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Blink and You'll Miss It: A Quick Look at Microgames

  1. Blink and you’ll miss it A quick look at microgames
  2. @underskinnyhrt
  5. Too limiting?
  6. Combining
  7. Practise
  8. Microgames as catharsis
  9. Microgames as snapshots
  10. Microgames as communication
  11. Microgames as self-care
  12. Microgames as allowing Yourself To Make Weird Stuff And Not Feeling Bad About “Wasting Time”
  14. Thank you!

Editor's Notes

  1. We’re going to be taking a quick look at microgames!
  2. Making short experimental games about MH & relationships.
  3. Currently Blanket -- ‘a small game about snow and recovery’ set in a calm mountain village.
  4. Working on TRASHZINE, a zine featuring experimental, unusual gamedevs.
  5. Doesn’t make sense to throw random microgames at you! Focus on specific subset: personal microgames, discuss the different uses they can have, through a bunch of examples. To give you an idea of wot i mean with “personal microgames”...
  6. when you can't get to sleep at night, so you make a game about the morning. [get up at]
  7. If you attended a talk earlier today you might have heard more about this game already; Another take on the troubles of getting up in the morning! Morning Makeup Madness -- having 10 seconds to put on your makeup. Have to switch between makeup items really quickly and you end up with results like this.
  8. Examples I’ve given so far -- super simple gameplay, sometimes just one single possible interaction. Don’t have enough complexity to communicate nuance and the full experience. How are they useful for communicating personal stories?
  9. A lot can be achieved by combining a couple of very simplistic mechanics together -- become more meaningful than sum of parts. Eg. brain is incredibly complex, however, it’s composed of atomic parts-- reflexes. Thought patterns. Neurons pretty simple, but combine to form the full complexity. You can communicate nuanced thought patterns/dynamics through a couple of mechanics.
  10. Lim. MECHANICS: clicking z to zoom in & blend; other squares attacking you when you’re not blending in; levels where it’s harder and harder to avoid not being exposed to others. Abstract but very clear what it means. Trade-offs/balancing two things is simple but player learns about this dynamic through experimentation and everyone will approach it differently (unknowingly start with one extreme, the other, in the middle, push boundaries differently) and will figure out this dynamic in their own personal way.
  11. <3 Rushing through it to see if there’s an end; reading a paragraph in its entirety. Trade-off of actions versus enjoyment of the present moment. Urgency. All achieved through branching text & a timer. Endless space of possibility that makes us human. [Queers in Love at the End of the World]
  12. To summarise, tiny game, Cannot afford complex systems, clutter, distract player. Only a couple of minutes, or seconds of the player’s attention. Focus on CORE mechanics. FIGURING OUT A COUPLE OF CORE MECHANICS THAT COMMUNICATES SOMETHING WELL & WORK TOGETHER WELL TO BE MORE THAN THE SUM OF THEIR PARTS IS HARD. Making microgames as design exercise! Constraints in general.
  13. Deconstruct The dev’s challenge was to communicate the frustration and anxiety of getting up in the morning in as little time as they could. Every aspect of this game reflects this frustration-- you have your ‘instructions’ on screen. Clicking arrows makes an annoying white noise sound, adds to frustration. The ugly bed hair is purposeful. And then you realise that the game played you, frustration.
  14. Cigarettes Progress/anxiety bar, smoking. You've only got two choices in the game, to smoke or sit around. Graphics: nothing more than character, pack of cigarettes and progress bar. Fact that there’s nothing more focuses on that core mechanic: it is your only focus. You can’t avoid it. But you can’t figure out an answer. The frustration is Integral to the game. [has been removed from Newgrounds]
  15. As to my own experience, I have made a ton of those small games, by doing 1GAM. No matter whether game was good or bad-- i learnt something. Inktober (hence art slide): doodles might not be great, but it’s not about the results, but about training your brain to become better at perspective, proportions or whatever else you’re working on. Apply to games: to more easily switch into game-design-mode. have a subconscious feel for what will work and what won’t. Recipe. >> Better at translating feelings -> mechanics. Useful for communication, i will talk about this l8r. What is more, the process of choosing a couple of core mechanics: this isn’t just a design exercise, but can have cathartic uses.
  16. Cathartic. People might paint, or exercise as a way to release tension. Throw things into a prototyping engine quickly, having a very long very intense development session where you’re completely focused & ending up with something that reflects your state of mind: rewarding & ultimately, might help to fully process it & let go. ONLY A COUPLE OF HOURS OF DEV, FINISHED GAME BY THE END. feeling of closure. Feel better.
  17. Description of game is “i’ve picked up a bad habit.” The person in the game is not just an avatar it is the creator.
  18. Getting something that’s on the dev’s mind *out of them* into something that seems more “external”, a game.
  19. Not just processing bad experiences. Cathartic 2: making games about good experiences, healing games, and focusing on those positive thought loops while developing.
  20. Games that were made about taking care of yourself when you get up in the morning, self care bots were made. Losing Control “I wanted to create this game as a reminder to myself that feeling bad isn’t necessarily a bad thing, that those feelings have importance and that they aren’t permanent.”
  21. As I mentioned before, 1GAM. The regularity of making personal games, one a month had an interesting effect. For me, I would usually have a super short dev cycle (a couple of days here and there) -- and I can usually recall where I was and how I felt when I play the game. reflect. > Works very well with 1GAM especially-- you have a interactive snapshot of every month of your life for as long as you do it. You notice inspirations from other games, the reason behind some design choices, inside jokes you had with friends… Games become this interesting, quite different log of your life: interactive aspect. You’re the player now.
  22. Running around, kicking trash and being a rebel. Love replaying Where The Punks At? Because it reminds me of when I started making games and had this initial feeling of “i can make anything!” and the game has a bunch of inside jokes throughout. <3 Interesting, as in with other art forms, when you look at it months later you have a different perspective. You become the viewer. Enhanced by the fact that it’s interactive. It’s a bit like writing a diary and being able to flip back through it years later & remember, but it’s more fun because it’s games.
  23. Making games while inspired by conversation with other people brings me to... Communication: sometimes it’s hard to talk to people, say things in words. >> if you make a bunch of microgames, become better at translating feelings into small self-contained games, so games become more effective for communication. >> Making small games doesn’t cost a lot-- just a few hours of your time. Can afford that. Game can be used as an intermediary, you make a small game for a specific person to help them understand something you’re trying to tell them, specific about you. Easier since it’s a less direct way of communicating, so sometimes you can be more honest. “I’m not telling them things -> they’re making choices/the game is reacting to them” Specific games for specific people. [Trust at]
  24. Robin, about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Made during a jam. explains through mechanics having limited energy every day, having to save up. Spoon Theory translates into game format really well! Communicate.
  25. Losing Control Explain to people the dynamics of depression; allows the players to hear the thoughts that might run through someone’s brain.
  26. As a summary, going through the process of thinking differently (looking at things through a “game design lens”) about an experience and selecting a few core mechanics to represent it can become a self-care process. It has to do with having to deconstruct and understand what the core components of it were and how they influenced each other can help you process, become more self-aware.
  27. In my case, the games I make games to better understand something that makes me anxious. Especially since it’s something that is always changing shape and can be confusing. Game about time passing. Meeting up with highschool friends once a year. Can’t talk to everyone & can’t catch up with everyone, a clock ticks by. Throughout the game, you keep looking at the clock, and even when the wall crumbles it’s still there. Made me realise that it’s not the people or the idea of interacting from people back home that made me anxious-- but the concept of time passing. Also when it comes to writing a description that fits in a tweet, you realise what you actually made a game about. Molds itself into something else, something that it was meant to be.
  28. As I Listen To Rain (by Excerpts of poems, invites the player to contemplate with them, with a cup of tea & rain. Interesting position because you’re invited to look at the poems with the dev-- you’re trying to piece together the meanings of the poems, rather than the dev being on the opposite side & issuing you with challenges. This is common in personal games and helps with creating empathy-- you’re both processing & trying to piece things together.
  29. ALSO IT’S SO FREEING BC U CAN MAKE THE WEIRD GAMES U ALWAYS WANTED TO MAKE. You CAN spare a few hours here and there. You might feel better & get some game design skills.
  30. YOU COULD HAVE MADE MAGIC SQUAT HOUSE. This is the cool small stuff you could be making and that i’m excited to see more of!! People from non-game fields experimenting with games as a medium.