Citations of the Day #1 (It's a 2-for-1 blog!)
Becker, Katrin, and Jim Parker. “Methods of Design: An Overview of Game Design Techniques.” In Karen Schrier, ed., Learning, Education & Games, Vol 1: Curricular and Design Considerations, pp. 181-200. ETC Press, 2014.
This chapter points out that serious game prototypes must be evaluated at multiple levels:
As software: Does it work?
As learning: Are the objectives embodied in the game and effective?
As art: Is the visual and auditory style consistent and effective?
As a game: Is the game entertaining?
Citation of the Day #2
Fay, Ira. “Playtesting and Iterative Design: The Most Important Process for Making Great Games.” In Karen Schrier, ed., Learning, Education & Games, Vol 1: Curricular and Design Considerations, pp. 253-266. ETC Press, 2014.
This chapter explains that for the designer, playtesting means observing someone playing your game, so you can gain true insight into how to improve the game. Fay details the typical playtesting process:
Craft questions you want the playtest to answer, depending on the current stage of development.
Recruit players for the playtest, matching the target demographic and with an appropriate amount of experience playing the game if it's a late-stage test.
Create a script for the playtest session, based on questions you need to answer. Have a survey ready for playtesters to complete immediately after playing.
At the beginning of the session, remind each player they can stop at any time. Create an emotionally comfortable environment for the player so they will be more honest.
During the session, stay quiet and focus on observation. The player should forget you are even there.
Immediately after a session, write down your thoughts while they are fresh in your mind.
Design and Mechanics
I need to come up with an easy way of explaining what my next prototype will be, since "construction kit" is not a common term that many people understand. Perhaps I should call it a "core-gameplay-loop prototype" or a "proof-of-concept prototype." Or maybe people would understand it better as an "alpha-stage demo." This is something to discuss with my committee.
The West Coast is on fire. Maybe I should work Climate Change into my game -- like after a certain number of levels, the player gets a choice to either fight climate change (by making a donation through a microtransaction) or do nothing. If they do nothing, sections of the game world start to get destroyed by desertification or sea-level rise.
That's a pretty badass idea, lol.