domingo, 19 de novembro de 2017

Immersing deeply in gameplay through sound

From time to time, I like to replay games so I can have new points of view and (re) discover aspects and elements of game design, gameplay, narrative or creative process. Last weekend, checking my Apple Cloud to verify some old downloads, I found this very unique game: Dark Echo.



Created by RAC7 Studio the game offers an experience to “explore a mysterious world through sound”. And “sound” is the core and keyword of this game. Using only a black interface with minimal white sound waves ricocheting around the scenario, the player is invited to explore a kind of a dungeon filled with monsters. Check the gameplay:



It operates by touching the screen to walk and generate the sound waves. The important detail is the fact that the sounds of your steps will attract terrible “monsters” (again, you will only hear the creatures’ grunts) and sometimes you need to run into the darkness. Anxiety is an important game design component in this example. The whole game is based in it, and all fear/horror/terror reactions derive from it.

Sound is strategically built in this case, the perfect blend between the minimal interface and the sounding experience. This is a great example of how we can construct a game using few elements to create big impact.

#GoGamers

domingo, 29 de outubro de 2017

What isn’t an advergame

We have already discussed the idea of advergames here at GAMING CONCEPTZ (you can check it here and here). On the other hand, it is also important to contextualize what cannot be considered an advergame.

We’ve already explained that an advergame is an advertising piece of campaign that : requires planning and an interface that puts together a brand/product/service and the gameplay

In this context, an advergame is not a ready-made game that one can simply insert a logo or a company’s feature. In the following hypothetical example below, we see the interface of the classic Pac-Man game with elements from McDonald's brand. To insert these elements on the gaming interface does not make this game an advergame; there is no strategic view or branding planning, we only notice elements scattered in a videogame screen.



According to Cavallini (2006), the notion of advergame – a neologism formed from the juxtaposing of the words “advertising” and “game” – could be described as a marketing strategy that uses games, mainly electronic, to advertise brands and products. That includes a large range that goes from complex games that are developed specifically for advertising purposes to common casual games – much more complex than to only insert a logo in a classic gaming interface.



Reference:

CAVALLINI, Ricardo. (2006). O marketing depois de amanhã. São Paulo: Digerati Books.

#GoGamers

segunda-feira, 16 de outubro de 2017

Blood, sweat, and pixels: the triumphant, turbulent stories behind how video games are made

In this moment I'm reading the excellent book "Blood, sweat, and pixels: the triumphant, turbulent stories behind how video games are made". True stories about how the work in the gaming industry could be full of anxiety and despair.

Jason Schreier (the author) interviewed more than 100 professionals from this field and the result is a book with many different views about the creative process behind a game, the difficulties, the mistakes and victories.

Schreier (2017) in the introduction of the book discusses about why is so hard to make games. The author points out that: 1) games are interactive; 2) technology is constantly changing; 3) the tools are always different; 4) scheduling is impossible; 5) it's impossible to know how "fun" a game will be until you've played it. From this point to the end, in each chapter, one game is used as an example to explain the how this area (as the title of the book says) is full of "blood, sweat, and pixels".



Excellent reading.

Click here to buy.



Reference:

SCHREIER, Jason. Blood, sweat, and pixels: the triumphant, turbulent stories behind how video games are made. New York: Harper, 2017.

domingo, 1 de outubro de 2017

About gaming narrative

The gaming field is a plural space for different genders, styles and types of products. Nowadays, we have a multifaceted environment where indie games coexist with AAA productions; one place in which hardcore gamers are experiencing extremely challenging games in consoles and, at the same time, casual games in their smartphones. We are facing an ecosystem where games could be played anytime, anywhere.

In this sense, there are abstract games that are completely based in mechanics, with no storytelling background, and games fully developed in complex narratives. In the very beginning of gaming industry, we didn’t have much to tell in the limited interfaces. Pong, as example, is about bouncing a square ball using a vertical rectangle. On the other hand, Donkey Kong, for Atari console, has an interesting narrative layer where the hero must save the lady from the giant gorilla on the top of the building. Many years in advance, we can find some publishers like TellTale or Quantic Dream that created games fully based on narrative components like Walking Dead, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and many others.



As we’ve discussed previously, it is a market full of opportunities for many types of ludic products. However, in this post I want to focus my attention in some interesting narrative features and how they are important in a gaming project.

First of all, it is essential to point out that the player “is at once the subject and the object of the play” (EHRMANN, 1968, p.56). We must always keep that in mind in any kind of gaming project. The game is an inanimate thing: codes, pieces, cardboards, miniatures etc., but the experience with the game is full of life. This experience is what we need to focus in: how we will deliver a good experience to the player.

A good narrative is one possible way to deliver a meaningful experience to the player. Following some ideas from Dansky (2007, p.5), it is possible to say that

On the most basic level, narrative strings together the events of the game, providing a framework and what can alternately be called a justification, a reason, or an excuse for the gameplay encounters. At its best, narrative pulls the player forward through the experience, creating the desire to achieve the hero’s goals and, more importantly, see what happens next. At its worst, narrative merely sets up the situation and turns the players loose to do as they see fit. It achieves these goals through three important techniques: immersion, reward and identification”.

This author (DANSKY, 2007, p.5-6) also explains that there are three fundamental pillars that we need to think about gaming narrative:

1) Immersion: in a simple way, it refers to the state of mind where a person is completely absorbed in what they are doing (we’ve already discussed this feature using the idea of FLOW in this post); immersion refers to the moment in which we are so involved with the game that time passes different and we can’t notice the world outside the experience. We are talking about games, but a good book/movie/conversation could have the same effect. Consuming many references is the secret to create a good narrative.

2) Reward: Dansky (2007, p.6) says that narrative can also be a reward to the player and “the narrative events can be revealed gradually, delivered as rewards for achieving in-game goals”. As an example, in Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice great part of the game’s rewards come from narrative pieces that tells us the background of the main character and some tales/legends from the Nordic culture.



3) Identification: something that, in the gaming context, provides justification for the actions during the experience. In Papers Please, for example, you assume the role of an immigration police officer from a dystopian nation and your job is to stamp entry visas. You must take some moral decisions based on the characters’ backgrounds and part of the meaning of this experience comes from the identification feature of the game.



Narrative in games is a great subject to discuss in future posts. Soon, I’ll bring a wide discussion about it.

#GoGamers


References:

DANSKY, Richard. Introduction to game narrative. BATEMAN, Chris (editor). Game Writing: narrative skills for videogames. Boston: Thomson, 2007.

EHRMANN, Jacques. Homo Ludens Revisited. Yale French Studies, No 41. Game, Play, Literature (1968). pp. 31-57.

quinta-feira, 21 de setembro de 2017

Six years of GAMING CONCEPTZ!

Six years of gaming content in 286 posts.

Thanks to the followers.

Long live to GAME ANALYTICZ!



Check the first post by clicking here.

#GoGamers

domingo, 10 de setembro de 2017

Roger Caillois and one possible view about the complexity of games and play forms

In his iconic book from 1958 “Man, Play and Games” (“Les jeux et les homes” as the original title, in French), the sociologist Roger Caillois discusses how a gaming culture can be an essential element of social changing.

In the first chapter of the book, Caillois presents one interesting view about possibilities of play forms and how they can combine among them. In a very synthetic way, the author says that there are four play forms:

1) Agon: play activities that depend on physical abilities like soccer, basketball, chess (mind effort), boxing etc.

2) Alea: ludic situations that depend of pure chance, like lottery, casino roulette and dice-rolling games based only on luck.

3) Mimicry: role-playing games and theatrical activity (make-believe game).

4) Ilinx: Activities where there is risk of life and vertigo. Tightrope, bungee jump and other extreme sports are some examples.

Trying to summarize these ideas, I created the following image:



It’s important to highlight that these categories can combine themselves in other situations. One “Dungeons & Dragons” RPG session, for instance, can combine elements of mimicry (in the role play) and alea (in dice-rolling situations). Poker can combine alea factors (the way the cards will appear in the table) with agon (the strategy and mental effort to create strategy).

This post is only a synthesis of an important idea from Caillois. I strongly suggest the full reading of “Man, Play and Games”. It’s a fantastic way to dwell deeply about games, game design and ludic elements in the contemporary scenario.

#GoGamers



Reference:

CAILLOIS, Roger. Man, Play and Games. USA: Illinois University, 2001.

sexta-feira, 1 de setembro de 2017

Teaser trailer: MIND ALONE

In a partnership with SIOUX Studios from São Paulo I'll launch my new mobile game soon (end of October probably)! MIND ALONE is a text-based ludic interface. It is an experimental puzzle game that uses different functions from smartphones to create an immersive suspense/terror narrative. It is a “scape the room” game, but the room is your own mind. Each memory is a puzzle. The aim is to solve the puzzles, recover your memory, reach the surface and wake up from this mysterious nightmare.

Check the teaser trailer:



Wait for news here!

#GoGamers