I finally reach the capstone of my game study class. It’s been a great journey for me to learn a lot about games. When talking about the word game in general, I imagine play, but through this class, I learn different perspectives of game, be it read, write, design, develop, playtest, survey, and more. In this blog post, I will reflect on what I have enjoyed studying in this class.

I have a lot of memorable experiences. I started in this class as a student from the player’s perspective, who only knows about playing games. I have played different types of game, but I had no prior knowledge about designing them, so it was a bit overwhelming at the beginning. I remember I started the first game design with the concept “race to the finish” with Martin Nguyen. I felt nervous because I was afraid I would do something wrong, but it was getting better as we playtested more. …


Wizard game project — startup screen

Wizard is the game that my team has chosen to develop for the final project. It’s a continuation of the previous prototype. With the addition of two new members, Kayvon and Tom, we could continue with the initial scope of the game as planned.

Wizard is a 2D platformer game with a simple yet beautiful pixel art style. The game tells a story about the Wizard on his journey to chase after a Witch, for she stole three magical orbs from him. In the game, the player will play as the Wizard and go through three stages, forest, cave, and lava. At the end of each stage, you must face off against a deadly boss, who guards one of the magical orbs. After going through all the stages, the Wizard will confront the Witch for a final battle. …


My Game Studies class recently introduced me to play a game called Champ’d Up in the JackBox Games Party Pack 7. It is a competitive game where I have to “fight” with other competitors by drawing characters. It was an incredibly fun experience to play as I really like to draw.

The mechanics of the game is matching, voting, predicting, scoring points, timing, naming, character switching, and the main one is drawing. Every round, I had to draw a character based on the prompt the game gave me, such as “Create The Champion of Travel” or “Create The Champion of Failure.” Each character can be drawn only in two minutes, which makes the game very competitive and addicting. After that, I must draw another character based on another character that my competitor drew without the game’s prompt and name them. …


Gameplay in Wizard

Our game is called Wizard. It is a 2D platformer genre, progressing in a horizontal manner. The game focuses on portraying the journey of the Wizard, who is trying to get back three magical orbs, stolen by an evil Witch. The mechanics are very basic. The players use left and right arrow keys to move, spacebar to jump, and F key to cast a spell (attack). In this first prototype, the player will control the Wizard to travel through a forest scene, fight with zombie toons, and an eating-plant boss. The player will also try to avoid the dangerous red thorns and pits along the way. …


Wizard game prototype — Startup screen

It has been three weeks since I first started my digital game project for my class ART 108. I had a chance to partner up with Sai Sumija Ande, my awesome programmer. We are all novices in game design, and we did not have any experience with designing digital games before. Thus, we started very rough, but our great communication worked things out eventually. I talked to Sai every Wednesday to discuss our game. I came up with some game ideas, but Sai liked the idea of Wizard that I presented to her. On the first meeting, we brainstormed how the game should feel like, and what components we should create in the game, as well as the theoretical mechanics of the game. …


Today, I had a chance to partner with a classmate for a Game Lab, in which we played and observed the partner play some video games. We played the games for 5 minutes and discussed the game in the MDA viewpoint (Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics). In a total of six games, I played three of them, including This is the Only Level, QWOP, and Canabalt. In this blog post, I will discuss three games that I played, the connection between the first two games, and the experience between playing and observing gameplay.

This is the only Level gameplay on Stage 8

First, This is the Only Level is a simple game that has ever-changing mechanics. The basic objective of the game is to move an elephant-like character from the starting point on the left side to the tunnel on the right side of the platform. The spikes are the only obstacles that I need to avoid. The most interesting point in this game is how the layout of the game stays the same (except for the color theme), but the mechanics change differently. For instance, in the first level, I can just use the arrow keys to move left and right, and the up arrow key is for jumping. On the next level, the direction of the keys is reversed. One of the other levels makes the character jump automatically very high, and another one you cannot use the arrow keys at all but to use the mouse to click and drag the character. This implementation of changing mechanics keeps the game interesting and challenging simultaneously. Based on the gameplay, I can categorize this game as Challenge, in terms of aesthetics. …


Recently, I had a chance to create a card game of my own. I was excited to create one since I love card games and board games.

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The first prototype playtest setup

In the first prototyping session, I partnered up with a classmate and created a card game using a standard 52-card deck. We used the simple “Matching mechanic like Uno, but we added a set of new effect cards for a different experience. Initially, the game is about matching the numbers or the suits to progress. In the first playtest, we decided to transform J, Q, K, and Ace cards to what we call “effect cards.” These cards can be played like other number cards, but they have special effects that affect the gameplay greatly. These cards give the player a sense of control over the opponent and keep the game interesting and tactical. We wanted to introduce “Take that” mechanic, meaning stealing, attacking, or forcing the opponent to discard their cards. However, the game is about getting rid of cards; if we steal more cards than we need to, “Take that” becomes a disadvantage for the one who performs “Take That” action. Therefore, I change the meaning a bit to “Give That,” so it’s more consistent with the winning criteria. …


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The gameplay of Cheat on an emulator

Today, I got to play a new game, named Cheat, also known as I Doubt It or Bullshit (BS). From my perspective, Cheat is quite simple yet enjoyable to play with friends. Cheat uses a 52-deck card with the mechanics of memorizing and bluffing, and whoever gets rid of all the cards in the hand first will claim victory. Together with my classmates, Amy, Kayvon, and Tom, we played the game twice and had a good time together, despite playing on an emulator. This blog post will tell my experience for the first gameplay with a nine-round session report.

The first two rounds are pretty straightforward; everyone played the cards peacefully according to the number order. The third round took a big turn for the drama to happen. I started my first ever bluffing in the game, and with some magical power, Tom noticed and called me out “BS.” On my part, I was not very good at bluffing, so the feeling of being busted got through me so hard that I squealed in frustration. …


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Gameplay screenshot from Joust

Arcade games remind me of my childhood when I could tilt the stick and smash the buttons vigorously. I haven’t played arcade games for such a long time, but I just had a chance to do so on an internet emulator. I chose to play Joust, and the game captivated me to play continuously for thirty minutes. In this blog post, I will talk briefly about the plot, controlling mechanics, earning points method, and the experience of playing on an emulator comparing to playing on a real arcade machine.

The plot and controlling mechanics of Joust are very simple. The game is about controlling a knight on an ostrich and flying around a platform to fight other enemies. As I played through every wave, the game became more challenging. One noticeable change is the increasing number of enemies with better flying techniques and murdering skills. Also, the most bottom platform will open to expose the deadly lava later on. Moreover, if I play too long in a wave, a pterodactyl appears, willing to devour my knight. …

About

Tu Tran

I'm a graphic design student at SJSU. My blogpost will focus on the game projects that I made in my class ART 108. Hope you enjoy my articles!

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