While Alec is taking a breather and focusing on his other projects, I’ve been working on Dents by myself. During our last playtest session, we noticed that many of our players had a tendency to skip over the poem and focus almost entirely on the gameplay—which isn’t exactly a bad thing, it just wasn’t what we had anticipated. We initially hoped that players could appreciate the poem in the way we did—with the words providing the game with more of a narrative. However it seemed like observations didn’t match up to expectations. Many of our playtesters continued to forego reading the text despite the changes Alec made (like adding a highlight to the poem and not allowing them to skip immediately to the next level). The feedback bummed us out a little, but that’s what playtesting does: it reveals the bumps and lumps which designers tends to gloss over after staring at their games for an endless amount of time. When you don’t receive external feedback, it’s easy to lose sight of what your game really is.
Since then, I’ve been thinking up ways to integrate the text with the rest of the game. Ideally these words should provide more of a context for the players and less of a distraction from their play experience.
It’s a fun design challenge and I think I’ve gotten somewhere. A couple of nights ago, I printed out all of the scripts Alec wrote for the game. So far, he’s been the one programming everything but I’m excited to finally be able to begin implementing the changes I want to see in our game. I’m still new to Unity and it can be a bit daunting to stare at a lot of unfamiliar syntax, but it’s a nice break from solely working on the art and animation.
Earlier this week, I went through a couple of the scripts with a marker in hand and the Unity Scripting API by my side. Picking apart the code with colored pens and highlighters and looking up every single thing I don’t know is a great way to familiarize myself with the new language and structure of the programs. I’m grateful that I’m able to ask Alec to clarify parts of the code I don’t understand and explain new concepts to me when I come across them.
I’ve also spent time designing a new menu UI which I hope I can implement by myself. I really want to be able to work on all parts of the our game because I see it as a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the areas I’m not so great at. I realize that in order for me to make the changes I want, I need to be capable of implementing them myself. That way, I don’t always have to rely on someone else to doing them for me. As for the art, we’re going for something a bit sillier and more playful. Planets are now going to have faces and one of our playtesters suggested the name "Stellar Smooch" which has been sticking…
Recently, I’ve been working on is an iOS game with Alec Thomson. It’s about love, loss, and loneliness in space. We’re just about to put in the remaining levels, but it’s nearly finished. Here are a couple of early versions of the concept art.
Towards the end of the month, I participated in Brooklyn Gamery’s Super Love Jam Game Jam: a game jam about gender, sexual identity, and relationships.
I teamed up with Andrei Marks, Nigel Harsch, Greg Heffernan, and Will Jeffers. We went with my concept of a two-person infinite runner developing the main game mechanic from Aristophane’s speech in Plato’s Symposium. In case you aren’t familiar with the speech, here are a couple of quotes from the book which will give you an idea of where I drew the idea from:
Aside from the concept and game design, I primarily focused on art and animation. It was a fantastic learning experience and our team ended up winning passes to Games for Change!
Currently, I’m uncertain about expanding the game further. There is still a ton of polishing I’d like to do!
P.S. You can check out the game here!
My friend, Pauline Ceraulo, asked me to help her design tile pieces for a board game her and her boyfriend kickstarted. We worked together on coming up with concepts, keeping the design very minimal and elegant: you should check it out and back it!