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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dumb Ways to Die is an IOS application game, and this is what gave me the inspiration for my project. It has a catchy song, and addictive simpleness which I wish to embed in my game. But this makes the game my biggest competitor. My game will be created in a similar format as Dumb Ways to Die, quick mini games with a high score system, it could be said that my game would run in competition with them. To avoid any direct competition my game will differ as it has a different motive as its theme, whereas Dumb Ways sometimes references level crossing awareness, my game at every level will focus on drink driving.
I started off my brain storming lots of ideas of different levels for the game. Emily and Livvy helped me at this point and threw some different ideas into the mix as well. Once I had decided upon 15 different games I was ready to start storyboarding how they would play. As this there is only a short period of time to create the games, I decided that it would be reasonable to only take 6 of the games through to the storyboard process, but have the others ready for when the time came to expand.