CSUSA Game Development Studio Prototyping

Sunday – course coordinators, meeting our student host Xavier and creating a schedule for him.

Monday – Guest artists arrive and students arrive, JP did an interview with each student regarding what they wanted to do and made groups, four groups, two of 5 and two of 4. All of them seemed balanced. We introduced the students to their teams.

Tuesday – Clients came in and were assigned to the groups based on what we saw as strengths. Then we were off, there was a short period of explanation regarding the problem and then paper prototyping. The goal was to embed the central system into a board game and then have that as a base for the video game to be developed.

Lifeboat Game. This description is from memory, so it may be imperfect. I should have asked for all of the games to be published, that was a n00b mistake. Anyhow the team was tasked for showing implicit bias.

The game starts with a random selection of Age, Gender and Race for each player. This was meant to be quick and to represent those things that might be perceived and that one may have bias against. Each player is randomly assigned and then is put on a lifeboat.

The central idea of the game is that the government knows that the people are out there and is unable to save them immediately so they start to send food. However being the government or thru budget cuts they send less food each day. Each player has 3 life points to start and when they get to zero, they are dead.

Lets assume there are 5 players. On the first day the government sends 4 food and the group must decide who does not eat, then on the second day 3 food, 2 food and finally 1 food. The decisions are made thru conversation and consensus.

How do you win? Well each person is given a goal, “make sure women and children survive” or “survive with a mate” etc, the possible goals have been listed, shuffled and dealt at random to each person. Notice that there are goals that involve the death of the player.

I do not know how many rounds you play, but that is based on the number of life points, I am sure. Anyhow, the game was played, tested, and refined within the group when they were happy with the rules we had another dev team come in and play.

This is where it got interesting, the team that play-tested it ended up being really affected by it. In the decompression they wanted to know more about the other players (beyond made up role playing) they wanted them to have jobs, like captain, engineer and such. They had a visceral reaction to the arbitrary choice they had to make. This was fascinating to me, they didn’t want to make the decision based on their bias, they wanted to remove some element from it. In the end this group created a very powerful game, when I talked to one of the players they said that they did not enjoy the game and did not like the decision process at all, they were very much affected by it and were starting to get emotional.

This was the first game to elicit tears during summer arts, well to make someone misty. I cannot help but think that the team succeeded in achieving their goal, and am somewhat encouraged that the players didn’t think the obvious information was enough. The team that came up with this game ended up scrapping the prototype.

The other teams did well but it became obvious that the systems were not always integrating, that the core purpose for doing the prototype (which was to aid in development) was not fully understood. In the prototyping cycle, I find myself unable to require the use of the prototype, but maybe there is a need for a prototype. in retrospect this should have been the guidance… if you abandon this prototype, you must come up with another to satisfy the game requirements (and test it to guarantee user experience is what you claim it to be).

Takeaway lesson: It is generally better to go over the purpose and method of a task regardless of how straightforward it seems. Help connect the dots even if you have experts in the audience to help remind everyone why we are doing the thing.

All of our teams produced paper games, the team that had the hardest time with it also ended up having some internal difficulties that came up again later. Prototyping surfaced a lot of information about communication within the teams, at least one team built and was able to use the prototype to inform their game.

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Do you have a problem that might be solved by a game?

I am looking for experts(relative experts welcome) to work with a development team to create a game prototype to further their research or to help solve a problem. I am leading a summer course and have one or two slots remaining to work with student developers as part of the CSU Summer Arts Game Development Studio.

What does this mean?

I would ask you to come to Fresno on Tuesday June 27 (I can pay a small stipend to cover mileage and a hotel room) and work with a development team to create a paper prototype. We have found that paper prototypes can be very expressive and surface key systems. Provide your expertise and help the development team understand your priorities for the prototype.

Be available via Skype to communicate with your team about the problem and how the solution can be used, advise the team on tasks as digital development proceeds.

Get the prototype at the end.

This is not something to be commercially monetized (without your teams permission of course), but something to further your research, non-profit work or work within an educational context.

The risk is that it will take some of your time and attention, you may not get what you expect out of it, the the reward is that you will have a chance to work with some bright developers on a prototype that could enhance your work.

If you are interested send an email to james.morgan@sjsu.edu and include a basic overview of your problem (or message me), let me know your availability on June 27 and we can go from here. Needless to say, time is short.

Feel free to reach out if this is not a perfect fit, I am looking for the most interesting problems to challenge us.

Summer Game Development 2017

For the past few weeks I have been architecting a summer intensive class in video game development. This is based on my experience with the Art/CS 108 course, the Global Game Jam, the Game Development Club at SJSU, and conversations with the MIT Game Lab. Please note that everything in this post is tentative including our proposed dates of June 26 –

Please note that until the budget is approved in November this has an odd status in that it is approved pending budget. This will be a post where I outline the goals and thoughts as well as artists who have tentatively consented to be part of the faculty and why I think they are important.

Proposed faculty listed alphabetically: (note that the event is over a year from now, and may change)

Anna Anthropy – Designer and provocateur, Anna continues to make and publish games at the intersection of personal experience and the utmost playability. Anna has worked with me before both as a lecturer and an exhibitor in games shows curated by JP and myself. I am looking forward to the energy and perspective she will bring to the two week intensive course. I know that she will inspire students by her example and her energy.
http://auntiepixelante.com/speaking/
https://w.itch.io/
https://twitter.com/auntiepixelante

JP Bruneau – John and I have been curatorial partners on a few shows now, and in addition to being a founding member of the Game Development Club at SJSU he is also a founding member of Ars Virtua. John teaches game design and development at The New School in NYC now and continues to make art and games. John has helped many students thru the game development process and also works with Baby Castles.
http://artfail.com/
http://www.innovationgames.com

Heather Logas – Heather has an MFA in Game Design and has taught at UCSC as well as having worked on major game titles. She currently consults with companies thru games to focus on their core beliefs and competencies. Heather uses games to help business. Heather has a practical approach to design and an ability to communicate that is impressive in addition to her design portfolio.
http://www.spaceforplay.com/

James Morgan – Artist and educator who teaches at SJSU and advises the Game Development Club at SJSU. Teaches SJSU’s only Game Studies course as well as intro digital media courses in the CADRE Media Lab. James main job will be to make sure everything happens as it is suppose to.

The course will be focused on creating robust game prototypes/ finished games that address issues in STEAM categories. This is to say that the next step is to recruit some faculty across the CSU that have STEM/STEAM based problems that may benefit from a proper game prototype. This process will take place in the fall semester with a short (possible) gathering in the spring to examine techniques and refine problems. The goal will not be to engage in the design or find specific solutions as that will be the teams problem, but to focus on surfacing the systems and background knowledge and keeping the scope small. Educators will learn the basics of prototyping in an attempt to understand the development process.

So what is on my mind now? What is in this for the students? Is it enough to say we’ll make a game with a product owner? What else will drive students to want to take this? How should teams be architected and built? Is there a way to permit some self selection as well as creating balance between programming, art and other tasks? Is there room for mentorship and people new to development?

Where to look for problems? Are there people who are underfunded for development but who have labs / centers / outreach programs that can benefit a team in ways other than pure funding? Will there be interest in continuing the project after the summer development, and how can that be handled? How will IP be handled?

There are lots of good questions here and lots of good people on board. I am excited for this and for the future. This is the soft announcement, so look for more information as time passes, I’m going to try to make it down to CSUMB to sit in on a little of the summer 16 edition of this and see how it plays on the ground. There is so much to be done and so many deadlines ahead. If you are interested in participating as a STEAM faculty or as a student please feel free to contact me directly.

Arcade Stats from AFK openings

DSCF7327

The Game Dev Club volunteered an arcade cabinet to help flesh out the gaming options at the AFK openings.

We sent our brand new cabinet, lovingly referred to as “Coin-Op” and “Flagship” and it got a good amount of play.  There were some serious learning to be had regarding leaving the cabinet unattended.

We moved in for the first of the soft openings on March 26 and brought the machine back on April 21.  It lived on site almost a whole month and got some good play. One of the issues we had to deal with was the startup / shutdown sequence and trouble shooting. Davain Martinez took the lead on much of this as he was working at AFK but even his heroic efforts were not enough. We know that if we want to have a stand alone cabinet in public, it needs to be simpler to startup/shutdown and needs to be bulletproof, that is to say that it needs to be able to recover from its errors and to test to see if it is running properly and fix itself.

No small task.

Anyhow, here are the stats from the AFK openings, they are not terribly reliable especially since people have a tendency to walk away from a game, I think Laser Cat benefitted from this in terms of time played, but this does not effect number of plays (note the image should link to stats http://ruby-yacht.github.io/afk-openings/view_statistics.html :

Screenshot 2015-04-24 14.56.45

Screenshot 2015-04-24 16.13.58

the spreadsheet is here: http://ruby-yacht.github.io/afk-openings/afk-open.csv DSCF7243

 

This is the cabinet shortly after installation, note the impromptu power cord.

Cab at AFK

 

And in context of the space, it fits nicely and looks beautiful.

DSCF7323This is the last play session before we moved it out, much enthusiasm!

 

Global Game Jam 2015

The Game Development Club at SJSU is proud to host Global Game Jam 2015 on SJSU campus.

This 48 hour game jam has yielded games that have been crowd funded and otherwise published as well as games that have won awards at IndieCade and other festivals.

Game Dev always welcomes everyone, and even if this is your first game jam or even your first game we believe you have something to contribute and welcome you. Last year we had a bunch of great games that went on to be presented at Rockage, so we plan to do the same thing this year.

What will the theme be? Well that we won’t know until Friday Jan 23, but until then you can familiarize yourself with your favorite game engine or look over our arcade control scheme: http://sjsugamedev.com/node/565

To participate:

1) Make an account at the Global Game Jam Site: http://globalgamejam.org/user/register/to/participate

2) Join the SJSU Jam Site: http://globalgamejam.org/2015/jam-sites/san-jose-state-university

3) Join the Facebook event and introduce yourself: https://www.facebook.com/events/505413546263372/

Start a conversation and help us get to know you, it will be easier to get into a group this way, but it is not necessary.

4) Come to the first Game Dev meeting of the semester on Thursday Jan 22 at 7pm in the Mezzanine of the Library (right above the children’s section.)  Meet more people!

5) Come to Global Game Jam prepared.  The pre-jam starts at 430 in WSQ 109, we will be doing icebreakers and finding out what skills we have and what we like to play and want to make. If you are new, check out this video which sums up what you should be thinking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z06QR-tz1_o

6) Have Fun.  Fail Faster. Remember to hydrate, sleep and personal hygiene.

7) Feedback feedback feedback.  Help us make our events better, we shall be posting a before and after survey that should be pretty easy and fun and will help us make more awesome events in the future.

8) For a nice overview of the process take a look at this slide-set: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1gzJpXquXfzQH6tlUDVzO38W5OCOEa7h5xKccIYKdmQw/edit?usp=sharing

Signing up sooner guarantees you a spot, we are going to limit participation on site so that everyone has room to work, but teams working offsite that come for the kickoff and the followup are also welcome.  Everyone is welcome!

flyer-ggj-sm

calidriscadreLocal sponsors: http://www.calidris.net and http://cadre.sjsu.edu

Games and Playing Games

I just had an amazing experience with a game and the gamification of one single bit of information. (Thursday 3/20)

The game was Out of Body as run at Swissnex as part of GDC.  The game was delightful.  We got into line to avoid the crowd, and I started talking with Sarah who was reading the great gatsby in line ahead of me. It was for a course she was taking which saddened me. I flirted with the ladies as they walked past us and then something amazing happened.

A gentlemen came by and offered us membership.  Membership included a black t-shirt and cutsies into line for the t-shirt owner and a +1. Sarah and I bought shirts and I laughed and joked about the “in app purchase” that took us to the experience ahead of others.

We played the game, it did not dissapoint. A little bit of pain, a little disorientation and in the end a diagnosis.  You were either infected or you were not.  My +1 Kelsey was declared free of infection, but I realized that my jacket sleeve conveniently covered my wristband.

One single bit of information… yes or no.

We played a game for the next two hours, a social game, a logic game, a princess bride game about my status.  One single bit of information, which I pointed out that I may or may not know, became the focus of an asymmetric game.

I asked Kelsey to make a declaration when he got on his bus, but that he should consider lying. He said he was not a good liar, so I took this into account when he departed. I expect to be infected, somehow I want to be infected, I can find out by looking but I have not.

He said, “You are infected” as he boarded his bus and it is the most amazing words I have heard in as long as I can remember. I really liked the answer.  Did he lie to me?  Did he feed into my desire, my delusion?  What does it even mean to be infected.

This, this is a most amazing game.  Build evidence, share an experience and then hide one single bit of information.

I shall know soon, but I do not know now.

(later) When I found out I was not disappointed.

robot battle game

game board

Rules:
1) Place a piece on the board (you start with 2 pieces each)
2) Pick up resources, each resource you have give you +1 on die rolls
3) Move 1 space then attack (if possible)- you must have a resource to be able to attack
4) If you are supported in your attack you roll 1 extra die ( formula is # of robots +1)
5) Roll two dice, highest wins
6) attacker wins ties, winner takes resource or kills if no resources