to play.

Disclaimer: I still have to figure out how to do this for the game.

Secondly, the game needs to be varied. Even if the player achieves flow, he will still get accostumed to the interaction and it will then get boring if the only change in the game is that difficulty increases. So the interaction in the game must be varied. I don't think the variation in leveldesign is sufficient. Every time the interaction changes, the players skill starts from (close to) beginner's level and the difficulty must be "reset" to adjust for this. Else the player will fail repeatedly, become frustrated and quit the game.

Disclaimer: the levels in the demo aren't balanced based on the player's progression in skill-level, so some of them will be insanely hard. Press Enter in the game to skip a level.

The game is controlled with the directional keys and my dad had a really hard time playing it when playtested the game during Christmass. I don't want to change this for this game, but are looking into mouse-controls for the next game (just need to finish & release this game before I do the next). Mousecontrol also translates easier into touch-screen platforms (Ipad, Iphone, Android) and motion-controllers (Wii, Sony Move, Kinect).

Another design philosophy is to follow the scandinavian design tradition of streamlining. Only things that are essential for the game should be in it. No unnessary filling, - whether it's levels, interaction, graphics or audio. This is actually harder then it looks; I'm constantly tempted to put stuff in that isn't necessary, but that will add a bit glitz to it. But I must to keep it clean.

Gamedevelopement continues and I'll try to keep you posted on a regular basis.


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Posted by Anders Højsted Wed, February 02, 2011 15:56

Thanks for the comments, Tim.

I've been thinking about them for a while and I think I'll make a blogpost about my reflections.

I'll be back (in less then two months).


Posted by Tim Mon, January 10, 2011 16:30

Ok. Just played a couple of levels and here is some quick thougths on the game.

My first impression was something along the lines of "Boring, too slow, no challenges, no surprises, no fun.", but as I played a little more I changed my mind.

The first couple of levels are just another maze game with bad controls, too easy mazes and too slow pace. I exited the game twice during the first couple of levels, simply because it was boring. I returned later, but I guess most people wouldn't and especially not people on the internet.

I then figured out how to skip levels and skipped 10+ levels (didn't count). This is where I think the game should start! The game changes from a boring, slow paced, easy to win, maze game into a not so common maze game. You now control two players in each their unique, but similar maze. If you look at each of the mazes individually there's plenty of possibilites to get to the goal, but as you control both players at the same time there actually only one solution. This game mechanic works and gives an interesting challenge to the player. Everything before this point should in my opinion just be removed or at least most of it! Also speed up the game a little!

I think most players would play for less than 30 seconds and by then their impression of the game would be pretty bad. They would move on. Make the first 30 seconds, the most interesting 30 seconds ;)

Also... The whole minimalistic graphics and sound idea might attract some people, but think you should throw in some colours and characters that the player can relate too. Why not let the game be about puppies lost in the woods or a schizophrenic shark trying to find his car? Make it a little more fun to play :D

Some minor stuff:
In the menu you use the mouse and when the game started you need to switch to keyboard. Why not just use keyboard in the menu?

Why force fullscreen? I really don't like that! Not for small casual games like this one.