Staying Alive; Ozzie Killers
Last week, we pitched our card game ‘Staying Alive: Ozzie Killers’, a game where the main objective is to simply, stay alive. Here’s how we developed our game concept, from the brainstorming process to pitching our final prototype…
After playing some games together in class we discussed which aspects of each game we each found the most enjoyable. One card game in particular, Sushi Go, was a clear favourite. The simplicity of this game made it easy for all of us to quickly learn and play together, something we all valued and wanted to replicate in our own game.
We discussed what sort of game we wanted to create, and a simple card game was the common answer among the group. None of us had a whole lot of experience with playing board games, but of the games we had played, majority involved cards and a simple game concept that was easy to just pick up and play.
When it came to our concept, we wanted to choose a theme relevant to everyone in the group, and also appealing to a wider audience. It was a unanimous decision to pick a theme that mirrored the real world, as this would make the game easier for players to understand.
Australian Animals are something we are all familiar with, and made for a compelling game theme. As some are obviously more dangerous than others, this offered an intuitive approach to the game rules, where some animals would be a higher threat to your safety. In the Board Game Business podcast, episode #78, ‘Reasons to Theme Your Prototype’, it’s explained that themes make it easier for players to learn your game, it drives cohesion, direction and rules comprehension.
Once we had picked a theme and game type, we then discussed game mechanics, the rules by which gameplay is enacted (Sicart, 2008). We were mindful of the synthesis of our games mechanics and the narrative we were exploring, as our game told the story of staying alive when faced with deadly animals, we wanted the rules of the game to communicate this idea.
This was probably the most challenging aspect of the game design experience. With little experience on our side, trying to make the game flow and get players to interact with each other and the game components was particularly difficult.
We used whiteboard cards to test our idea, this was the most effective method for us to make quick changes when something wasn’t working. As we were working with cards, we were mindful of the flow of our game being integral to its success, this process involved a lot of iteration. The actions of each players turn was the key to get the game moving and something that we struggled to get right. I think we were trying to add too many elements to the game mechanics, which made it difficult to not only understand, but overcomplicated the flow of gameplay.
Once we were happy with our game rules & theme, we then prototyped our playing cards. Laura made some mock ups of our cards through canva which turned out really great and embodied the fun & simple concept we had envisioned.
It was then time to pitch our game. We used a collaborative google document to compile each of our contributions to the research and presentation. This allowed us to give each other feedback and make any adjustments that were needed along the way.
Division of Labour & My Role in the Game Design Process…
After pitching our game, we were given feedback based on the marking criteria. We noticed the criteria we had been working from was different to the one we were then graded against, this definitely impacted our final presentation and was something that could have enhanced our grade had we known which criteria would be used.
It was noted that we failed to include the Three-Act Structure in our presentation, a method for examining player’s stories of gameplay in terms of those stories’ beginnings, middles and ends (Tidball, 2011). This element could have easily enhanced our pitch; however, we were unaware it needed to be included. It was also mentioned that our game mechanics were lost in our video, and hard to comprehend.
The final point to note regarding our feedback was that the video itself lacked coherence, the voice overs didn’t match the slides being shown. Working in a large group, this was an obvious challenge that, in hindsight, could have been improved had we all edited the final video as opposed to just one group member which we intended to do but didn’t have enough time for in the end.
Overall, we successfully pitched a game prototype that we were all happy with. Our group worked really well together, and found the experience especially rewarding considering our lack of expertise in the game designing industry.
Sicart, M, 2008, ‘Defining Game Mechanics’, The International Journal of Computer Game Research, vol. 8, no. 2.
Tidball, J 2011, ‘Three-Act Structure Just Like God and Aristotle Intended’, The Kobold Guide to Board Game desiGn edited by mike selinker, Open Design,Kirkland pp 11 – 19.