quinta-feira, 1 de dezembro de 2022

My list of the top 10 videogames I played this year!

Here it is! A small list full of epic games!

1.Silt



2.Source of Madness



3.TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge



4.A Short Hike



5.Akane



6.Cult of the Lamb



7.Moonscars



8.Elden Ring



9.Signalis



10.Snap



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quarta-feira, 2 de novembro de 2022

ONE LAST GAME: to think games beyond pure entertainment

ONE LAST GAME is an intense 3 Minute game where you play a final game of checkers with a loved One.

Created for the GMTK Game Jam 2020, in ONE LAST GAME you find yourself sitting down at a table in-front of a checkers board with an old and rather unhappy man sat across from you. You proceed to play checkers, but it soon becomes apparent why your companion is so unhappy – there’s a war going on outside. It only takes three minutes to play through One Last Game but it’s a powerful experience that will stay with you for a long time afterward.

Check the full gameplay below:



This game is an experiment that can prove how powerful games can be to cast serious messages and some thinking about contemporary themes. ONE LAST GAME it is an excellent proof of how games can be media and convey content to broad audiences.

#GoGamers

domingo, 2 de outubro de 2022

Cascadia: a perfect balance between theme and abstraction in a boardgame

Cascadia has just arrived in my collection last week. That’s the "family game" big winner in the last Spiel des Jahres (the well-known "Oscar" of board games).

The board game is a puzzly tile-laying and token-drafting game featuring the habitats and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest. In the game, you take turns building out your own terrain area and populating it with wildlife. You start with three hexagonal habitat tiles (with the five types of habitats in the game), and on a turn you choose a new habitat tile that's paired with a wildlife token, then place that tile next to your other ones and place the wildlife token on an appropriate habitat. (Each tile depicts 1-3 types of wildlife from the five types in the game, and you can place at most one tile on a habitat.) Four tiles are on display, with each tile being paired at random with a wildlife token, so you must make the best of what's available — unless you have a nature token to spend so that you can pick your choice of each item.



I usually say that if you deconstruct a board/card game till the core you will probably find an abstract idea made up with geometric shapes, numbers, patterns, colors, etc. Some of these analogic games use this abstract idea to give life to whole games, as we can see in GIPF Project titles, as an example. On the other hand, we have games created with specific themes, narratives, ambiences, etc. Games that put a thematic skin on abstract mechanics.

Cascadia is a great example of how a game can establish a perfect balance between these two points. The abstract component (the core of the game´s mechanics) is easily visualized in the gaming score, in the tiles and how the colorful tokens match with them. But Randy Flynn, the game designer behind Cascadia, made an excellent thematic insertion in the abstract field of the game.

Obviously, you can change the "nature" theme from the game and place "aliens", "ninjas”, or "zombies" in the same place, but the result in terms of gaming experience will not be the same. Why? Because Flynn looked to the abstract mechanics and abstract components and found a way to describe, very close to reality, the behavior of the animals and the ecosystem around them.

Cascadia is an excellent example of how some themes connect perfectly with some mechanics. It is a practical example of the definition of "game design" proposed by Brathwaite and Schreiber (2009, p.2) who define the term as the process of creating goals that players feel motivated to achieve and rules that they follow. A process where they are making significant decisions to achieve purposes, all the time. In other words: game design is an experience architecture process; it is the materialization of an idea in the form of a game.

#GoGamers



Reference:

BRATHWAITE, Brenda;SCHREIBER, Ian. CHALLENGES FOR GAME DESIGNERS: non-digital exercises for video game designers. USA: Cengage, 2009.

quinta-feira, 1 de setembro de 2022

Source of Madness: elevating the roguelike experience

Source of Madness is a side-scrolling dark action roguelike game set in a twisted Lovecraftian inspired world, and powered by procedural generation and AI machine learning. Basically, each time you enter a run inside the gaming world, you will find a completely new scenario with new monsters, challenges, treasures, and achievements. Even the creatures are always changing in Source of Madness; if you play it a thousand times, you will probably find a thousand different types of enemies.



Have a look into the Source of Madness’s mood and esthetics below:



I think I played very few games with a somber atmosphere like this one. The dark scenario with a disturbing soundscape made of monsters screams offers an experience that few platform games of this category can present.

This game touched my gamer heart in a special way: it received a lot of negative reviews because of the chaotic gameplay and interface, but, for me, it’s the big feature from the game. This roguelike is unique in its composition and programming. But the use of AI machine learning and procedural generation is nothing without the storytelling component. The uniqueness of the game comes from a perfect balance between the gaming architecture and the obscure Lovecraftian narrative full of mysterious (and bizarre) cutscenes and the direct references to the ancient ones from Mr. Howard Philips's mind.

Source of madness is a great example of good use of technology to create an immersive experience. However, it’s a great example, too, of how to blend the narrative layer with good mechanics that comes from the gaming code.

This game is in my top 3 from this year. Another indie game. One more for my list.

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terça-feira, 9 de agosto de 2022

UX writing for games

One of the last acquisitions to my gaming collection was the card game “The Dancer”, one of the titles from Echoes’ series. Basically, the game is an audio-based experience that uses cards and a smartphone app to scan the images in the deck, showing dialogues, sounds, and music to the players.



“The Dancer” narrates a mysterious case that mixes supernatural forces and a murder?. It is a co-op game where all the players must listen to the sounding hints to put the cards in order to solve the case. The app system is very clever and interesting; it requires extreme attention to details and all the solutions are easily shown using the smartphone.

A very interesting feature of “The Dancer” is the UX writing strategy behind the narrative. UX writing, like designing and coding for UX, is a design and engineering process; it is an iterative process of creation and evaluation that uses texts to improve an experience (PODMAJERSKY, p.30, 2019).

In the case of a card game with a sound app, the game designing team must search for a strategic connection between the images scattered in the table and the text players will listen to during the experience. It is a fundamental thing to build the storyline using the best words to create a sense in the game.

Other point to highlight in the case of a complementary app: the UX text patterns in digital platforms like titles, buttons, descriptions, labels, controls, text input fields, transition texts, confirmation/error messages, and notifications must be planned to create an easy access to the narrative (PODMAJERSKY, p.67, 2019).

In a synthetic way: the cards are physical items that allow players to interact collaboratively in a physical space, but the true immersive experience comes from the materialized text in audio format (where the UX writing strategy is built).

I want to try the other games from the Echoes’ series.



Reference:

PODMAJERSKY, Torrey. Strategic writing for UX: drive engagement, conversion, and retention with every word. Sebastopol: O'Reilly Media, 2019.

sexta-feira, 15 de julho de 2022

I visited Ubisoft’s creative studio in Toronto, and it was awesome!

As a game designer and also as a gaming reseacher, part of my job is to talk with the gaming market/industry. When I travel abroad, I always try to talk with some studio or publisher (like in this case in Poland).



Well, last week I was in Toronto (Canada) and had the opportunitty to visit Ubisoft’s creative studio! Guided by Justin Del Giudice I had a complete tour in the building ending in the awesome motion capture studio.



One more for the curriculum! A day full of knowledge, perceptions, and ideas about the present and future of this market!



Thanks Maitê Lorente and Jonnhy Guerra for the contact!

Level up!

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An ancient D30

I found this strange artifact in the Real Ontario Museum in Toronto (Canada). It is an asian 30 faced dice. There is no more information about it, but it is an authentic piece of ludic archeology. =)



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