Final Class Reflection

  • Before this class, to be honest, I had a very limited understanding of what it takes to design a system for people to play with. I have grown up playing games all my life, but since they were such a staple, I never took time to pause, reflect, and really examine all the choices and work that went into creating these experiences.
  • I really enjoyed beginning the class with a social game. Our group chose to create a modification of Capture the Flag. Through this experience, we saw how a seemingly simple idea could result in countless ways of play spanning countless interactions. As such, as designers, we were forced to really put ourselves in the players’ shoes and see all the ways we could break the game.
  • The concept that stuck with me the most from the class, though, was the idea of baking instruction into the game. I was very impressed with the sketchnote we did about the Plants vs. Zombies introduction, and how the creator did such a good job of introducing players gradually to mechanics that there was absolutely no need for an instructions tab. I tried to emulate this in P2 as we never formally tell the player how to play, but I still found myself telling rather than showing a lot. It really goes to show the art of game making and how a great designer with clever choices (and rigorous testing!) can create a seamless, beautiful, replayable experience.
  • The largest challenge I had with the class, though, was not making games fun but rather connecting all our fun experiences together with a story. I found myself jumping to the mechanics first, interesting ways a person could play and coming up with novel interactions (such as the deception aspect of Capture the Flag, or out-of-the-box thinking with our terminal game, Hack OS). However, these fun minigames and creative mechanics can only take you so far. What people really want is a story, and an interesting one at that. As I saw with “Who Stole My Bone?”, the thing that keeps people coming back isn’t the cool move you can do by pressing Space or the creative new display; it’s the heart of what is being said by the game.
  • I feel I grew leaps and bounds as a designer. I do not know if I will come to work in games, but I feel games serve as a microcosm for all aspects of Computer Science. You have to be both unbelievably technical and very creative to create a game that’s worthwhile. Also, it helps to be a master storyteller to keep people engaged, and a mind reader to know what a user will and won’t like. These lessons are applicable not just to games, but to all elements of computer science that involve user interaction. Because at the end of the day, games are in the pleasure industry, the same industry that houses restaurants, movies, comedy, etc. All of these industries are trying to serve one sole purpose: to create joy and pleasure for their users. And to do that takes lots of work, dedication, and most importantly, love for what you do and for the player. I’m happy I took this class because it will impact my creations for a long, long time to come. All creations.

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