Phase 4- Game Project Proposal: Enchanted Kin
Updated: May 5, 2019
(Best viewed on ISSSUU: https://issuu.com/sarahlouisepartington/docs/game_project_proposal__newspaper_cl)
This is our final GPP combining our semesters work and games design decisions. For concise findings see below:
My research looked at constant interaction and its concern within society. Within this initial research, I noticed a dependency on connectivity which led me to question, “Are we addicted to connectivity?” From this I gathered I wanted to make a game that gave families an opportunity to play together by utilising communal screen use.
I began looking at creative therapies, which refers to any form of therapy which require some degree of creation of expression such as dance, art or music. After looking at forms of therapies I started to direct research towards self-identity and how we define ourselves, nothing that parents heavily influenced a child's future strength of self-identity.
Enchanted Kin is collaborative family card game with a shared narrative goal by casting spells interactively using NFC cards. The interactive card game requires players to go through a narrative as a family of witches & wizards, at each stage casting a spell to go to the next narrative. Players then use devices such as tablets/ smartphones to reveal the outcome of the spell with an AR animation application.
Our target audience is families, this stems from problem of technological conflict family home. Within this audience we’ve focused in on 8-12-year-old chid. This audiences emerging interest in fantasy literature and media makes this game interesting to them. Where-as the parent is engaged as they can use it as an opportunity to decrease their child’s dependency on solo interactive experiences during family time.
The setup of the game creates a digital save file, players then deal out cards and the application instruct the players to start the narrative. This process differs when picking up a saved game, with the application informing each player of their previous hand. The physicality of this returning game play needs to be tested next semester.
The narrative consists of a detailed story wherein a family has to locate their missing dragon, noting individual quests via chapters, acting as an individual round in the game. The chapters set up the scenario for the one spell in that specific round, progressing the players through the narrative. By combining both gameplay and story time the parent/guardian is able to optimise and provide more concentrated quality time, which our research showed was important for busy parents.
The quest is set-out by the chapter-based narrative in ‘The Book of Secret Spells’. Each chapter acts as around, in which, prompted by the narrative, the family will have to ‘cast a spell’ between the ‘lead sorcerer’ and one other player. Within each chapter, the ‘lead sorcerer’ will play their favourite card, just like in the initial set-up. This card acts as the ‘known ingredient’ for the round. We developed these ideas throughout, evolving how certain roles were assigned. Further testing is required for revision of the specific ingredient values, and range, to test for any loopholes within the success sums.
The ’spell-casting’ takes place at the end of each chapter in ‘The Book of Secret Spells’. It's achieved by placing both ‘ingredient cards’ in the physical cauldron one after the other. The ‘mixing’ is achieved by identifying NFC tags on the ingredient card. The family is encouraged to play together through the dual gameplay, with each individual member having
opportunities to work with potentially every other player, developed by our research into reduction of familial conflicts. The engagement with the spell casting and the cauldron specifically families will be further explored, looking at optimising intuitive use of the 3D object.
The outcome of the spell will be displayed via an AR smoke animation on the application. Within this we have a 3-tier system: ultimate success, success and failure. Through playtesting we found that figures of +/- 1 and figures greater and less than +/-2 as a success system were a good scale; with the association of the other players ingredient cards scale, in order for players to identify a pattern and keep players engaged with a short gameplay per chapter. Development of the ultimate success in terms of players individual incentive in gameplay is needed next semester.
The narrative we took forward after multiple iterations is as follows; a dragon’s missing, and the family have to find it. Within the narrative, I envisioned that after finding out the dragon is missing, the protagonists (in this case the players) must unravel clues to reveal the location of an evil force which has stolen the dragon. The evil force then uses mind control on the poor dragon, forcing the family to save him. We were influenced to include a mature narrative dealing with loss, evil and loss of control based on an interview with a boy from our target audience (8-12) where he suggested more mature subjects as well as research into books popular with the same target market which showed they explored similar complex concepts. In future iterations, there will be a heavier focus on the literally plot points which make up our chapter rounds.
We looked at a variety of games to understand the context of our game, these ranged from board games, card games, AR games and mobile games. Beasts of Balance was most similar in its use of technology as a digital-hybrid game. However, our game utilises the interactivity progressing our gameplay beyond the outcome, also applying additional AR interaction.
Within target audience
To test out the concept and out initial mechanics I constructed a playtest with an 11-year-old (F) and a 49-year-old, his mother (K). F engaged well with the wizarding in themes and the idea of a story-based game. We developed our game further post play based on K’s worry that parents won’t play a game without a winner or loser by implementing magic points to determine a winner at the end. Further play tests will be conducted with the same participants to see how they respond to changes.
We also tested out the interaction between the physical and digital technology in terms of gameplay flow. With simulated pass-fail scenarios, with the testers casting the spell in the cauldron and proceeding to see the success via an application. The play testers found that the flow between the spell and application result to be timely and easy. The AR object detection did prove difficult. Development of this will include testing use of multiple model object trackers to target all angles and perspectives.
As of now we have 6 illustrated designs to be imposed over future card designs, with aims for total of 21 fully drawn up. We have a simple 3D printed cauldron which will be developed further looking at surface textures, size and general tactility. Additionally, for the AR animations each level of success has a differing smoke animation. The colours for these and the forms they take will be further explored and experimented with.
We decided to have a heavy emphasis on highly illustrative and pretty looking drawings which match up with the name of the card, providing strong visuals for our target market of 8-12-year old’s while still allowing adults to appreciate the decretive qualities. Influenced by the 4th edition of the alchemical tarot, which i researched because of its link to witches, wizards and mysticism. I implemented a line-based style in which everything from shape, texture and brightness is inferred through the use of black and line. In a playtest interview with an 11-year-old he stated that visuals acted as a point of engagement during the game and influenced which card he played, having a few favourites he was excited to play.
We utilised bold colours for gradients, applying them to our background with brush strokes to highlight the card name’s purpose. This was applied in a watercolour effect, contrasting against the black lines of the illustration. Looking at other card games, the Beasts of Balance battle expansion cards provided great inspiration that directly appeals to our target market with its use of colour. Future developments are going to be made in the background designs exploring both digital and physical artistic methods.
We decided to experiment with type and font as our game is narrative driven, leading to experimenting with a bold typeface with lots of rotation. it reminded us a lot of contemporary games and by applied an outer glow it demonstrated that magical theme. To take this forward we need to look at some common forms to see if we can create an image-based logo that would be appropriate for the application.
The user experience is important due to gameplay going between physical and digital. For this reason, the application serves one purpose as only a visualiser of the success outcome.
The user interface was influenced by the evolving gradient and duo-tone UI trends. These were applied in many layers to add depth and hierarchy. Further wireframes need to be made for the application, along with further development of the colour scheme application to the backgrounds.
The project will utilise 3D printing to create the physical cauldron asset. The use of which was directly influenced by the goal of combining physical and digital gameplay together to promote clever usage of screen while including real world engagement. The next stage of development will have us taking an artist approach to the textures and designs on the object.
Use of NFC chips was inspired by looking at the game beasts of Balance. They have been used in the realm of games to communicate object data to a digital scene and have proved quite popular amongst children. The technology needs to be further tested to make sure its fool proof.
The results of our spells are portrayed through augmented reality. This digital integration was chosen as it utilises the physical and digital realm. The AR is imperative to the game as
it physical revels the outcome of the spell and brings the magic to life. Work to be done here includes the positioning in relation to the model and experimenting of form, density and colour of smoke.