I am a Game Designer – a Meta Reflection

Over the course of this year, I was tasked with researching and designing a game. It was a long and arduous process, and I came out of it with three lessons. 1. That Inspiration can come from unlikely places, 2. That making a game is a lot of work, and 3. games take time.

Inspiration can come from unlikely places
When I first started out this project, I was a little frustrated. I just didn’t know what I wanted this game to be about. The prompt asked me what is something important that I want other people to understand. The first thing that immediately popped into my mind was Christianity. but what exactly about Christianity, I did not know. First, I thought it could be about apologetics, but I found that to be too broad of a subject. But then, I started to draw upon experiences from my life and other things that were important to me. When I was younger, I lived in Taiwan, In High School, I read books about Christianity in China, and in College, I have started to take Chinese. All these things came together in my final theme of my board game, the persecution of Christians in China. From this, I learned that inspiration comes from unlikely places.

Making a game takes a lot of work
Even my smaller quest games that I made earlier in the year took a fair bit of work just to make. first, I had to make the Rules, then I had to design the board, and finally, I had to make sure everything was in place, like the pieces. The second one was my favorite game to make, since I had the rules all set in place, I just had to cut out all the pieces, and there were a lot of pieces. The work that I had to put into my final project was enormous, and it took a long time, and at some times, i felt rushed. that is how i learned that this is a lot of work. speaking of time…

Making a game takes time
during the final portion of my final project, At Risk: China, i felt very stressed for time. I should have spaced all the developing and the board making out more. i should have had a schedule planned for the entirety of this assignment. that is the biggest lesson of all this, in my opinion, is that you need to be prepared, and have a schedule. Having schedule will hellp you get work done and reduce stress. this will be very helpful in the future.

Scrap Garden: the Day Before Review

I really don’t like this game. Well, that’s done. short review. Alas as much as I just want to end it here, I have to explain why I do not like Scrap Garden: The Day Before. Scrap Garden: The Day Before is a free prequel/Demo for Scrap Garden, a Game on steam that costs money. If the intent of a demo is to show me what the full game will be like when I buy it and that is supposed to make me want to buy the full product, then I want nothing to do with a poorly done, crashing product. let’s just review this thing.

Story
The story of the game is that a bot, name C4N, known to his friends as Canny, is called one day on a TV and told that the city’s water supply base is malfunctioning and they can’t contact the engineer, so they contacted you to go find out what is going on. So begins your journey out you door, down the street, into the sewers, and into a cave to find out that the engineer was eaten by a giant naked mole rat. oh, spoilers. sorry. I don’t care. So it’s your job to defeat the giant Mole rat, and that’s the end of the prequel/demo. as far as stories go, it’s okay. nothing too extraordinary.
I give story 1/2.
Gameplay
There are two modes of gameplay in this game, outdoors and indoor. when you are indoors, which is where most of the game takes place, you control Canny from a side view, like a Super Mario Brother game. when indoors, the controls are fine. but where the main bulk of the problems with this game come is from the outdoors sections. When you are in outdoors sections, like the city and the cave with the mole rat, you move move with a third person camera control. The way it is implemented is the real problem, since when you move the camera, your character doesn’t move with you, and when you try to turn left or right, you instead turn and move in that direction at the same time, making positioning for a jump really annoying. Oh, and there’s platforming, in a floaty 3D platformer. Another thing you need to do in this game is collect screws and bolts, some of which you get from boxes. First off, someone thought it was a good idea to set the use key to “F”, not “E”, “F”. Why did they do that? I am not used to “F” being a use key, it seems unnatural to me. second, when you throw boxes bolts stay in place where you threw the box, sometimes clipping into the wall you threw them against. I myself haven’t come across a problem where i cant get a screw, but that seems a little weird having them clip inside the wall. they also just float there, sou if you threw it a little high, you are going to have to jump up to get those screws. this control scheme, i imagine, would get really weird when you go up against the naked mole rat. I say “imagined” since I haven’t gotten to that point because the platforming is a little floaty and, most importantly, the game keeps crashing on me. I have a brand new computer, too, so it makes me a little upset when a game crashes on it. repeatedly.
I give Gameplay a 0.5/2 needs work

Graphics
The Graphics and overall presentation of the game is nothing to write home about. it looks like they used pre-made assets to build the city, which is fine I guess. the robots, however, look nice, although a little simple. they all have a sort of cylindrical shape somewhere in their body, which makes calling one particular robot “canny” a little confusing. theres also some original art i have seen when it comes to a teenage mutant ninja turtle Easter egg. but ovrall everything does it’s job. nothing more.
I give Graphics a 1/2 standard

Sound
The sound in this game is okay too. robot noises with beeps and boops abound whenever they “talk”, although there are two people that talk in this game, the narrator, who has a nice voice, and the robot that calls you, who has a filter over his voice. there’s also some nice ambiance music. nothing special. also the sound that plays when you collect a screw is pleasent to my ears. that’s it.
I give Sound 1.5/2 okay

Fun
I didn’t really have fun with this game, mostly because it kept crashing on me. If it didn’t crash on me all the time, I would honestly say it was okay. Just okay. As far as replayability goes, I certainly had to replay it a lot of times, since it kept crashing on me, for whatever that is worth. I’d say if I got to the naked Mole Rat section and had to put up with it’s attacks with the controls I was given, I would think that I would not have enjoyed myself. I really don’t like being a downer, because I know someone or some people took time out of their lives to make this, and for me to say that I don’t like it, to me, says that I don’t what you did, or I don’t appreciate the time and effort it took for you to make this game. I truly wish this was a little better so I wouldn’t feel so bad about criticizing it. But the fact remains that this just isn’t a good game, and I did not have fun with it.
I give Fun a 0.5/2

Final Thoughts
Scrap Garden: The Day Before is, to me, a broken game that could be a lot better if it just fixed its controls and optimization. if you can get it running, I’d say you will be mildly amused by what you play, but overall, it is not something I want to return to. If this game is any indication of what the full product like, I don’t want anything to do with it.

I give Scrap Garden: The Day Before a 4.5/10

Pokemon Uranium Review

A word of warning: this review will be written by a long-time Pokemon fan. expect some things to not make sense
Pokemon Uranium is an unofficial and technically illegal Pokemon game. set in the region of Tandor, you embark on your quest to be a Pokemon master, to defeat 8 gym leaders and defeat the elite 4, and possibly collect them all. But as and unofficial Pokemon game, is it any good, as good, or better than current Pokemon games? let’s find out!

Story
unlike most Pokemon games, Pokemon Uranium starts out with a detailed story. after you select your name and genitals like you do at the start of every Pokemon game, you are dropped into a scene with your parents at a nuclear power plant. its just another day on the job, until someone comes in warning everyone that the power plant is going to go critical. Everyone then tries to get out, but your mom, goes in, trying to possibly soothe the reactor. but she fails and the whole reactor goes kaput. then the screen goes black and tells you how everyone dealt with the loss. Your dad dropped you off at your grandma’s house after drowning himself in his work. its a little sad and dark, at least compared to modern day Pokemon games. That’s when you start your Pokemon journey. continuing the motif of professors having plant names (Professor OAK, Professor ELM, Professor BIRCH, etc.) You receive your starter Pokemon from a Professor Bamb’o, which isn’t exactly bamboo, but it’s close enough. with your starter Pokemon under your belt, and after defeating your rival,(who chooses the weaker type this time), you are on your way to becoming a Pokemon Master. Sadly, i haven’t gotten far enough to write a proper review of the story,, so some questions i still don’t know the answer to. will you meet your dad? did your mom actually survive? you’ll find this out and more as you play through Pokemon Uranium
story gets a 2/2 standard Pokemon story

Gameplay
this section of the review is going to get very technical, as it delves deep into how has worked throughout the years. Pokemon Uranium plays like a standard Pokemon game, but takes bits and pieces from across the many Pokemon games. In the overworld, that it outside of battle, the game controls like pre Gen VI games(Pokemon X, Y, Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire), where your movement is grid-based and you can only move in the 4 cardinal directions.

The main heart of Pokemon games lies in the Pokemon battles. the battles have the same mechanics they usually do, as in you and your opponent take turns trying to knock out the opponent Pokemon, using moves to alter the battle in certain ways. along with the normal mechanics, this game adds a few new mechanics. This game also adds some new Pokemon, as you would expect from a fan-game, as well as some new evolutions to older Pokemon. The first example of a new evolution that comes to mind is Dunseraph, which is a new evolution of Dunsparce, who has never had an evolution.

Dunsparce
Dunseraph

One of the cooler things I like about this game is how it plays with tropes that have been common place in Pokemon games for years. the most obvious example is the starter Pokemon, Orchynx, Raptorch, and Eletux.

Orchynx
Raptorch, the one I Chose
Eletux

in every main-series Pokemon game, the Starter Pokemon evolves 2 times, once at around a 15-18 level mark, and a second time for their final form at around the 36 level mark. I Pokemon Uranium, however, your Pokemon only evolves once at around the 27 level mark.

Metalynx
Archilles
Electuxo

I kind of like this change, but then they also have mega-evolutions. i find this kind of weird because, if you went to the trouble of designing a Mega-evolution for a Pokemon that only has 1 Evolution, why not just make that the permanent second Evolution? just a thought.

in terms of battles, Pokemon Uranium adds the Fairy type from Gen VI, as well as a whole new type, Nuclear type, which is very similar to shadow type in the Shadow Pokemon Games (Colosseum and XD) work, in that it is a sub-type whose moves are super-effective on ordinary Pokemon, but not so good at their own type and Steel types. since most Nuclear Pokemon are corrupted and acts more like a sub-type, They have the same weaknesses as their other type they already have. another addition to this game is Mega-Evolutions, Which was also introduced in Gen IV. at any point of a battle, you may mega evolve a Pokemon whose Mega-Evolution stone you have already. This mega-evolution gives the Pokemon stat increases, may change it’s type, and last for the duration of the battle.
Other than that, there isn’t very many other additions to the Pokemon Battle system, which is still fun to me and veteran Pokemon Fans
Gameplay gets a 2/2 still good, with a couple new additions.

Graphics
the Presentation in this game is uses a combination of the look of a couple of Pokemon Games. The overworld and GUI looks like a Gen V game (Pokemon Black and White, Black 2 and White 2) without all the fancy 3-d effects, which makes this game feel like a better looking Gen III game (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Fire Red, Leaf Green), which was on the Game boy advance. Many of the assets were taken or copied over from the Gen V games, such as the sprites and sound-effects. another thing that adds to the Game boy feel of this game is the fact that the Pokemon sprites don’t move at all, not when they enter battle, not during battle, nothing. this is similar to how they acted in the the normal Gen III games. Speaking of Pokemon, The New Pokemon (or “Fakemon”, as the fandom calls them) Themselves, I will admit, don’t really look “Pokemon-esque” enough in-game to fit my tastes. The Pokemon look a lot better in their official art than they do in game, in my honest opinion. so, the graphics, i’d say, do their job, but i wish they were a little better
Graphics get a 1/2 good, but could be better.

Sound
Like I think I said in my Metroid Prime Review, I’m not really a music guy. That being said, I think I should comment on the music. i have not played the whole game, so I cannot really speak for the quality of the game’s music as a whole, but I will say that from what I have listened to, it is pretty good. It does help that alot of the music is mashups of other Pokemon game music. I also detected similar motifs in some towns or cities to other Pokemon games. Special mention goes to Kevlar Town’s music, which reminds me so much of Agate Village’s music, a town which is in one of my favorite Pokemon games. Similar to how the game looks like a Gen V game, it also sounds like one too. some of the sound effects, like the menu opening sound, are taken directly from Black and White.
Some of the few complaints i have with this game, unfortunately have to do with it’s sound. First off, there are the Pokemon cries. Pokemon make a unique sound whenever some kind of even happens that pertains to them, whether it be entering a battle, opening up its stat summary in your party menu. Having been a long time Pokemon fan, I can recognize a few Pokemon sounds that have been re-used for new Pokemon. the most obvious (obvious for a Pokemon fan, that is) example is Tonemy.
Tonemy is one of my least favorite Pokemon in this game for a lot of reasons. one of them is that it reuses Zubat’s cry. This whole game is brand new, an I would have appreciated it if they came up with new cries for all the new Pokemon, but some of them don’t gt that treatment. I get that Tonemy is supposed to be the annoying cave Pokemon like Zubat was, but I would have preferred a new sound all together.
another one of the problems i have with the sound is some of them are missing. It’s sort of a case of you don’t miss it till it’s gone. Whenever you heal a Pokemon with a Potion or an status healing item in a normal Pokemon game, it plays a little sound that confirms that you healed Pokemon. This sound is helpful to me, since I don’t rellly want to waste all my potions, so I know that I healed them, and wont accidently use up a item a second time. since this sound is missing, I feel a little awkward trying to heal my Pokemon, since I dont want to accidently use it a second time, or waste it on another Pokemon.
Overall the sound is Pretty good, it could use some work though.
Sound gets a 1.5/2

Fun
Overall, I am having fun with this game, like I would most other Pokemon games. However, I am kind of stuck right now. the next big battles I have t do are the second Gym. in place of one-type Specialty gyms, Tandor’s Gym Leaders follow a theme instead. The second Gym’s Theme is Caves, which have Rock-type, Ground-type, and Poison Type. Rock and Ground-Type aren’t really an issue for me, but what is an issue is the Poison types. Poison-types 2 main weaknesses are ground and psychic. however, the main poison type in this gym, Tonemy, Has the ability Levitate, which makes ground type moves ineffective. since my ground types are out of the picture when fighting Tonemy, my best bet would be to use a Psychic type. however, there doesn’t seem to be any psychic types around. however this just seems like a personal problem.
On the subject of Replay-ability, like all Pokemon games, Pokemon Uranium is very Re-playable. go back, see what you can do better, and catch them all if you can.
That’s how these games work.
I give the Fun a 2/2
Final Thoughts
Pokemon Uranium is a standard Pokemon game, that has a few twists on the formula. if you area a veteran pokemon player and are looking for a good time, i would definitley recommend Pokemon Uranium
I give Pokemon Uranium a 8.5/10 a great game

Game Design Log Phase 4

Game Content Scouting Process
The reason I chose persecution of Christians in China as the theme of the board game is because it touches upon two things that are very important to my life, Chinese and Christianity. I have grown up as a Christian in a Christian household, and in my high school years, I attended a Christian school. Earlier in my life, when I was 4, I lived in Taiwan, an island off the coast of mainland China. What little I remember of those years, I remember them fondly. Once I was asked to design a game based on something important, I decided to design a game based on these two themes put together, Ministry and China. The theme that draws these two together is persecution. I was already quite aware of the persecution that happened (and is still happening) in china thanks to a book called The Heavenly Man. It included examples of raiding House Churches, tearing down crosses, and arresting and imprisoning people just for not conforming to the Three Self Church, the “official” Christian Church in China. My research for this game largely consisted of looking for examples of persecution today on the internet. I used mainstream news sources, such as the BBC and Time, as well as sources whose specialty is on persecution, like Open Doors and China Aid, a “non-profit, Christian human rights organization committed to promoting religious freedom and rule of law in China.” Also, because of the nature of my game, I needed to know the Provinces of china, so I had to look those up as well.

Game Content
The main thing I want players to learn from this game is that even in our modern era, a superpower like China still persecutes and restricts people based on their faith. The very existence of this game, to me, is like a starting point for a conversation. “Do you want to play this game?” “What is it about?” “It’s about religious persecution in China.” “There’s still religious persecution in China?” and so on. Also in the game are bonus cards that sort of show some of the human rights abuses that the Chinese government has inflicted upon its people of faith. Tearing down church crosses, turning an area next to a church into a dump, restricting what can be taught about the Christian faith, like the Resurrection. Through this, I want players to realize a couple of things. 1) how lucky they are to live in a country with religious freedom, 2) that persecution still goes on, and 3) I want people to ask themselves what they are going to do, now armed with this new information.

Game Design Process
From day 1 was very hostile towards the idea of making a game. the idea of making a game was not the problem. If I could make any old game I wanted, I’d pour so much time and effort into the world of lantavia, where the knights of Arcus must protect the King from the invading mushroom people. Of course, that wasn’t the assignment at hand. the assignment was to create a game that would make the player understand something. I thought that was kind of dumb. In my blog, I wrote about my thoughts at the time “’why does my game have to be about something? lots of games aren’t really about anything.’” But I ate some humble pie and then considered the prompts given to me by experts who clearly know what they’re doing, or they wouldn’t be teaching. The very first prompt was the most important one, since once I figured that one out, the rest just fell into place. “What are you passionate about?” The answer to this question took 3 tries. My first answer was apologetics, that is the defense of the Christian faith. I was having a hard time coming up with any game mechanics for that so I decided to move on to a topic a lot more fun, Power Rangers. That certainly answered the first prompt but another prompt got in the way of me making my super cool Power Rangers game. “What do I want people to understand?” my flimsy answer to that prompt was “I want people to understand why power rangers makes me happy.” Once I was told by my professor that, I’m paraphrasing, “that’s too vague”, I then settled on a combination of two things that matter a lot to me, Christianity and China. It was even better since I’m taking Chinese right now. Once I decided on that I needed a game. So, I decided to remake Risk in the image of China, since I found a good parallel between world domination and trying to suppress a religion.
You can read my design logs at my site

Game Mechanics
My game is essentially 2 player risk, with attacking, defending, building up Churches, fortifying your positions mostly the same. I also swapped out the territories for the provinces of China. I decided to use the game Risk as a base I fell that the theme of conquering the world by defeating your enemies and trying to destroy or co-opt Christianity in your country parallel quite nicely. I also wanted the communists and the Christians as opposing forces to highlight the fact that the two ideologies are at odds with each other. If they weren’t, the Christians would not be persecuted in the first place. While playtesting, I realized I had no way of incorporating what I learned about what the Chinese officials to suppress Christianity into the game. since I also did not want just a straight up rip-off of risk, I decided to add some new cards into the mix. These cards would either be a hindrance or a help to the person who played them. These cards would either show the power of the church, or it would show what the governing body does to restrict access to and the expression of faith. the colors of the pieces also have a meaning. Red represents the communist party, since its red, which is the color the communist party uses the most. The yellow represents the Christians, since I see yellow as a color of light. I tried to incorporate an element of surprise into the game through the aforementioned bonus cards.

Play Testing Reflection
My first play test for my game was a little weird. I asked my Dad to play with me, but he clearly wanted to just wanted to watch the game that was on Television. We played the game, but dad was really mostly there to remind me of the rules of original risk, since at the time, it was still only a carbon copy of risk. During this play test, I mainly focused on the 3 main parts of normal risk, which were getting troops, attacking and fortifying my position, since that is the fun part of Risk. It was during this play session I noticed that there was no way of incorporating the things I learned about the Communist party’s tactics into the game. that’s when I decided to come up with bonus cards that would either hinder or help you. I also decided to change the way you gain troops, since the number of pieces was a concern to me. So for my second playtest, I made sure the we focused on getting the bonus cards. In all honesty, the game played like a fairly standard game of risk.
My second round of play testing did not go so well. I realized I needed to add a few things to the rules. For one thing, I forgot to include a better system of how to get more troops. You put one of your pieces in each territory, taking turns till all the pieces are filled. Then every turn, you divide the number of provinces you have by three. That’s the number of new pieces you get. I also narrowed down my focus on what it is I am representing when I am playing with the pieces. The yellow pieces represent churches being built up and torn down. When you are attacking as the yellow side, you are really converting and putting up new churches in regions. With that, my play testing was done and now I can present it for play for you today.

Game Design Log Phase 3

Play Testing Reflection
My first play test for my game was a little weird. I asked my Dad to play with me, but he clearly wanted to just wanted to watch the game that was on Television. We played the game, but dad was really mostly there to remind me of the rules of original risk, since at the time, it was still only a carbon copy of risk. During this play test, I mainly focused on the 3 main parts of normal risk, which were getting troops, attacking and fortifying my position, since that is the fun part of Risk. It was during this play session I noticed that there was no way of incorporating the things I learned about the Communist party’s tactics into the game. that’s when I decided to come up with bonus cards that would either hinder or help you. I also decided to change the way you gain troops, since the number of pieces was a concern to me. So for my second playtest, I made sure the we focused on getting the bonus cards. In all honesty, the game played like a fairly standard game of risk.
My second round of play testing did not go so well. I realized I needed to add a few things to the rules. For one thing, I forgot to include a better system of how to get more troops. You put one of your pieces in each territory, taking turns till all the pieces are filled. Then every turn, you divide the number of provinces you have by three. That’s the number of new pieces you get. I also narrowed down my focus on what it is I am representing when I am playing with the pieces. The yellow pieces represent churches being built up and torn down. When you are attacking as the yellow side, you are really converting and putting up new churches in regions. With that, my play testing was done and now I can present it for play for you today.

Game Design Log Phase 2

What do you want your players to learn? the hardships of being a Christian in China and how the police deals with them. maybe destroying churches.
What is the target age/grade/audience for your game?
to win the player must… survive long enough from the police and spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
medium of game? probably board game or card game, or a mixture of both.
probably a board game with cards that you have to draw at certain intervals, some of these cards will have either bonuses or hardships, but mostly hardships. some of these hardships could include, “according the the CCP, your church was built illegally, tear down a church.” maybe i will have a protest vs force system, kind of like risk. you need more church members to protest the demolition, but the demolition crews are usually more powerful, and can attack at any moment, with some cards being instant demolition cards. maybe have some sort of cards that spin the story to make the government sound better.
——————————————-
i have come back to this at a later date and have narrowed down what I want to do for this game. I am going to make the game Risk revolve around China. the territories n risk will be replaced with the provinces of china. all the rules will remain the same except that there will only be 2 players. it will have 2 colors, red, which represents the communist party, and yellow, which represents the christian church.
sources
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-35900242
Risen Again: China’s Underground Churches
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/08/china-s-crackdown-on-christian-churches.html
http://www.chinaaid.org/2016/03/wenzhou-protester-hospitalized-as-cross.html
http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.umw.edu/ehost/detail/detail?sid=ff2a9855-3879-4eaa-8ad5-88c8336a3242%40sessionmgr103&vid=0&hid=125&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=22027434&db=mth
https://www.opendoorsusa.org/take-action/pray/tag-prayer-updates-post/tighter-restrictions-for-churches-in-southern-china/
https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/tag-blog-post/prayer-request-chinese-pastor-murdered/
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/global/christian-persecution-china-even-worse-you-thought
http://www.christianpost.com/news/chinese-christians-persecuted-communist-regime-forced-destroy-church-crosses-159074/
http://www.ultraboardgames.com/risk/game-rules.php

SUPERBETTER better be super: a log of my experience with Superbetter

since I only have time for one week to “gamify” my life, I had better get on that. I decided i would work with super better, a program that is already on my phone and is supposed to make me feel better. lets begin.
Friday!
Yay. today is the last day of the week, which means I will be going home for the weekend. I opened up super better and did two power ups that i could readily do. i hugged myself and then i chugged a bottle of water. I feel kind of sloggish though, so I guess that did the opposite effect of what it was supposed to.

Saturday!
long day, I couldn’t really do Super Better today. first i woke up and i was told that i had to be ready in a 3 hours to take my family on a tour of the campus. I probably could’ve done Super Better in that time, but i was tired. so once i got ready and took my family on a tour of the campus. then i came back home and i was told to stay downstairs with grandma and stay off my phone, since this was her last full day here. so we had family game night where we played Apples to Apples and Pit.

Sunday!
Didn’t do Super Better today either. I had to work at Sunday School today. It was fun though. I showed the kids there the Ping Pong and hairdryer trick. I didn’t think about Super Better all day, though.

Monday!
I did Super Better today. I did not do much though. I drank a glass of water again, I got out of my chair. That was about it. I had some stuff to do today.

Tuesday!
I had a busy day today with a different Schedule. I decided to just do super better between my FSEM and lunch. I did the same things I usually did. Drank a glass of water, stood out of my chair, and walked around the library. The walk in the library was actually quite therapeutic, as I used the time to just reflect on my day and life. After that, I clicked on quest, but on reflection I don’t think I filled out all the requirements. This is a problem I think I’ll elaborate on.

Wednesday!
I didn’t do it today, although I had many chances to. I was worried about asking my Pre-Calc teacher to be a reference for a scholarship I was applying for. I also wanted to focus on my work today, but ultimately I was distracted by NCIS and Property Brothers. I also had a language lab to do late at night. It was a easy day that I didn’t do Super Better on.

Thursday!
Today is the Day it turn it in. I remembered I had to do Super Better in the car, so I drank a small bottle of water, Hugged myself, and all the like. then I was done.

Final Thoughts!
i feel the problem with this type of gamifying my life is that it requires accountability. I have to remember to do it for one thing, and the game doesn’t have anyway of knowing if I do what I say I do. I guess this game would work better for depressed people, as the shiny colors and happy music that plays when you finish a quest would probably cheer someone up a bit. Sometimes, I did feel good after doing some of these though, like walking around the library, but overall this did not really have any affect on me, and I probably wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t part of an assignment.

Game Design Log Phase 1

I have been tasked with creating a game to be presented to a shark tank this December. Part of the project is having a blog about it, so that is what I am going to do. There are 4 phases in this project, with a series of prompts I will be answering in these blogs. Let’s start with Phase 1.
Phase 1 has a series of prompts that will help me narrow down my focus on what I want my game to be about.

What do you want to learn more about?/ What are you passionate about? – A thought just occurred to me. Right now. As I am typing this. I was thinking about Christianity in China today. While the Chinese government is officially atheist, they have a branch of the government that deals with Christianity called the three self church. The only legal way to teach Christianity in China is to be a part of this Organization. All the teachings must be approved by the three self church, but many Christians do not want their beliefs to be regulated by the government. To teach Christianity the way they want to teach it, they have formed things called house churches, which is basically just attending church services in their own house. The Chinese government has made these illegal, since they fear some sort of “uprising”. But China has always had a thing against “Foreign Influence”. The government views Christianity as a western religion that could be used by the west to take over, so they try to regulate it as much as possible. Because of this, some lessons and scripture from the Bible cannot be taught, and a lot of public expression of faith is punished.A lot of Christians are not too keen on all of this, so they set a sort of underground Church network. I love China, as I once lived in Taiwan. since i am also taking Chinese this year, this will be a great way for me to immerse myself in Chinese culture.

What do I want people to understand? – I want people to understand what it is like being a Christian in China, how we might take our Freedom of Religion for granted, and the struggle that Chinese Christians have to go through just to hear the good news.

Who might I seek out and interview (local/Digital) experts and other resources and deeper understanding? I do not know right now of anyone I can interview, but there are lots of books on the subject of Christianity in China, for example Jesus in Beijing, which chronicles the history of Christianity in China, or The Heavenly Man, the story of Brother Yun, the story of a Chinese Christian preacher who had been jailed several times for his faith. There are also several Youtube videos and websites about house churches in China.

there are also some questions about how fun and playfulness emerge as i research my topic. I will have to do some research first before i can answer those questions. so this will be a two-parter.

But before I go, I just want to say something. I started out this project being really mad. I didn’t really hit upon that idea that could be translated into a game, so I was a little annoyed. I was thinking “why does my game have to be about something? lots of games aren’t really about anything.” But I just needed to find out what interested me and what I was passionate about, and I think I found it. So, I am sorry about all the complaining I did. I feel a lot better about this project.

Metroid Prime Review

My first console growing up was the GameCube. I would play Smash Bros., Pokémon XD, and many other great games. It wasn’t until late middle school that I learned about a game called Metroid Prime, a first-person shooter on the GameCube. I loved the Metroid games, and I loved the GameCube, so it was a must have for me. After playing it for the first time, I fell in love with the game, and Metroid Prime has become one of my Favorite games. It has a simple story, amazing Gameplay, and great presentation for the GameCube, and while it may have its problems, Metroid Prime still stands as a great game.

I LOVE THIS GAME
I LOVE THIS GAME

Even though Metroid Prime’s focus isn’t really on story, there is still a pretty good one. In this game, you play as Samus Aran, a bounty hunter. The game opens with Samus responding to a distress signal coming from the Research Frigate Orpheon. as you explore this part of the game, which is essentially a tutorial level, you come across Space Pirates and massive monsters, and learn about the experiments the Space Pirates have been conducting on a substance known as Phazon. As you blast your way through the ship, fighting enemies and uncovering secrets, you come across a giant boss, which you must defeat. After defeating the boss, a countdown timer initiates and you must escape the research ship. Along the route to your escape, you come across Ridley, a giant purple pterodactyl dragon that Samus had some beef with in the past. meta_ridley_breaks_freeHe escapes and now Samus had to try to get out of the facility to hunt him down. On your way out, an explosion hits you and you lose all your nifty gadgets that you used at the start, leaving only your beam cannon suit. Once you escape the ship, you see Ridley flying away, and Samus then pursues him to the planet below, Tallon IV.
Once you get to the surface, the game becomes more open ended, and the story takes a back seat as you explore and constantly try to get power-ups and make yourself stronger. Along the way, you will scan pieces of lore and come across the substance known as Phazon. You learn that Phazon is a corruptive and Corrosive substance that has poisoned the planet, and the Space Pirates are using it for diabolical and evil experiments. It becomes your task to confront the Space Pirates and put an end to the source of the Phazon, the Impact Crater.

Metroid Prime feels like a Metroid game in the First-Person. This may seem like a redundant thing to say, but it was a major sticking point for fans when the game was first announced. When it was revealed that the next Metroid game would be first-person, fans started complaining that Metroid was turning into halo. However, instead of being a “First-Person Shooter” per se, Metroid Prime was more of a “First Person Exploration” game. The original 2D Metroid titles were less about combat and more about exploring a large map, getting rewarded with power-ups as you explored, which made it easier to traverse old areas, and allowed you to find secrets in the areas that you passed. Metroid Prime retains that kind of exploration gameplay and but puts it in a 3D world.
As you traverse through the ruins of Tallon IV, you will acquire many upgrades which will make your exploration more fun. You get suit upgrades that will expand your health, let you double jump, withstand extreme heat, and travel through water as easily as you do on land. You will get weapon upgrades like new elemental beams and missile expansions. An interesting addition to your arsenal are Visors. Visors change how you view the world, allowing you to interact with your environment in new ways, usually through figuring out puzzles. You start the game off with two visors, the “combat visor”, which is used through normal gameplay, and the Scan Visor, which allows you to scan things.metroidscanj_3973When you switch to the scan visor, anything “scan-able” in your view will have an orange or red box in front of it. When you scan that, information pertaining to the object you scan will show up in a text box on your screen. This information will then be saved into a data log accessible through the pause screen. Some things only appear once in the game, so you have to scan them on your first go to get 100%. The other 2 visors you get are the thermal visor, which is used in dark areas, and the x-ray visor, which will allow you to see through hollow structures and allow you to see invisible platforms and enemies.

Metroid Prime foregoes the old side-scrolling of the previous Metroid titles and instead opted for a First-person control scheme. Metroid Prime doesn’t play like a normal console first person shooter, however. Instead of using dual analog sticks for moving, the game uses tank controls. It might feel awkward using tank controls in a FPS would feel unnatural since you cannot look up or down, but to compensate for this, the shoulder buttons turn on free aim mode and lock on. Using this control scheme feels very natural. When locking-on to an enemy, you then can circle strafe around them. The level design is usually large areas of flat ground whenever you are expected to fight enemies, so you circle strafing is easy to do.
Because Metroid Prime is not really a combat-oriented game, most of the bosses of the game are more about puzzle solving than actual combat. the boss Flaahgra is a good example.

flaaghra

Flaahgra is a giant plant monster that resides in a circular chamber that is open to the sun at the top of the Chozo ruins. To defeat her (I think it’s a “her”), you have to weaken her by redirecting the mirrors that give her sunlight away from her, so she will fall down and let you attack her root system. Many bosses are a lot more than just “fire are the spot until they die” kind of bosses, which is why when a boss like that does show up, it’s annoying and more frustrating than fun. Certain bosses, like the Sheegoth and the Hive Mecha, are good examples of this, as these bosses don’t employ puzzle solving elements or anything like that. You just have to avoid the bosses’ attacks, and attack when they stop.
The music in this game is just amazing. Each piece of music really captures the feel of the game and the area it takes place in, like an overarching motif. the main theme has a series of 18 notes that gets repeated throughout the game in various places. The games use of technological noises and choirs fits the sci-fi theme very well, as if you are playing something very advanced, while also experiencing something very sacred. The music that plays throughout the various areas of Tallon IV fit the mood of these areas very well. the Tallon Overworld theme has a wave of synthesized notes that sound like distant insect wildlife, while also using the choir to impose an air of mystery there, as if you are discovering this place for the first time. The Magmoor Caverns uses the choir along with rhythmic percussion to make you feel like you are in hell, which is appropriate, since the Magmoor Caverns is the lava area of the game. the Phendrana Drifts uses dainty little notes that give off an air of fragility, like a fragile snowflake, with little synthesized notes that sound like drops of water falling into a puddle.
The visual design for the game is great and really help immerse you into the world. There are little details that really make you feel like you are Samus like heatwaves coming off the arm cannon after rapid firing it, electrical attacks causing static to appear on screen, and rain drops falling on the screen when you look up in rainy areas. The textures look pretty good for a GameCube game, and the textures and models still hold up to this day.
You might think that through my constant praise of this game, that this game is flawless. That’s not exactly the case, as there are some problems that I and many other people have with Metroid Prime. One of the biggest points of criticism for this game is Chozo Artifacts. To complete the game, you have to access the Impact Crater. The only way to get there is to collect 12 Artifacts hidden throughout the game. the problem with these artifacts is that you are given very little information of where they are. One of these artifacts is located on the top of the Phendrana Drifts.

control_tower_chozo_artifact

In this location, there is tower outside of the normal play area, and just look like a background decoration. However, you are supposed to shoot down this tower from a certain location, causing it to crash into the normal play area, opening up a small location that contains the Chozo Artifact. The big problem with this situation is that nothing tells you that the tower can be shot down.
Back when I was talking about the bosses, I mentioned a boss called Sheegoth. I think this is the worst boss of the game.In the Phendrana Drifts, the snowy section of the game, you will encounter one of the worst enemies of the game, baby Sheegoths. sheegothThey do a ridiculous amount of damage, they can attack you with a long-range attack, leaving you open to more attacks, and the only way to damage them is to fire at them from the back with a missile, shattering their protective cover, and only then can you damage them. They also come in packs, which really adds onto my frustration. As you venture through the Phendrana Drifts, you will come across a room where you can pick up the wave beam, your first beam upgrade. Once you enter the room that contains it, the door is locked, the wave beam disappears, and you are attacked by 4 baby Sheegoths at once! Once you are done with those annoying enemies, out comes Momma Sheegoth, and she’s pissed!

i hate these things
i hate these things

After facing her little babies, you would think that you need to shoot her in the back to weaken her too, right? Wrong! To fight her you have to wait for her to stop breathing her stupid ice beam, then you shoot missiles at her stupid face. this is one of the worst bosses in the entire game. and it gets worse. Once you progress far enough in the game, the normal babies are replaced with big Sheegoth. These enemy Sheegoths are harder than their babies and if you try to give them the slip, they stomp on the ground, causing the ground to shake and making you bounce around. The worst part is that these things appear in rooms that require platforming to progress, making their cry baby stomping detrimental to your progress. I really hate these things
Another enemy in the game that isn’t very fun is the Chozo Ghosts. The Chozo Ghosts are enemies that change from being visible and invisible, and they can only be damaged once visible. They are fast and appear visible only for short amounts of time.

Its a g-g-g-ghost!
Its a g-g-g-ghost!

These enemies start appearing once you progress far enough into the game, right around when you get the ice beam. they usually appear in big areas that you travel through a lot, and they lock the doors once you enter the room. The only way to leave the room is to defeat them. The most effective way to defeat them is with the default beam, which has the lowest damage output, the highest rate of fire. All of this adds up into an enemy that is only one thing, time consuming. These enemies make traveling a chore, and if a game is based on exploration, anything that discourages travelling will end up hurting the game.
Speaking of travelling, a common complaint of Metroid Prime, and Metroid games in general, is the use of backtracking as a way of progress. Backtracking is a term used to describe the need for someone in a game to go back to where they were before to progress through the game. I, however, do not have problem with this. The main thing I like about backtracking is the way game developers use imagery and items to tease you. A good example of this is the missile blast shield.

blast_shield_prime

Early in the game, you will come across a door that has a shield on it. To get through doors in this game, you have to shoot them with you beams. If the player tries to shoot this door, the shield reflects the blast, so the door wont open. This little event sticks in the player’s mind. Once the player gets their first missile expansion, text pops up saying you can open missile doors. The player uses his head and makes the connection that the missile can open the shields on the door. This connection is helped along by the use of color. The color of the missile expansion and the color of the lines of the door shield are both the same color, red. the game uses this for may doors. colored doors can only be opened with a specific weapon. To help with this correlation, the weapon is the same color as the door.
Despite these complaints, Metroid Prime is still an amazing game that is well worth your time. I’m so happy I picked it up all those years ago. I am still enjoying it to this day. I wholeheartedly recommend Metroid Prime. Its gameplay is still fun, its presentation beautiful, and you won’t be sorry you played it.