Thursday, February 16, 2012

Week 4: Plan of Attack Document

For this project I decided to break up the outline into two portions, the technical tools I will need to physically complete the requirements of the project, and the theoretical underpinnings that will make the project feel like a integrated, focused experience.


    • Modification tool
    • Modification tool tutorials and help guides
    • Completely fleshed out level map with interactive portions (paper floorplan)
    • Program the level as designed (pseudo code)
    • Final screen capture

Because this is such a technical based project, I am going to limit my theoretical portions of the project to basic look and feel aspects. However, just because the project is heavily technical based doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be a unifying aesthetic to make it all stick together.


    • Focused look and feel of project
    • Structured layout
    • Enemy that fits into the atmosphere of the level

Week 4: 10 Game Ideas

Idea #1:


Enter the dark and glamorous world of high cons and theft. Play as a master thief by night, quiet widower by day; nothing is sacred and nothing is safe.


The target market for this game will be adults, male and female, who enjoy well developed story games with stealth and acrobatic heavy game mechanics. This will appeal to fans of Metal Gear Solid and Assassin’s Creed because of its heavy use of strategy to accomplish goals. !


The goal of the game is to create tension and suspense when playing, but different kinds than horror games. The gameplay will make this possible for players because of the dark tones of the game, where the fear of being caught is palpable. The story and characters will be set, but there will be some freedom of exploration into how deep a player wants to go in interacting with NPC’s.

Idea #2:


To protect and serve has been enough up until this moment. In the end, the job might require the ultimate sacrifice to save the President and his staff; will you choose to make that sacrifice?


Target audience and market for this game will be players who want a challenge oriented game. Specifically audiences who enjoy CounterStrike like games, where the enemy and mission are clear cut and objectives focus largely on preventing disaster or death.


The goal of this game will be to provide a challenging environment, where missions can be replayed again and again for higher scores and better performance ratings. It will also be fast paced to give the player a fair bit of excitement and hectic feeling while playing.

Idea #3:


Months after the devastating destruction wrought by your virus the world is being thrown into chaos. It falls to you and you alone to set things right; failure is likely.


Target audiences for this game will be fairly widespread, focusing on marketing it as an action-adventure game playable by all types of gamers. Fans of savior type games will enjoy this game because of its easy linear design and evolving story.


The goal of the game is to create a gaming atmosphere designed around the feeling that you are up against insurmountable odds. High tension and challenging objectives will be the main focus, allowing players to test themselves and reap large rewards at the end of missions.

Idea #4:


As a masterless Ronin you wander the world looking for an enemy worth fighting. If you find him or not is up to you, but the journey will be one for the books.


The target audience will be fans of more open world type adventures, with enough mixed RP and one-on-one combat aspects to make an integrated gameplay experience. This game will probably be more geared to a slightly younger male audience, but will have an adult philosophical undertone.


The goal of the game is to have a gaming experience where the game philosophy permeates every aspect of the game, from combat mechanics to story. I want to create a real warrior-poet gaming landscape where the player can choose how to complete objectives in his or her own way, and not be hemmed in by either/or scenarios.

Idea #5:


You roam the streets of a city night and day perfecting your running and acrobatic skills; the goal - to become the worlds greatest free runner. The problem - you’re not even the worlds greatest delivery boy.


The target market for this game will be more geared towards sports gamers. However, it will also extend to audiences who enjoy playing free world objective driven games like the Tony Hawk franchise. This leaves the target audience open to just about anyone who enjoys fun, immersive gaming experiences that aren’t devilishly hard and frustrating.


The goal of the game is to create a loose, exciting game landscape. No tension, no suspense, just obtainable objectives that are just challenging enough to make it fun to try and beat a few times. The story will be humorous and lighthearted, giving the playing experience more of a true laid back feeling.

Idea #6:


A knight of the realm must always put the lord and country before himself. But when the lord disgraces himself and his country, your oath is void. Journey and explore as a knight fighting for his way of life in a dying and corrupt world.


The target audience for this game will be hardcore fans of fantasy RPG style games. The market will be slightly geared towards a more adult group, but will also be playable and enjoyable by younger mature audiences.


The goal of this game is to create an immersive RPG experience in an Arthurian landscape, where players can feel they are living out their fantasies of being a knight in that day and age. However, the game will have strong undertones of darkness and tension, not supernatural, but human.

Idea #7:


A time set in a futuristic age of corporate corruption and excess. A man can only take so much before fighting back. Change is coming.


The target audience of this game will be gamers who love playing through well developed game aesthetics and atmosphere, as well as being story oriented gamers. I admit that there is not a huge market for this type of game, but it would be an interesting exercise to make a game where the sole purpose and marketability comes from the immersive nature of the game environment and unfolding of the story.


The goal, much like the audience it is marketed to, will be focused on the gaming experience itself, rather than fancy game mechanics or bloody combat visuals. To put it simply, the goal is to play the game like it matters, like its real, and to see how this effects the choices gamers make.

Idea #8:


In the coming future, the call of the hacking console will lure many young men and women into the world of the Console Cowboys. The only question is, will you be a force for good, or for evil?


The target market for this game would be strictly for fans of cyberpunk who always wanted to play a video that had the look and feel of William Gibson’s Neuromancer. If we’re being honest this audience would probably be made up of a majority of young adolescent males.


The goal would be to create an immersive game experience equal to that of reading a great cyberpunk novel. Tension, suspense, humor, violence, the human factor and more would permeate the atmosphere, allowing the gamer to put themselves wholly and totally into the game.

Idea #9:


The city is split in two; divided by time and temporal space but not by sight. The people of each city observe one another from across the Rift, but can never interact. Until the Rift split.


The target audience for this game will be gamers who play for an immersive storyline and mature combat systems. It will be focused on attracting players who want a story based on adversity and conflict to the extreme.


The goal of the game will be to foster a feeling of identification with one side or another; culminating in the player allowing him/herself to empathize and understand the other culture that they have been battling against.

Idea #10:


The world underneath our feet has largely been neglected in our thoughts; no threats, no interest, no nothing. But what if there was an entire world underneath our feet? What if they made contact?


The target market for this game will be the exploration gamer types who enjoy playing for the feel of seeing another world and way of life completely alien to our own.


The goal of this game is to simulate near constant suspense, tension and a small amount of healthy fear of the unknown. While not exactly a horror style game, most of the gameplay and environment will give the feeling that you are outmatched by the sheer amount of information you don’t have about each situation you walk into.

Week 3: Side Scroller Assignment

(I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to video games, so I only remember playing these 5 ‘old-school’ side scrollers.)

Space Invaders:

To me, Space Invaders was the ultimate in 8-bit games. Although not technically a side scroller, it afforded just enough different types of movement and attack options to make strategy fun and worthwhile, but not enough to make the gameplay overly complicated. At its core, I think the best thing about it that made it so fun was that it was logical and to some extent predictable, which gave the player hope of victory.

Super Mario Bros:

Even if I was a late bloomer to video games, I still rocked Super Mario. The story was fleshed-out and more complex than many simpler side scrollers, the objective the was clear, and Mario as a playable character was just so much fun. It wasn’t exactly the predictability that made these games so much fun for me, but that there was so much that the game could throw at you, and if you strategized correctly, you could win. Overcoming the challenge became a distinct possibility during gameplay.

Megaman III:

I only played Megaman III for short periods of time when I could sneak over to my friends house and borrow the GameBoy cartridge, but from what I remember it was amazing. What made this game so much fun was that it was the first real experience with crossover media that I can remember. I was a huge fan of the series, which came out at the same time, and to get to watch it and play it was an amazingly new experience.

Metroid II:

The Metroid games always interested me because of their silent hero aspect. Not that any side scrollers that I ever played really had full expository dialogue, but Metroid just seemed like you were playing the loner. This aspect of identifying with the character is what made it so fun to play.

Donkey Kong Land 1 & 3:

Last but not least were the two games that took up most of my GameBoy time. These games were the perfect fit for my gaming needs, being clear cut no nonsense platformers. There really isn’t anything more to say about why they were so much fun, they were simply perfect.

The reference images for this assignment are in the classfolder in my reference folder.

Week 3: Game Analysis

Game Title: Heavenly Sword

Development Studio: Ninja Theory

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe


Heavenly Sword is a proprietary platform game only available for the Playstation 3. As the gaming industry seems to be moving towards multiple licensing agreements for many new games, which makes them available for Xbox 360, PS3 and sometimes PC, proprietary licensing appears to be saved for instances of special established franchises (although even those are starting to be available on multiple platforms, e.g. Mass Effect 2 & 3), or for smaller independent studios such as Heavenly Sword’s Ninja Theory.

In terms of what differences in gameplay another platform would illicit, I honestly can’t say with any certainty. I have next to no experience with Xbox or Xbox 360, apart from the odd Halo session, and therefore can’t in good faith comment. If I had to guess, I would say that the gameplay for an Xbox port of Heavenly Sword would have to be adapted to the differences in the Xbox controllers, thereby either adding or subtracting some of the game mechanic options in the game.


The official published genres for Ninja Theory’s Heavenly Sword are Action-adventure and Hack and Slash (Beat’em Up). These categorizations are highly appropriate, as the game does not exactly bend genres in any major way. Gameplay is strictly linear, with side quest and unlockables limited to combos and video, as well as two game ‘movies’ which can be viewed in the Art Gallery along with cool concept art.

After playing through the game I would add a small platforming sub-genre to the list. While platforming and puzzle solving isn’t by any means the bulk of the gameplay experience (that is reserved for hand-to-hand and weapons melee combat), a majority of the stages incorporate either a small puzzle solving or strategic element.

For example, in many of the linear exploratory sections where there is not an overabundance of combat, Nariko is capable of throwing shields at far off buttons or levers. The interesting part of this incorporation is that when thrown, the player must hold down the square button, which transfers the camera perspective from Nariko to the shield or disk, allowing the Playstation 3 SIXAXIS motion sensor to be fully utilized.

Player Mode:

Heavenly Sword is strictly available in single-player mode. This limited capability, along with the games relatively short play-through time, is one of the often voiced complaints about this game.

However, despite this ‘deficiency’ the story is interspersed with several missions where player control is temporarily switched to previously non playable characters. These interludes, or shorter missions, are focused on using the controllers SIXAXIS capabilities to ‘snipe’ a large number of targets, usually accompanied by a time limit and real-time score keeping.

Time Interval:

As a wholly linear action adventure game, Heavenly Sword was played almost entirely in real-time. However, as I stated above, there are interspersed game missions which either switch player control briefly to side characters, or in a few cases at the beginning and end of the game put Nariko at the helm of a cannonball turret. Each of these interruptions from the linear gameplay was still played in real-time, but with added time-limit and SIXAXIS controller elements.

In retrospect, I would categorize these missions more in the line of mini-games, but still within the main storyline (as opposed to say mini-games in Mario Party). Even though there was a time limit on these missions, it rarely became a problem to beat them in the allotted time frame. In this way I think they still felt like the regular real-time missions, incorporating strategy and not so much the rush to beat the clock element to the gameplay.


The intended target audience of this game in my opinion is clearly defined by the story, character design and gameplay system. The story is centrally focused on the conflict between the purity of the main character (representing good) and the unwholesome evil of the antagonist (representing bad). This kind of straight forward struggle between such clearly defined polarities to me suggests that the game is targeted towards audiences with clearly defined psychographic tendencies towards seeing ‘good’ overcome ‘evil’, and subsequently seeing ‘evil’ suffer its rightful consequences.

From a general perspective the character design of the protagonist Nariko and the heavy degree of continuous combat throughout the game points towards the target audience also being in a specific age range and of a certain gender. Nariko is beautiful, sexy and clad in almost nothing in the middle of winter for the entirety of the game. Even though her body design is not as overly dramatized as the female characters in the Ninja Gaiden franchise, she still represents a female ideal usually associated with attracting the attention of adolescent to young adult males.

This is not to say that there are not demographics of women who have enjoyed this game as much as I have, and in fact I feel sure there are, but the games preoccupation with portraying Nariko as a ‘girl-with-sword/gun’ character is obvious even from the games cover art and packaging.

There is no doubt in my mind that the game content is perfectly suited to its intended target audience and market. It makes to no pretense for what it is, and neither does it apologize for what it is not. Assuming that gamers on the whole are literate consumers of this chosen media, I would state that this game is exactly what it is marketed to be.


Heavenly Sword hold a T (for Teen) rating from the ESRB for blood, language, suggestive themes and violence. This is one of the few examples I can think of that fits so snuggly into the T categorization. There is no misunderstand, no mistakes and no room for argument that the rating is fitting and appropriate.

In terms of its specific rating attributes, there is violence and blood, but not gore. The violence is not portrayed in any over-the-top way, and there is no room for the gamer to abuse the combat system for mature kicks. Likewise, the blood and death aspect of the game is not overly apparent, as the melee combat system is focused on dispatching multiple enemies at once without a clear focus on exterminating one individual enemy. This leaves room for the player to focus on the combat landscape from an overall perspective as opposed to one-on-one.

As for the suggestive themes and language, they are for the most part attributed to the antagonist (the evil warlord trying to steal Nariko’s sword). This, like the violence, is not overt and actually serves to make the player want to put him in his place. In other words, it was not used frivolously, but for an increased level of player connection with Nariko’s struggle.

Challenge and Fun Factor:

Heavenly Sword is extremely fun, if repetitive, and offers three levels of challenge when playing. These differing levels come in the form of the grading system after each mission or level, giving the player up to three shields, or stars, based on combat efficiency and combo/chaining skill. I enjoy games with this kind of point system because its like trying to beat a test, trying for the three star perfect score. However, with this system the game also allows the player to proceed through the game with only a modicum of challenge, as you can progress with simply one star or shield per mission.

The entire story mode only took about 7 hours to complete, which is a shame since I enjoyed the game so much. That being said, there is an incredible amount of story and character development packed into those few short hours, definitely enough to allow the player to develop an empathetic relationship to their playable character (Nariko).

Features Analysis:

Dialogue and artistic style are two features of Heavenly Sword that I believe were implemented in very shrewd and successful ways. Unlike some games where dialogue and cutscenes are limited to beginning or ending chapters, or for some inciting incident or other, the dialogue in Heavenly Sword was used frequently throughout a majority of the missions. While not always long, these brief episodic uses gave real depth to the emerging narrative, something I look for in games, and were a big part of why I enjoyed the gaming experience with this title.

The second feature of the game that was largely successful in my mind was the artistic style behind not only the characters but the environment of the game. The landscapes and characters were so brilliantly rendered that the entire environment appeared to be bathed in greenish gold light, everything sharp and in focus, but to an extreme. However, the most successful use of artistic style in the game is reserved for Nariko herself. Her character is so incredibly vibrant, even in combat, that it is hard to imagine how the game would have felt had this not been the case. I can’t really explain it any better, simply that she stands out in the gaming landscape, not by use of color, or clothing, but by the energy her character seems to emit in the game space.

Week 2: Job Posting Terminology

Definitions of Unknown Terminologies

The first terminology that was unknown to me was the concept of game metrics. After having looked it up, I understand the term refers to information, specifically data, to do with how players behave during their interactive experience. Another term I was not familiar with in the same vein was user flows. However, I now understand that it is a term used to describe the path a web/game user follows throughout whatever interface they are using. Nomenclature in a gaming context was also a new one for me. From what I read and gathered from the job posting, it was referring to being able to create an accessible and contextual language around gaming principles and procedures to make communication within design groups easier and more efficient. In one of the job postings for Gameloft, based in Montreal, the term CEGEP degree was used. Researching it revealed that it is simply a Canadian degree sometimes compared to junior college level studies in America, and is required for most university admissions programs in Quebec. The last term I was unfamiliar with was methodology, which I now understand, in the context of the job posting, to mean that they are looking for candidates that have very good problem solving skills and can apply them to a variety of tasks.

The reference images for this assignment are in the classfolders in my reference folder.