A Game Design Workshop Appears!

October 25 - 31, 2021

The portfolio piece

I had a lot of back and forth with my mentor about my portfolio piece. Turns out it's challenging to do a writeup on a game that isn't even fun yet. He gave me some fantastic advice: if you can't focus on the end result, focus on the process. So I decided that my piece would be all about how I approached Top-Down Design when designing Last Escape. It'll be ready next week, promise!

Design Sprint Workshop

I stumbled upon a game design workshop and signed up immediately after seeing the low $5 price tag. IMIRT, a company representing Irish game devs hosted it and Rosa Carbรณ-Mascarell ran it. This was my chance to get a feel of what it's like designing with other people! Unfortunately, it was from 2AM to 8AM, but I was committed to seeing what designing with other designers was like.

What the heck is a design sprint?

If you're an engineer, it's basically a shorter, more-structured Agile sprint. A design sprint breaks down a week and assigns specific goals to each day. They take advantage of the fact that ideas are cheap and should be validated before sending them off to an engineer/artist to make a reality. After all, what's the point of building a game if it isn't going to be fun? The process was condensed down to a few hours for this workshop.

The Scenario

We're all employees at notEA working on notTetris. Players are complaining about how the game isn't social enough. How do we fix that?

What I thought it would be

Brainstorm โ†’ Develop ideas โ†’ playtest. Repeat until you have a solid idea.

What it turned out to be

Research โ†’ Present Ideas โ†’ Group Up & Fine Tune โ†’ Present Ideas โ†’ Make a decision โ†’ Walkthrough & high-level tuning.

Starting with research was an exciting approach. It seems so obvious now, why try to reinvent the wheel? During this phase, I decided to look back at my own gaming history to share what games had solved this social problem. Here's the research I quickly presented (with an unfortunate screen sharing glitch).

After presenting our ideas, we got into groups to refine them and pick our favorites. This was AWESOME. I was finally able to sit down with other game designers and hash out ideas. It was super fun & collaborative, and I can absolutely see myself doing this for a living. The pessimist in me can only imagine how much people's pride can get in the way of discussing ideas & solutions.

After coming together and presenting to everyone, we voted for our favorites. Certain people were given multiple votes to represent "key stakeholders," which makes perfect sense considering the realities of development.

We ultimately decided on a new game mode, then had to walk through the entire experience. We essentially had to talk about the full lifecycle of this mode and answer questions like:

Answering these questions with 15+ people going back and forth was a little hectic. Not to mention it was around 6AM, and I was exhausted. It was still a lot of fun to listen to. Everyone was interested in the idea and had good ideas. The hard part was bringing them together and synthesizing them into a finished product.

Some takeaways

The plan for next week

Go all in to get my portfolio piece done!

That's all for now ๐Ÿฉ