Course Reflection

gravityblaster2After taking this course, I’d have to say there’s much more to games than meets the eye. On the surface unknowingly, people play games as an escape. But there’s much more to it than that. The text we read helped us bridge the gaps between play and games. Learning the MDA framework (Mechanics/Dynamics/Aesthetics) was really interesting and helped us really put into perspective how games are designed. The Extra Credits videos helped us bridge together what really makes a game. They also went over a lot of what makes games tick. All the material we went over eventually made connections and complimented each other. Learning how to play games as a designer helped us really figure out how to make games overall. From our first tutorial through Game Maker Studio we were able to get a first taste in game development. The games we ended up creating for our first project were far from polished and had much to be desired. However we learned a large amount between then and our final project. For the final project, our team worked with Unity and was able to incorporate a lot of what we learned into a semi-polished final and presentable game. However at the forefront, team communication is key. Without communication between the producers, designers, programmers, and the artists, nothing would ever get done. There needs to be a collaborative effort from all ends in order to get things done.gravityblaster1


Project-X and Working with Unity

As the semester winds down in Art 108 and after everything we’ve learned, our group decided to tackle our final project with Unity. Unity is a powerful cross-platform game engine written in C#. A couple of our group members have prior experience with Unity, which helped all of us get up to speed with its internals and how it works.


For our game, we wanted to combine a run-and-gun side-scrolling shooter with changing gravity implemented in. In order to change gravity,we had to implement our own gravity (as defined in our Utilities script) using vectors and alter the built-in gravity. We also wanted to implement a variety of different weapons. In our first build, we had a machine gun, shotgun, and rail gun available. There was also a variety of different enemies, including the hover bot, a turret, TNT bat, poison wheel, and devil crow. For our first level, we had a surprise boss at the end that requires a mastery of gravity changing. There is also a horde mode included that still needs to be fleshed out to look presentable.


As with learning anything new, playing around with Unity was a steep challenge. Luckily, I worked with C# before so it wasn’t too hard to understand the code. Unity has decent documentation to get started and its included libraries are pretty robust for most anything you would want to create. However, it is vastly different compared to Game Maker Studio and requires a lot more experience with coding environments. However, this allows for deeper changes and more tweaking throughout the entire game.

Technology-Based non Video Games


For our most recent technological game expedition, we tackled Ingress. Ingress, an augmented-reality MMO location-based game. There are two factions within this game, Enlightened and Resistance. If you’ve played Fallout 4 before, it is very similar to the Institute and the Railroad/Minutemen. At first I thought I was going to be able to play, since I had an iOS device. I had the game installed and ready to play. However, when we started to get ready to play, I learned that the game would not be compatible on jailbroken iOS devices. I ended up having to follow someone around a bit while they played to try and get a feel for the game.

The game pits two factions against each other in a pseudo territory capturing setting by using GPS technologies. There’s different items to also assist you while trying to capture portals. A downside of the game that I noticed is that the game uses a lot of battery on your phone. It’s tough to deploy resonators while you keep running out of battery.

The game reminds me a lot of Watchdogs in the sense that people around you might be involved in more than you think and that you should be careful. You never know who might be Resistance.

Video Game Prototype

Alien Invasion take 2!AlienInvasion

From our last build of the game, Alien Invasion went through a few changes. The alien’s goal is to try and survive on the planet for as long as possible.

The laser has been changed to become working, and serves as a power-up. The laser lasts around 4 seconds. It can be used by pressing Shift. Jump has been remapped to Spacebar, as games generally use Spacebar for jumping, and would be more natural for the player.

We added a dog obstacle that will be able to eat you, as well as the original truck that runs you over. These two obstacles will come at you at different speeds now and are both dangerous.

Sokthea and I had an idea to make a saucer power-up that would let you fly through the air air freely to avoid the different enemies. However, with how the game was coded focusing on collisions, it was difficult to implement. We ended up making the saucer an invincibility power-up for the player that lasts about 7 seconds.

As in all games, there are known issues with this game also. The scripting of the obstacles is off, and generates at at a weird pace. The obstacles come sometimes too often and sometimes overlap. The power-ups also generate much more often than they should, however with the pace of this game, perhaps you actually the power-ups that often.

To build upon this game, the power-up timers were overlooked, so I would add that into the game. I would also add in another timer for the game which would serve as the score-keeping process for the game (the longer the time, the better). Also, holes in the ground would be added in, as well as aerial obstacles to add to the game’s difficulty.

Download Link: https://goo.gl/4iIKWw

Credit: Aidan Nguyen (Programmer/Producer), Sokthea Mov (Artist/Designer)

First Playable Game: Alien Invasion


Name of our game: Alien Invasion


My Role: I was the programmer for our game and the coding for the game in general. I created the scripts, objects, and the room for the game.

Link to our game: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0W705eooU0ITUJSWU5ZZEdtYkk

The process of creating the game was quite a feat at first. First I created some placeholder sprites for the objects I would be creating later. To make our game an endless runner, I needed to have the appearance of the player moving, but in actuality, the room itself is moving. So for the Room, all I created was the original layout of the room. I then needed to create a generator object to keep making the ground along with the obstacles.

The first question I would ask the players is, “Is this game easy to pick up and play?”

However, our main concern for the game is very broad and generalized, but can flesh out towards many different things doing with the game. “What can we do to improve this game?” We received answers like difficulty, changing speed, and different things to spice up the game. Sokthea and I wanted to add a few things in later iterations to help make our game better. For example, to create more difficulty, we would have a different variety of obstacles, and of course, increasing speed will increase difficulty by correlation. We’d also add in different power ups, such as a laser gun to eliminate obstacles, and a spaceship to fly over everything. These power ups would, of course, have a limited time span.

Some of our art also did not translate well from placeholder to official assets. For example, our pixels did not line up from the ground, to the truck tires. Our trucks were flying through the air, which should obviously not happen.


Video Game Lab

For our last class meeting, we ended up This is the Only Level, Canabalt, Prismic Shift, and some other games. Each game was unique in how they were presented and how they tried to grasp our attention but shared some similarities. Since they were all flash games, 2D graphics are the usual medium, and each of them utilized 2D graphics. This is the Only Level and Canabalt were both presented as side-scrollers, and Prismic Shift was presented as topdown shooter. This is the Only Level was interesting as it showed multiple takes on one simple level. It was controlled through keyboard and mouse, depending on which “level” it was on. Canabalt was unique as it autoscrolled for you, but jumps were done with “x” or “c”. However they reused the same scenery throughout the levels, just like This is the Only Level. Prismic Shift used a joystick and buttons and had a unique input compared to the other two games.


When compared to WizardWizard, This is the Only Level and Canabalt were all similar as they are all 2D side-scrollers. However they are all vastly different. WizardWizard attempts to introduce a story similar to Super Mario as wizards with a storyline. This is the Only Level has no real story, and neither does Canabalt. However Canabalt attempts to drop you in a situation where you are running from something. Though the games can seem similar at first glance, each game is unique in how it’s presented.


Game of Memes

Memes have ruled the internet for the past few decades, sparking a wildfire following among users. Thousands of memes are introduced each day online, hoping to become the next big thing in pop culture. When tasked to create a game for our first prototype, Sunshine and I decided, “what better way to capture the attention of gamers than with pop culture references that surround them each and every day?”IMG_2084


Self-titled, “Meme”, is a roll-and-move, press-your-luck, grid movement, card-driven game. The game is set up through multiple phases:draw phase, tile flipping, card phase/chance phase, and then finally the movement phase. Each player starts of opposite sides of the board, and through these phases, you are attempting to reach the opposite side of the board. The board setup is similar to a chess board, with alternating colors of tiles spread throughout the board. The game requires the board, 64 tiles, 30 six-sided dice, six red and green tokens, and your own character pawn.Capture


Example ridiculous card from “We Didn’t Playtest This At All”

There are also two decks of action cards that have special abilities linked to memes and can heavily influence the game. There are multiple different types of cards in your deck. Bonus cards which can help advance the player towards their goal.Troll cards are used to mess with opponents and try to deter them away from their goal. With chance cards, you roll your die to determine whether the card was beneficial or not. Lastly, Derp cards generally have ridiculous actions that add humor to the game, similar to some of the cards in the card-based game “We Didn’t Playtest This At All”.

As of right now, the game is optimized for two players, but is open to the possibility of four players with some tweaking.

Session Report: Zombie Dice

Zombies. They’re one of the most overused themes in the 21st century so far, but they make up for some of the most fun entertainment around. For our first game, we tried our hand at Zombie Dice by Steve Jackson and Alex Fernandez. We also tried playing Carcassonne, but didn’t have enough time to finish. I felt that since we didn’t traditionally finish the game in its entirety, so I do the session report for Zombie Dice. The concept and mechanics are relatively simple. The game runs off a press-your-luck, dice rolling mechanic. Each player assumes the role of a zombie, and what do zombies love most? Brains. The goal of the game is roll 13 brains and eat the most brains possible. There are 13 dice in total and out of those, you choose three dice at a time. On each die, there are there possible outcomes: run away, brains, and shotgun shots. Obviously you want to avoid the shotgun, because that leads to death, and death is not very good as a zombie. The footsteps indicate that the human has ran away and you can re-roll the die and try to get brains. There’s no limit to how many times you roll, but you cannot re-roll shotgun shots. Once you roll three of those, you lose all accumulated brains for the turn and die for the round. Once someone rolls 13 brains, the rest of the turn order is done for one more round to give the others an opportunity to catch up.


Zombie Dice!


My opponents for this session were Mike Phe, Andrew Soto, and Peter Pham. It was the first time Mike and I played the game, but we picked up the game pretty easily. For my first turn, I rolled five brains while Mike rolled seven, Peter rolled six, and Andrew ended up getting shotgunned. This first turn ended up giving us a false sense of how quick the game was going to finish. For our subsequent turned, we tried to play aggressively and died from the shotgun. We ended up rolling small amounts for the rest of the game and ending our turn in order to shield ourselves from the blast. It taught us to know when to play safe and when to try to gamble. Luck was not on my side. I rolled many brains, but lost them all from shotguns. I didn’t stray far from my original roll I seemed to attract bullets. Mike was a classic safe player. He tried to roll a couple brains, then end his turn each time. Peter and Andrew were both a mixture of safe and aggressive. When they saw an opportunity to roll more safely, they tried for it, but more times than not the shotgun caught up with them. Eventually Andrew ended up winning even though we all had the chance to catch up, which was surprising since he ended up dying the first turn. It shows us that the game is heavily influenced by chance and gambling.

The game itself was pretty fun and I would love to play it again. It does give off the vibe as not a very serious game. It doesn’t require as much of a time commitment as most board games and can be played very lightheartedly.

Board Game Geeks link: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/62871/zombie-dice


Classic Arcade Games: WWF Superstars

While perusing the Internet Arcade listings, I happened upon one particular game that interested me: WWF Superstars. The World Wrestling Federation has changed its name, and its roster has evolved over the years changing into a completely different brand, however there was something that urged me to play the game.

Upon starting the game, there were no instructions whatsoever to play the game. For computer illiterate people, this would probably have been a nightmare and most likely would have given up. But after fiddling around with my keyboard, pressing the TAB key led me into an options menu, where I eventually learned that I could enter the game by inserting a coin with the 5 key, and pressing the start button with the 1 key. In gameplay, I used the arrows to control my character, and CTRL and ALT to punch and kick. A combination of the two would grapple the enemy and perform any number of different moves, such as tosses or throwing them into the ropes. The game didn’t lwwfsstaruast that long, since I ended up losing the second match.

Playing on an emulator brings nostalgia to the player and they’re able to reminisce about the great games they used to play in their childhood. However, emulation is what it is; it can only imitate the original. Without the original controls and cabinet, there is only so much to the game. In most cases, the game won’t be able to run in its best form, as the hardware on our computers are not the same as the original arcade cabinet. The sound from WWF Superstars was atrocious, and had me begging to mute the game. The controls will be much different on a keyboard, but by having a joystick peripheral, some of the original design may be replicated. All in all, emulation is a great tool to bring about old games and some of their glory, but it cannot truly replicate the experience of the game itself.


Scott, J. (November, 2014). Internet Arcade: WWF Superstars: Free Streaming: Internet Archive. Internet Archive. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/arcade_wwfsstar

Image credit to http://s.emuparadise.org/MAME/flyers/wwfsstaru.png

Delivering a project and presenting to a multi-level audience

The final step of the project has finally arrived. Developing and completing the project is one thing, but trying to get people to buy and use the product is a completely different animal. Just because you believe you’ve created something amazing, and the client believes it will do well, doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone will support it. When product stakeholders create their user stories, they always have an audience in mind. Whether it be for children, adults, or the elderly, the product itself, as well as how it’s being presented needs the team to keep in mind its development and presentation.

The most general form of presentations in a company.

Presentation can be in the form of advertisements, keynotes, and various other formats. Generally it really just depends on the audience targeted. Teenagers tend to be easily targeted by word of mouth and celebrity advertising, whereas those interested in technology are the ones watching keynotes. Different targets call for different formats.

Depending on the demographic you’re targeting, this new product you have created must be fresh and something worth having. If your company is fairly new in the scene, there is going to be some trouble getting a foot in the door if the product offered is stale. There is no demographic, save for maybe the elderly, that enjoys the same old thing time after time again.

As for internally within a company, generally teams will present projects in a traditional PowerPoint keynote. The vocabulary used within the keynote should fit that of the expertise of the audience. For example, CEOs and Vice Presidents of companies tend to be more business-orientated and may not understand technical specifications, and therefore lose interest fairly quickly. Basically, you just need to keep in mind of your target and have the sense to adapt to your target.

Steve Jobs believes you too can give a great presentation.


Furthermore, you aren’t going to be the best at presenting right away. Most people aren’t born charismatic and will have trouble trying to convey and sell the product to others, but that’s okay. According to BusinessWeek columnist Carmine Gallo in an article describing the presentation practices of Steve Jobs, a major key in his presentation style is practicing. “Nobody is born knowing how to deliver a great PowerPoint presentation. Expert speakers hone that skill with practice” (Gallo, 2012). The famous proverb states, “Practice makes perfect”, and in this case, practicing your presenting skills will only make it easier on yourself.

Presenting and getting your product out there can be a difficult task, but these steps can help the product succeed. Keep the target audience always in mind as they are who the product is for. Make sure to utilize the correct type of presentation, as different demographics are exposed to different types more often. Make sure that the product is something worth having, and isn’t just dust on the shelf. Finally, make sure you practice your skills. Presenting is a useful tool and can greatly enhance the product itself if the team makes it shine.


Gallo, C. (October 2012). 11 Presentation Lessons You Can Still Learn From Steve Jobs. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2012/10/04/11-presentation-lessons-you-can-still-learn-from-steve-jobs/

Image credit to http://pandodaily.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/freevector-presentation.jpeg

Image credit to http://cdn.bgr.com/2011/09/jobs_point110825140829.jpg