CS247G Final Reflection
Before I took this class, I had some experience building games on my own and with my brother. Because I worked mostly independently, I had a lot of freedom to build whatever I wanted, however I wanted to build it. I still cherish that full creative freedom, but it was a very positive experience to work on a game with a team. Refining and defending your ideas, while taking inspiration from others’ desires was a very effective way to filter out the bad ideas while only keeping the ones we all liked. I think this class has, most of all, equipped me to work better in a team setting.
Before the class, creating games was a very individualistic creative outlet for me. I wanted to create what I felt didn’t exist, mostly so I could play it. By playing, talking about, and creating games in this class, I found that game design is also a great way to connect with others. This seems obvious, as one of the best parts of playing games is playing them with others. However, since I started learning how to make games during Covid, I never had the opportunity to show people what I made and have them react to it in person.
I think the class concept that impacted me the most is the one that was most emphasized: the importance of playtesting. Since I always tried to make games exclusively based on what I wanted to see in them and I had very little playtester availability in Covid, I rarely playtested. Often the games were fun but fairly easy to break. I would assume that the player would play the game properly with little guidance, but in reality that is often not the case. During the class, playtesting helped take our games in the right direction, but I didn’t truly realize the importance of playtesting until I had my classmates play older games I had developed during game jams. Oftentimes, simply by watching them play, I was able to identify big gameplay problems that I had glossed over while developing. A lot of the more meaningful things I found related to player guidance; even with explicit text and waymarkers, players sometimes didn’t understand what to do. By playtesting, I also gained a better understanding of what players actually found fun vs. what they found annoying. I even found some game-breaking bugs that I was never mean enough to inflict upon myself.
The most challenging parts of the class were team communication. I am used to being able to push a project in whatever direction I choose, so having to negotiate with teammates felt very new to me. The two most important things I took away from this challenge are to emphatically defend your ideas when you know you have the experience and knowledge to back it up, and to let your teammates affect how you think of the project. In a way you have to treat your project partners like customers; it is your responsibility to give them what they want, but if you know how to do it well, then you should emphasize that. Working on teams was a positive experience in this class and I think I made some good friends from this class, and games helped us get to know each other surprisingly well.
I plan on making many many more games in the future and the one biggest thing I will change about my workflow is I will make sure to thoroughly playtest my games through all phases of production. This is the most important lesson from this class and I will be sure to carry it in the future.