CS 491 Lab 3 – Prospectus

In this lab, you will work with your team and accomplish two things: draft a prospectus of your game and create a shared repository. Complete these two steps by October 6 to earn the first of 6 Blugolds available for your final project.

Prospectus

Games worth playing are games that have been designed. Before jumping into code, sit back and think about where you want that code to go. In one blog post for your team, compose thoughtful responses to the following five questions, which are drawn from the first few chapters of Jesse Schell’s The Art of Game Design. Discuss each question with your teammates. Your answers are subject to change.

  1. What is the experience that you wish your players to have?
    Larger than the game we design is the experience that our player has in playing it. What will your game do to your players? What thoughts do you want them to think? What feelings do you want them to hold? What features of your game will enable that experience? Hone in on what is essential to that experience. Schell describes an example of such honing in Wii Sports. Its designers wanted the baseball game to really feel like baseball, a task made easier by the Wiimote, which would let players really swing. This swinging was so essential that they decided to scrap everything else, like stealing bases, fielding, and so on. Is every aspect of your game contributing to this experience?
  2. What surprises will make your game feel alive? What parts will be fun?
    We saw that a game like War is not very fun. Its outcome is mostly predetermined. On the other hand, a game that gives players too much control turns into a sandbox environment instead of a game. A good game will balance control with surprises. What surprises will keep your players engaged and on their toes? Schell describes fun as “pleasure with surprises.” What parts of your game will be fun?
  3. What about my will make my players curious?
    Players ask their games to manipulate them, to make them care about what happens next. How will you draw your players in and motivate them to finish? Schell describes a game as “a problem-solving activity, approached with a playful attitude.” What problems will the player solve?
  4. What is of value to the player in my game?
    Collecting items to no end makes for a shallow gaming experience. Once the player realizes that gold stars aren’t worth anything, they’ll stop collecting them. How can make items or activities valuable to your players? Braid and The Witness designer Jonathan Blow says, “For me, I’m always trying to respect the player’s time, and give the player an experience that’s intrinsically valuable.”
  5. What story does your game tell? What mechanics let the user advance that story? What aesthetics will I use to reinforce the story?
    Within your game, what plot draws the characters through your game world? What holes do you punch in that plot that give the players a chance to inject their own actions? What will the art look like and how will it contribute to the experience you wish your players to have? Draw concept art for at least one screen of your game. Capture this digitally and include it in your blog post.

Repository

Create a repository on Bitbucket or GitHub and share it with your teammates and me. Feel free to leave the repository public so that you don’t run into the limits of these services’ free accounts.

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