mindful xp Video Postmortem

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A semester postmortem on the mindful xp project at the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon. Over the spring 2012 semester our project team developed 10 games with a focus on meaning and …

A semester postmortem on the mindful xp project at the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon. Over the spring 2012 semester our project team developed 10 games with a focus on meaning and expression.

In this presentation we discuss the origins of our project, the 10 games we developed, and what we learned from our experiences about creating meaningful, expressive games.

Visit our website at mindfulxp.com!

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  • Mike
  • Mike
  • Mike
  • -Meaningful games, games as through gameplay, then finally procedural rhetoric-The indie scene / meaningful games from everywhere-Evolution of games from emotional stage to “meaning”-Experimental Gameplay Project and the pressure of lots and lots of games
  • -Meaningful games, games as through gameplay, then finally procedural rhetoric-contemp. Rhetoric, Here, persuasion shifts from the simple achievement of desired ends to the effective arrangement of a work so as to create a desirable possibly space for interpretation. . . Success means effective expression, not necessarily effective influence." - Persuasive Games, Bogost-The indie scene / meaningful games from everywhere-Evolution of games from emotional stage to “meaning”-Experimental Gameplay Project and the pressure of lots and lots of games
  • -Meaningful games, games as through gameplay, then finally procedural rhetoric-contemp. Rhetoric, Here, persuasion shifts from the simple achievement of desired ends to the effective arrangement of a work so as to create a desirable possibly space for interpretation. . . Success means effective expression, not necessarily effective influence." - Persuasive Games, Bogost-The indie scene / meaningful games from everywhere-Evolution of games from emotional stage to “meaning”-Experimental Gameplay Project and the pressure of lots and lots of games
  • -Meaningful games, games as through gameplay, then finally procedural rhetoric-contemp. Rhetoric, Here, persuasion shifts from the simple achievement of desired ends to the effective arrangement of a work so as to create a desirable possibly space for interpretation. . . Success means effective expression, not necessarily effective influence." - Persuasive Games, Bogost-The indie scene / meaningful games from everywhere-Evolution of games from emotional stage to “meaning”-The cliché of the game that makes you cry-art games, notgames, frustration with the industry-Experimental Gameplay Project and the pressure of lots and lots of games
  • -Meaning, “we’ll know it when we see it”-Didn’t consider “what is meaning” or “what is meaningful” – cowardly, yep-Expectations were that we would learn weird tips, tricks, guidelines, principles, easily packaged nuggets of process to then share.-Thought we would have at least 1 awesome game
  • An odd categorization... games that are meaningful because:-The game itself has meaning-The players create a greater meaning for the game-The game is designed in a way that emergent player behavior will make the game meaningful
  • Felix-Heard about 5 buttons-Started last semester, planned to work on it during break. We jammed it into the project: had a design ready to go, testing pipeline, that’s why it’s round 0.-Started with constraints-The vagueness of “getting people to work together”.-Ralph’s mention of it as a social barometer-Reminders of the constraints of the project, new platform, naïve audience, public space-Even at this stage, we recognized a small power in the epiphany, the eureka moment. Something like the climax in a movie, a twist.-At this point though it felt like we were relying on a gimmick-Pretty successful, it worked at least. Reminder: no hardware to test on.
  • Felix-Started last semester, planned to work on it during break. We jammed it into the project: had a design ready to go, testing pipeline, that’s why it’s round 0.Motivation to create it, we all like the idea2. Concept formed, only needs execution - perfect for first round to see how far we can go3. It does have aspects of our project goals, to create a meaningful experience. We’re hoping that this game says something significant about awareness and cooperation - how competition only goes so far when you realize that working with one another can lead to far greener pastures. It’s not the most sophisticated message, but one that would be nice to be reminded about nonetheless.-Started with constraints-The vagueness of “getting people to work together”.-Ralph’s mention of it as a social barometer-Reminders of the constraints of the project, new platform, naïve audience, public space-Even at this stage, we recognized a small power in the epiphany, the eureka moment. Something like the climax in a movie, a twist.-At this point though it felt like we were relying on a gimmick-Pretty successful, it worked at least. Reminder: no hardware to test on.
  • Felix-Started last semester, planned to work on it during break. We jammed it into the project: had a design ready to go, testing pipeline, that’s why it’s round 0.-Started with constraints-The vagueness of “getting people to work together”.-Ralph’s mention of it as a social barometer-Reminders of the constraints of the project, new platform, naïve audience, public space-Even at this stage, we recognized a small power in the epiphany, the eureka moment. Something like the climax in a movie, a twist.-At this point though it felt like we were relying on a gimmick-Pretty successful, it worked at least. Reminder: no hardware to test on.
  • Felix-Started last semester, planned to work on it during break. We jammed it into the project: had a design ready to go, testing pipeline, that’s why it’s round 0.-Started with constraints-The vagueness of “getting people to work together”.-Ralph’s mention of it as a social barometer-Reminders of the constraints of the project, new platform, naïve audience, public space-Even at this stage, we recognized a small power in the epiphany, the eureka moment. Something like the climax in a movie, a twist.-At this point though it felt like we were relying on a gimmick-Pretty successful, it worked at least. Reminder: no hardware to test on.
  • Felix-Started last semester, planned to work on it during break. We jammed it into the project: had a design ready to go, testing pipeline, that’s why it’s round 0.-Started with constraints-The vagueness of “getting people to work together”.-Ralph’s mention of it as a social barometer-Reminders of the constraints of the project, new platform, naïve audience, public space-Even at this stage, we recognized a small power in the epiphany, the eureka moment. Something like the climax in a movie, a twist.-At this point though it felt like we were relying on a gimmick-Pretty successful, it worked at least. Reminder: no hardware to test on.
  • Felix-Started last semester, planned to work on it during break. We jammed it into the project: had a design ready to go, testing pipeline, that’s why it’s round 0.-Started with constraints-The vagueness of “getting people to work together”.-Ralph’s mention of it as a social barometer-Reminders of the constraints of the project, new platform, naïve audience, public space-Even at this stage, we recognized a small power in the epiphany, the eureka moment. Something like the climax in a movie, a twist.-At this point though it felt like we were relying on a gimmick-Pretty successful, it worked at least. Reminder: no hardware to test on.-To note: Communication problems when changing landscapes – dynamically changing it vs. just flashing the screen…
  • Felix
  • Mike-First real project we did.-Birth of the meaningful games framework-Comparisons to the marriage-How deep did the systems go?-Words vs. text, the crazy influence of words -The word hamburger-Importance of context-Connections was abstract, kind of universal, wanted to reach outside of it-Meaningful systems =/ meaningful games
  • Mike-Attempt to be more personal.-Design changed due to development, lost some of its emotional impact when it became more linear.-Content contentcontent-Putting it on hiatus – 2 weeks spread over a month and a half-Scripting vs. systems thinking in the wake of Scott Told Himself – connections vs. scott told himself
  • Dan-Scope issues in the wake, and getting caught up in the wrong things (emulation of Zelda)-Emulating games can be risky if you want to make a game as good as the original-Design doc was made, because of communications during Scott-Playing with genre expectations, conventions-Share design doc –felix can talk about it
  • Dan-1 and a half day game-exhaust from exhaustion-let’s choose one person’s idea and run with that-personally was a big success, happy we got it out, was a great morale booster, palate clenser-but no one got it.-
  • Dan-1 and a half day game-exhaust from exhaustion-let’s choose one person’s idea and run with that-personally was a big success, happy we got it out, was a great morale booster, palate clenser-but no one got it.-
  • Felix-Everything is changed-Important for our process exploration – would we do better alone than in our groups-Good Chance to take a personal story/view and turn it into a game-Collaboration is great, but…-Lack of directorial quality, because we didn’t want to be dicks to each other
  • Dan
  • Mike-Growing pains-Different prototypes-Difficulties in personal game-making
  • Felix-1. I break up with her2. I am content to rest on my laurels3. She gets into another relationship and I am left feeling empty.-Context of thoughtful FPSes – Dear Esther, Kairos, THAT-dys4ia, Rohrer’s -Spent like 4 weeks on that… the consequence of thinking “oh we can make 3 games in like 2 weeks so I can take my time on this”
  • Felix-1. I break up with her2. I am content to rest on my laurels3. She gets into another relationship and I am left feeling empty.-Context of thoughtful FPSes – Dear Esther, Kairos, THAT-dys4ia, Rohrer’s -Spent like 4 weeks on that… the consequence of thinking “oh we can make 3 games in like 2 weeks so I can take my time on this”
  • Felix-Wanted to make game about something I was thinking about incredibly frequently, something that I needed to get off my chest-When writing narration kept in mind the usual bland standard of most gamewriting, wanted it to be multi--1. I break up with her2. I am content to rest on my laurels3. She gets into another relationship and I am left feeling empty.-Spent like 4 weeks on that… the consequence of thinking “oh we can make 3 games in like 2 weeks so I can take my time on this”-
  • Felix-1. I break up with her2. I am content to rest on my laurels3. She gets into another relationship and I am left feeling empty.-Wanted to make game about something I was thinking about incredibly frequently, something that I needed to get off my chest-When writing narration kept in mind the usual bland standard of most gamewriting, wanted it -Self aware of game structure, narrative frame -Honest instead of biased, still subjective -An apology, the things never said-Spatial narrative-Handhold mechanic, warmth, take on Ico, subversion-Spent like 4 weeks on that… the consequence of thinking “oh we can make 3 games in like 2 weeks so I can take my time on this”-
  • -Spent like 4 weeks on that… the consequence of thinking “oh we can make 3 games in like 2 weeks so I can take my time on this”-
  • Felix-1. I break up with her2. I am content to rest on my laurels3. She gets into another relationship and I am left feeling empty.-Wanted to make game about something I was thinking about incredibly frequently, something that I needed to get off my chest-When writing narration kept in mind the usual bland standard of most gamewriting, wanted it -Self aware of game structure, narrative frame -Honest instead of biased, still subjective -An apology, the things never said-Spatial narrative-Handhold mechanic, warmth, take on Ico, subversion-Spent like 4 weeks on that… the consequence of thinking “oh we can make 3 games in like 2 weeks so I can take my time on this”-
  • Dan
  • Mike
  • Felix-We did a lot of talking and a lot of thinking-In the process we came up with a lot of shit-Here is a taste-Cray cray models, lots of talking.-Priming provocation reevaluation model-Composition of meaningful games-The pyramid-Fucking shite everything
  • MarriageSystemmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmwordconnectionsSysteeemmmmmmmmmwoooooooooooooordREALITY OVERARCH
  • Felix-We actually do need to talk about meaning, tackle a lot earlier. Too quick to jump the gun to games.-Fucking time limits, get rid of them or do less games-Really delve into research – Bogost, Nealen, Wilson, Crawford maybe go into others like Czyksenmihiyli, Homo Ludens, Marshall McLuhan-Get the opinions of other game creators – we did initial stuff for pitch but never followed up. Having that perspective would’ve really helped us out.-Work-life balance
  • Mike
  • -Doing more than one game, allows for some failures, get people to move on-Doing some games collaborative, some games individual
  • -Did a lot of different things, tried crazy shit all the time (different kinds of games)
  • -Moving on, being brisk-Great at failing-Rapid prototyping led to a lot of insight into the development process, just the normal development process
  • -Chose the right tools, Flash as a platform, keyboard mouse-Going into it, had the right mindset regarding practical matters of things, workload, etc.
  • Felix

Transcript

  • 1. MINDFUL EXPERIENCES POSTMORTEM PRESENTATION MICHAEL LEE DAN LIN FELIX PARK
  • 2. The Team• Felix Park DESIGNER/PRODUCER• Dan Lin ARTIST• Michael Lee PROGRAMMER• Jesse Schell Ralph Vituccio ADVISORS• SPECIAL THANKS FOR MUSIC Adam Lederer
  • 3. Outline• What is mindful xp?• Origins of mindful xp• Our games• Things we‟d do differently• Wrapping it up
  • 4. What is mindful xp?
  • 5. Our Project• A student pitch project• Rapid-prototyping meaningful games
  • 6. Our Results• 10 games released online• Website, blog, and posts (+6000 views)• +26,000 plays of all our games• +80 Twitter followers• And we learned a lot about developing games and meaning
  • 7. Origins of mindful xp
  • 8. Story and Gameplay• Games as medium – Storytelling – Aesthetics – Gameplay • Systems • Rules • Mechanics • Dynamics• “Procedural rhetoric”
  • 9. Meaningful Games to Us• Passage • Opera Omnia• Braid • Gravity Bone• The Marriage • Don‟t Look Back • The Graveyard • Ico • Shadow of the Colossus • Silent Hill 2 • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
  • 10. Other Influences• “A game that makes you cry”• Not-Serious Games• Artgames and Notgames/The State of the Industry• Experimental Gameplay Project
  • 11. At the Start• Make games meaningful using gameplay• Explore approaches to developing meaningful games• Discuss and document what we learned for other developers
  • 12. 1. introspection - Something meaningful should invite introspection, how you yourself are as a person after coming into contact with the meaningful media. Looking deep within oneself.2. reflection - Sort of along the same lines as introspection, it invites reflection, reflecting upon other things out in the world.3. poignancy - It should feel poignant, like something undiscovered anywhere else. It should be novel, the meaningful thing is something a person has never experienced before anywhere else.4. changing perspective/mindshift - It should change a person‟s perspective, either transplanting it or widening it - maybe even growing a person‟s empathy.5. from the heart, sincere - The work shouldn‟t be fake, it shouldn‟t be superficial. It has a profound depth to it only achievable from being from a very personal place, the feelings from making it should be “pure” in a sense.6. not gimmicky - Not just a one-trick pony. Sort of goes into the territory of not being superficial.1/8/12
  • 13. Our Games
  • 14. R-evolution
  • 15. R-evolution
  • 16. R-evolution
  • 17. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= Dyh8OKr1uwc
  • 18. Lessons • Make visuals clarify - abstraction • Moment of subversion • Avoiding games that need extensive feel or polish • Nailing down what exactly is the meaningful aspect of the game • Playtesting • Finishing up • Did we need the conceit?
  • 19. Connections• “Round 1”• Abstract/“The Marriage”-inspired• What went right: – System with a message – Using narrative as context• What went wrong: – Brainstorming
  • 20. Scott Told Himself• Building for the moment vs. for the system• What went right: – Going on hiatus – More personal… sorta• What went wrong: – Content overload – Development design changes
  • 21. The Path Taken
  • 22. The Path Taken• Experimenting with player‟s expectations of a Zelda game.• What went right: – Art – Game Feel – Design Ideas• What went wrong: – Content overload (again!) – Focusing: Initially mechanic wasn‟t clear – Player experience
  • 23. exhaust
  • 24. exhaust• Having the system express a simple idea• What went right: – Getting the game done (1.5 days!) – Playtesting• What went wrong: – No one got it
  • 25. INDIVIDUAL ROUND
  • 26. Emptiness
  • 27. Emptiness• Expressed a certain viewpoint of friendship• What went right: – Mechanics strengthened the central idea• What went wrong: – Not engaging – Really long
  • 28. Collect• Originally about childhood experience• Went through 3 different iterations• What went right: – Going through the process – Finding something to latch on to• What went wrong: – Jumping in without a design – “Too attached”
  • 29. MARCH“Built on the shoulders of giants”
  • 30. Korsakovia, thechineseroom Dear Esther, thechineseroom Gravitation, Jason RohrerTHAT, Axel Shokk
  • 31. MARCH• Demo
  • 32. MARCH• VERY personal game - background• Same impetus as writing – as expression• “Videogames for adolescent boys”• Spatial narrative• Handhold mechanic• “Moment of betrayal”• Theme of confusion – Spatial, visual, narrative
  • 33. a game that was how I felt
  • 34. Lessons• Build from personal experience• Build until you‟re personally satisfied
  • 35. Controlling• Ludum Dare Game: 48 hours, Tiny World• What went right: – Finished in time• What went wrong: – Weak mechanic – Platformer – Weak structure/setup
  • 36. Get Closer• Offshoot of failed LD48 game• What went right: – Rapid prototyping – The central mechanic• What went wrong: – Overreliance on narrative – Time to gestate
  • 37. Other Things• “Pyramid of meaning”• Categorical approach to meaningful games• Categories of subversion• Meaning-Design Delivery model• Priming-provocation-reevaluation model• The “Hamburger”• Game Meaning Advantages/Disadvantages
  • 38. “Pyramid of meaning”• Moments build from the System which builds from the Mindset/Framing (Frame of reference)
  • 39. Categorical approach to meaningful gamesScripted/System-basedMeaning through Gameplay/Meaning through NarrativeBroad Message or Idea/Targeted Message or IdeaBroad Game Types/Narrow Game TypesPersonal/Impersonal
  • 40. Categories of subversion• Direct vs. Indirect, the relationship of the mechanic to the meaning – Our „C‟ games are very direct, you are literally collecting, connecting, etc. – Indirect games require thought to get to the meaning through mechanic • exhaust requires thought on how letting go of a wheel is not directly connected to letting go of controlling your life
  • 41. Meaning-Design Delivery model expression meaning
  • 42. Priming-provocation-reevaluation model
  • 43. The Hamburger - or -The Narrative-LudologicalRatio for Representation
  • 44. Game Meaning Advantages/DisadvantagesWhat are the strengths of games?• People directly commit actions in a game – A person does not just reflect on a previous point of view, you reflect on your actual, real actions within the game• People have choice in games and have the chance to do and redo actions differently – Choice means the player‟s actions can be reflective and personal• People can engage in person-to-person interaction. – Example: Journey (and Way) are based entirely on this aspect of the medium, creating powerful shared experiences.• People can be fully immersed in the system and mechanics of the game – becoming less self-conscious and more willing to expose themselves. Their actions then may become more honest and open and will be more conducive to priming
  • 45. Game Meaning Advantages/DisadvantagesWhat are the weaknesses of games?• The game may not seem relevant to a person – Games can be more abstract or removed in settings and set-ups, the relevancy of the game to the player can often be ambiguous• A person can play a game in a way where meaning stages are not experienced ideally (non-linearity of games)• People can also get caught up in details and minutiae of the games systems and mechanics, losing a sense of the greater picture – Playing Braid, only interested in achievements and completion.• The interface of games can be so abstracted and disconnected from the actions, that a person can be drawn out of it – Flower tries to represent feel of grandiose freedom and movement of wind through its limited motion control interface, which can feel especially artificial
  • 46. What Would We Do Different?• Start with a stronger philosophical/motivational base• Get rid of time limits or make less games• Delve into research• Get other opinions• Work-life balance
  • 47. Cool Papers• Andy Nealen et al – “Towards Minimalist Game Design”• Ian Bogost – “How to Do Things with Videogames”, “Persuasive Games”• Douglas Wilson – “In Celebration of Low Process Intensity”• Jesse Schell – “The Art of Game Design”
  • 48. What We Did Right
  • 49. Structuring the Semester• Doing multiple games• Doing games collaboratively vs. individually• Doing variable development times
  • 50. Being Experimental• Trying different – Genres – Visual styles – Goals – Etc…
  • 51. Failing Quickly (and Often)• Used rapid prototyping principles well• Great at failing (and learning from failure)• Moving on
  • 52. Development Practices• Choosing the right tools – Flash/Flashpunk – Unity3D• Being prepared – Workload – Life schedule (sorta) – Motivation Thanks Chevy!
  • 53. Thank You!We are now open for questions