Before this class, I assumed game design would be just as simple as having a good idea and mashing a bunch of fun ideas together without any structure. I thought that making games would be just as fun as playing them – and to a certain degree, that is true. I suppose I was just surprised by how many theories and frameworks supported the end product that the player sees, but aren’t necessarily obvious.
Specifically, the 8 kinds of fun and formal elements of games helped me to understand the construction of other games, while seeing what might be missing in the games that I was creating. For example, it was much easier to construct a basic plan of action by considering what type of fun we wanted our game to convey, then filling out the various formal elements as opposed to just “winging it”. In the creation of Bok Bok Brawlers, we were guided by the feelings and emotions that we wanted our players to have, and tailored these elements to fit. While we were given a structure for this process (via worksheets and checkpoints) for project 1, I noticed that we completed a similar process unprompted for project 2. We decided what types of fun and what emotions we wanted our players to experience, and then filled out the various formal elements in accordance with those decisions. Additionally, we created various tools to keep everything organized, such as a flow table to delegate tasks and checklists to stay on schedule for each checkpoint.
The most challenging part of the class for me was definitely learning how to sketchnote. It was difficult to leave things rough and unfinished and not try to finish them into a polished product. Additionally, my font vocabulary was (and still is) quite limited, so I had difficulty developing a visual hierarchy system. However, I grew to adapt to these challenges. I learned to try to quickly convey the main message of the text or video source so as not to spend too much time on them, and began to use font size, numbering, and underlining to develop structure and visual hierarchy. I found that I prefer sketchnoting while watching videos, as I can process the information while recording it. While I still have a long way to go before truly mastering the art of sketchnoting, I think I’ve made some progress and developed a bit of confidence in my ability to express ideas quickly through sketches.
My favorite part of this course was definitely the critical plays. They gave me an excuse to set some time aside and expand my game vocabulary, while forcing me to think more deeply and critically of the mechanics, formal elements, and other components. I truly enjoyed writing the reflective portion of the assignment, as it gave me time to reflect on what truly made the game fun and what I thought were the best (and worst) parts. I hope that in the future I’ll have more opportunities to explore such a wide variety of titles and genres.
In the future, I’d love to take more time to really playtest and iterate extensively on some of our semi-finished games. For example, I think Bok Bok Brawlers could have really benefited from additional balance testing and rule simplification. Perfect Partner really needed some narrative overhauls and smoother dialogue (along with it being a quarter of the actual game). In summary, I guess I’d just really like to take more time on everything, and really devote some serious effort in perfecting things that I’ve worked on or will work on.