Final Mecosystem Working Day Before Summative: 25.11.11

We all arrive for the Moshi Monsters Presentation in the morning and afterwards agree to take a 15 minute lunch break before meeting upstairs for an early start to the afternoon workshop. Today we have to work on pulling the final slides together for the presentation and make sure that everyone has made their contribution in a graphically consistant way. The overall look and feel of the project and the way in which we present information is really important to this project. Simplicity, quaintness and ease are the focus of our game and therefore should be at the heart of our presentation.

Everyone in the group likes to work in different ways, especially when it comes to making presentation and speaking in them. Rob and I go around the group one by one and ask people to transfer their slides, talk through them and add their speaking parts. This way the group as a whole can talk through concepts and make sure that everything is consistant and approved by everyone. Five heads work better than one.

We all agree that the slides should be as visual as possible, with few bullet points, if any are needed at all. The speaker should have the attention of the room and present the points, not the slides. I help Nicky with her slides as she tends to expand on her points on slides a little more than most people in the group. Together we talk through her points and write concise snippets onto the marketing, PR and advertising slides.

Example of the game world made into a diagram:

Finally we add Jermaine slides and a screen shot of the game that Irfan has made with link to the hosted version. Rob and I go through all the slides one more time and decide on how the slides should enter and exit the screen, the backgrounds and how the points should be spaced.

Finally it’s complete.

Changes to Contextual Analysis: 24.11.11

I talk through the initial slides that I’ve planned with Rob and we go over whether the points are truly relative to the project. We want the presentation to be consise but make all of our points clearly. When we get to the contextual analysis, I show him that the games I plan to review are Bio Lab Disaster ans Tinga Tales. We both agree that Tinga Tales is a good game to critique because it has a similar animal / safari thema and it’s aimed at children directly within our target age group. However, Bio Lab Disaster doesn’t really match the profile. It’s much more applicable to older age ranges and has is focused around soft violence (the objectives are to kill the enemies) and this would be inappropriate for the younger age range of our game.

As the game that needs to be changed was made in the impact gaming engine, I go straight back to the impact website to see whether it publicises any other games that have been released. I find that there is another called Castles and Creatures that has been published to the android market place and IOS so i download a copy and start to play.

Creatures and Castles turns out to be perfect for the analysis and is even made with a top down view which will be a perfect example of the way in which impact can help to make both the platform and base camp areas of Mecosystem. All is not lost as the research done on Bio Lab Disaster can be transferred into points for the tech section of the presentation which will talk about the different game environments that can be created with Impact.

Now all I have to do is play the game to death and critique every aspect possible.

User Testing / Game research.

Background information on Creatures and Castles:

Creatures and Castles is a arcade / puzzle game where you must help two children to escape a castle, collecting treasure on the way. It’s aimed at children 9+ because of some animated violence and is available in browser, on IOS and the android market.

Positives:

• Can choose your character (male or female) before starting play. Introduces the idea of multiple characters

• Easy level selector

• Has a feedback loop that shows the previous high score that your trying to beat. There is a penalty / reward for achieving this.

Negatives:

• Instructions are all text, and long winded. Brakes game play.

• For a game aimed at 9+, it’s quite repetitive and a little un-eventful.

• Uses shake function and magnify on ios, but this only distracts from game play. Bit gimmicky.

How can / will Mecosystem learn from this analysis:

1. It’s a nice touch to let people choose the characters that they play with at the start of the game. Multiple characters also add an extra element to the game play. Possible parallel can be drawn with Mecosystems adoption of multiple characters.

2. Castles and Creatures has an easy level selector and clear progression process throughout the game.
Mecosystem has endeavored to do the same thing to ensure that it’s intuitive for children to use.

3. Our target audience is children 5+. Therefore it’s important that any instructions in the game are as easy to understand as possible. If they are text based at all they should be to the point and part of a live game play tutorial level so that engagement in the game is not broken the way it is in Castles and Creatures with long winded, text based instruction screens.

4. Unlike Castles and Creatures, which integrates IOS features that are distracting to game play, Mecosystem will avoid feature creep and only use functionality that it can utilise well and with beautiful graphical integration.

With my research complete, I take screen shots from the game and start to work on the points that I’ll make in relation to each image shown on the screen. Things are starting to come together.

In addition to modifying these slides we still have a big problem with clarifying the business model. We all feel that the model that we made, giving away a free game and then charging for levels every three months for two years, goes against some of the things that we’ve learnt about game economics over the last 18 months, mainly that it’s very hard to make people pay for anything after you’ve established a standard that’s free. We’ve all been over and over the plan and have only managed to make alternate plans by making things much more complex. We decide to talk through things with James and Andrew. As we explain our ideas and mention wanting to publish on Android and IOS, they ask us about research into the different markets and asure us that some of the ideas we already have are sound. I look up comparison stats between IOS and android markets and we find that people are much more likely to expect free apps on android that IOS. We also note that apps are often ad supported on Android so we start to plan a new model and make some graphs for comparison.

The New Business Model and Statistical Analysis of Markets:

Points to be made with this slide:

1. We plan to make follow up levels in different habitats across the world to extend game play. Each new country will have new characters and a graphical influence to tie in with that location for example: Australia would have aboriginal motif, feature the kangaroo, koala and wombat.

2. On IOS, the first release will be free to gain interest and publicity. This will be made with support from venture capital. Subsequent levels, set in different locations across the globe will be released every three months for 2 years, each costing 69p. The money made from these releases will pay back venture capital investment.

Points to be made with this slide:

1. We believe that our app must be multi platform. We plan to release on Android and ios. In order to inform our releases we have analysed some market trends and have found that 1% of apps on the android market are paid and 99% are free compared with the Apps store in which 14% of apps are paid for. We also analysed the average prices for top 50 downloaded apps and found that the average price on Android is £2.48 compared to £1.30 on IOS.

2. Our conclusions are that people are more likely to buy cheep apps on IOS and expect free on Android. Therefore we are proposing to use two different business models depending on the platform.

3. IOS: First and fifth release will be free apps to generate interest in the brand / game. One free release with 3 subsequent releases in the year at 69p per release. First free release supported by venture capital investment to be repaid on profit from 2nd, 3rd and 4th release.

4. Android: All versions of Mecosystem will be free to download but ad supported.

Mecosystem Working Day One: 23.11.11

Nicky, Rob and I come together and talk about the work that needs to be continued on the project and try to work through some of the problems that we’ve been having with the project.

We all feel that the base camp idea needs clarifying. Will it be an online multiplayer environment? If you are able to build your own house / rebuild your own habitat, what will you need to collect to build it? Where will you be able to collect these items? If the base camp is multi player will you be able to swap or barter items?

There are a lot of questions to answer.

After long discussions we decide that we should drop the online multiplayer element to the base camp. Animals will still collect things in game to help rebuild the ecosystem in the base camp but these resoources will be limited to water, seeds, leaves and mud. These will not be exchangeable within the game. I feel that the project is overall better as a result of being less complex.

Research for Next Week: 20.11.11

With my tasks for next week set out, I start to investigate the type of game that we can use for our contextual analysis and how this might inform and improve our own game design. Ideally, I would like to use one mobile Html5 game that has been built with Impact to make a relevant connection between what can be achieve with the tech we’re using and the project that we are proposing. The other game should then be platform relative but with a much closer association to our concept or look and feel. This way our research should cover / critique and inform most aspects of our project.

Tinga Tinga Tales:

Background Information on Tinga Tinga Tales:

Tinga Tinga Tales is a popular Cbbc’s program that has just extended it’s brand into gamification. They now have a website with an App that has nine different mini games relating to one of 7 different “safari” animals. Aimed at ages 3-6,
the games mix problem solving and basic game play. It’s available on ios, iPad, iPhone and iPhone.

Positives:

• Difficulty levels can be adjusted for different age abilities.

• Simple feedback loop. 5 tries / lives in each game and scoreboard is always displayed. Consistent to all levels.

• Graphics are simple and effective

• Easy User Interface, each animal takes you to a game / games. not confusing for younger players

• Mixes mild comedy with game play, nice touch for target audience.

Negatives:

• Some of the game play is a little simple, even at that hardest difficulty level, for the top age range of the target audience.

• Some of the controls are a little inaccurate. this is really frustrating within game play. For examples the controls in Monkey’s Mango’s are too sensitive.

Bio Lab Disaster:

Bio Lab Disaster is a platform game where you have to shoot enemies, jump across platforms and collect test tubes full of orange liquid. Available in browser, on IOS and the Andriod market.

Positives:

• It makes great use of touch screen devices to make controls that turn the iPhone / Andriod into something that feels like a console game. See the screen shot below to see faint left, right, jump and shoot buttons.

• Game play is intuitive and therefore there is no need for instructions before play.

How can Mecosystem benefit form this analysis:

• Helped inform our decision about simplifying our graphical look and feel.

• Emphasis on the visual, rather than text. Instructions should be simple to follow if written at all. Play along tutorial rather than text screen in order not to break gameplay so much.

• Our Tech must be in tune with our design. Simple to use and exact with collision detection.

Afternoon Workshop Session: 18.11.11

With summative assessment coming up next week and also the Mozilla competition, we decide as a group that we should meet as much as possible to work on the final presentation. Rob and I set the goal of having the presentation slides finish and a rehearsal of the presentation done by Friday afternoon. This will mean that people will need to make all of their slides and written their speaking parts and bullet point prompts by that Friday lunch time. With this in mind, we agree to complete three additional workshop days to complete our work as a team. These days will be Wednesday 23rd (full day), Thursday 24th (Half day from lunch time with optional stay late if necessary) and Friday 25th (full day).

With this in mind and the weekend ahead, we divide up the sections that we need to cover in the presentation, look over what we have from formative and make sure that everyone has a dedicated part to research and improve on for the start of next week.

After some though and looking over the presentation, I get the sections on the business model, contextual analysis (game research) and why we are using html5 and impact gaming engine.

Formative Assessment: 28.10.11

After the formative session, the tutors give verbal feedback and I take notes so that we can better the presentation for summative. The main points are:

1. We could develop the virtual pet part of the game further.

2. Our critique that many popular games have little story line needs to be rethought. These games tend to have a minimal story line that is just enough to give the games context. Often the humour within the game is hung on this basic story line and therefore re-inforces the story in game. We need to develop our story further, present it well. how will this story bring the minigames together as one single product?

3. Two player gaming, were we going to develop this?

4. We could make the lobby / home area a shared online space where people can compare top scores ect. Do we want to develop this?

5. Need to present the incentives to keep playing better – do the animals still run away if you don’t come back and play the game?

We should aim to tighten up or clarify these area’s before next presentation.

Afternoon Workshop Session: 14.10.11

We all come together as a group and try to work on the narrative behind our story and research jungle based games so that we can start working out a graphics card. However, I only manage to find things that inform us about the kind of game we don’t want to make.

Old School: Mario Monkey Madness:

Pixie and The Jungle:

Afternoon Workshop Session: 07.10.11

05.10.11

I’ve been looking in to some games that could be applicable to our design process. Simple design but high engagement games:

A few little video’s to have a look at:

Doodle Jump

An Example of a physics game in html5:

30.09.11: Children’s Media, First Workshop

The group comes together and we start building on the idea of creating a children’s game with animal characters for IOS as we discussed last week. Nicky confirmed that lots of children have access to these platforms and is happy to present that at formative so we start pressing on with the narrative and concept world for the project.

30.09.11:Children’s Media Briefing

After the morning lecture and introduction to the brief, we come together in our groups and talk about possible themes / world concepts for our children’s game. Everyone talks about their favorite gaming experiences and immediately it’s obvious that animal characters feature heavily and the IOS is the preferred platform for consumption. I ask whether we think that children really have access to IOS and the group seems to think that children tend to have iPod touches, rather than iPads and iPhones. I mention that we should find some research to support that before we fault our project by excluding our potential target audience. Nicky says that she will investigate for next week.

 

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