• Bretton Hamilton

Game Convention - Melbourne!

UNITE 2016

Train Conductor World Paper Prototype

Simon Joslin gave a talk about how paper prototyping was used to help design and refine their metagame. My biggest take-aways were that hanging onto bad ideas for too long is easier but ultimately damaging for the project. Paper prototyping is the quickest and cheapest way to rapidly identify design problems. Doing this early prevents a lot of heart-ache and heartbreak later in development.

The Right Frame of Mind for Mental Illness in Games

Dr. Jennifer Hazel from Checkpoint Organization gave one of the most engaging talks of Unite. She explained how games, film, and media actively shape our perceptions of mental illness. She went point by point through several types of mental illness and how it is depicted in games vs. what it looks like in reality. Highlights include;

- There are no wheel chairs or straight jackets in mental health hospitals. Mental illness is in the brain, not the legs.

- 50% of the population will have diagnosable mental illness at some point in their lifetime.

- 20% of the population will struggle with a mental illness this year.

Exploring Immersive Audio Design in your VR Projects

Sally Kellaway, the Senior Sound Designer at Zero Latency, gave a phenomenal talk about how important audio is in creating an immersive experience. To demonstrate this, she recommended listening to the "Virtual Barber Shop" with headphones on;

Her advice for VR Design - What makes sound? (Grab a paper and list everything that makes sound in your experience.) - When do things make sound? (Decide when sounds start, stop, and change. Direction? Radius?) - How important is the sound? (Important UI, Weapons, and Dangerous things take priority!) - Give sounds different Equalization - Set a maximum and minimum distance for sounds.

- Get a sound designer!

"The purpose of the ears is to point the eyes" - Georg von Békésy

This is particularly useful in Virtual Reality Design!

"VR Legs" don't exist. Stop making people sick!

Mark Schramm explored a lot of potential causes of discomfort in VR. - Low resolution - High latency

- Aliasing

- Low or inconsistant frame rate

- Low FPS animations

- Timewarp/Reprojection Artifacts

- Visual-Vestibular Mismatch (Simulation Sickness)

Mark made a good point early on to explain that a lot of distrust of VR comes from poor design practice we employed during the past year or two.

GCAP 2016:

Building Trust as a Game Designer

James Everett over at Magic Leap talked about the role of a game designer on the team. We've all worked with Sauron-style designers that sit on their tower and shout demands of their minions. He explained what trust is and how to break and build it on a team.

Trust creates reciprocal, pleasant, and efficient team workflow. There are two types of trust.

Logical Trust is based on past behavior, social norms, and lawful or contractual obligations.

Emotional Trust is vulnerability. Breaking trust undermines your faith in someone, while reinforced trust affirms belief.

I intend to explore the concept of Trust in greater detail in a future blog. James's talk on the matter really inspired me to research the topic further!

Nostalgia vs Good Game Design

Leigh Harris gave a talk about the game he's working on inspired by submarine simulators. He had some really great advice about presenting and thinking about your work. - Explain your game as a blend of genres instead of a blend of games. Your better off explaining your game as an open world puzzle adventure game, rather than Skyrim meets Legend of Zelda. If someone hasn't played the games you're comparing yours to, then they'll be at a loss to imagine what your game is like. Or, in a worse scenario, someone may be a fan of open world games, but may hate Skyrim. In this example, the comparison may be detrimental to your public perception. - It's important to recognize the traditions of the genre you're creating for. - The game you are making is a part of an ongoing conversation between creators and audiences. Your audience will have certain expectations from a genre. It's fine to deviate, but rewriting the genre may alienate your audience.

Lego, Post It, Mop and Bucket

Epona Schweer and Shell Osborne gave a really phenomenal talk about how making a game’s levels in Lego, covering your living room in rainbow post-it notes and fighting each-other with mops is a great alternate method of prototyping. I found this talk really inspiring.

Their big argument was that a game design document marries you to your design. So fleshing out the GDD before you've prototyped things is like eloping with a stranger in Vegas. They demonstrated how creative you can get to prototype game concepts, level designs, and user interactions.

At one point during the presentation I volunteered to step to the front of the class with a small group of other designers to demonstrate their methodology live in front of the audience. We had to use post its to quickly dismantle Hamlet and create a new game-ready narrative that was reminiscient of the original story. While we organize our thoughts, I acted as the teams mouthpiece and directed our workflow while narrating our decisions to the audience!

Closing Thoughts: There were a lot of great talks I didn't mention here. GCAP is the most LGBTQ+ friendly game event I've been to! It was really great to see so many panelists and developers from that community. I think the event really excelled because of the inclusivity. I'll be dissappointed not to attend it next year! I look forward to GDC Europe though!