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"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011
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"How To Race Squirrels" at Develop Conference in Brighton, 21st July 2011

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  • 1. How To Race Squirrels:Designing and Producing Commissioned GamesRob DavisDirector, PlayniacDevelop Conference, 21 July 2011
  • 2. Briefs  and   User  tes;ng   Balancing   Proposals   Concept   development  and   Game  assets   Wrap  up   wri5en  spec  Wireframes  • Use-­‐cases   Paper  tes;ng  • Sta;c  wireframes  • Interac;ve  wireframes  
  • 3. Briefs A perfect brief does three things well: 1.  States the project’s scale, scope and goals 2.  Defines the creative zone in which the game design will happen 3.  Inspires a good solution Some projects start with research… ©2008 Olympic Delivery Authority
  • 4. Proposals •  Good quality writing is critical; graphics are important too •  This is where you get to explain your idea – go for it! •  Do you fully understand what you are offering? •  Are you confident you can deliver on time and on budget? •  Can you convey what your game will be like to play? ©2008 Olympic Delivery Authority
  • 5. Briefs  and   User  tes;ng   Balancing   Proposals   Concept   development  and   Game  assets   Wrap  up   wri5en  spec  Wireframes  • Use-­‐cases   Paper  tes;ng  • Sta;c  wireframes  • Interac;ve  wireframes  
  • 6. Concept Development •  Happens before and / or after proposal stage •  Absorb the brief / proposal •  Assemble expertise from our team, external consultants, specialists and / or the client •  Brainstorm to develop, expand and then refine ideas •  Key stage to gather everyone’s input and feed into specification stages
  • 7. Written Spec •  If you’ve already written a proposal and that is being used as is, skip this stage •  Simply 1 paragraph to 2 pages max describing the game •  Good starting point to save time and risk before creating more detailed spec
  • 8. Briefs  and   User  tes;ng   Balancing   Proposals   Concept   development  and   Game  assets   Wrap  up   wri5en  spec  Wireframes  • Use-­‐cases   Paper  tes;ng  • Sta;c  wireframes  • Interac;ve  wireframes  
  • 9. Alien Farm use-case
  • 10. Alien Farm screen flow
  • 11. Screen grab showing attractor field
  • 12. Use-cases •  Becomes large document that is difficult to maintain… And no one wants to (re-)read! •  Useful for more procedural software; less useful for most games •  Does specify game functionality very precisely, but leaves little room to maneuver in implementation •  Doesn’t give a sense of what the game is like to play or how the game GUI might work •  So we needed a better technique…
  • 13. Briefs  and   User  tes;ng   Balancing   Proposals   Concept   development  and   Game  assets   Wrap  up   wri5en  spec  Wireframes  • Use-­‐cases   Paper  tes;ng  • Sta;c  wireframes  • Interac;ve  wireframes  
  • 14. Wireframe for mission select
  • 15. Finished artwork for mission select
  • 16. Wireframe for island view
  • 17. Finished artwork for island view
  • 18. Wireframe for user dashboard
  • 19. Finished artwork for user dashboard
  • 20. Static Wireframe •  Gives immediate visual sense of game screens and functionality •  Allows some GUI design to be done early and in an abstract manner •  Can be assimilated easily by technical and non- technical readers •  Useful for design and dev teams •  Difficult to get a sense of screen flow and user interaction, so…
  • 21. Briefs  and   User  tes;ng   Balancing   Proposals   Concept   development  and   Game  assets   Wrap  up   wri5en  spec  Wireframes  • Use-­‐cases   Paper  tes;ng  • Sta;c  wireframes  • Interac;ve  wireframes  
  • 22. Wireframe for shop
  • 23. Finished artwork for shop
  • 24. Wireframe for home screen
  • 25. Finished artwork for home screen
  • 26. Wireframe for race screen
  • 27. Finished artwork for race screen – mini game
  • 28. Finished artwork for race screen
  • 29. User testing with Interactive wireframe
  • 30. Interactive Wireframes •  All the benefits of a static wireframe •  Clear sense of screen flow and some sense of game dynamics •  Extremely easy to assimilate •  Extremely useful for design and dev teams •  Easy to maintain once set up •  Can be used for live testing with target audience
  • 31. Briefs  and   User  tes;ng   Balancing   Proposals   Concept   development  and   Game  assets   Wrap  up   wri5en  spec  Wireframes  • Use-­‐cases   Paper  tes;ng  • Sta;c  wireframes  • Interac;ve  wireframes  
  • 32. Sample artwork for deck of 50 game cards
  • 33. Sample artwork for race track sheets
  • 34. Aside: MDA model of gamedesign •  Mechanics •  Dynamics •  Aesthetics •  Marc LeBlanc’s game design workshop at GDC (www.8kindsoffun.com) •  Paper by Hunkicke, Zubek and LeBlank (www.cs.northwestern.edu/~hunicke/MDA.pdf)
  • 35. Paper Testing •  Does not convey game mechanics •  Establish game dynamics early •  Conveys substantial part of game aesthetics •  Easy format to refine and tweak game play •  Refine game balance early •  Fun way to test game with no code
  • 36. Briefs  and   User  tes;ng   Balancing   Proposals   Concept   development  and   Game  assets   Wrap  up   wri5en  spec  Wireframes  • Use-­‐cases   Paper  tes;ng  • Sta;c  wireframes  • Interac;ve  wireframes  
  • 37. Early charactersketch
  • 38. Early charactersketch
  • 39. Early colour-blocked artwork
  • 40. Early colour-blocked artwork
  • 41. artwork
  • 42. Game assets •  Share early and share often •  Test with users •  Meet with client and/or use online collaboration tools like Basecamp to manage the conversation •  Be ready to refine and tweak; be ready to throw away and rework •  “Champion the user” - keep the finished game and the audience in mind
  • 43. Briefs  and   User  tes;ng   Balancing   Proposals   Concept   development  and   Game  assets   Wrap  up   wri5en  spec  Wireframes  • Use-­‐cases   Paper  tes;ng  • Sta;c  wireframes  • Interac;ve  wireframes  
  • 44. Video capture with game alpha
  • 45. Detailed analysis of user data
  • 46. User Testing •  Be clear with team and client exactly what is being tested •  Test at several stages, from look and feel to alpha / beta •  Invaluable feedback direct from target audience •  Chance for dev team, design team and client to “see the game through new eyes” •  Very honest – be ready for heart-warming compliments and gut-wrenching criticism •  A lot of analysis to be done with results
  • 47. Briefs  and   User  tes;ng   Balancing   Proposals   Concept   development  and   Game  assets   Wrap  up   wri5en  spec  Wireframes  • Use-­‐cases   Paper  tes;ng  • Sta;c  wireframes  • Interac;ve  wireframes  
  • 48. BalancingAt mission control we can tweak and tune settings in the game…
  • 49. …affecting our players who are far away, perhaps 8 or more hours ofgame-play in the future. Image courtesy of NASA
  • 50. Image courtesy of NASA
  • 51. Equations formood and energy
  • 52. Energy / stats / xp / money cycles
  • 53. Testing team
  • 54. Google Analytics: Minutes to XP level
  • 55. Google Analytics: Money at XP level
  • 56. Google Analytics:Team names
  • 57. Balancing •  Start with a system-wide strategy and the right formulae •  Start with paper test findings •  Refine using the user test results •  Refine using testing company results •  Refine using using Google Analytics or any other data capture techniques •  Iterate until it’s right
  • 58. Briefs  and   User  tes;ng   Balancing   Proposals   Concept   development  and   Game  assets   Wrap  up   wri5en  spec  Wireframes  • Use-­‐cases   Paper  tes;ng  • Sta;c  wireframes  • Interac;ve  wireframes  
  • 59. Wrap up •  This approach is the framework used for many of our productions •  Every project is unique •  Sometimes one or more stages don’t apply, sometimes they get re-ordered •  Sometimes the whole approach goes out the window…
  • 60. Rob DavisDirector Internships:  Want  to  get  Playniac involved?  Drop  me  a  line.  rob(at)playniac(dot)com Speaking  at  GDC  Europe  in  Aug:   "Wheres  the  fun?  How  to  test  www.playniac.com your  game  before  you  build  a  @playniac thing"    www.facebook.com/RacingSquirrels@RacingSquirrels

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