Before taking CS 247G, I thought about design a lot. Personally and because of me being a design major, I’d notice small decisions in a brand’s typography or an app’s user flows. That said, for some reason I didn’t recognize games as being “designed” in this same way. Of course, after 10 weeks, this sentiment drastically changed. Both by critically looking at games and how their designed, as well as making games of my own, I realized the layers of by high-level and intricate design decisions embedded into all of the games I loved growing up. From character art to game architecture to difficulty mapping, all of these were intentional design choices to fulfill the game’s purpose.
In creating my own games as part of P1 and P2, the most major learning from class that I thought about was in creating specific types of fun for your target audience. And not only creating these at a high level, but building to them through all of the mechanics that you incorporate into the core of your game that ultimately create these feelings from the user. For example in P1, to make the game fulfill a more social purpose of fellowship, we turned what could’ve been a 1-on-1 game into a team game with a virtually unlimited amount of players. We saw in playtests that this mechanic brought out a sense of camaraderie and overcame initial awkwardness from strangers. In contrast, our primary goal in P2 was to create a compelling challenging for experienced platformers. To do so, rather than having segments of the level rely on singular mechanics, essentially being able to be brute forced, we designed our levels and maneuvers to work in tandem, necessitating creative thinking and dexterity by the user in order to complete the level. These small movement mechanics that we made work in tandem rather than in isolation is what I think is the strongest part of our game, making the game both a physical and mental challenge for users.
The most major challenge I felt through the class was in pushing further than what was obvious. This was especially prevalent in P1 where after each playtest, we’d essentially scrap what we had as it felt too familiar and like we were just copying beer pong with a single new addition. It wasn’t until we combined multiple games and added theming that I felt like we’d made a compelling final product. And in learning this lesson early in class, I felt like my P2 ended up being an even more creative final product that pushed further than I expected us to.
Overall, I feel like I definitely grew as a designer first and foremost. I don’t think it’s likely that I’ll pursue game design as a career at this point (although I’d like to make more games for fun). That said, the skills and experiences from 247G clearly translate well to other mediums. The ability to observe playtests and iterate on them is just another form of user testing similar to my other design classes, a skill that I improved upon throughout the class. Creating on-theme pixel art pushed my artistic ability and vision that will help my graphic design for other projects. The high-level brainstorms for creating compelling products people would want is very similar to the kind of process that my capstone will entail. All of this is obvious as CS 247G is ultimately a design class, but it’s worth pointing out that even as a non-CS major, the class was great in helping me build as a design major.
In future games, I want to keep creating games that feel unique and are actually fun. Both P1 and P2 ended up being final products that I would end up playing in class because they were actually fun. At the core, I think this is what all games should be, with some having the added benefit of educating or pushing players in some way. Beyond that, I want to make more weird shit. In my team’s brainstorms, my ideas were usually the most out there and got slightly reigned in, but a lot of the games and media in general that I like are just bizarre. I think that stuff is dope and want to create more of it.