Our little game project is slowly coming together. Very slowly. You wouldn’t think it’d be this hard to get a couple of people together to find a quiet place to film. But we’re filming at a university where people have classes and homework and friends and god damn there’s so many permissions we need to take into account.
No one ever mentions these fun parts when they tell you about filming.
I understand having to film with the right light, that needs to happen and be adjusted for, but things like logos in the film need to be removed and background music can’t be recorded if it’s copyrighted.
The biggest problem so far has been recording people in the background. Now luckily we haven’t actually had any individual come and tell us they didn’t want to be in out film, we’ve been pretty good about that. But when we’re filming in a semi-public location, and have the focus set so that no one is even remotely recognisable as anything other than human we were told by the powers that be that we can’t film without getting a signed permission from everyone in the shot (and we were filming in front of a doorway).
In all honesty this has been an eye opening week. Having never filmed anyone but my family in public this has been a good exercise in spacial awareness and made me take note of how filming should actually be done.
Thankfully the filming phase is pretty much complete. Editing is going to happen over the next couple of weeks and then we’ll be good to go and show off how awesome our little project is.
Alright so this week my little project group decided to move forward with our first tangible step and film something! Since our game is a tour around the uni for the scrubs we’ve got this little video to show for ourselves!
Obviously this is a first demo, not the final product, and ultimately a learning experience. That said, it came out pretty good. Like… very close to what I’d hoped.
So what’s the next step?
We really need to work on scripts and maps that need to happen. Since each faculty uses different buildings a different amount we’re trying to send each student to the relevant buildings.
I’m not the most organised person, I’ll freely admit that my desk has an inordinate amount of pens and mouse pads about it so maybe I shouldn’t be involved in the map layouts. Fortunately I’m a much better writer. So I’ll try to write a few… episodes I guess we’ll call them. And I’m not a good actor. For those paying attention to that video I was the sleeping person. I plan to sleep through all the filming sessions. At the very least I can help edit some of the footage. I’m not as good as our current editor but I’m looking to improve so this should be fun.
Pitching something is always a little frightening. It’s a new idea, it’s your baby idea that you’ve been working on and I know personally that I’m always a little shattered inside when someone shoots down my ideas. “Well you didn’t consider…” or “Why not just do it like…” are things that can crush your spirit ant make your hard work feel useless. But that’s not at all what happened in my last Game Cultures class. My group presented our version of the university campus map tutorial thing called the Duck Hunt. It’s kind of a joke name but it still ties in with our universities unnatural fear of ducks.
And we have a document that needs a lot more loving that you can see here that’s kind of like our progress and communal work space.
All in all it’s coming together surprising well.
So this is the fifth week since the university session has started and we’re making some progress. We’re looking at game design and some game archaeology and even some game psychology. It’s a lot of fun but also a little weird because this used to be what I do in my spare time.
But as interesting as reading about the old arcades of yesteryear or why characters moves the way they do, the class is working together to make a couple of different games. We were told to design games, not video games or board game just games. So our group started with the idea of something akin to “The Amazing Race” but around the university.
We planned to use QR codes to link to a clue about where the next QR code is. After following enough of the breadcrumbs you would end up at the finish line. The plan was to have a weekly race with different teams competing and getting points based on how many codes they found. The first big problem I found with this is organising the different teams and the maintenance to make sure people weren’t just recycling locations.
After a bit of discussion on how to advertise and actually get people involved we talked to our lecturer/teacher/cool dude and he suggesting getting it involved in O-week (or orientation week for all the new students). This means that we won’t have to make it competitive, as people would hopefully compete within their friendship group. The best part is that we only need a few paths for the players to follow rather than the many we would have needed before.
Obviously if we want to use the university as our playground we need to actually talk to the university about that but we should have a working demo first, so a couple QR codes with videos and some hints that we’ve written up. That’s something that I’ll focus on getting done in the next class. Especially the clues… That’s like super important…
I’m actually quite excited for this. It’s not too difficult, it’s definitely possible, we just need to convince the powers that be that it’ll be worth it.
So in the last class that was undertaken for digital game cultures we all tried to come up with a simple game. A quick mechanic or focus that could become a game and a rough guide on how to present it. Personally, I’m a fan of cookie clickers (which is a sad name for a genre as I prefer progress simulator but this way people know what I’m talking about).
For those that are unware the name cookie clicker comes from a game with the same name in which you click on a cookie to accrue more cookies, which are then spent to gain a way to gain more cookies which are then spent to gain more cookies ad infinitum. It’s one of those things that, psychologically make you feel like you’re making progress when you’re not even close to doing so. There’s also a lot more going on that isn’t immediately obvious but that’s the crux of the game: click to progress.
If I only had 15 minutes to make a game, this is what I would make. I would make a game like this where you click to progress. Since I’m trapped at university for the immediate future I’d use that as a starting point and make the game a metaphor for getting through university. Maybe I’d break it into levels based around each class/exam/assignment/laborious social encounter but that’d be as fancy as it got. The best thing about these games, and this is a little depressing but also a load off my shoulders, is that there isn’t really a victory. There’s no “YOU WIN” screen. You just have to be better than everyone else. I could probably make this.
I should make this…
Videogames are a weird medium. They aren’t weird because they’re hard to understand, they aren’t weird because now your mum can play them on Facebook. They’re weird because they let you do things that board games can’t.
On a board game, if players moved their pieces at the same time it’d be both almost impossible to physically play and really confusing. The tangle of arms and fingers is just monstrous. You can get around this in video games. Strategy games on a table top have too many little pieces to move easily and quickly but a couple of clicks can send 200 zerglings to victory.
Racing games are another one where, really, moving pieces have to take turns. This is one where I think board games have an advantage because while it is fun to zip past your friends in Forza and Mario Kart it’s much more exciting to roll the dice and hit sixes to help you stream ahead and leave your “friends” in the dust.
With this in mind we were tasked in class with redesigning a video game as a board game, and if you haven’t guessed which one my group decided to up grade you haven’t been paying attention. Kario Mart is a racing game where you and your friends can fly around our course with shortcuts and weapons everywhere.
So basically you roll to move your little racer around the map, some spaces have weapon cards you can pick up and use to hinder your competition, some boost you ahead. There are also alternate paths with a risk-reward kind of emphasis. Do you take the short path and risk getting thwomped?
All things considered, this game looked kind of fun to me. The only problem (out side of the obvious copyright claims that Nintendo would do in a heartbeat) is that we haven’t actually play tested it. This is all theory so far. That said, there’s nothing stopping us from re-skinning it and just saying what inspired us.