Lecture 28 - Game Expo!

Lecture Date: Monday, December 4

  1. Timing: The expo will be Monday, December 4, from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM.
  2. Location: The South Meeting Room in Newcomb Hall. If you have never been to this room, you go up the stairs next to Newcomb Dining Hall and it is down the hall past the Ballroom on the left. Just beyond the information desk on the 3rd floor. Next time you are in Newcomb, go take a look.
  3. Final Project Due Date: The final build of the game is now due Monday just before the expo. We will pull the latest build up until Dec 4 at 10:30 AM for grading. I have updated the quest in Gamer Card.

Expo Schedule

  • 9:00 AM - Staff meets in Rice 340 to gather materials and VR equipment (help is always welcome!)
  • 10:00 AM - All teams meet in the South Room to begin setting up your game
  • 10:30 AM-1:00 PM - Game Expo!
  • 1:00 PM - Pack up and take materials back to Rice 340.

Remember to fill out the evaluation form for each of your partners after the expo!

Partner Eval Form - https://goo.gl/forms/g4ZAqvmILfg2ayjS2

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Lecture 27 - Revisiting McGonigal

Lecture Date: Wednesday, November 29

Today we are going to go back and look at the fixes to reality that McGonigal talks about in "Reality is Broken." You know, that book I assigned you to read for this semester?

Why do we make games? Is it as simple as helping people have fun? Is there more to it?

Games for Change

Fix #1: Unnecessary obstacles - Compared with games, reality is too easy. Games challenge us with voluntary obstacles and help us put our personal strengths to better use.

Fix #2: Emotional activation - Compared with games, reality is depressing. Games focus our energy, with relentless optimism, on something we're good at and enjoy.

Fix #3: More satisfying work - Compared with games, reality is unproductive. Games give us clearer missions and more satisfying, hands-on work. (clear goal and actionable steps)

Fix #4: Better hope of success - Compared with games, reality is hopeless. Games eliminate our fear of failure and improve our chances for success.

Fix #5: Stronger social connectivity - Compared with games, reality is disconnected. Games build stronger social bonds and lead to more active social networks.

Fix #6: Epic scale - Compared with games, reality is trivial. Games make us a part of something bigger and give epic meaning to our actions.

Fix #7: Wholehearted participation - Compared with games, reality is hard to get into. Games motivate us to participate more fully in whatever we are doing.

Fix #8: Meaningful reward when we need them most - Compared with games, reality is pointless and unrewarding. Games help us feel more rewarded for making our best effort.

Fix #9: More fun with strangers - Compared with games, reality is lonely and isolating. Games help us band together and created powerful communities from scratch.

Fix #10: Happiness Hacks - Compared with games, reality is hard to swallow. Games make it easier to take good advice and try out happier habits.

Fix #11: A sustainable engagement economy - Compared with games, reality is unsustainable. The gratifications we get from playing games are an infinitely renewable resource.

Fix #12: More epic wins - Compared with games, reality is unambitious. Games help us define awe-inspiring goals and tackle seemingly impossible social missions together.

Fix #13: Ten thousand hours collaborating - Compared with games, reality is disorganized and divided. Games help us make a more concerted effort - and over time, they give us collaborative superpowers.

Fix #14: Massively multiplayer foresight - Reality is stuck in the present. Games help us imagine and invent the future together.

No slides today

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Lecture 26 - Breaking into the Industry / Monetization

Lecture Date: Monday, November 27

What’s it mean to be “indie?”

The first thing we have to do is define exactly what we mean by “indie.” I suppose the technical definition comes from a game being “independently published,” as in there’s no official distribution company handling the publishing of your game. In the terms of this class, that’s probably the definition that matters. An indie game is one that you make yourself, promote yourself, and (effectively) sell yourself. Or perhaps a very small team of people (< 10 usually).

However, in the greater gaming culture, the term has taken on a slightly different meaning. People have often called Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons an “indie” game, but it was built by Starbreeze, who previously made the Riddick games among others, and published by 505. So, what makes a game “indie” in this case? The term has also taken on the same connotation as indie movies to a degree. Or perhaps “art house” is another way of thinking about it. Games that are non-traditional and usually take a relatively shorter amount of time to complete are often referred to as “indies.”

But like I said, for this class, the first definition is probably the important one. You have a game idea. You want to release it. How does that work?

Finishing A Game

There’s a fantastic blog article by Derek Yu, creater of Spelunky (an indie darling in its own right), called Finishing A Game. I won’t repeat everything that’s here – seriously, go read it on your own – but there are some things to pick out to discuss.

First and foremost, have an idea that you believe in and then iterate on it. Prototype. Play test. Revisit. All that good software development stuff we’ve talked about. It’s just good, honest, hard work! It will take several iterations to “get it right.” Don’t be afraid to cut or change based on feedback! But seriously, take what you learned in this course and JUST GO DO IT.

Now, self-motivation can always be tricky. Yu’s suggestion to use competitions, etc. as deadlines is a great idea. Look up when the game festivals are, when the indiecades of the world are taking place, and plan to have a build ready for then. Be ready to be rejected if it’s that type of festival, of course, but still JUST DO IT. You have to get the game out there, so do it!

Use tools that are available. That’s a great point. Don’t roll your own tech! If you get bogged down in a lot of the nitty-gritty, you’ll lose sight of what excited you about the project in the first place – the game! If the game runs and it can be played, then it’s a game and don’t stress the rest.

Tooting my own horn here a bit – don’t ignore what you learned in this class about design! Consider the mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics. Think about balancing. Look at the different AI options. All of that good stuff!


Getting the game out there can be tough. I’d love to talk here about marketting and all of that… but I’m terrible at that and really don’t know a ton. What we can talk about are the distribution platforms to consider.

Indie Game: The Movie

If you haven’t watched this yet, you need to. It follows the developers of Super Meat Boy and FEZ through the rather harrowing journey of getting their games out. There’s also some commentary from the creator of Braid. It’s absolutely worth watching and easy to get your hands on a copy (Netflix, Steam, iTunes, etc.).

No slides today

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Lecture 25 - Playtesting

Lecture Date: Monday, November 20

Today we will look at one of the two intersections of Game Design and HCI – user testing. Specifically, play testing. Who do we want to play test our game? Why? What good is play testing? Who does play testing? We can!

Slides - Playtesting

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Lecture 22 - Game Balancing

Lecture Date: Wednesday, November 8

You can go on any gaming message board and hear folks rail on about whether a game is "balanced" or not. What exactly does that mean? Do the folks on the message board even really know what that means? Today we will discuss game balance - the idea that we are trying to manage player skill, probabilities, and challenge all at the same time to create the proper flow.

Slides - Game Balancing

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Lecture 20 - Input and UX

Lecture Date: Wednesday, November 1

The controller. A central part of our gaming experience has nothing to do with the software itself that we write. The decisions made by platform holders can have a massive influence on the types of games that can/will be built for a system and sends a message as to what experiences can be had. Think Wiimote. Think Kinect. Think mouse and keyboard. Think any touch screen. How do these devices limit or enhance the games that we build and play? We’ll dig into this today and also start talking about how we present information to the player on screen in such a way that it informs and enhances their gaming experience.

Slides - Input and UX

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