Week 4 Rapid Ideation One approach and planning

One of the exciting aspects of a rapid ideation (RI) session is there is often a big reveal in terms of the theme or brief. Even the organisers do not know what the theme is until the start of an event. This is done through the use of random generators, such as Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategy cards or Verbs, Nouns and Adjectives (VNA) cards. Despite the unknowns, there are still a lot of activities that can be carried out to prepare for an RI session. The best approach is to think about what you would like to achieve during the session. Do you have a certain technique or tool you would like to try out? Is there a particular craft you would like to hone? Are you interested in a certain theory or approach that could inform the design and development process during the event? RI sessions are safe spaces where you are encouraged to take risks, experiment and work outside of your comfort zone. With this in mind and before the RI event starts, let’s begin by considering what you would like to achieve by participating. Use this spark forum to share your thoughts, aspirations, hopes and fears on the rapid ideation session. You may find your peers share them too, or perhaps some with more experience can help you through them – why not? You may even find people with similar interests to collaborate with” (Falmouth University 2020).

Aspirations, hopes and fears for rapid ideation

Rapid Ideation One or for the Indie Games Development cohort ‘game jam one’ starts soon. The big reveal is announced at our weekly webinar, and from there, we will undertake two weeks of intense work on an artefact or game. The User Experience cohort is working alongside us and revealing their apps, websites and other artefacts at the end of the rapid ideation period. A game jam sounds like fun in all honesty, and I am excited about Rapid Ideation One.

Martin Cooke (2020) describes the common mistakes made in a first game jam, using your first idea, using a game engine or language you have little to no experience in, and not spending any time in the planning stage. I made every one of these mistakes in my first game jam for Women in Games. I designed a point and click gardening game (ambitious for the time frame), in the Godot Engine, and I did not attempt planning, creative techniques or prototyping.

Theories and approaches to game jamming

I will be following Bayrak (2017) ‘Theories and approaches in design and development for game jams’ for our forthcoming jam. Bayrak discusses several approaches to designing games in rapid ideation including: “Jamming as a design approach” and the “Power of jamming for creative iteration” (2017). By taking part in a Rapid Ideation, I am taking part in a powerful personal development tool and “creative iteration” for my future practice and ideas.

The “event of making a game in a game jam becomes a game itself” (Bayrak 2017). The event has a goal and several steps to complete to win. The whole idea that I am joining a game, rather than rapid ideation makes the entire thing sound more fun.

Game Design Fundamentals inform my second approach to Rapid Ideation 1 by Thomas Winkley and Joshua Kinney on Pluralsight. TitledThe basics of Game Design and the ideologies behind Swords and Shovels’ and designing your own game. “Spreadsheets are life” claims Thomas Winkley (2018) and in this vein, I am going to record and document my process so that I can reflect on my activities at a later date. I plan to take many pictures of the process, potentially filming myself drawing and creating artwork. Winkley and Kinney explain that at the start of designing your game you should: make spreadsheets, plan your game out, set SMART Goals.

SMART goals

Mindtools (2020) explains how to make SMART goals:

“To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).”

SMART Goals for Rapid Ideation One

  • Specific – An inventory
  • Measurable – The inventory should hold items that a character can use
  • Attainable – I will work through the Adventure Creator Tutorial
  • Relevant I would like to build a point-and-click game where an inventory is a significant feature
  • Time-bound – Over the course of the two-week rapid ideation
  • Specific – One animated character
  • Measurable – The character should have at least one walking animation
  • Attainable – Unity has an animation plugin built in that I can use
  • Relevant – To build a 2D illustrated game, the animation is advantageous
  • Time-bound – Over the course of the two-week rapid ideation
  • Specific – A working mini-game
  • Measurable – Something you can play through
  • Attainable – I will keep the concept simple
  • Relevant – Building a working game will build my confidence
  • Time-bound – Over the course of the two-week rapid ideation
  • Specific A puzzle
  • Measurable – A fun addition to the game, something to solve
  • Attainable – I can use Adventure Creator and brainstorm ideas
  • Relevant – Point-and-click games typically feature puzzles and gameplay
  • Time-bound – Over the course of the two-week rapid ideation
  • Specific – Use Unity and build confidence
  • Measurable – To build something interactive
  • Attainable – I have been practising and should be fine
  • Relevant – I want to create games in games engines like Unity or Godot
  • Time-bound – Over the course of the two-week rapid ideation

What would I like to achieve?

To complete something!

“The theme of a game jam empowers the participants in several ways, fostering ownership and inclusivity while also introducing limitations for curated explorations” (Bayrak 2017). My main goal for this game jam is to improve, foster “ownership and inclusivity” and understand my limitations in my current stage of learning.

How does Rapid Ideation work?

Martin Cooke explicitly informed us not to follow our first idea, which I often do. For this game jam, I will use Miro Boards to aid inspiration, ideas and planning. On Tuesday, I will design a plan to cover the techniques we’ve covered, such as Opposite Thinking, SCAMPER and Sketching, to spark my creative juices. Then I will begin prototyping, likely using Twine or Sketching but who knows. I will then start making the game!

What do I want to focus on?

My focus for this game jam is to get to grips with Unity and Adventure Creator. Over the past four weeks, I have rapidly begun researching game engines, plugins, and tutorials to utilise my art, photography, and writing skills. Adventure Creator wasn’t free, and there are many fantastic open-source options, but I felt that the tool would support my ambitions to learn the Unity interface. There is also an open-source plugin to integrate Ink with Adventure Creator. I might not use both or either for my game jam, but completing the tutorials has given me the confidence to create a game.

My game should have a beginning, middle and end, and there should be an “objective” and a “goal” (Bayrak 2017). “Simply put, the goal of a game may be winning or completing a chapter, while the objectives are what a player needs to do in order to reach this goal. However, the overarching goal of the design may be very different and may not be explicitly visible in the actions of play even though it is built in the overall experience” (Bayrak 2017).

Agile Development and Time Management

Kanban Framework

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Fig 1. Kanban progress board in Miro

The Kanban Framework is used in agile development and time management. There is a ‘Backlog’, ‘In progress’ and ‘Done’ column and you work your way through the list.

Hopefully following this time management method will keep my list of tasks on track.

List of figures

Figure 1. Kanban progress board in Miro. 2020. Screenshot by author.

References

Adventure Creator Tutorials. Available at: https://adventurecreator.org/tutorials/making-2d-game [accessed on 12 October 2020].

BAYRAK, A. Tece. 2017. ‘Jamming as a Design Approach. Power of Jamming for Creative Iteration’. The Design Journal 20(sup1), S3945–53.

COOK, Martin. 2020. ‘Tips for effective jamming‘ [online lecture].Falmouth University. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/872/pages/week-4-on-jams-and-hackathons?module_item_id=44819 [accessed 12th October 2020].

Falmouth University. 2020. ‘Week 4: Spark Forum’. Falmouth Flex [online]. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/872/discussion_topics/17748?module_item_id=44815 [accessed 12th October 2020].

Joshua Kinney | Profile. Available at: https://app.pluralsight.com/profile/author/joshua-kinney [accessed 12th October 2020].

Game Design Fundamentals. Available at: https://www.pluralsight.com/courses/game-design-fundamentals [accessed 12th October 2020].

MindTools. 2020. ‘SMART Goals: – How to Make Your Goals Achievable’. MindTools [online]. Available at: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm [accessed 12th October 2020].

Thomas Winkley | Profile. Available at: https://app.pluralsight.com/profile/author/thomas-winkley [accessed 12th October 2020].

Unity Tutorials. Available at: https://docs.unity3d.com/Packages/com.unity.2d.animation@5.0/manual/index.html [accessed 12th October 2020].

Women in Games WIGJ. Available at: http://www.womeningames.org/ [accessed 12th October 2020].