- Develop the start of the
- Prototype and define mechanics – need to know
what my game is!!! is it a
brand game or a game?
- Begin RJ Research
- Social Media
- Notes & Journals
Research: Today marked the start of my contemporary research efforts for the reflective journal module of my degree. This module gives me the opportunity to examine one area of research (relevant to my game concept) in depth and produce a publication with my findings for academics, game-makers and other curious individuals.
I began by defining an area of concern – in this instance – I choose branding as my topic. I choose branding as I want to thoroughly explore the concept, I want to find relevant marketing and branding solutions for the sale of my product. This research – I hope – will inform my decision making process well and provide me with key insights for the finalisation of key branding and marketing choices. I conducted my search initially through ‘google scholar’ to find academic papers. Academic papers can both guide my approach and answer questions along the way due to their scientific and meticulous approach to research.
Initial Essay Plan
My initial findings led me to create this document (WIP) which I will be using to guide the discussion in my reflective journal – I have referenced my research sources and have included examples of my own speculations and questions – these of which I hope will help further guide my research and reflection.
Gamification & Re-Targeting
Below shows my annotation of an article, titled: 4 keys to making a brand game by Ming Chan at Venturebeat.com.
This article led me to question my intentions regarding the product: What exactly am I making? and Who for?
Am I producing a GAME or a Brand Game? (the difference I have explained in the annotations).
The distinct difference between these two types of product is massively important as it relates directly to the marketing and branding approaches taken to sell the game.
Strategies like gamification (of marketing material) are explored and examined for their usefulness. Other strategies like demographic targeting and reliability are explored for their strong connection to brand loyalty and positive consumer-brand relations.
Conclusions are made regarding the efficacy of the gamification of traditional marketing methodologies. Such conclusions show a positive relationship between this marriage by improving consumer engagement and overall positive feelings regarding the marketing material. Due to the efficacy of this method I will try to implement these strategies into my branding efforts – I propose some sort of re-engagement mechanic, such as a ‘streak’ reward for visiting or playing promotional material over a consequential period (days, weeks, months). This re-engagement reward will promote an important game pillar – collect-ability – by giving out limited edition promotional versions of the game cards for players to keep and collect.
Anthropomorphism (Brand Identity)
My research also took me to view this paper – Building a human brand: Brand anthropomorphism unravelled – that takes a deep look into the strategy of brand anthropomorphism and it’s uses in brand development.
I found this paper to be very insightful as it gave credence to the idea of ‘personifying’ brands – meaning to give the brand a personality with feelings, values, preferences, moods and other important human traits – the paper shows how significant this approach is in it’s ability to create recognition, consumer engagement (through emotional reliability) and additionally how it may be used to concrete brand values to consumers.
Social Media Usage
Enhanced customer engagement, enforced loyalty and better understanding of the brand by users.
additional benefits include:
- better recovery after a blunder or mistake
- re-enforced value system
- collaboration with consumers
- better customer-brand relationships
- free and constant marketing, through: word of mouth, customer recommendation and review, consumer content creation involving branded media, customers sharing brand posts and comments that are then seen by other social media users.
Study conducted by… reveals consumer thoughts about…. as follows….
This study also revealed important elements within branding methodology, such as: language use as a tool for better communication (better reception of ideas by consumers) and enhanced consumer need to invest in/or engage with the brand on social media – because of these advertisements.
(insert diagram example)
As dictated by my schedule today is the day to prototype and define my game specific mechanics. I’ve put off making this final for a while in order to let ideas flow naturally and influence the game in its own time – however – now is the time for action and therefore time to finalise some important parts of my game.
I’ve created a document highlighting important questions and ideas that will help focus my prototyping efforts.
- How many cards per set?
- Initial Card List Requirements
- Finalised Card List
- How to play?
- How the story cards work
- Rules of Play
- List of possible winning mechanics
- Late stage vs. early stage game-play
The following photographs are notes taken after writing this document. I have tried to visually show my thoughts to further explain the concepts descriped – such as some of the card types, their placement and where they are most appropriately used.
The illustration above is a concept sketch of the character that can be seen as the ‘totem’, ‘character card’ and coin in the notes above it. I will use these sketches to create digital character art.
The sculptures below are concept images based on the sketch of the totem above:
The concept for the Totem has been there since Monday, however, through conversation with other people – Claudia from Manga-high and other play-testers – the question of adding extra functionality arose. Potentially slicing the totem into chunks OR having removable features, such as: the base, crown and arms – give the potential for customise-ability and also allow players to symbolically remove segments during game-play to show damage taken by the Totem in real time (removing the need for extra counters).
I have highlighted the Pros and Cons of these design ideas below:
Pros (&Arguments Opposing):
- Allows for customise-ability by players – this aids to collection and gives more power to players over game-play.
- A potential set back of making the characters overly customise-able is that it removes the significance of the characters all together – putting more emphasis on player creation over story.
- I want the story of each character to be important – aiding in player choice and game feel overall – so perhaps in this instance an overly customise-able Totem is not quite appropriate – however I wont ignore the possibility of this feature in the future.
- Changing ‘Bases’ will create a new mechanic – showing visually the difference between an un-powered Totem and one that has been powered up by item cards. The idea here is that there would be different bases with differing stats – the player would use the lowest base to begin play but would be able to upgrade their character stats throughout the game (retaining damage but increasing health overall)
- This would then create the need for damage tokens as no other way of counting damage taken would work with this mechanic.
- This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as there are many counter choices to consider, such as: dice, card counters, acrylic counters, digital counters, etc.
- Slicing the totem into Segments is an interesting method for counting damage, this is visually fun and also satisfying for players as they can knock the segment off after every attack
- A significant limitation of this method is that players are unable to increase overall health of the Totem – they would only be able to heal EXISTING damage done.
- This question poses issues regarding Totem size, Segmentation amount and Portability as setting up this feature may take time and also be cumbersome to travel with.
- I could introduce a case for Totems – but I fear this feature would limit it’s collect-ability as many separate pieces would have to be kept to keep the Totem whole – it is possible to lose segments during play or transport and this would leave players at a disadvantage.
Today I decided I wanted to test some of my mechanics and thought that using an engine would benefit this process through speed and edit-ability – if I’m unable to get on with the engines I will take a step back and print my cards out again – to test them in a real space.
I downloaded the following engines in order to play-test my ideas quickly and help visualise some of the concepts I have been speculating on.
I downloaded more than one as I’m expecting issues in my comprehension and the limitations of each engines – through setting up games quickly I should be able to tell pretty quickly which engines are better suited to my needs. I’m expecting Unreal Engines CCG Toolkit to be best suited to my needs as it is designed specifically for CCG creation.
Unreal CCG Toolkit
Immediately I was posed the problem of hardware incompatibility. My graphics card is known to have issues processing this engine – yet the issue is not catastrophic, it could still cause the engine to crash and lose my data; meaning it would be risky to give too much effort to this method.
Based on the tool-kits current superiority I have decided to persevere anyway.
Following Wednesdays and Thursday conceptualisation and sculpting efforts I imported my model from Sculptris to 3ds Max in order to fix the base (seen below) and also attempt to print my sculpture and test it visually during my play-testing. This also gave me an opportunity to test my 3d printer and configure it better for printing in the future. I plan to create a number of my assets in this way as it will reduce cost and reliance on outsourcing – it is also fun!
The screenshots and other photos depict this process.
This week has been the first following my new Schedule. I have found it’s implementation very useful yet I feel there are still teething issues – mainly being guiding my efforts to fit each days output goal – I have missed a few key outputs, however, fortunately I have implemented contingencies that give me plenty of time to catch up on any missing work. My calendar follows 2 week sprints (create, output, test, reflect) that gives me multiple days to produce assets – allowing for outside inspiration that may or may not change my daily outcomes. This process suits my personal – natural – work patterns and allows for constant reflection through my blog, notebooks and other methods – this keeps me on track and constantly challenges me to keep working!
- More concrete understanding of game mechanics, themes and needed cards,
- Need to finalise card list next week,
- Implementation of the Totem and it’s design,
- Totem sculpt v.1 done,
- Totem print (on-going testing necessary),
- Character creation,
- Need to draw digitally next week,
- Need to create a full list of characters based on card list created next week,
- Research for reflective journal on-going – good ground has been made,
- Next week need to look at demographic auidence types and their response to certain branding and advertising types,
- Downloaded game engines,
- Need to create a small initial game build (just for testing),
- Instagram & Facebook page initialised,
- Branding (Logo, ColourScheme)
- perhaps it’s best to wait until my auidence research is finalised next Mon/Tues.