The main question in our mind: Does our game prototype answer the expressing goals?
After we self-testing our game, we asked our classmates, my mom and other people to playtest Maiden Pink. Our testers including people who play games a lot and people who barely play games, our peer group in the class who already know what’s going on and people who are the first time to see our game.
Method: we asked the game players played the game twice.First, we asked them to play the game as they normally would and provide feedback as they normally would.Then, we asked them to lay it again and ask specific questions while they are playing for example if they noticed that change in the music once the daughter is moving too far from her mother, or did they understand that they can throw seeds on the monsters, etc.
What is the game about?
What parts in the game contribute to understand the concept?
Can you describe your first time experience of the game in one word?
Did you understand the controls, interface, gameplay elements, and level/reward system?
What do you like or dislike about the game?
How is it feel like when it play the role of daughter?
Comments from my mom
It’s a game about mom and daughter, it seems like the character need to protect her mom
The character can’t be away from her mom
I don’t play games a lot, it is a bit difficult for me to throw the seed very quickly to save the mom. I feel like the reward is that mom being safe, punishment is mum getting hurt
I like this game. It reminds me that I never let me going away from my sight when I was little
It reminds me of you instead of my own mom.
I would like to see the next scene working and I hope the character can grow up
Comments from Ramona
A game of obeying
The text and the story, the design of the character is helping to convey the relationship; the mother comes off as a mystical protector I feel confident about following through the journey
Exciting (and beautiful)
On first play, I didn’t see the UI buttons in the top left but once they were pointed out, I found it easy to refer to them; the WASD keys and E key also felt easy to use but perhaps the E is too close to them (my lack of coordination found it a little difficult)
I really like all the conversation with the Mother character and I loved interacting with her and seeing where the story will go
The role of the daughter feels like the role of a protege and it makes the game feel more intuitive and safe
Comments from Yuval
Trust between the mother and the daughter
I didn’t know what keys I should use. I have previous experience as a gamer so I just tested and found them. I didn’t notice the UI very well.
The design and conversation. I didn’t like that it ends without knowing what will happen next.
Makes me want to explore the environment more (run around like kids often do).
One of the main reason for joining in our team in Maiden Pink is that I have a very close relationship with my mom. My dad is always busy with working in another city and I spent most of my time with her. My mom is a very strong woman who holds up the umbrella for the family and always trying to protect me. However, I used to be a rebellious young kid who is very naive and occasionally brought some troubles to my mom. Until then everything changed, I went to study abroad for my bachelor degree in the UK. I have to face and learn everything by myself in another country, I would say that time in the UK becomes the most important time in my life, which completely changed me. The story in Maiden Pink basically reflects and matches my life experience. So when Roxanne talked about the idea of making a game about Mother and Daughter, it immediately attracts me. Before actually working on this game, I have a strong desire to let my mom play it and see her reactions. And recently she was just happened to visit me in Toronto and I think this is a great opportunity. As she doesn’t know English, I have to translate everything to her while her playing. I can see some tears in her eyes even as the fact that she would never cry in front of me. However, it didn’t evoke her own childhood memories but the old memories of the parenthood. She said to me, “it reminds me of you were a little girl.” Some comments from my mom are very valuable, she wants to see the character grow up as just like her hope to me all the time.
The other thing that happened in our playtesting time, one of our team members, Dikla, felt so touched and cried. Our game becomes a very strong emotional stimuli especially to a woman who is away from her family and works hard to survive in another country. It’s actually our purpose to show from the angle of a woman’s changing process form a self-abased girl who depending on other’s help to an independent person through our game.
We would like to ask more women to play the sketch of Maiden Pinkand record their emotions and feelings if we have the opportunity, it will then become very useful for our future development of Maiden Pink.
The primary emotional cue of Maiden Pink is the relationship between mother and daughter. The game starts with the player being a little girl and traveling with her mother in a fantasy world. The mother is always protecting her child and won’t let the daughter away from her sight. However, the mother gets injured seriously at the end of the first level and can’t keep protecting the daughter through the journey, so the player as a little girl needs to be independent and learn skills and responsibility to save her mother.
We all experienced the time that always being protected by our parents and the moment we have to learn to face the difficulties in life on our own. Women especially experiencing tremendous growth in independence. As the leading emotional cue reflects the life experience, the aesthetic style also needs to be emphasized to evoke the childhood memory and nostalgia emotion. Nostalgia can appeal to the audience on a sentimental and emotive level. Retro style graphics then becomes a more appropriate approach to achieve our primary goal.
My own practice and experiments for our game Maiden Pink are trying different methods to create artworks in a retro style that bring the nostalgia-evoking stimuli.
All the artworks for Maiden Pink are created in very small resolution (25 X 25 pixels) to mock the style of old games. It’s also important to set the brush as pencil and the size to be 1px to draw in Photoshop.
However, when I move to creating animations, things become difficult. It requires a better understanding of the movements, as the fact that the canvas and pencil are very limited. I have to minimize the design and do more research on the internet and other similar games to see how other artists/designers handle this problem.
So after some research, I decided to work with frame-by-frame animations. It is the early form of media in the film and animation industry. In traditional 2D animation, each frame is usually drawn by hand and placed in a sequence. In the process of creating animations for each character, I used the very traditional method of making animations in Photoshop to draw each frame instead of using animation software like Aftereffects for the more retro-looking.
Furthermore, when we talked about how the animation will be when the character gets hurts, I think glitch effects will be more suitable for this retro theme concept. I followed the tutorial here to create the glitching effects when the mother gets hurts.
Retro colors theme is another method to give our game an older looking, which actually should be mentioned at the beginning of the post. To match the name of our game, I used a lot of pink and purple with the combination of gloomy colors on the characters and monsters. The colors need to be really simple and flat to mock the low capability of old screens.
How the animation look like when they’ve been placed in the game:
The trailer of Maiden Pink is available here on our game website.
Journey is one of my favorite games, I played this game at my friend’s place very late at night and we are totally immersed in the vast desert. I almost cry towards the end when climbing the mountain with other players and he/she fell down and blown away by the strong wind, I try to go back to find he/she but I couldn’t. This is the only game which gives me a strong desire of helping other players and makes everyone in the room so touched. In Journey, there is not any language involved and there is no dialogue or explicit plot points either, players can only communicate with each other by sending a sound chime. It successfully helps to bring emotional connections and cooperations between players instead of prejudicing to others which is a common phenomenon under the cover of cyberspace. It also helps to reduce the discrepancy between different gender, religion and wealth.
Journey is developed in PhyreEngine and support PS4 and PS4. I began to wonder why Journey can evoke players’ emotion so effectively, so that’s why I choose this game as my game designer profile research.
One of the reason is that each level is presenting the stage of life. The early level is about joy and wonders with exploration and adventure, which reflects the innocence of childhood. Then the game playing becomes a little bit challenge, the levels inside the tunnels recall the feelings of anxiety and uncertainty we all feel when childhoods lead us and the responsibilities of adulthood come knocking while the ascent up the temple represents the quickening of time as it passes us by. Then towards the end, the game is pushing the player closer to our inevitable death. The player needs to face head-on while traversing up the mountains in cold winter and slow down, everything in life becomes harder. Eventually, the player die and ascent to the heavens where everything is more glorious and transcendental. The game ends with rising into the light while another player begins the journey right behind.
I become more curious about what kind of people can develop such a wonderful game and the way they implement this kind of philosophy of life experience into game design.
Journey is developed by ThatGameCompany, which is an American independent video game development company co-founded by University of Southern California students– Jenova Chen, Kellee Santiago in 2006. The company focuses on creating video games that provoke emotional responses from players. Its employees have stated that, while they are not opposed to making action-oriented games, they believe that enough such titles are released by the established video game industry. When designing a game, Thatgamecompany employees start by mapping out what they want the player to feel, rather than by establishing game mechanics. Employees have stated that the company does not plan to produce large, blockbuster titles, due to their belief that the pressure for high sales would stifle innovation.
One of the quote by Chen is explaining the mechanics part of Journey, “The goal was to create a game where people felt they are connected with each other, to show the positive side of humanity in them. A lot of games today have a list of quests, places to go, items to collect and rewards to receive… We just ignore each other. So in order to make players care about each other, we have to remove their power, and remove their tasks.” Chen also said creating games makes him a better person.
With the further study on ThatGameCompany and Chen, I found all of the games they made have a kind of same DNA. They are all very calming, beautiful and contain the features of flying and floating.
Cloud is a puzzle game and developed in 2005 when Chen was still a student in University of Southern California’s (USC) Interactive Media Program. In Could, the player can fly around the collect cloud in the sky.
The next game is Flow, it was created in 2006 by Chen and Nicholas Clark. Originally released as a free Flash game to accompany Chen’s master’s thesis.
In Flow, the player navigates a series of two-dimensional (2D) planes with an aquatic microorganism that evolves by consuming other microorganisms. The game’s design is based on Chen’s research into dynamic difficulty adjustment at the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media Division, and on psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s theoretical concept of mental immersion or flow.
Then Chen and his team moved to their next game Flower in 2009. In Flower, the player controls the wind, blowing a flower petal through the air using the movement of the game controller. Flying close to flowers results in the player’s petal being followed by other flower petals. Approaching flowers may also have side-effects on the game world, such as bringing vibrant color to previously dead fields or activating stationary windmills. The game features no text or dialogue, forming a narrative arc primarily through visual representation and emotional cues.
So what about the future with ThatGameCompany?
Their next game Sky is coming soon,it is reminiscent of Journey, in that it combines exploration with a light social experience. Players will fly through the clouds in order to collect light from around the world, controlling a mysterious cloaked figure. The main idea of Sky is also focused on helping and sharing with each other.
Sky will have online multiplayer support for up to eight players worldwide, Chen said they have been received a lot of good feedback from the players of Journey. However, there is a large demand that people want to play this kind of game with their family and friends together. So Chen and his team embedded the multiplayer features in Sky for the first time. I am very looking forward to this new game and curious how the no-language- communicate system can work in Sky.