13 October 2010

Talked to Ben Ellinger about my GAM idea

Today I finally got my meeting with Ben Ellinger, for those that don't know, he's the design instructor for my GAM300 class. I was really meaning to talk to him for a while, but Ben's usually quite busy. After my team's presentations, Ben was actually excited by my idea. I'm not going to lie, it felt good, but it also made me focus my resolve, I had positive feedback, it was time to make sure I would be able to deliver. I already resolved to try my best to make all of my games as amazing as they can be within constraints, but it's always nice to see your effort rewarded!

I'll probably go into more detail about the history of this game idea in a later post, but for now I'll just put up a record of what happened in that history today.

After some setbacks, I finally got my meeting with Ben, he had told me to meet up with him about my idea after I presented them. I find it an integral part of my design process to talk about it with everyone who might be interested, get their feedback, criticisms and make my own judgments, but it was really time for me to look for experienced help. During this meeting I discussed the ideas I had for my game mechanic in more detail. I discussed both my Pipe and Syphon concepts with him, and we both agreed that the Pipe concept was better (I'll make sure to mention both of them in the history post). Ben told me that this idea was solid, he told me that it was something he'd be able to see as a real game being developed by a company. He also mentioned that it was time for me to stop conceptualizing and start iterating.

Some important lessons that came out of this meeting to me:
  • I had many ideas for my game mechanic, but Ben told me to strip it to the bare essentials of the design. This was because there was no way for me to know the idea was fun until I played it, until I playtested it. There was no need to add content to the game, because content should arise from what's fun, and should support what's fun.
    • I used an analogy: when you plant the seed of your idea, you don't know what kind of plant it will grow into, why would you put debris and fertilizers that might kill your plant over the top instead of watching and seeing what it grows into.
  • It's a good thing to ask your peers, as sources of ideas and as people who will criticize your idea. As such the idea I mentioned to Ben was the result of this work.
  • Paper playtesting is your friend! Ben mentioned that flash prototyping is cool, but can be a waste of code effort, why should you work on something that will not help your game? Paper can be run by you.
    • For a real time strategy style game, the turns in the paper version can be used to represent on action during a game. One turn is used to either place units or move them.

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