Making a Game Part 1a: Identifying the Problem

For the lack of a name for the game (whatever game that I will end up making), I’ll just title these series of posts: “Making a Game”.

Okay, making a game sounds easier than it looks. Oh wait, actually it doesn’t sound easy either. Anyway…

First of all, what is the game even going to be?

When designing games, consider the Triforce. The Triforce is: Core Mechanics, Interactivity, and Narrative and Storytelling.

So instead of just randomly grabbing an idea from the air to come up with the Triforce, I will try to use the Process of Design to come up with something.

So what is the Process of Design?

It is:

Problem -> Research -> Synthesis -> Refinement

First up:

Problem– What is the task at hand? Ensure that you detail every detail about the problem, and take nothing for granted. It is an iterative process, so it’s also important to bear in mind, that as the project evolves, new problems may emerge. This is where you list all the parameters to help you design your game.

So let’s identify some problems.

For this game that I am making:

  • First of all, what exactly do I need to make? Since I am making it in the remit of this academia, it comes with certain parameters. Whatever I am making needs to fall under the remit of “Game” or “Interactive Entertainment”.
  • If I can only make a “Game”, then perhaps I need to go and try to define what exactly is a game. For example, “Dear Esther”, is that a game or is that just a narrative driven walking simulator.
  • But since, I can also make an “Interactive Entertainment” piece, then that loosens the reins a bit (I think). Although, the key word being interactive, how much interaction actually is required?
  • “Sailor’s Dream” has been described as a toy. But what exactly does that mean? Because it lacks interaction? Rather it lacks interaction that drives different choices and outcomes?
  • Can it be an interactive story book, like “Alice in Wonderland” on the iPad, which simply includes some interactive and animated elements to supplement the story.
  • Also how much control does the player have to drive or deviate from the story?
  • I want to explore narrative and evoking emotions through games or interactive entertainment. But how do I go about doing that?
  • If it is a narrative driven piece, I hark back to question 5, how much control? Also do you simply give the player an illusion of control? Like the stories in “Choices”.
  • When it comes to storytelling, is it better to simply use branching? Or are there other ways?
  • Maybe user modeling? The story and the information evolves based on what the player already experienced in the game? Or possibly also in real life?
  • How can we know more about the player’s real life? Perhaps through linking of their Social Media accounts and the information they had shared?
  • How much of their real life should be included in the game? And would it break the immersion?
  • Do I want to focus more on those elements? Or do I want to focus and simply telling one story?
  • If so, what story should I be telling? What emotion do I want to be evoking? Perhaps something like “That Dragon, Cancer”?
  • I know I want to do something about mental health awareness and depression. But how do I go about presenting this?
  • I want to be able to “show not tell”. How do I convey a message or a story without words? Perhaps like the BAFTA Best in Narrative game, “Alone”?
  • Why do I want to tell this story or why did I think it’s a good idea to explore a topic that’s so personal?
  • What is my purpose of telling this? One is to raise awareness. Two is… Maybe I want to use this to be able to express and talk about my feelings. Maybe this is my cry for help.

Do I continue down this rabbit hole and keep identifying problems (and start breaking down and cry or whatever)? Or do I stop for a while, move on to the next step.

Coming up next, Research (also known as playing games).

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