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.
As Emily was creating my characters for me, I create a mood board style collection of images, colours and characters that I previously liked. She then used this to create the first set of characters which were placed forward to user testing.
I decided that I wanted the characters to be bold and bring as this drew your attention too them, and made them look friendly and appealing.
These are some of the ideas that Emily first came up with.
After going through multiple different ideas, I decided that it would be good to test some of these on the audience. I liked the idea of having a character in a costume, so I went ahead and tested these two characters on some users.
I held a focus group with 8 people aged between 19-23, I had some pre written questions to ask them about how they felt towards the characters that were drawn. (See Apendix 2 for full notes). From the group it was almost certain that they did not like the characters. They didn’t like the idea of the characters in costumes, they felt that maybe if there was more detail to the costumes that they would like them more. They thought that if the costume is going to be all one colour, why doesn’t the character just be that colour and forget about the eye holes. They also didn’t like the colours used for the characters, they felt that they were very elementray, and there was no warmth to the character. They just didn’t connect with these characters. I took note of this and was ready to go to Emily to tell her what had happened in the discussion and to make our next improvements.
After speaking to Emily about the user testing she agreed that there needed to be some improvements. We then sat down together and discussed exactly how the 5 different characters were going to differ from each other. I decided that it would be a good idea to have the characters aging. As with humans, we want to live as long as possible, and drink driving can be a cause of death, which means no longer living till you’re old. I thought that this would be a nice idea for the game, to make the user feel more attached to the character. Only when you have reached a certain amount of points would you be able to unlock the next generation of character. With that in mind Emily then came up with two new sets of characters, that looked as though they were aging.
I then took these characters back to my same user’s to test them for their new opinions.
Taking the new sets of characters back to the users to be tested I took a new set of notes (See Apendix 2). From this testing it was 7 out of 8 people that said they prefered the second set of characters. The one person who prefered the first said that they reason they liked those characters the most was because of their ears, they liked the idea that they looked a bit like bears. They said that I could play at the idea of the 3 bears in Goldie Locks with alcohol and none alcoholic drinks. I did like this idea and thought that there could be a level or a starting scene that showed the off, which would give a link to why the characters were designed in this way. But 7 out of 8 liked the other characters more, they said that they instantly felt a warmth to these characters, they seemed friendly and were cute. They liked how the characters changed shape and grew hair the older they got, you could really see how they developed. I decided at that point that those were going to be the characters that I was going to use.
From the notes taken from the user testing these were the final designs created by Emily for my characters.
As iPhone’s have a small screen it was important to learn how to design for this, and what factors need to be thought about when creating and designing for them. As Matt Brian (2011) says in his post:
“The user interface needs to be as unobtrusive as it can be, leaving out any design elements that don’t add a use or function to the app. Bundling in too many design elements can leave it feeling bulky and will feel un-intuitive.”
I need to think about the basic functionality of the game, what are the most important things to include and what could be left out. I decided that the game should have limited buttons, it’s very distracting having buttons on the game play screens as the screen in so small they would take up valuable space. Not only this, but some of the games will have tapping as the way to win the game, so I don’t want any unnecessary buttons around that could be clicked on by accident. There will be no pause button, as this game is about completing levels in a short amount of time, so there would be no real point in a pause button for a game that last 4 seconds. In other words, there will be no buttons on the separate game screens, keeping the space open for all the game objects. What will be included though, is a timer bar, which will move down as the timer runs out. This will not be clickable.
Often when playing a game for the first time the sounds that are used aren’t always the first thing you notice. But as you continue to play the game you may become more aware of these sounds, even without realising memorising these sounds. One of the most well known game sounds of all time is Mario’s ‘bwoop‘ as he jumps in Super Mario. As a game designer it is always important to not put the game sounds last, they are one of the most important aspects of a game. As Collin’s (2013) hypothesis’ in his book “Playing with Sound: A Theory of Interacting with Sound and Music in Video Games” that:
“Interacting with sound is fundamentally different in terms of our experience from listening without interacting; that there is a distinction between listening to sound, evoking sounds already made (by pressing a button, for instance), and creating sound (making new sounds). ”
What Collin’s says here is that we have become accustomed to listening to sound, it comes naturally to us to just listen to sound. But in game play you can evoke sounds, you can do this that make sounds play, creating an interactivity with them. In this way the sounds in the game become more important, they become more personal as they are the sounds that the user is making themselves. They have gained complete control over something within the game.
With that in mind, I feel that it is important to collect the right sounds for my game, I want them to be something that the user feels a connection to. Like the Mario ‘bwoop‘, I want the user to want to play the sound over and over. Not only these but I feel the theme tune of the song must be something catchy, something that will stay in your mind. Like any good TV show, you will always remember the theme song – take “The Fresh Prince of Belair”.