Before this class, I never thought I would be able to design and build a fully functional game within 5 weeks. I also never thought about the formal elements of play, much less analyzed what makes a game fun or not fun. I knew I enjoyed some board games (Catan, Sorry) more than others (looking at you, Monopoly, which I have never finished a full game of), but I was not sure why. I also did not think of myself as much of a gamer, since I rarely played video games. But I have realized that it’s not so much that I’m not a gamer, but that I tend to enjoy games that fall into very specific “types of fun” categories: namely, challenge, fellowship, and discovery. Also, I enjoy games which have relatively simple mechanics, since I tend to lose patience before I can master complex controls.
The class concepts that stuck with me the most is also related to how I now think about the games I enjoy. The “types of fun” and the loops and arcs lectures/readings stuck with me the most. The first social game critical play was the most fun I had in this class (we played a very dramatic game of Avalon where it could have been anyone’s game up until the last second). The walking sim/mystery critical plays were some of the most influential to helping me realize what I enjoy and don’t enjoy about games and actually directly inspired some design decisions in our final project. I implemented the lush visuals and narratives present in walking sims (because it relies on those elements for its fun), along with the poetry tie-in of In Requiem, in my part of the final project.
Throughout this class, I experienced just how hard it is to make a good game. From implementing playtest feedback to creating a compelling narrative that our team is genuinely excited about, it sometimes felt like we would never to able to come close to our vision. Working around the short timeline and the technical/team bandwidth limitations was also very challenging, and there were multiple easter eggs or fine-tuning details we just did not have time to implement. Having to let go of my very strong vision for the game and compromise on some of these aspects helped me grow as a designer, though. I learned to balance my expectations while still creating a full game that stayed true to our team’s most central ideas of what we wanted the player to get out of the experience.
If I keep working on my final game, though, I would polish the game mechanics and build out full functionality for the puzzles/easter eggs we scrapped. Maybe I would even make it a horizontally “scrollable” game rather than a point and click game (like the mechanics of Year Walk), since many of the background art landscapes were already created in a long continuous view anyway. Lastly, custom sounds and music (so we can fully control the tone, especially during transitions and for different puzzles) would elevate the game experience to another level.