Although I have experienced many games through watching youtube play-throughs my whole life, I have never thought about myself as a gamer. I tend to focus on the narrative elements of games, and before this class, the only games I felt qualified to make visual novels (interactive fiction).
However, through the weekly critical plays, readings, and reflections I started to reframe my perspectives and thinking of myself as a gamer and a game designer.
My biggest struggle was the chaotic influx of information at the beginning of the course, and confusion with requirements and standards for critical plays, sketchnotes, and mindmaps. I thought the weekly pulse with critical plays due on Thursdays was really tough on my work load; the later change to Tuesdays really helped me. I also struggled from enrolling in the incorrect unit count, because my workload was not balanced well with my other commitments.
However, meeting with the course staff and talking to coursemates and teammates was comforting and helped me recenter and organize. Although I didn’t have a good grasp of them at first, the formal elements and MDA were really cemented through weekly game analyses, and now I feel confident in my ability to apply them in any situation. And because we played with so many mechanics in so many different settings in both physical and digital games, I’ve started to see opportunity for games in every situation. I feel so much more aware and intentional in my ability to design a game and confident in my ability to describe why it is good or why it is not.
Simultaneously to working on my digital game in this class, I was working on a digital game in another class with the core mechanic of voice controlled attacks. Comparing both the project ideas and team makeup, I can see more clearly what kind of team I want to work on, and what kinds of games I want to design. For Single Seagull Surrogate, we began with the core mechanic of voice control and built a narrative of feeding and hatching an egg around it. On the other hand, for Cloudy Paws, we began with a narrative and extended it to the mechanic; which was much more difficult but also resulted in an extremely interesting and unique mechanic. Furthermore, in the seagull game my teammates are my friends, and my work is split among technical programming and asset creation. Meanwhile, in Cloudy Paws my role was extremely specialized in asset creation. Both have their own benefits; I appreciate the creative control I had in being the sole artist, but it was also difficult to visualize without access to unity, so it was harder to perfectly polish the aesthetics. Meanwhile, having a more multipurpose role meant that it was easier to make individual features look good, but also easier have miscommunications about labor division which sometimes slowed down progress. These are my valuable first experiences game designing in a team has really helped me learn more about development dynamics and rapidly producing a playable game.
Whether I work in a team or alone, I know I will continue making games in the future; ever since I downloaded godot on my computer to make a visual novel, it has been my dream to become an indie game designer. This quarter has equipped me with the tools to develop even more immersive, interesting games with compelling narratives.