Further research

Now that I have a fairly coherent product definition, it is appropriate to research all of the components of my design and try to answer a few questions.

To recap on the top level success criteria from my previous post:

  1. It utilizes technology to facilitate and enhance the game (particularly with regards to forcing and end-game state and to track and offer breadcrumbs to players)
  2. It is played outdoors
  3. It is a multi-player game and requires some social contact/connection
  4. It has measurable health benefits
  5. It utilizes at least one application of augmented reality to provide information/feedback to the player
  6. It will utilize GPS tracking to facilitate the game state and catch up mechanics
  7. I’d like to try and implement social media sharing on platforms such as Instagram or TikTok within the game, to bring enhanced relevance of the product to young people

This brings to mind the following:

  1. Why is this a compelling product? What has prompted it’s design and what justification can be offered for the design?
  2. In what ways will my product be original? i.e. what other similar products are available in the market?
  3. In what ways will the product be relevant to the audience?
  4. In what ways will the product offer unique selling points?
  5. How does academic research either challenge or support my assumptions?

Defining success criteria

In my last post, I identified some success criteria for the project:

  1. It is played outdoors
  2. It is a multi-player game and requires some social contact/connection
  3. It has measurable health benefits
  4. It utilizes technology to facilitate and enhance the game (particularly with regards to forcing and end-game state and to track and offer breadcrumbs to players)
  5. It utilizes at least one application of augmented reality to provide information/feedback to the player
  6. It will utilize GPS tracking to facilitate the game state and catch up mechanics
  7. I’d like to try and implement social media sharing on platforms such as Instagram or TikTok within the game, to bring enhanced relevance of the product to young people

I feel it would be helpful to really clearly define the success criteria for the project. I’ve decide to pick one primary success criteria and have several secondary criteria.

One of the principal reasons for undertaking a Masters course in game development is that I felt when I finished my BA, that my technical skills were quite lacking. As a result, I decided that as a generalist designer, I felt quite strongly that my folio should reflect a diverse set of skills and technical applications. On reflection, I now feel ready to define my success criteria for the project.

Primary criteria:

  1. I will primarily experiment in the field of technology and successful implementation of new technology in a game will be the principle purpose of the artifact. This project is particularly attractive as it will likely enable me to experiment with at least 3 technologies I’ve yet to explore in a game development context; creating a mobile product, utilizing networking, utilizing GPS and potentially utilizing Augmented Reality. I expect that it will represent a particularly distinctive piece within my portfolio.

Secondary criteria:

Whilst most of these factors will be addressed as ‘stretch goals’ or additional features, I’ll be particularly pleased if I can implement any or all of the following:

  1. The game will be played outdoors. The contemporary context of this criteria follows from the effects of pandemic lock-down. It is envisaged that many people will be quite eager to explore open and public spaces and a game which is played outdoors will help facilitate this desire among players.
  2. It is a multi-player game and requires some social contact/connection. This criteria follows on from the previous one. Many people will have experienced isolation during recent months and it is anticipated that the future launch of this game will facilitate further connection between people in a fun, playful context.
  3. It has measurable health benefits. Simply put, it is not controversial to suggest that outdoor activity helps general fitness and I will look at ways to offer metrics to players which can support health goals, such as distance traveled and approximate calories burned.
  4. It utilizes technology to facilitate and enhance the game (particularly with regards to forcing and end-game state and to track and offer breadcrumbs to players). It will utilize GPS tracking to facilitate the game state and catch up mechanics
  5. It utilizes at least one application of augmented reality to provide information/feedback to the player. I quite like the idea of presenting AR footprints to the Spy/Seeker, which are generated by the Ninja/Hider as they move. Those footprints will start out red (hot) and rapidly cool (green, then vanish), the older they are. If the Spy is close behind the Ninja, they will be able to use their phone’s camera to see the footprints on the ground.
  6. I’d like to try and implement social media sharing on platforms such as Instagram or TikTok within the game, to bring enhanced relevance of the product to young people. I’ve found some tutorials on how to implement social media sign in and also to render and send media such as video to social media platforms. It would be particularly attractive to use such a feature to widen the audience of this game.

In summary, I will principally commit to achieving my primary criteria but also look to deliver as many secondary criteria as I can. This is quite an ambitious project, but I do believe that it is innovative, experimental and a worthwhile contribution to my offering as a designer.

 

Review of material and ideas

Much of the teaching on this module has now been delivered and I’m able to start bringing together ideas and thinking to produce a shortlist of potential products.

I’m particularly focused in a number of areas both for this module and for the wider course. One of my key learning objectives throughout this course is to push my bounds from a technical perspective. I’m keen to use new technologies to provide innovative solutions and this is one domain in which I hope to tread new ground. I’m also quite keen on the notion that experimental games can sometimes exist wholly or partially within the serious games field and also that they can service a well-being need and I’d like to experiment in these three areas. I’m also interested in the concept of utilizing games for self-development and one personal flaw which I’m keen to work on is a tendency to procrastinate.

With the above factors in mind, I’ve conceived two potential projects to work on:

  1. A game loop centered around procrastination. The game itself would mechanically revolve around leaving a steady stream of tasks until the last minute. A good example of task management in a game might be in the Overcooked series of games.
  2. A game based around using emergent technology to facilitate the traditional game, hide and seek.

On reflection, of these two games, I believe that the second game has the most potential. It’s an idea I’ve toyed around with for a while and I feel it meets a few key suitability criteria for fields of experimentation. I’ll return to the problem of procrastination in a later project.

First of all, I’d like to create the game for mobile. Many mobile games tend to be static (i.e. you can play them anywhere, but you stay in one place). There are a few noteworthy games produced by Niantec (Ingress, 2012 and Pokemon Go, 2016) which require the players to move around to find in game items using GPS placement, but these tend to be the exception to the rule. I also like that there are clear well-being applications to getting people to play games which require real world movement. This is especially pertinent in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that many people have spent months indoors doing very little exercise. Another well being factor to this experimentation is that many people, particularly those who don’t live in large households haven’t had the opportunity to socialize during multiple lock-downs. I’d therefore like to prototype a game which meets the following success criteria:

  1. It is played outdoors
  2. It is a multi-player game and requires some social contact/connection
  3. It has measurable health benefits
  4. It utilizes technology to facilitate and enhance the game (particularly with regards to forcing and end-game state and to track and offer breadcrumbs to players)
  5. It utilizes at least one application of augmented reality to provide information/feedback to the player
  6. It will utilize GPS tracking to facilitate the game state and catch up mechanics
  7. I’d like to try and implement social media sharing on platforms such as Instagram or TikTok within the game, to bring enhanced relevance of the product to young people

The overall benefit of such a game might be that its effectiveness in bringing people together socially and for exercise and may make the traditional folk game popular among young people again.

I’ll begin work on producing a Game Design Document, which outlines the key features.