Phase 4- Week 10: End of week review
Updated: May 5, 2019
Survey results and influences
Following on from last week, justifying the need for family play, we have looked at our survey results that we opened in week 5. The survey had a selective volume of responses, which was due to limited advertisement and sharing. We can resolve this next semester by ensuring that our ERGO ethics form is completed before we release. This survey looked at the nature of play in families. Parents explained that they enjoy playing with their child as its opportunity to connect and interact with them. From this and the play research we conducted (specifically Can Video Games Promote Intergenerational Play & Literacy Learning?) it further demonstrates to us that we need to engage the child, as the parent is engaged with them and its the child that is engaged with the game.
By looking at the child's survey we've noticed that their appeal in their favourite games emerges from 2 areas, aesthetic appeal and connected interest. The favourite game examples given were Fortnite and FIFA. The child's football interest sparks the connected interest of FIFA. By looking at the emerging literary interest of 8-12-year olds and the fantasy genre, it tells me that they would be interested in playing a game about witches and magic as it would be a connected interest. Fortnite and Fifa in particular have aesthetic interest for the 8-12-year-old child, who comes to expect realistic or bold graphics.
This led me into looking at the style of games our target market are playing and what kind of style is they are attracted to. I found that the most popular games for this age group tended to have bright contrasting colours. This has made me think about how were going to apply colour to the game. I spoke to Rubi as this is conflicting with the visual experiments she had made. Some of her experiments looking at Lauren Child and Jessie Wilcox Smith, were too mature looking and that could be down to the application of colour. We discussed how applying a bright colour scheme of varying colours could really engage our audience. This led to me coming up with a concept colour palette that we can apply to our design to see if colour can work as an influencer to our audience. This may not work, however it can always be adapted.
As well as this the child's survey identified that play within families tends to lean towards more physical games such as the Wii or tactical games like boardgames. We feel that this is leaning towards the game utilising the technology to highlight the tactility. We thought about how the application was working and as a narrative, task outline and success display it was very disjointed. It would have required the player to be going from device to card back to device, which didn't help the gameplay. We therefore started to think about the essential purposes of each item. The ingredient cards are the main artefact of the gameplay, this as a physical item was essential. Along with this was the physical cauldron, as this is the unique tactility element of the game, which has been developed by the child's survey results. The AR animation is the digital result of the tactility element. This adds to the experience as a whole, bringing the magic alive. The purpose of this AR is to demonstrate the outcome of the spell, it is a visual outcome and aids the imagination of the player. This left the application narrative, the remaining card types and the witches hat badges.
The application narrative's purpose was to display the story. Upon reflection me and Rubi failed to see its advantage of being on screen, there was no benefit to visualisation of the story. We decided that integrating this back into the physical book of 'The Book Of Secret Spells' was much more efficient. This was a factor effecting the flow of gameplay. By having the narrative in the physical book, like the paper prototype, it gives further purpose to the role of lead witch, with them dictating from the book as well as further tactility. This means that the tasks can be written into the narrative and the book act as rule book also.
The purpose of the lead witch and spell cards is to inform the player. The first selects a player for the first round and the later dictates the specific combination figure for each round. During play testing our paper prototype, these cards were the ones that consumed the most time. The lead witch card was a mechanic that only played in the first round. We figured that this could be solved with the classic, highest roll of die wins (becoming the lead witch) With the spell cards, players felt like it was another card to remember the function of and even then it only applied to one player per round. The mechanic also had an issue, it required mathematical addition by the player. This did not prove popular with players. We therefore need to change this mechanic and a solution to this is to automate the process. This could be achieved by the app acting as the spell card. No one would have to 'hold the spell secret' it could simply tell the players the spell type. Then when players play their ingredient card in the physical cauldron, the app could simply apply the corresponding combination value and compare with the data of the NFC ingredient cards to determine the success of a spell.
The purpose of the witch hat badges was to add additional benefits to gameplay for above par and below par performance. In hindsight we believe that the naming of 'silly witch' hat was not a good idea. It was almost like naming a player a dunce and had the worry of the game provoking conflict among players. For this reasons we think that the we think we need to review the success system.
This in form, reformed the game. The gameplay now involves: Having the game narrative and introduction of each task read from the book. The application then tells players who is the lead witch, with them placing their card of choice into the cauldron. The player then mixes a spell in the cauldron by putting in their ingredient card. That player then see's the result of the spell by holding the phone up to the cauldron with an AR animated coloured smoke on the application. This still needs some more refining but we think that this has improved the playability of the game. To help explain these changes I should look at reviewing the name of each mechanic.
As well as the changing of technology application, we have started to consider how we name the gameplay elements, to ensure that the game is understood.
As the topic for the project was not about witches or wizards we have found the creation and design sections a bit more difficult. To further our understanding we looked at some reference books to better understand how we can apply the theme. I looked at 'Wizardology: A Guide to Wizards of the World' and Rubi looked at 'Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow' to aid her narrative research. I found that the book had refined fine line drawings which is a style I think that could aid our ingredient assets. Of particular note was the use of vocabulary and syntax. It demonstrated how names of ingredients had a rhythm and a form, "the ____ of a ____". This adds to the fantasy feel of the book and is something that we decided to implement for the names of our ingredient cards. This involved us creating a list of 20 ideas for names of cards using the wizard style syntax where appropriate.
After looking at the wizard book, I was trying to understand how we would apply the type to the project. We discussed wanting to make something that looks contemporary, bright and bold as this something our target audience is attracted to. However the research from the reference book, demonstrated that the the magic style is the opposite of this. It reflects an older style with disturbed serif typefaces and washed out colours. I then at looked MinaLima who marry these two features. They used faded colours with bold type with lots of blank space. It created a look that was contemporary but still felt like it had a history. I played about with this type of style with a condensed typeface to consider for the ingredient cards. However the concept was not right for the project. The focus needs to be on the illustrations as the visuals draw in our audience. Therefore the typeface needs to work around the image. As well as this the areas of black space are likely to be difficult with quantity of information we need to contain on a card.
(I ended up using this style for focused quotes/illustrations in the GPP and my blog, due to it's ability to draw focus )
In order to focus in on the child's interest I looked at the logos used in popular video games to inform the a concept for our games logo. These used broader typefaces with lots of layers of colour to add depth which is a contrast of the flat style of MinaLima. These typefaces were also sans-serif and featured varying accents to note the feel of their game. I then went on to experimented simply with our games name 'Family Magic' (*working title*) in various accented serif & sans-serif typefaces to understand what was needed from the typeface.
Looking over the typefaces, it is clear that the 'Family Magic' in 'lost' and 'poison ivy' looks too young for our target audience. We've looked over the typefaces and decided that in order to pick the typeface for our logo we need to make sure the game name is right first. Otherwise we're worried it won't work with the glyphs that we will use.
In order to have a physical object cauldron we will need to use 3D printing. We have decided that we will use the 3D model that I created in Cinema 4D from last weeks presentation. In order to do this I exported it to an STL file so it can be opened in the 3D printing software. We were preparing to do this Tuesday, when we found out that the 3D printing software, 'UP 3D', had been removed from the universities computers. This has been really frustrating as we would like to use this in order to develop the AR experience. Instead we will 3D print next week.
Friday started off with the initial planning for our degree show. By the end of the day we needed to come up with a name/tag. As a class we came up with some keywords to sum our work. These formulated across words such as arcade, technology, create, form, process and colour. We also considered that, from our trip to V&A yesterday, use of standalone words can easily be confused, muddled and therefor forgotten and maybe a phrase would serve us better. As well as this we reflected on previous degree show titles and how the use of an acronym, i.e. WSA, means nothing without previous context. We also considered the use of data numbers (i.e. no. of students, no. of projects) however using these can be hard to remember. A word we toyed around with quite a lot was "poly", and using the poly as a prefix/suffix. This gave us a new problem to avoid: appropriateness. Some words and word pairings are highly inappropriate because of their connotations (e.g. "poly-play") which could hinder our purpose. We think that to show the contrast of the course, using art/programming related keywords to sum us up could also work. It was expressed that the rhythm/flow of the title/tag was really important, does it roll of the tongue?
Myself and Josh took on the task of taking some of this initial ideas, experimenting and proposing back to the class. I looked at some of the problems we encountered as a group and created a sort of criteria to consider which of our ideas we would present back to the group.
The ideas that had some sort of viability initially were:
colour my code
imagine new lands
load the world(s)
play to change
This led us to coming up with some synonyms for words in these phrases and created a long list of words to play about with. We also came up with some more generic game keywords to see if they could be more appropriate (i.e. level, pause, life/lives, arcade, duel).
In addition to presence online we looked at the overall look of the glyphs together to see whether the phrase was readable and obvious to the audience. This established that one of our ideas "wondering realms" looked awful as #wonderingrealms. This eliminated this choice for us. The key findings of our ideas in terms of online presence was that it was suitable if it was not a reoccurring tag, has a community following or alternative connotations (i.e. play for change - a social music tag) .
We decided our final list to present to the class for voting and reviewing was:
code and create
arcade in progress
play for change/ load for change
game changes us
Another idea we played with was "arcade alliance", a team/studio wide branding of ourselves which could utilise a different tag.
General consensus was #checkpointsaved as it highlights our coming to an end/ a significant point. It can also be used throughout our projects on social media to document significant progress or process.
At the end of this week we have pulled focus to researching NFC (Near Field Communication) technology in depth and what components we would need to use to create our game. It has taken us some time to understand as our research points into NFC; it kept leading us back to a two point system of communication, physical NFC tags and phone NFC readers. Our game idea revolves around a middle point between so that interaction can take place through tactile input. We needed to find out the term for this, in simple terms this was a reader. By looking through some youtube videos I was able to identify that NFC readers could be attached to an Arduino to scan/read and write data to/from NFC tags. This attachment is known as a NFC shield.
This would partially answer our search for a "middle point" and I now need to figure out how we can get this data from the Arudino/PC to Unity and therefore viably for a phone. I have found a plugin for Unity called Uduino which simplifies the communication between an Arduino and Unity. Over the coming week I plan to experiment with an Arduino, purchasing a NFC shield and tags to test its capabilities of scan/reading and writing and potentially its connection to Unity with Uduino.
In todays tutorial with Adam we discussed the GPP. Myself and Rubi have discussed how we would like GPP to highlight the tactile-digital input and have decided that we will link the GPP via QR codes to supporting blogs with our research and prototypes. Last week discussed the potential of creating a publication that highlights our design decisions. We have adapted this a little and I suggested using 'Newspaper Club'. This would see us create a broadsheet publication. I think this would be a good idea as I think we need to work on refining and communicating the game. By having a large publication we will have room to delve into specifics but can have areas with large statement overviews. In regards to its content, Adam specified that it needs evidence that people want to play this game, we can show this through the initial research, the survey and competitor analysis. Our game is very much about people and audience which needs to be noted. We need to prove that the game is justified with the play tests and surveys. We should also link research that shows that the game could work.
Overall this week has been very productive, we have managed to refine the game and we are looking at continuing this next week. Next week I plan to delve further into the technology by working with an NFC shield, reading and writing tags. The most important thing for me to do now is to define our game simply as I believe that we are still having trouble with the communication of what the game is and what the game isn't. I can achieve this by aiming to write a sentence overview and a paragraph explaining the gameplay.