terça-feira, 28 de julho de 2015

My approved proposal to "The Videogame Cultures Project: 7th Global Meeting" (Oxford, UK)

Observing iterative design on the mobile indie game Dominaedro

M.A. Vicente M. Mastrocola (Postgraduate Research student and graduation level teacher at ESPM/São Paulo, Brazil; vincevader@gmail.com)

Smartphones and tablets are leading sales of electronic devices around the world, and became a rich field to explore gaming initiatives. Mobile media created a ludic ecosystem in which large publishers and small studios coexist; the new ways of digital content distribution allowed a gaming market with big productions and indie experiments to live in the same platforms. In this scenario, we seek to analyze a development process involving an independent Brazilian mobile game named Dominaedro, launched by Ludofy Studio in 2014.

Our focus in this work will be to discuss iterative design – a design methodology based on a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a work in progress. In this context, we understand iterative design as a methodological tool to create a game. We intend to observe this kind of developing process, giving emphasis to the analogical prototyping phase that gives us some feedbacks from the beta-testing players, like in a qualitative research. Finally, we present the importance of the iterative design to quality assurance in the digital version of the game.

Data collected through 20 beta testing sessions showed the importance of iterative process to improve a gaming experience and to facilitate the production of the digital product. Based on this content we will demonstrate the whole process of creating a mobile game – from the idea, passing through the prototypes, until the final version.

We conclude highlighting the current tendency to create indie games using accurate design methodologies to gain audience in a very competitive scenario, and how indie games could be a learning point for aspirational game designers and small publishers; we will also emphasize the importance of using digital social networks and specialized media to publish and support an independent game.

Keywords: entertainment, mobile, iterative process, Dominaedro, indie game, Brazil

segunda-feira, 6 de julho de 2015

The core structure of a QUEST

Today’s post is about one of my favorite subjects: quest design. A good quest could create immersion and, consequently, an emotional attachment in players. In order to discuss the creative process of quests in games, we will bring some ideas from Jeff Howard (2008) from the book “Quests: design, theory, and history in games and narratives” (one reading that I strongly recommend for all game researchers).

I’ll try to synthetize some nuclear thoughts from Howard in this post. First of all: the space where the quest happens is fundamental to merge the player’s imagination with the narrative. Space for quests should be fantastic (an alien world, a steam punk city), dreamlike (the oneiric realm of Bloodborne, the mysterious ambient of Back to Bed), allegorically arranged to convey ideas through their layout (puzzle games), organized to create a sense of progression through difficult ascent, and labyrinthine (HOWARD, 2008, p.50).

To construct the spaces of the quest is essential to keep in mind some considerations: embedded meaning (allied with plot, narrative etc.), a balance between challenging obstacles and exploration and a sense of progression, and the organization of spaces according to “quest hubs” (HOWARD, 2008, p.58).

After the definition of a space for the quest (based on a previous narrative) it’s very important to tune the characters with the objects of the quest, creating challenging situations. In the Batman’s game, Arkham Asylum, the player wears the hero’s cape to fight the Joker as a final threat. The main narrative has the Joker as the final challenge and, stage-by-stage, there are other villains to stop (Scarecrow, Crocodile, Poison Ivy). For players who want a more immersive challenge, there are a great number of side quests to face: Riddler’s trophies hidden in the scenario, mysterious inscriptions with the diary of Amadeus Arkham and many more.

In games like Arkham Asylum, the balance between main quests and side quests creates an experience for different kinds of players. Some will try to end the game through the main line. Others will finish the game looking for each hidden element in the stages. Think quests for the videogame’s platforms are a challenging exercise and Howard’s book helps us structure this kind of thought more precisely.


HOWARD, Jeff. Quests: design, theory, and history in games and narratives. Wellesley: A K Peters, 2008.