Nat Marco Designer and Co-Founder of Honeyslug. Pre-Honeyslug I was a Designer at Morpheme Game Studios, a satellite studi...
@whenDoWeEat
@whenDoWeEat
@whenDoWeEat
Studied animation at Uni – specialising in Claymation. Work experience at Morpheme Wireless. Try thinking outside the box!...
@whenDoWeEat
About Honeyslug 3 full time employees (design, code, production, QA).. .. plus freelance artists (both visual and audio). ...
(Show Honeyslug Showreel here.) @whenDoWeEat
 
You’re a designer?  So…you do the art? In a small studio – roles merge. A lot of the tasks are shared by all 3 of us. Expe...
@whenDoWeEat
 
 
Ideas Paper Design vs Flash Prototyping Brainstorm Collaboration Let ideas evolve over time Re-visit/re-hash old (discarde...
@whenDoWeEat
@whenDoWeEat
@whenDoWeEat
Work Flow No set work flow! Initial Idea/Work for Hire Flesh Out Idea/Flash Prototype Self Fund?  Publisher? Costs! Who sh...
@whenDoWeEat
@whenDoWeEat
Design Principles Fun! Accessible Keep things simple! Surprise the player Reward rather than punish Be open to whimsy Don’...
@whenDoWeEat
@whenDoWeEat
@whenDoWeEat
http://brutallyunfairtactics.com/
Thanks! @whenDoWeEat
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You're a designer? So...You do the art? (NUCA game design talk)

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This is a talk I gave to some games and animation students at Norwich University College of the Arts. I spoke about my background, Honeyslug and my views on game design. I also mentioned my recent visit to GDC. Most of the slides don't have any text on them...so if you want to know what I was talking about - just ask!

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  • Hello!
  • I’ve always loved games! Some of my favourite childhood games – too many to fit on 1 slide! My parents are gamers too – so I was never discouraged. Continue to love them – not only console, but board games and card games too! (More about that later.) I spent a lot of time making board games out of old cereal boxes, my own top trumps, various card games of my own etc.
  • I fell in love with claymation – I wanted to work with plasticine – either for kids tv or games. Once I’d played The Neverhood my dream was to make a clay game too! The visuals and sound in that game are amazing – Terry Taylor is a genius!
  • Whilst at school I decided to start a Web Comic – Jaded Chaos. This was before web comics were really the ‘in thing’ – It was around the time Penny Arcade started so actually had a fairly good following as there weren’t many around! Started in ms Paint – moved to flash – then Plasticine! 3 strips a week (one on a Magna Doodle) – as far as I know it was the only plasticine webcomic – and only magna doodle one! Made some animations, interactive things and flash games for the site too – still online ( www.jadechaos.com ) ….Loved making interactive stuff/games/animations the most!
  • After school – I did a degree in animation – specialising in claymation. Part of my course was to get work exp – tried the usual method of emailing/calling companies – got no where – Searched for game devs/animators on icq – found one – chatted to them for a while– asked for work exp. I worked and I went to Morpheme Wireless for a week! I then worked there on days off uni – got a job there after my course!
  • I started as junior designer/tester on mobile games – then became designer. Morpheme changed from mobile studio to casual/flash games. Eidos bought us – made us redundant – we carried on coming into work and formed Honeyslug.
  • Developed games for windows in C++., flash, iPhone/iPad, PSP/PSN. Currently working on a couple of funded games for diff platforms, prototypes and self funded titles – spend a lot of time pitching/writing pitches etc. We’d like to keep making more interesting games – for PSN, XBLA, Steam etc.
  • A few of our released games as Honeyslug.
  • You can probably see a link between Kahoots and my early work! I didn't have to stop doing what I love.
  • I’m always asked this question! My roles include things like concept design/ideas, design docs/pitches, pitching, concept sketches, character design, script/story writing, level/feature/puzzle/GUI design, scripting in lua and xml, art, animation, managing coders/artists. Biz dev, project management, marketing/PR, testing and SFX. Because there's only 3 of us our roles merge.
  • We wouldn’t necessarily do all those tasks in one game – e.g. I might do level/feature design for one of Ricky’s concepts – but sometimes we do! In Happily Ever After I was responsible for almost every aspect of the game. Love fairy tales (Grimms, Fforde’s fairy crime books, Rankin’s Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, The 10 th Kingdom etc) – wanted to make a fairy tale adventure – I’ll briefly talk about making this game here. Mention never touching code before but being thrown in the deep end with HEA – learning lua coding and XML. Talk about Ren'Py and Python as great ways for beginners to start.
  • It’s awesome to be able to make whatever you want (within reason!). Working in a small studio means I get to come up with silly ideas like this!
  • And this! I was lucky enough to be given freedom by the publisher!
  • No wrong or right here. People like to work in different ways – I love working on paper – goes with the handmade/traditional approach. Ricky doesn’t – he works straight into flash and stumbles onto ideas through coding a lot. I tend to plan things out on paper/ see if it feels fun (often make paper cut outs of puzzles etc – draw levels and play them in my head before making anything. Brainstorm for ways to expand sparks of ideas – keep a notepad with you at all times – incase you’re inspired (especially one by the bed for dreams!). Collaboration – working with other people often produces great ideas – bounce off each other – see things from a direction. Sometimes ideas take time – let your subconscious work on them whilst you do something else. Hohokum has a process like this. Go back to old un-used ideas steal things that might work in a different idea – combine to create new things. Be inspired by anything not just other comp games– play all sorts of games – boardgames, card games etc – tv, movies, books , history – everywhere! Try designing board games/card games too – tons of fun and might help you come up with a comp game idea!
  • Some of my paper designs. Some levels for Kahoots and puzzles for Happily Ever After along with some Kahoots character sketches.
  • Flash Prototypes – Ricky will often have an idea – then spend a couple of days making a flash prototype. He’ll then come to me to flesh out the ideas – e.g. features, levels etc. Rather than taking a design doc to a publisher – we’ll often pitch with a flash demo instead! These games are inspired by things other than other computer games – e.g. extreme trawler tv shows and scratch cards!
  • In Hohokum – Ricky and Dick let there ideas for the game evolve over a few years…they’ve taken ideas from earlier versions and mixed them up to get the current (final) version of the game. I’ll talk about this process here.
  • This totally varies from project to project. One of us will come up with an idea (own IP)– or a company will approach us with an idea either our IP or theirs. Flesh this out for pitching – either sketches/mock up screen shots and a design doc – or a flash prototype. If our own idea – do we pitch it to publishers/tv companies/advertising agencies or do we self fund? Work out costs. Establish the team – which of us will work on it – what contractors do we need to hire? Make the game (not much time to go into detail here). Consider focus testing throughout the project – really useful. Then marketing – attempt to create a buzz as early as possible – even a few years ahead – e.g. hohokum. Use social networks - Twitter/Fb/Blog – all very useful – reviews and interviews – magazines.
  • Kahoots work flow as an example…Ricky’s Prototype, paper feature/level design, level builder/make levels, character design, modelling, animating, buying bits, scanning, pegbeast, blocks, putting new art in game, in-game doodles, writing poems/songs/recording songs, poloroids – taking the kahoot around london – real model – so why not use it!
  • Final flash game – went on G5 etc. Sony saw it – wanted it for PSP – PSP/PSN version. Pocker gamer award – promo picnic, PS HOME posters, nominations, magazine reviews. Develop talk. iPhone version, more promo stuff – music vid with Tootleg Boy, new website, promo games made with work exp students. FB adverts, spamming review sites etc.
  • Games should be fun! If something doesn’t feel fun – or it’s annoying – get rid of it! Keep things accessible – we often have 2 routes round a level – easy way to complete it so everyone can play – harder way round with collectable/increased score etc. We often have all the levels unlocked – if you get stuck – it doesn’t matter – just go to the next one. A bit more like a book – you can skip ahead if you want…You pay for the game – so you can decide how you want to play it. HEA – has hints and different routes round – so if stuck – skip the level. This doesn’t mean difficulty curve isn’t important – it really is! Try to ease players into a game – remember, it’s good to have an easier level amongst tough ones as a bit of light relief! introduce things at a good pace – try to keep players on their toes and surprise them with new features – don’t let them get bored. Keep things simple – simple controls, simple GUI (no viva pinata disasters!). Try to minimise the need for long boring tutorials and instructions – no one reads those anyway! Easy for anyone to pick up and play – multiple control systems are good as people like to play in different ways. Don’t punish the player – unless you’re making an old school JRPG (but even I find that annoying!) – reward instead! Be open to whimsy – sometimes the ideas you think up on the spot are best – don’t worry if they don’t make sense – go with it and see what happens! Don’t fall in love with your ideas – be prepared to change it if something isn’t working. Remember – it’s a game – let the players play! Hohokum has Hoon Zones for messing around – incorporate areas for messing around! E.g. kahoots messing around spelling things with the alphablocks.
  • GDC was awesome – so cool to be nominated for an IGF award. Went to a couple of talks – my fav was Stone Librande’s talk about board and card games he makes for his family every Christmas. Also went to a great one about what comp games can learn from CCGS. Working on the stand is great fun but very tiring! Meet lots of interesting people – esp other indie developers. Some very cool games in the IGF – annoyingly next to spy party – it’s a great game but the screaming got very annoying! On the other side was super crate box – it’s amazing – play it! Played B.U.T.T.O.N a lot! Some interesting art games like Cat in the Coup. Giant pixel wall – made a Kahoot before it was turned into a GDC logo… Photo of me in a super cool Minecraft head – sad news is I no longer have it – the Chambermaid took it out the room – she either thought it was rubbish, or she's a Minecraft fan too?
  • The IGF award ceremony was awesome – never been to one before so exciting! Mega64 made some very funny videos – one even featured Hohokum! I stood on a screaming Monkey Toy when sneaking out for food during the ceremony! Ooops!
  • Went to a Killscreen Scandinavian games party – in a warehouse in San Fran! Played B.u.t.t.o.n – on button robots!! Also played Monkey See Monkey Mime! Speak about CphGC ethos here.
  • What’s Hot? I love B.U.T.T.O.N! If you haven’t played it – get it now!! The Copenhagen Game Collective are awesome! The Danish Game is very cool too – it’s a clapping game we all played it a lot at GDC! Personally – I always think MTG is hot!! Although Dixit seems to be hot right now too!
  • You're a designer? So...You do the art? (NUCA game design talk)

    1. 1. Nat Marco Designer and Co-Founder of Honeyslug. Pre-Honeyslug I was a Designer at Morpheme Game Studios, a satellite studio of Eidos Interactive. [email_address] @whenDoWeEat www.honeyslug.com @whenDoWeEat
    2. 2. @whenDoWeEat
    3. 3. @whenDoWeEat
    4. 4. @whenDoWeEat
    5. 5. Studied animation at Uni – specialising in Claymation. Work experience at Morpheme Wireless. Try thinking outside the box! (Show old Uni Showreel here.) @whenDoWeEat
    6. 6. @whenDoWeEat
    7. 7. About Honeyslug 3 full time employees (design, code, production, QA).. .. plus freelance artists (both visual and audio). We have developed games for multiple platforms and are working on more! @whenDoWeEat
    8. 8. (Show Honeyslug Showreel here.) @whenDoWeEat
    9. 10. You’re a designer? So…you do the art? In a small studio – roles merge. A lot of the tasks are shared by all 3 of us. Expect to wear many hats!
    10. 11. @whenDoWeEat
    11. 14. Ideas Paper Design vs Flash Prototyping Brainstorm Collaboration Let ideas evolve over time Re-visit/re-hash old (discarded) ideas Take inspiration from everywhere – not just other computer games! @whenDoWeEat
    12. 15. @whenDoWeEat
    13. 16. @whenDoWeEat
    14. 17. @whenDoWeEat
    15. 18. Work Flow No set work flow! Initial Idea/Work for Hire Flesh Out Idea/Flash Prototype Self Fund? Publisher? Costs! Who should we work with…? Make Game! Focus Testing & Testing Marketing @whenDoWeEat
    16. 19. @whenDoWeEat
    17. 20. @whenDoWeEat
    18. 21. Design Principles Fun! Accessible Keep things simple! Surprise the player Reward rather than punish Be open to whimsy Don’t be precious about ideas Playfulness @whenDoWeEat (Play Dara O’Briain Clip)
    19. 22. @whenDoWeEat
    20. 23. @whenDoWeEat
    21. 24. @whenDoWeEat
    22. 25. http://brutallyunfairtactics.com/
    23. 26. Thanks! @whenDoWeEat

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