Background

Hi there! Before I begin writing my blog, it’s probably best that I tell you what this is all about. I’m Harriet and I’m currently in my third year at Bournemouth University, studying BA (Hons) Interactive Media Production. In my final year I must create a graduate project, this will be the final practical piece of work I will make at my time at Uni (which is pretty scary!). The project can be anything we like, as long as it’s interactive. We’ve studied many topics during our three years on the course, so deciding which way I’m going to take myself for the project was hard! This blog is going alongside my project, to describe and analyse my concept development so that everyone can see where my thoughts and ideas came from!

Advertisements

Initial Ideas

Selecting a singular idea for my graduate project was hard, it needed to be something that I was happy to represent everything that I had learned over my three years on the course. The project will be something that is kept with me for the rest of my life, and could further me into a career after university. With this in mind, I had a number of ideas of what my project could be. From a website which creates surprise birthday boxes full of clothing and accessories, to an application that tells you to put the kettle on.

JOIN IN – My original idea which I went running with was an IOS application called JOIN IN. It would use GPS and a social media style friends list to create small events – such as having a cup of tea – which users can quickly accept or decline. The app will then use GPS to tell the host of the event when guests are in proximity of their location, so that they can prepare for their guest (put the kettle on).

Join In - Harriet Frot Friends2 Current Event

I created the concept, the mock-ups, the designs, the logo, a proto-type, and even pitched my idea. But eventually decided that this project wasn’t for me. To try and push a new social media style application in the world is very difficult, with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram being so popular. We’ve seen this happen already with numerous apps such a Circle and Message Me. The app didn’t take into account, that although it does create another means of creating events among friends, it isn’t the only means of doing this task. Facebook already has the opportunity to create events. Communication tools like texting, whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, would also all rise above the app. This would mean the number of users who may choose to use the app would be very slim. 

Although this app had the potential to be my graduate project, with the amount that would have to go into creating the app being acceptable for the amount of time given to create it. It isn’t what I want to achieve from my final year at University.

The Idea

After going through multiple ideas I finally decided that I wanted to make a game for the iPhone. During the Christmas holidays I downloaded the game “Dumb Ways to Die” and I knew, after playing that game for the rest of the holiday, that I wanted to make something similar. I have always had an interest in animation, especially when we did it in our first year at university, but I never continued to play with it after that, so creating a game with animation would allow me to go back to my interest in it. Not only that, but when I first came to university to study Interactive Media Production I always thought that it would be a game that I would make for my final project. I’ve always been interested in games and how they are created.. as well as playing them! So when I got this idea, it felt right.

I decided I wanted to create a game that had a purpose, with some sort of underlaying meaning. I’d had been playing Dumb Ways to Die for a while before I realised that there was a meaning to the game, it was to make people award of level crossings.

This is where ‘Under the Influence” came from. It will be mini-game style, with 15 levels that will begin at 6 seconds long, but after every three games the timer will drop by 0.5 of a second. Meaning once you get to level 15 the game will only last 4 seconds, making it difficult to complete. Not only will the time change, but so will the characters that you play, the higher the score you reach the more characters you will gain. There will be 5 characters in total, to demonstrate the character going through different stages of life, baby, child, teen, adult, elderly. These characters will be unlocked every 5,000 points won.  The object of the game is to take your character – called the IMP – through to its elderly age, stopping him from getting into accidents due to drink driving. You only have one life. Each time the user wins or lose’s a level a cut scene will play, with a funny/crude 2 second clip of the character celebrating or dying.

The overall idea is quite large, and given the time allowed for the project I am going to create a concept of the full large game. I will create 6 of the 15 games, which will be fully functional. Giving an idea of how the full game will run and feel.

What Makes a Good Mobile Game?

A presentation by Nick Watt suggests a good app “plays to the strengths of mobile”. In his eyes, this consists of five things: Communications, Spontaneous, Geo-sensitive, Short periods of use and Focused activity (Watt, 2010).

In my game I look to follow these five things:

  • The game needs to constantly communicate what is going on, so descriptions of how to play each level should be shown. Where a timer is used, this should be shown counting down.
  • The game should surprise the user, there should always be new things to be discovered. To meet this I will make characters only available after a certain high score has been reached.
  • Geo-sensitive, although this means using the geo-location of the phone, I will understand it as using different features of the phone. I want to use the microphone, accelerometer, and all the different finger gestures to create variation in the game.
  • I want the game to be able to be played little and often, it needs to be addictive in the way that the user will keep wanting to come back to it. To do this I’ll add in the high score system, which will make the user constantly want to try and compete against themselves.
  • As short periods the time played needs to be focused. This would be done my creating simple games, but grow harder in difficulty the more points that are gained. This will make the user need to focus deeper into the game, as the harder it gets the more you focus.

Using these methods I should be able to create a mobile game that is addictive and enjoyable.

The User

Not only is it the audience that is important in this project, but also the user. Who am I making the game for? And why is it beneficial for them? This is where my other ideas failed to kick off, with JoinIn there wasn’t a user who would be looking to create the app. There was no user that would benefit from the app, only the audience would.
So before coming up with the official idea for the game I needed to find a user that could benefit. As “Dumb ways to Die” had a subliminal message, to make people more aware of level crossings. I thought it would be a good idea to find an issue that could use this game as tool for gaining awareness.
I first of all thought of creating a game that could be used in airplanes, to help reinforce the safety procedures that are taken on every flight. All though this could be a useful tool, and may actually grab the attention of passagers rather than the menontimus air hostest show, it was difficult to find any real statistic that showed there was a real need for this, and a beneficial user.

I decided to look into the government and see what issues they were facing, this way I could create a tool that makes people more aware of this issue, which could hopefully then help the government with their issue, and lower the % rates of which it currently faced. Through doing this I came across the drink driving statistics.

“Provisional estimates for 2012 suggest that 280 people were killed in drink drive accidents, an increase of around 17 per cent compared with 2011 and accounting for 16 per cent of all road deaths in Great Britain.” (Department of Transport, 2012.)

This being the most recent documentation of drink driving statistics on the government website, I thought that this could be a great area to base my game on. To make people more actively aware of drink driving. I can use the UK government as my user.

Target Audience

In Fllurrys report (2014) they show figures of the ‘mobile addict’, stating that the most addicted is the 18-24 year olds. This means that 18-24 year olds are using their mobile phones the most out of all age groups. This also links in well the age of drink drivers, in 2011 360 drivers between the ages of 16-24 were killed due to drink driving. (GOV, 2011). The data links together very well, and shows that a game based on drink driving could be beneficial to 18-24 year olds. I do not feel that I need to decide upon which sex the game should be built for as I think that both males and females would enjoy the game, although men are described as bad drivers I feel both have the same capability to drink and drive.

To extend on my research I also created a survey to find out which age group downloaded games for their phones, and what games they were most likely to download. The results from this (See Apendix 1) also showed that the highest downloader of games was the 18-24 year olds.

 

Chosing a Platform

Choosing the platform for my game was a tough decision, as realistically in the end, I would want the game to be available for all platforms. I did some research on Apple, Android and Windows. Although Android sells the most phones, they do not gain as much profit from their applications as Apple does. (mobiThinking, 2014) Thinking about the future of my game, if I decided to market the app, putting it on the Apple App store would provide more in my favour as I should gain profit from it. There for my decision was made to create the game for Apple, but with the intentions in the future to also move to Android and other platforms.

 

imgres-1 imgres

Game Theory

It was important to look at Game Theory before creating my game. Game theory can be based on any kind of game, whether that be virtual or reality, as all games follow the same ideas. Cailloi’s book (1958) “Man, Play and games” describes 4 basic categories of game:

  • Agon – competitive games where skills rely on skill/expertise (competition).
  • Alea – Games of chance, which hinge on luck/fortune/destiny (chance).
  • Mimicry – play in the sense of performance/acting/pretense/playing apart (simulation).
  • linx -vertiginous risk, playful activities which involve risk/thrill seeking/extremes (vertigo).

My game will use the Agon category, the game will be repetitively played because of competition with oneself. There should always be an urge to want to beat your own high score, and also beat your friends high score. The more the user plays the better they will become at the game, making them more skilled.

Why Flash?

There has in the past been issues with Apple and Flash, so why would I chose to use Flash to create my game? After doing some research on Apple and Flash – digging through all the bad press – I found that since Adobe brought out Flash CS6 there have been less issues between the two. Although Apple do not like the idea of cross platform applications as much as using their own products, Flash still is able to publish to the Apple App store. Adobe (2012) say:

“There are currently more than 20,000 mobile apps and games built using Flash technology available in Google Play and the Apple App Store.”

As I had a key interest in animation, and wanted that to be a part of my game, it made sense that the tool I would use to make animations would be the tool I would use to create my game. I too have my doubts with Flash and Apple, but I thought that this was a prime opportunity for me to take on another challenge during my project, to develop and decide my own opinions by going head first and doing the unthinkable.

I have little knowledge of coding with ActionScript 3.0, so this is something else that I will have to learn as I go through the process of making my game. I have done research into coding with Flash for application games, and found that I need to take the Object Oriented Programming method, as this should make my game run a lot smoother and quicker. Using timeline code would be difficult and run slow with the amount of code and timeline events I would need.

Case Study – Angry Birds

It’s not only about creating a successful app that is important, it’s maintaining that success once it has been released. Angry Birds has reached over one billion cumulative downloads. Rovio (2014) also provides more specific Angry Birds statistics:

  • 200,000 years of combined game play
  • 300 million minutes of game play per day
  • 266 combined game levels played
  • 400 billion birds launched
  • 44 billion collected stars

Angry birds is the most downloaded application of all time, and its ability to keep users returning to it is what makes it so successful. Rovio builds this success by constantly introducing new levels to the game, there is always more to play. Not only this, but the addictiveness of the game is created in their scoring system. The idea to gain more points and stars with the little amounts of birds makes every level re-playable.  And with updates free of charge there is no stopping the game from loosing any players. 

Angry-Birds-screenshot

The simplicity of Angry Birds is something that I want to take forward in my game, I want it to be easy to use, so after being played once, you will know how to play it forever. It seems that the key to a successful game application is creating something that can be repetitively play, but also constantly updated. Creating a successful game like Angry Birds always comes down to the user. If the game satisfies the users’ needs, they will constantly continue to return to the game.