Bulletpattern Game design, Flash and Unity development


Game Design Education – Stop making students write GDDs

I have been involved with a number of educational institutions that have created game design curriculum in recent years. I have seen a dependency on game design documents (GDD) as the hammer of game design eduction. As if having a GDD written, regardless of the quality of its content, has given a student what they need in their game design education.

These GDDs are often templates, taken from AAA console titles, that the student fill out with their game idea. These GDD templates are overloaded with details such as technical specs or marketing plans, things a first-time designer should not even think about. The game ideas within have not been scrutinized (by students or teachers) for validity or quality. Too often, these game ideas are simply rehashes of popular gaming franchises, such as Zelda or Metroid, modified with the student's own story and art.

Throwing students into writing GDDs is like asking an art student to create a painting when they have no understanding of the fundamentals of art such as color, shape, line, composition, space and value. Just like classical art, game design has rules and a language of its own.

While a I am very big proponent of the best game development education being to "just go make games," institutes of learning are one of the few places where students have the opportunity of a formal education. There is value of drilling fundamentals until it becomes second nature. A formally trained painter doesn't even think about the above rules anymore because they spent a thousand hours in life-drawing but if it came down to it they could tell you why a piece of art is "good." Game designers however, fall back on the term "fun" never fully understanding the rules of fun because they never learned the rules in the first place.

Students need to start from a basic structure and set of rules. There are some good systems and collections of rules available from which to pull. I fell students should produce short documents (3-5 pages) detailing their design mechanic and the dynamics their rules create. Short descriptions and sketches of their system would suffice. Once these designs are raked over the rules of design, they can move onto prototyping.


TKO – New character! Generator Rex

The latest and last addition to the TKO roster is Generator Rex. Generator Rex is a new show from the creators of Ben 10.

Generator Rex is like Reptile from Mortal Kombat with a beefy uppercut. We had some extra time to work on him so his special moves are much more visually customized than other characters. He is most likely our last character and I am happy he turned out so well.


Game Design for Training Lecture

I was recently invited to speak at a "Game-based Learning" session at US Gaming Arena, the same location we host our Game Developer Meetup. Since I used to have a business (sort of) that did a bit of game-based training, I jumped at the chance. I have some very strong feelings about how to integrate game design and training. Maybe I could help these people learn from my mistakes.

The gut reaction for training and games is, "Make your training into a game!" but that's oversimplified. Plus this approach is often costly, time-consuming and lacks flexibility.

The point I tried to make is this, "If want to get the attention games get, you need to understand why people play games." Many people think games are a waste of time, and to some extent they are right, but understanding why people play games is incredibly valuable.

I tried should how training can easily and inexpensively leverage player compulsions (e.g. completion, collection, etc.) to make training more "game-like."

I would post my Powerpoint but its pretty useless without all my yammering over it.


TKO – Ultimate Humungousaur! (but you have to EARN him)

Today we added a new character and a new feature to TKO. Ben 10 Ultimate Alien character Ultimate Humungousaur was added but not everyone will be able to play him. You must register and get 3 wins with any characters to unlock him. Very few users are registering so hopefully this will drive more player to register.

Ult. Humungousaur focuses on landing throws. He has a ground throw (which is actually a hit) and an air throw. The ground throw was a true throw but since the special moves are so easy to perform, a Zangief-like throw was horribly overpowered. The air throw combos well with his stomp that pops opponents up into the air. His heavy stomp flies way up into the air and can cross up at the right distance making it very sneaky.

Here is a combo video for Ultimate Humungosaur.


TKO – Invite-a-Friend and Finn

The number one request for TKO was, "I want to play my friends!" so we listened and made it happen.

This was an interesting challenge for 2 reasons, 1) We don't have friends list on CN.com and 2) a majority of our users don't even register, they play as guest. The answer was to make a link the player could send to friends and this link would match them. This way players don't need to be logged in. We also used a code system so players could just tell their friend and code to enter on the cartoontko.com site.

We also added Finn from Adventure Time! We made sure to have Jake in there are much as possible since they are inseparable buddies.

More characters coming soon!

TKO - with Finn and Invite-a-Friend

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