Contemporary Game Assignment

For the second unit of the Unity Game Design curriculum, my class was assigned with playing a game chosen from this list and reflecting on our playing experience along with creating a Game Modification Task Sheet based on the contents of the MDA Framework. I chose a game titled Even the Stars from the provided list and spent an evening playing and considering the contents of the game.

Reflecting on my playing experience:

What were the game’s apparent design goals? Did it succeed at those
goals? Why or why not?
Even the Stars’ apparent design goal was to create an interesting game with no clear objective. I believe this game succeeded to an extent, but began to fall flat (to me) after awhile of play. As to be expected, not having a blatant objective grows boring and the player loses interest in the game.
What were the mechanics? What was the play experience? What is the
relationship between the two? Did you find any strategies that were
exploit-able? Did the game seem well-balanced?
The mechanics were simple. WASD motion controls, move mouse to view-shift, space bar to switch to type mode, and the ability to type a command to enact it in the game. The player is provided with a short list of commands to choose from, and they are able to type any given command. The experience was not what I expected. Even the Stars is not so much an action-y, dynamically based game, but more aesthetically based. The simple mechanics allow the player to enjoy the aesthetics of the game. The only strategy I used was memorizing coordinates from previous play-throughs to use and expand the final map of where I explored in the game. The balance of the game was slightly off-kilter, heavily leaning toward the aesthetics and less toward the mechanics and dynamics.
What kinds of interesting decisions (and uninteresting ones) were you making
throughout the game? What do you feel was the competitive differential of
the game?
Throughout the game, the player is given two to five options on how to act and progress the game at any given time. These main five options are warp, radio, stay, leave, and hang out. When I first began playing the game, everything was new and interesting and I enjoyed the simplicity of these choices. However, it did not take long for the repetitive choices to grow boring and I became less and less engaged.

Game Modification Task Sheet

  • Publisher: Pol Clarissou
  • Music: Nicholas Gavan
  • What platform is used to play the game?

Even the Stars is an online game that can be played on PCs and Apple computers

  • What is the objective of the game?

The objective of Even the Stars is that there is no objective. By typing commands, the player is to navigate randomly through the universe, visiting landmarks along the way if they wish to. To travel, the player either uses WASD motion controls or types the “warp” command into the game while in type mode (hit space bar to enter type mode). Once ready to warp, the player enters a random set of coordinates and simply wanders. As the game progresses, the character gets progressively older. After the player visits a number of places, the character passes away and the player is provided with a map of the places they visited.

  • What things do you like about the game?
  1.    The lack of an objective. The first few times playing, it is more interesting than one would think. It is relaxing to play and is a good change from the usual action-based games.
  2.    The game’s aesthetic was pleasing. Its art was adorably pixelated and the concept of the game became emotionally provocative. As your character gets older, you feel the pressure to travel more and you become almost saddened by the character’s death because there was so much more that you wished to accomplish. The game reflected reality in that way.
  3.    I also enjoyed the typing-in-commands mechanic. It is uncommon in most games, and is a pleasant and engaging change. There was something satisfying about it.
  • What things did you not like about the game?
  1.     The lack of an objective. Though I did find it enjoyable, the repetitiveness and the lack of excitement began to make it more difficult to become engaged in the game as I returned to play it.
  2. Although the typing-in-commands mechanism was newish, fun, and engaging, at times I scrambled between starting/stopping my spacecraft and typing in a command (I missed a few landmarks this way).

 

Game Modification Plan

• Re-write the main goal of the game.

Instead of aimlessly wandering until death, I would make the game a sort of timed scavenger hunt. The player would receive clues at specific coordinations for future coordination points that would lead them to future clues. Each clue found would lead them onwards in their scavenger hunt to a sort of treasure. They would have to complete the scavenger hunt in a certain amount of time, or their character will pass away.

• Describe how you would improve the game. Be as specific as possible!

  1. I would add enemies. The implementation of enemies might slow down the loss of interest amongst players.
  2. I would place a slightly increased number of landmarks on the planets being explored in the game to achieve the aforementioned goal.
  3. I would increase the number of times a player can land before their character passes away so players can expand their maps.

• List three reasons why your ideas may not have been implemented by the original designers.

  1.  The addition of enemies takes more time to implement, including a way to combat the enemies. This would cost the creators time and money.
  2. The new landmarks would also cost the creators time and money. Money and time to implement, and time to think of a new variety of things to add.
  3. The addition of enemies might take away from the objective of having no objective, which I believe is what the creators’ primary design goal was.

• List three reasons why you think players would like your changes.

  1. The addition of enemies would keep players more immersed. They would have something to keep their attention tightly to the game.
  2. Players would be able to keep interest in the game longer, and not grow bored of the lack of an objective or lack of something to do or see aside from stars, a planet surface, or the few and far between landmarks.
  3. An increase in a number of landings allows the players to gain more landmarks and will make them feel more fulfilled and successful.

 

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