domingo, 1 de dezembro de 2019

My list of the best games played this year, and a small reflection for 2020

On the last post of this year, I decided to make a list of the best games I played during 2019. Curiously, during the process of this ranking, I found myself reflecting on the content of Jesper Juul’s new book “Handmade Pixels” (2019).

In his new book, Juul discusses how independent games became a historical movement that borrowed the term “independent” from film and music while finding its own kind of independence. The reading of Juul’s book makes me reflect about how truly independent games that I played this year are, and what makes an indie game a really independent product.



Well, I’m still reading the book and I’ll make some considerations about it soon. It’s a really interesting content for game design and game studies classes.

For now, I want to share the list with the best 10 games that I have experienced in 2019. Important: 1) some of them are a little bit old, but I only played them this year; 2) they aren’t listed in a scale “from best to worst”, I just put them together.

  • Baba is you
  • What remains of Edith Finch
  • Blasphemous
  • Return of the Obra Dinn
  • Cuphead
  • Gris
  • Gorogoa
  • Katana Zero
  • Hue
  • Resident Evil 2 (remake)

Hope you enjoy it! See you next year!


#GoGamers



Reference:

JUUL, Jesper. Handmade Pixels: Independent Video Games and the Quest for Authenticity. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2019

sexta-feira, 1 de novembro de 2019

TAP THE TAP: an advergame to promote a Brazilian brewhouse

This site is a platform to discuss gaming concept ideas, but it’s also a place where I can show a little bit of my game designing work. In this post, I want to present a game that I developed for Let’s Beer – a Brazilian brewhouse located in São Paulo.

TAP THE TAP is an advergame; in other words: a game to promote a brand, a product or a service. A ludic project with advertising purposes. TAP THE TAP is a hyper-casual game with simple mechanics where you must tap the beer taps to match the same order from the clients at the bar. As the game advances, you must be faster to deliver the beers or you can lose a life. Let’s Beer brewhouse used the game to give its customers discounts based on points, engaging them to a branding experience and promoting a new bitter ale produced by the company. Click here to play the game.



TAP THE TAP is a very fast experience created with HTML 5 programming. The game does not require any plugins and players can open it directly on the browser (desktop or mobile). The game is an attempt to promote de brewhouse and to establish a new dialogue with customers that can share the game with friends in a viral way.



One more produced. One more to use as an example in classes and for the portfolio.

#GoGamers

sexta-feira, 4 de outubro de 2019

Ten ideas from Reiner Knizia about playtesting

Reiner Knizia is one of the biggest names in game design around the world. The German game designer is a mathematician and has his name associated to more than 700 games launched in many different countries. I had the honor to talk personally to Knizia in 2011, at DIGRA’s conference in Hilversun (Netherlands) and I watched a great keynote about the game designing process in the same event.



On that occasion, I gave Knizia my board game, YN, and had the opportunity to talk a little bit with him (a great achievement for my game designer career).



I follow Knizia in social media and I’m always taking notes about the knowledge on game design he shares on those platforms. In this post, I will reproduce 10 ideas Knizia showed recently on Twitter about playtesting (one of the most fundamental topics in the game designing process). Below, I listed the 10 points. Follow him by clicking here.

Playtesting 1. Those who do not play do not live. Those who do not playtest do not design.

Playtesting 2. Designs always work perfectly in your mind. The first playtest is the (often cruel) moment of truth.

Playtesting 3. Regardless of how much experience you have, you cannot develop a game on the drawing board – only at the playing table.

Playtesting 4. Game design is a classic iterative process of playing and improving – nowadays popularised as “design thinking”.

Playtesting 5. When your playtesters do not like your design, (usually) your design is to blame – not your playtesters.

Playtesting 6. I recognise good playtesters by my (frequent) urge to strangle them.

Playtesting 7. For your design to appeal to one group, test with one group. For your design to have broad appeal, test with many groups.

Playtesting 8. You can make (most) designs interesting through your play-talk - but when published, your design needs to speak for itself.

Playtesting 9. Blind playtesting, without you taking part, is as useful as other people going on a rollercoaster and reporting their experience.

Playtesting 10. When you have playtested your design to perfection, let it rest some time, then play again. – Expect to be surprised!

#GoGamers

domingo, 1 de setembro de 2019

A short analysis about Gorogoa’s puzzle experience

Definitely, the most interesting and thought-provoking game I’ve played this year was Gorogoa. I experienced the awesome puzzles in the screen of Nintendo Switch and, wow, that was mesmerizing. I followed the whole gaming creative process in social media, but the gameplay surprised me in an epic level.



It’s hard to describe the game in few words, but according to the definition from the official site, Gorogoa is “an ingenious, perfectly crafted puzzler”. The game creator, Jason Roberts, developed thousands of meticulously detailed hand-drawn illustrations, encompassing the impressive scope of Gorogoa's personal narrative.



Essentially, in the gameplay, you control four quadrants where you must execute a series of zoom in and zoom outs in the images to recombine shapes and create new physical possibilities and structure new scenarios from the most improbable objects. The video below explains the game’s main idea:



The great gameplay experience makes me want to write a personal short analysis of Gorogoa (for further consulting in classes) following a model proposed by Tracy Fullerton (2008) in her book Game design workshop.

• Players: single player game; one player against the puzzles
• Objectives: combine patterns to create and recreate scenarios/objects
• General rules: you can point and click in four different quadrants using zoom in and zoom out to connect new possibilities of images
• Resources: colorful images (hand drawn) with a fantasy theme disposed in four quadrants
• Conflicts: how good is your vision and imagination to solve the puzzles
• Limits: four quadrants with limited amount of zoom in/out possibilities
• Results: when you complete a puzzle correctly, the game shows you an animation and a new part of the scenario/narrative to point out your progress



Reference:

FULLERTON, Tracy, et al. Game design workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games. Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 2008.

#GoGamers

sábado, 3 de agosto de 2019

Article: The Strategic Use of Smartphone Features to Create a Gaming Experience of Mystery: The Mind Alone Case

As I said in the last post, in July I attended the Human Computer Interface Conference at Orlando (Florida). Today I want to share my article (click here) and invite everybody to buy the conference's book with all the articles related to the subject "games" (click here).



#GoGamers

sexta-feira, 5 de julho de 2019

HCI International 2019

At the end of next July, the HCI (Human Computer Interface) international conference will take place in Orlando, FL.

This conference aims to discuss the intersections between culture, technology, behavior and society. The “games” subject will, surely, be one of the main discussions in the event, and I’ll be in HCI presenting my paper "The Strategic Use of Smartphone Features to Create a Gaming Experience of Mystery: The Mind Alone Case".



Below, you can check the abstract of my article that will be published in a book, which will be sold at the conference:

In the present work, we discuss the creative process behind the Brazilian mobile game Mind Alone (Sioux Games, 2018). We start our discussion with a brief overview of mobile media and the Brazilian gaming market, in order to clarify why mobile games are a rich field to explore in this country, and to assess some aspects of the Brazilian gamer audience. After this introduction, we proceed to expound the main features of the game Mind Alone, aiming to finally put forward some ideas about strategic thinking in game design, game writing, and puzzle design, emphasizing the need of multidisciplinary thinking. This article recounts the whole creative process behind Mind Alone, highlighting some main phases: (1) brainstorming, including interviews with the production team at the Sioux company; (2) documentation, analyzing the “high concept template”; (3) production, elucidating the interface between art and coding (and how to merge smartphone features to create the game experience); and (4) beta-testing, comprising guidelines for a qualitative session. With this work, we intend to depict the full development of a mobile game, from brainstorming to publishing and documentation. It is important to highlight, in this context, that the author of this article was the game designer responsible for Mind Alone’s mechanics and narrative.

After the conference, in August, I intend to share the PDF file with my complete article and the presentation as well.

For this trip I had the sponsorship of ON e-stadium (a Brazilian eSports arena from São Paulo) and ESPM (the college I work at) IT course.

Wait for news, pics and good content next month.

#GoGamers

quinta-feira, 6 de junho de 2019

Recreating classic puzzle mechanics in a very new shape

One of the most classic puzzle mechanics that we can find in games (specially in mobile games) is to push certain elements to the right places; sometimes the movements are limited, so we need to carefully study the challenge, sometimes we have unlimited movements, but usually get an element stuck in a place, so we need to start over again.



Push Maze Puzzle and Rebuild Chile are excellent examples of this gaming mechanics (by the way, the last one was used in a social campaign to earn donations for earthquake victims in Chile few years ago). Below, you can check out the gaming trailers to understand how this kind of puzzle game works:





This is a very traditional puzzle mechanic and, what we regularly see in many games, is the change of elements: sometimes we need to move rocks, other times we need to move boxes, plants, zombies, elephants and (fill the blanks).

However, recently I played one interesting game that caught my attention completely: Baba is You. The game has the simplicity of this previously discussed pushing mechanics, but you can interact with elements and words; when you interact with words, you can change the order of some phrases and affect game’s ecosystem and dynamics. Check the trailer below to understand this clever idea:



Baba is you reaches a new level of experimentation and recreation of a classic mechanic. This game is an excellent example of how we can (re)think something that, apparently, was exhausted in terms of innovation. By using words as a key to the puzzle design, Baba is you invites the player to use his mind in a creative way. On this subject, Koster (2005, p.152) reminds us that the “toughest puzzles are the ones that force the most self-experimentation. They are the ones that challenge us most deeply on many levels – mental stamina, mental agility, creativity, perseverance, physical endurance, and emotional self-abnegation”.

#GoGamers



Reference:

KOSTER, Raph. A theory of fun for game design. Arizona: Paraglyph Press, 2005.