Better video games without characters

Better video games without characters

In a thought-provoking contribution published by The Atlantic,  Ian Bogost discusses the role of characters in video games, our obsession with self-identification and self-representation and why we should start consider a future where systems like video games could work without characters at all renouncing “[…]  our own selfish, individual desires in the interest of participating in systems larger than ourselves”.

Read the full article.

A playable interface designed to teach you how to play

Creative designer  Yowan Langlais (co-founder at juicybeast) presents the work behind  the design of a “teaching” interface for his game Toto Temple Deluxe (Ouya). As reported:

Making a fully playable UI was definitely a good experiment for us. Even if it wasn’t completely necessary, it helped convey the complexity of the controls to new players. We could have relied on traditional, text-based tutorials, but most player would have just ignored them to then have a hard time playing the game like it’s supposed to be played. Making a playable UI system is great if your game needs it, obviously, but it also comes with its share of difficulties […] Games with really simple mechanics or barely no menus may not really benefit from this kind of system. On the other hand, a playable UI could help preserve immersion and overall unity even if you don’t need it as a teaching tool.

Read the full study on GameDev.net.

Upsilon Circuit: when a game-over is forever

Still under development, Upsilon Circuit is a game you can play it just once. When you lose, you can never play it again. No save, no continue, no restart. On top of that, a participatory audience to help players staying alive as long as possible.

According to the official page:

Part gameshow, part action RPG, Upsilon Circuit is an exclusive single server online 8 player game. When someone dies in Upsilon Circuit, they can never play again. When you are chosen to play, the world watches, and everyone has a hand in your journey, both friend and foe.

[…]

Each Contestant explores the overworld and generated dungeons in search of the Dream Tech Crystals. They fight monsters, avoid traps, and compete with the opposing team.

When the Contestant fights monsters or gets treasure, the EXP and other rewards go to the Audience. EXP is used collectively by the Audience to level up the Contestant’s Skill Tree. Simply put, the Audience is part dungeon master, part strategist, and part judge & jury.

 

Designing games for wearable devices

In this case study published by Ludomade, authors explore the limitations and constraints of designing games for small wearable devices – i.e. the Apple Watch. Below are some takeaways from the development process of  Mineshaft: Dynamite Blast (Ludomade, 2014) – guidelines you’ll find valuable to design interactions beyond the realm of games:

Game concept

  • Think about how it’s going to feel playing a game that’s strapped to your wrist: holding your arm up in strange ways gets tiresome quickly, so keep play sessions short.
  • Minimize the player inputs – simplify everything.

Touch interactions

  • On a 280×280 screen, space fills up really quick, so consider as few on-screen buttons as possible.
  • When buttons are necessary, think about their placement based on which wrist the watch is on. You don’t want players to cover everything up whenever they need to jump.

Graphic design on small size screen

  • Texture-packed realism isn’t going to work on such a small screen. Choose a graphical style and color palette that maximizes definition at this size.

The role of the form factor

  • Consider square and circle screens when designing UI, keep those buttons out of the corners.
  • Minimize the amount of UI needed – the small screen gets cluttered quickly.
  • You must remove the default “swipe right to close app” function.

Audio?

  • There’s no audio on most watches so use audio as an accessory.

Check the final game on Android Wears and iOS (smartphone/tablet).

Article originally seen on Dotventi.

Dreeps: an alarm clock to reinvent RPG

Dreeps is a classic (mobile) RPG with a special trick. It features characters, explorations, battles, interactions with other fictional people and objects. The only exception to the classic scenario is that it doesn’t require any input from its player – no grinding, looting, ripetitive tasks or hours spent on quests.

Hisanori Hiraoka, Daisuke Watanabe, and Kyohei Fujita  have conceived the game as an alarm playing game. According to the official page:

For you who don’t have time anymore to play RPG, “Alarm Playing Game” is a new type of game where you just have to set an alarm to enjoy an RPG adventure. Before going to bed just set the alarm in dreeps, and the robot boy will sleep like you.

When you’ll wake up with in that alarm in the morning, as you go to worker to school, the robot boy with go on an adventure though fields, valleys or peninsulas where bosses are waiting for him in dungeons. A new day is starting for you and the robot boy !

In dreeps, you will just have to set the alarm, that’s all. You can have a look at the adventure on the phone put on you desk while working, during snack time, just enjoy the game at your pace. If you woke up with dreeps, the adventure will automatically continue as long as the robot boy has enough HP, even if you don’t open the app. You might be missing some events, but don’t mind about it.
There’s almost no text in the game. You can imagine your own version of the story with the hints hidden in visuals and sound. You can share some screenshots and you thoughts about the game by pressing the « share » button.

  1. Set dreeps’ alarm before you sleep. After a restful slumber, your HP will be invigorated.
  2. dreeps’ alarm will ring when morning comes. As the robot Boy sets forth, your day begins!
  3. Observe the robot boy’s exploits while at work, or at snack time. The game will adapt to your life rhythm.

Downaload Dreeps from the App Store.

Microsoft and the holodeck: IllumiRoom

Microsoft Research has published on its Youtube account a new video of project RoomAlive – former IllumiRoom. In this video you can have a sneak pick on the advancement made so far.  From Eurogamer.net: “In the video, we see a few prototype games. Whack-A-Mole sees characters pop up for players to shoot or stomp on. In Robot Attack you control a soldier who shoots robots. Traps is a sort of puzzle game you play on your wall. RoomAlive is just a prototype at this stage, and there’s no suggestion it will be released in consumer form for Xbox One any time soon. But it does offer a glimpse at a possible future for gaming as imagined by Microsoft Research.”