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A modern approach to game analysis and design: the AGE framework


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Slides for the presentation given at the Game Solution Centre, Singapore, 18th October 2012

A modern approach to game analysis and design: the AGE framework

  1. 1. A Modern Approach to Game Analysis and Design: the A.G.E. Framework Assoc. Prof. Roberto Dillon School of Business and IT JCU Singapore Roberto.
  2. 2. Overview Why and how shall we analyze games? MDA ( Mechanics – Dynamics – Aesthetics ) Reference: Hunicke, Le Blanc, Zubek: “MDA: a Formal approach to Game Design and Game Research”. Available online at: The A.G.E. Model  6-11 Framework  Examples (Casual, Social and AAA games) Conclusions
  3. 3. Why and how shall we analyze games? “A method is needed in order to reason accurately” Descartes  Game Designers explain their approaches in very subjective ways How to figure out what makes “good” Game Design? Need for a “pragmatic” approach that tries to be as objective as possible  Break down a game at different level of complexities and analyze their relationships.
  4. 4. MDA: Game Components Mechanics  “describe the particular components of the game, at the level of data representation and algorithms”  i.e. Rules Dynamics  “describe the run-time behaviour of the mechanics acting on player inputs and each others outputs over time”  i.e. Outcomes by applying the rules Aesthetics  “describe the desirable emotional responses evoked in the player, when she interacts with the game system”
  5. 5. MDAs Aesthetics Model Eight kinds of Fun based on:  Sensation (e.g. pleasures)  Fantasy (e.g. role playing)  Narrative (e.g. storytelling)  Challenge (e.g. problem solving)  Fellowship (e.g. social framework)  Discovery (e.g. uncharted territory)  Expression (e.g. self discovery)  Submission (e.g. pastime)
  6. 6. Example: Commerce Game Mechanics  Setting up the world  Regulate in-game economics  How to Buy  How to Sell  How to Travel  ... Anno 1404 © 2009 Ubisoft Dynamics  Travelling to different towns to trade goods  ... Aesthetics  Fantasy / Challenge / Submission
  7. 7. But Game Designers are a troublesomecrowd… and definitions are a bit loose What’s the exact scope of mechanics? Are they really rules? What type of rules?  Yes, spanning any aspect of the game (Brathwaite & Schreiber)  No! Mechanics ARE NOT rules! They are “Skill atoms” (Koster) Aesthetics?  “The branch of philosophy that deals with the principles of beauty and artistic taste”  … Isn’t that related to graphics?? How do we actually move from one level to the other?
  8. 8. The A.G.E. Framework Actions  the core actions that a player can perform, usually described in terms of verbs.  E.g. moving, jumping, kicking a ball, shooting, taking cover Gameplay  the resulting play achieved by using and combining the available "actions". These can be either verbs or higher level concepts,  E.g. fighting, race to an end, territorial acquisition Experience  the emotional experience that engages FUN players during the game.
  9. 9. Emotional Experience The most difficult part to understand and master How do players feel when they play? What do players really want? What triggers „Fun“??
  10. 10. „6-11 Framework“Reference: Roberto Dillon:“On the Way to Fun: an Emotion Based Approach to Successful Game Design”AKPeters / CRC Press, 2010 „Fun” as an outcome from engaging the player through basic emotions and instincts 6 Basic Emotions  Ekman, Plutchik, Izard etc. 11 Instinct Their correspondences/relationships
  11. 11. 6 Emotions (1) Fear
  12. 12. 6 Emotions (2) Anger
  13. 13. 6 Emotions (3) Pride
  14. 14. 6 Emotions (4) Joy
  15. 15. 6 Emotions (5) Excitement
  16. 16. 6 Emotions (6) Sadness
  17. 17. 11 Instincts (1)  Survival
  18. 18. 11 Instincts (2)  Self Identification
  19. 19. 11 Instincts (3)  Revenge
  20. 20. 11 Instincts (4) Aggressiveness
  21. 21. 11 Instincts (5)  Curiosity
  22. 22. 11 Instincts (6)  Protection / Care
  23. 23. 11 Instincts (7)  Greed
  24. 24. 11 Instincts (8)  Collecting
  25. 25. 11 Instincts (9)  Competition
  26. 26. 11 Instincts (10)  Communication
  27. 27. 11 Instincts (11)  Color appreciation
  28. 28. Analysis Framework In general:  Emotions can trigger instincts  Instincts push the player to act in the game  Easy to link instincts to game gameplay and actions Escaping Hiding Fear Survival Avoiding danger Running Chasing Running Anger Aggressiveness Kicking Fighting Casting a spell
  29. 29. Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, 1985) "the player can kill enemies by landing on top of them" links the jumping action to the fighting enemies gameplay “progress to the next stage by reaching an end-level flagpole" links the running and jumping actions to the race-to-an-end gameplay Goal of “saving the princess” and “finding all the secrets/coins” serve as motivation to link the different gameplays to the emotional experience of players
  30. 30. Angry Birds (Rovio 2009)
  31. 31. Millionaire City (Digital Chocolate) Real Estate CEO Identification Share results Communication Curiosity Collecting Protection New daily prizes! Help friends What happens next? Pride Greed We’re getting rich! Joy Competition You can do better than your friends! Excitement GamePlay Actions Buy properties Build and upgrade stuff Sign contracts Territorial Acquisition Grab money and gifts Plan Development Etc. Find presents and rewards
  32. 32. And for more complex games?•Simple, core sequence•Gets expanded through different… •Missions and Quests •Levels
  33. 33. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Identification Protection Pride Joy
  34. 34. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Identification Collecting Protection Survival Curiosity Pride … Joy
  35. 35. Legend of Zelda: Twilight PrincessHoard Goats Collecting Herding Racing to an end Pride Riding Joy
  36. 36. Legend of Zelda: Twilight PrincessEscaping from the dungeon
  37. 37. Legend of Zelda: Twilight PrincessEscaping from the dungeon Curiosity Survival Race to an end Fighting Exploring Listening to Spirits AngerMoving around, digging RunningUsing wolf “senses” Revenge Jumping Biting Excitement
  38. 38. L.A. Noire Color Identification Appreciation CuriosityRoam CityLook for cluesInterrogate suspects Drive Manipulate objects Excitement Review evidence Evaluate answers
  39. 39. L.A. Noire Color Identification Collecting Appreciation 20 badges 50 movie reels vehicles Curiosity Protection Save hostages Aggressiveness Chasing criminals Street casesRoam CityLook for cluesInterrogate suspects Pride Drive Manipulate objects Excitement Joy Review evidence Evaluate answers
  40. 40. Analyzing a game, step by step Play the game Determine the main emotional experience by using the „6-11 Framework“ Relate instincts to gameplay Explore how gameplay is obtained (i.e. identify actions) Not sure? Go back to Step 1! ;)
  41. 41. Designing a game: Where to start? Actions Gameplay Experience
  42. 42. Conclusions• Game design needs some well defined analysis methodology • Gaining insights • Teaching, sharing experiences• MDA was the first model to define a pragmatic approach • Still, lack of common jargon made things very difficult• AGE as evolution of MDA • Narrow but clear definitions • Easy to relate the different layers • Emotional experience seen in terms of easily understandable components (6-11 Framework)• Straightforward to learn and adopt in a variety of contexts
  43. 43. Thanks for Your attention! twitter: rdillon73