My game-making journey started when I saw Omori, a psychological horror RPG, on Kickstarter. The symbolism, color scheme, and hilariously wacky enemies drew my curiosity and cemented into my mind that games were a great way to tie storytelling into a medium that immersed players into the world it told. Through games, players get a glimpse into the minds of its creator. Thus, I started to create games in Godot, an open-source game engine.
However, despite being someone who made games, I hardly played games myself. I focused on making games that would tell stories, because I fell in love with games that were immersed in fantastical narratives.
Before taking the class class, I focused on games as purely a medium for storytelling. However, Project 1 taught me that the true fun in games was not necessarily the storytelling, but the gameplay itself. Most of all, I fell in love with social games that focused on fellowship as part of its main types of fun. Creating Kelpto-friends as part of a team taught me that I had the most fun not in making or even playing games myself, but rather in enjoying the process of making and playtesting games with a team of friends. Games are a way to bring communities together, and the laughter that comes from messing up in play and allowing players to enjoy being themselves by donning the guise of being in another game world is what truly made games shine to me. I remember moments of true ingenuity while we were playtesting Klepto-friends that sent me rolling with laughter: Annie (my teammate) donning sunglasses with fake straw cigarettes as she hid loot, and playtesters making strange actions while attempting to keep loot hidden. Design For Play was the first class I took that brought so many people to work and play together. Truly, play was important not just for kids, but especially for adults. And both play and game-making doesn’t happen in a vacuum — game-making and game-playing was more fun as part of a team. Concepts of fellowship was incorporated into Klepto-friends by forcing teams to compete against each other by issuing action-commands to each other to perform, and the laughter derived from the spontaneity of acting naturally followed by combining actions together with adjectives. I learned that it was important to playtest continuously as game rules that seemed clear to us turned out to be unclear to new players. In this way, keeping gameplay simple and easy to learn was important.
Unfortunately, midway through the class, I was hospitalized due to an accident and was unable to continue taking the class in person — I had to wait until summer to complete the course myself, rather than with a team. Despite that, I focused on making a small action RPG as my Project 2. Like my usual style, I wanted to create the game around a narrative. However, from playtesting in class, I learned that games were not simply mediums for storytelling. The true fun came from gameplay. Thus, this time, I focused on making my prototype by finishing the core gameplay mechanic (fighting monsters and fulfilling quests) before implementing the story. It was difficult as a solo-dev to get feedback on whether elements of the game worked, so I relied more heavily than ever on playtesting as a way to get feedback for my game.
I still found a way to inject humor into the game, by adding myself as a monster that could be defeated.
Next time, I would love to continue to work on making games in teams. I started my game-making journey alone, and I relentlessly worked in a vacuum. After taking this class, I learned the importance of playtesting and having fun working in groups. I’ve always loved humor, and humor was just something that came much more naturally in a team. Thus, moving forward, I will continue to playtest. I will continue to work with others, and play together, rather than striving to finish everything alone. Moreover, I’ll view games not simply as a way to deliver narrative, but rather as mediums for players to overcome puzzles and challenges.