Month: April 2015
“As a contributing member of the Adobe Education Exchange, Tyler Dockery has received visible recognition for his level of commitment and participation. Adobe is proud to feature a leaderboard function and badge recognition to members who’s mission is to serve the community of educators by maintaining a high level of activity.”
I am an ongoing contributor to Adobe’s Education Exchange. In an effort to show milestones and fulfillment as part of this community, Adobe provides rewards and achievements in the form of badges. This badge was awarded for creating a minimum of ten (10) additional discussion topics within the Adobe Social Community. It represents your willingness to contribute and collaborate as a member of the Adobe Education Exchange. I do not plan to stop at ten. 🙂
At a 10:15am session in the East Coast Gaming Conference held in the Raleigh Convention Center, Lucas Blair spoke to the Design Track audience about Designing Achievements That Matter.
ECGC Conference: Designing Achievements That Matter
Achievements. Some people hate them. Some people love them. Some people have to have them all.
Lucas got interested in achievements as he became an Accomplished Angler in World of Warcraft. This achievement was not a main focus of the game. Getting the achievement allowed him to get a special title (salty). This was a meta achievement requiring multiple achievements from multiple categories.
Chris Hecker at GDC 2010 gave a pivotal talk: Achievements considered Harmful. It was a packed room. Most people were upset. He showed research that extrensic motivations for rewards aren’t helpful. They aren’t fun and working toward the rewards for the players is more important than the fun of the game.
Dissertation: Lucas’ dissertation was on The Use of Video Game Achievements to Enhance Game Play. It was a study to see if we are using rewards to trick players into achieving things they don’t really want. The study used 20 different variables to look into what makes an achievement effective. We made games and then tested their performance. The results? (Its complicated.) Its more than just rewards and the rewards are bad. Some people didn’t have an effect and other results were overall achieved!
Why does it matter?
Achievements are ubitquitous. All pc, mobile, and console games have achievements. They are in badging and education. Other industries copy what games do. People really look to game industry for guidance. Sometimes it is straight up copied, without ideas being introduced. In reality, it can be more extrinsic rewards. Rewards can change your life:
- a memory
- context (where you fit what awesome)
- information (how you’re doing, what is good behavior)
BEFORE WE DIVE IN
The rest of the talk is the stuff Lucas Blair think about and the questions he asks himself. He admitted that he didn’t have all the answers to the questions. Only you know the audience and what the game should be. Truth is, its complicated or it should be. For many failed participants, achievements seem to be given at the end of the game development process, and not thought about.
HOW IS THE ACHIEVEMENT EARNED
Completion: Killed a boss
This is often a progress marker in linear games. For the mundane they are instructions (join a public party). Can it be improved upon? Maybe some kind of different strategy. You cannot really kill a boss, because its still around for others, or it comes back. A boss fight is a marker how far you’ve come. A better example is WOW. If you kill the same boss, but no one dies, no health loss, or win without healing, several different options become available as achievements. These are better achievements. They cause interested gamers to strive to be better.
Measurement: Collectng 100 thingies
Can the achievement itself be incremented? Is the difficulty appropriate? This is just a measure of performance. Either you did something or you did not. You can kill 10/50/100/1000 boars. You can go low and be cool completing the minor goal, or you can seek mastery. Some achievements are really hard.
Have both. But have more “real achievements” that are outside average gameplays. Milestones are not great achievements, because people do that anyway. They have played, not really achieved.
If its easy and everyone does it, what is the purpose of the achievement? It doesn’t make you amazing- everyone gets a trophy and no one cares.
What kind of hard is “HARD”? Time, RNG, performance? Grinding things out can be fun or NOT FUN. Do you need 1000 tries to really get something required to begin an achievement?
When will the players earn them? first play through? If expectation is they should achieve in the first time, is that an achievement-worthy performance? Different levels can be built into the game to amp up difficulty and implement more challenge without extra coding.
Have an even spread throughout gameplay and then a cluster of difficult achievements at the end.
BORING VS EXCITING
Not everything in a game is exciting on its own: grinding, exploring, crafting are not. For normal activities there needs to be a great reward. Here’s the incentive for the massive boredom. People will fight dragons no matter what, but they may not fish or garden in a game. Exciting things don’t need a nudge, just different levels of challenge.
Have achievements which can be completed, but next playthrough you should have options for more grinding and greater achievements.
META and INCREMENTAL
meta: an achievement for achieving achievements. Are the achievements required logically grouped? Is the reward worth all the time and effort involved? Is the juice worth the squeeze?
incremental: progression of related achievements. Do the achievements themselves drive performance? Are they spaced properly? Is there enough meaningful content between achievements.
aggregators: does the score mean more than the achievement? Does the % of completions matter? Can seeing that 45% have earned this achievement and 1% have bothered to achieve that achievement matter? Does it mean the same to the programmers as the user?
HOW MANY ARE THERE?
How much content is there? WOW has over 3,000 achievements for solo play.
Do the players have choices and can they differentiate themselves? Can a player ever actually get them all? Should they try? What is the Goldilocks number for your game.
POSITIVE vs NEGATIVE
Does it match player expectations and mindset. Negative mindset might let you know you need to try harder.
Some games have negative achievements because the game is so difficult.
- Dark SOULS II: This is dark Souls.
- God of War: “Getting my Ass Kicked
I use all positive. If you have negative be very careful. It can be disheartening and raise bad feelings
EXPECTED vs UNEXPECTED
Does the player know there are achievements? Do they get ignored? You want the players to know there are goals and you should actively go for them. If they pop up randomly and you don’t care, that’s bad. If you allow them a mental model so they can see the achievements and try them out.
Are they striving to earn them? Can they be used for creativity?
SOLO, CO-OP, GROUP, or COMPETITIVE
Accommodate different player types. Can players FIND other players? guild level achievements? Is your game competitive? is you audience competitive? What is their experience level of the person? Low level players are often no competition in the game.
PUBLIC or PRIVATE
Achievements can be an identity for a player. History, expertise, preferences, imply a play style, speed runner, completionist, etc.
However, it can be baggage. “Want to participate with us? Link me your ‘X’ achievement.” Is this a negative? If a player cannot join with others because of a progression issue, is this discrimination? How can you enter a dungeon if you cannot enter a dungeon? How can you join a high-level party if no high-level party will let you join them because you haven’t gotten far enough on your own? Achievements have now stopped you from playing the game. Negative achievements could stop you from playing further.
Can you showcase or share different things with different people? For example, could you show one player that you’ve beaten 1000 orcs to join their group, but show other people that you’ve failed to beat the dungeon because you need help?
During or after play: when achieving, will you receive immediate or delayed feedback? How disruptive will this be? Think of the paperclip from MS Word. How much did you LOVE Clippy?
everyone loves lists and grids. WHow do players encounter the achievements. if only there was a better way to resent them. Skill tries. PATH OF EXILES
Why don’t we represent achievements like skill trees?
Achievements are a glimpse into the mind of the designer. Achieve the things we want you to be! Consider presenting your achievements in a way so that students and players know what to achieve. Show them all at once presented clearly. Allow students and players to Make a plan to get there.
Promote goal setting. If you get one but don’t read it, you don’t care. On the other hand, if you make a plan, people can see where they want to be, and they provide context and hierarchy education (digital badges) individual achievements don’t really matter. The context they are in matters more. The pathway skill tree matters more. The path is your identity. If they are on a pathway and plan to make their goals. If the game knows you are trying to achieve these goals, how will it effect their gameplay? How can The programmer or program get them there? Is it time? Speed, Power, etc.
WHO MADE THEM
Game designers do, and choose to make them or not. Why not achievements makers? DODA. It could be a closed system. I’m going to do this thing, to this degree, with this tool.
After his presentation, he opened things up to a Q&A session
What do you think of hidden achievements
Hidden achievements can be found, so its not being hidden, but if you cannot set a goal for themselves, it can be addressed. There are some secrets that are fun, but its more for second playthrough. It might be a teaser to let people know on second playthrough.
Kill someone on the development team?
Random encounters are kind of fun. They can make interesting memories. People like novelty.
Trading card sytems with steam and wii?
A lot of the following items are trophy or achievements, etc. its just a question of symantics. They are pretty useless, but should have the same outlines.
What about locking people out of achievements when skipping ahead?
Designers are probably showing an implied hierarchy, but it should still let people skip ahead. It seems unfair to achieve the conditions, but fail to receive the achievement
Some requirements for achievements require high amounts. Gears of wars needs 100,000 kills. It might disincentivize new players. Few if anyone will earn it, but those who do will grab lots of attention by telling EVERYONE.
Lucas Blair PhD is co-founder and game designer at little bird games. firstname.lastname@example.org
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| UPDATE APRIL 23rd | | UPDATE APRIL 23rd | | UPDATE APRIL 23rd | | UPDATE APRIL 23rd |
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On April 23rd I completed the online Sexual Harassment training
Unlawful Harassment Prevention for Higher Education Faculty
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On Februrary 27th I completed the online Sexual Harassment training
Unlawful Harassment Prevention for Higher Education Faculty
Congratulations! You’ve completed the Unlawful Harassment Prevention for Higher Education Faculty course!
Workplace Answers has provided online training to members of Wake Tech Community College. This week, I completed the Active Shooter Response Training for Employees in Higher Education. I must admit, having taken this training in the past, this was well put together. I have been in several lockdowns on campus, and always found these things very straightforward.
“In the event of hearing a gunshot during classtime, should you run into the hallway and investigate?”
This, I found to be a particularly interesting question. 🙂
Active shooter training is an essential part of the current education environment. While not having a choice to take this training or not was unpleasureable, the training is essential enough that I was pleased to have taken it.
At a 3:15pm session in the East Coast Gaming Conference held in the Raleigh Convention Center, Ken Turner spoke to the Serious Games Track audience about Quality Assurance: QA Practices and their role within the gaming industry.
ECGC Conference: Quality Assurance: QA Practices and their role within the gaming industry
What is quality assurance? Quality assurance is the testing portion of the development cycle. One of the biggest assets of being a QA Professional. Flexibility. CHanges occur day-to-day, hour to hour minute to minute. You’ll need a plan b, c, and d.
What else beside play games does QA do? I made “such-and-such” game. You may not create the pieces but you help to make it better by pointing out successes and failures. A certain level of quality must exist in the game. to obtain this is where the group comes in. QA makes sure that the game runs well.
Testing if a game works in black and white. but there are functioning grey areas as in which QA does the majority of their work. Does multiplayer work? does that mean can I get IN to a multiplayer game. Do the characters spawn in? can they see each other? can I win/lose the game? will I have a report after the game? can the players interact with one another? How well does it work? to what extent does it work? Thats the QA Dilemma.
Sometimes QA is looked down on because there isn’t much of a postive effect. More artists makes great art. More programming is adding features. Adding QA only finds more bugs. So when should it be used and when not? its the most expensive portion of dev process.
Should QA happen at the beginning or the end? Beginning is nice, becasue iterations can be effected agile fashion. however, its expensive because you’ll be running at the beginning and end. At the end, many bugs will exist, and may cause massive reworks or rewrites. Its cheaper at the end though, because you only test one lump.
Often, the QA job is to focus on budget and throw red flags up. It means checking the budget, knowing the types of programmers you have, the features and quality that you need, and what you have the time to do.
Students seem to want to test only at Beta Stage, because they seem to fear that they won’t like the game at alpha. The tech definition of Alpha is that all features should be present. Beta should be near shippable quality. if you had a gun to your head.
Most materials in programming with a game company stops automation because proprietary software would not allow it. IOS based automation tools do exist, but the best testing and the best tools are made by humans and humans make mistakes. So don’t forget to test and test your testing device. Don’t forget that partners will not share their software.
Does it work, and does it work well. Get those testers. Gameplay testing. Interview them and feel them out to decide whether they like the game. Its scary because the majority of the work is done. Again, this comes back to the idea of testing early or testing later.
For smaller companies, QA test as often as possible.
QA testing needs to test AFTER the product ships. On release, everyone goes on vacation except QA. Cartridge had no chance to fix bugs. Now with broadband, that info is pushed directly to you and you cannot play without it. Updates are certainly patchable.
Now, release dates are vague: “fall”, because QA is no longer in control of when the game drops. Marketing has been telling people when the game will drop, and the public needs to get the materials on the dates/times promised. QA’s job is to get the product out in quality. Marketing wants it out on time. In the end, decisions need to be made and priorities must be made.
QA is great to get in. It is the gateway department because you get to interact with every other department. YOu have to explain the bugs to them, and they’ll tell you why it happened. QA is hard work. Start there, ask for advice, work hard, and you have a great chance to move into the company by taking the initiative. QA role is to enforce that level of quality and let the other departments understand.
Ken Turner is a Faculty member of the Simulation and Video Game Development team at Wake Tech Community College
At a 11:30am session in the East Coast Gaming Conference held in the Raleigh Convention Center, Daniel O’Keefe spoke to the Serious Games Track audience about the Power of Games.
ECGC Conference: The Power of Games
Transforming education through transforming teachers through game design
- draw triangle
- draw some circles
- draw filled in circles
- draw 2 upside down v
- draw lines above
- Put rectangle under the triangle
- compare your work with your neighbors
Can vague rules encourage the participants to come up with different results? Can non-specific directions encourage creativity?
Game-like learning principals
- everyone is a participant
- learning feel like play
- everything is interconnected
- learning happens by doing
- failure is reframed as iterations
- feedback is immediate and ongoing
- challenge is constant
Who is out there?
What type of people were in the learning environment at the conference?
- <li?Game developers (3)
- People who want to be in game industry(4)
- Those in Gaming education (5)
- Non-game education (2)
- Game teaching in High Schools (1)
How can we create a games and learning ecosystem where teachers and learners have designer identities?
How can we be making things, yet still realize that students aren’t automatons?
Teachers need competencies:</h2<
- learner-centered: They need to be on the top of the latest tech and methods
- collaboration: Teachers need to be able to work within groups and communities
- data driven: Using what they learn actively to promote their skills
- reflection + iteration: Thinking on what they’ve done and adjusting, creating an environment where failure is ok
- strategic thinking: Problem solving
Learning warmup above was important in giving freedom of choice to players. It is a workshop in teacherquest. where we have teachers and students build together.
- empower teachers
- increases student engagement
- re-imagine what teaching can be through games and game-like learning.
Can the game be engaging, can teacher reflect on that, and use games in the classroom? What is the relationship between fun and challenge, and how can we put teachers through that?
This presentation was not really what I was hoping it to be. It was a big talk about what TeacherQuest does.. People hoping for information on the power of games seemed disconnected. I chose to stick this presentation out, but I probably would have left. I was hoping this would be a numbers-based discussion in which participants could walk away with plans, ideas, and activities which THEY could put to use in their classrooms. Instead this was a pat-on-the-back session. Most participants were active for 10 minutes, and then ended up looking at phones and mobile devices.
In the future this presentation should be participant-oriented rather than “Here’s what we do… buy our services.”
Daniel O’Keefe is the regional director at the institute of play, a team of designers, strategists and game designers.
At a 9am session in the East Coast Gaming Conference held in the Raleigh Convention Center, Phaedra Boinodiris spoke to the Serious Games Track audience about how Serious Games effect change.
ECGC Conference: Serious Games to Effect Change: The new business model in serious games
How the space is evolving and how we can use technology to evolve the space
WomenGames.com was started by Phaedra and a family member because no games were pointed or marketed to women. In fact, women were not encouraged to work in the industry. In the early days, the trend of ads and advertisements for video games began with families. Shortly thereafter, it starting to show only boys. This disenfranchised many women gamers. Once the Wii came out, more women and families began to be shown in commercials and advertisements. This prompted her to begin working in earnest to get back into gaming. Phaedra pursued her MBA to begin a business and get loans to get her business off the ground. In school at UNC, she worked on “case competitions”. This would allow students to come together with other colleges and pitch answers to real client issues. Her breakthrough project had to do with a problem business process management for IBM. She realized reading the papers provided that the problem was really just one of creating a proper strategy.
She pitched a video game to gauge, assess, and teach. The Vice President of IBM in attendence was interested in having a proof of concept to create a business process management game. He proceeded to grab her at the meeting, and request that she build and code a bpm simulator. Her first example INNOV8 was a call center environment. Character had to talk with employees and management and find out how the call center process was working. Required talking to people, and identifying issues and possible solutions. Suggested solutions could then be mapped out and used to determine their effectiveness. It was a hit, and she was hired. this was the innov8 engine.
innov8 2.0 was built to teach marketing tools for clients and business. it was an even bigger success, and IBM sales were enormous.
CityOne was her next roject, a smarter planet game. It was a simulator for a city with challenges. How can you effect change in a city systems? What steps might be needed to make an electric car for a smarter grid. How can we use games to explain the things we already do? With the success of this item, fast company listed them as a top serious games company
Working examples of current serious games include:
- civilization for sustainability
- fold-it for process options and complex problem solving
- WOW for talent management
- Eve online for strategy
- Tetris to teach PTSD
- Candy Crush for recruitment
So, how can you leverage games for management? Everyone wants it cheaper, faster, and customized for their businesses. That is the real opportunity for gaming businesses.. 99% of companies use their dollars for professional development, with a special focus on skills training. Games can be used to train individuals to do specific tasks quickly and often encourage them to try again if they fail (perform emergency surgery, fly a helicopter, etc.). Once you can create a game which can include real data, you can integrate strategic execution, teaching a skill and optimizing learning.
Last year, HR summits across the globe began focusing closely on serious gaming. Serious Gaming has some obvious advantages for HR. It is:
- rapid dev
- tested mechanics
- repeat play
- real data
How can you deliver on that?
We know you have built components that can be reused and repurposed. The future of game design is MODULAR design. Companies are outsourcing parts of games that are not ancillary to their business. Its same with software development. This is not a new trend.
Building modular components for your games and your designs allows you to sell not only your game, but also the pieces of the game. It would not be unthinkable that the pieces of what makes your game great might also be used by other games to make them great.
BLUEMIX- cloud based offering
What if your game could leverage Business Process Management Software? After innov8 2.0 — a game for marketing— was built, Dept of Defense became interested in their work. She presented her software at an enterprise architecture conference, and she was invited to present to the department of defense. They asked “How can we vet our playbook to be able to visualize the complexity of the situation, collaborate with one another, and communicate about issues well before boots are on the ground, and dollars are invested?” She presented a similar set of ideas to attack the problems she had been shown. She posited to them the idea of a game in which the actions and their reverberations could be shown.
“There is a confluent of gaming engines out there,” she noted “a deluge of data available to us at all times, and the ability to include this data in the game.”
She was asked after the even if she could show a game to demonstrate how they might affect an experience like logistics for getting aid to a country like Haiti in the midst of takeover or natural disaster.
She knew of a designer who had built a Resequencing engine for the game Achron (find at: http://www.achrongame.com ). The game allows players to go forward and backward in time. The engine was usable for process invitation. People can play the main characters or the adversary (could be manmade disasters such as alqueda, or natural disasters such as earthquakes, etc). As you play, you are effecting process change.
Could our team use this for commanders to optimize missions for platoons to examine and try again? With out team, we were able to integrate real data and make adjustments in real time. So one scenario could be played again and again, and different iterations might have topographical changes, troop and boat positioning differences, and natural disasters or uprisings that could be triggered at the hands of a secondary team or player. Teams could go head-to-head with real updating.
This was such a success they also requested the creation of another game called PointRecon for recon analysis, that worked in a similar way.
In healthcare, BreakAway Games created Code yellow, a hospital process optimization game. Certifications were needed to keep hospitals up to date. Most customers enjoyed a game in which a fictional hospital was setup and participants effected process change to assure that they received their certifications and training. However, not all were satisfied. Many wanted to see their own data reflecting in the game, not canned games, but their own hostpital numbers data and floorplans. They approached Phaedra and IBM to find out: “Can we base this on a service, piping information through the cloud?” This would allow them to create a modularized system into which The game hooks into hospital data fields and online records and floorplans.
Watson (the computer AI) looks at a question and gives answers with a percentage of confidence (see jeopardy, and the book 4D gaming with Watson). Watson was experimentally placed with a simulations similar to CityOne. Using a city plan, watson can react to placements of fire stations, etc. Rules are created PRIOR to game launch, and Watson can work within those rules to create challenging gameplay. Imagine the rules integrated with Watson on a broader scale, or within YOUR game. Rather than a developer setting every mission, an artificial intelligence can take city data and codes into account before on real historic data, etc. what will that mean for defense, public policy, etc. What if scenarios can really help build a city more efficiently?
City Resilience Game
What if your game had real analytical computer engine behind it? Serious games are good for assessing your work personality and leadership. Kenexa is the standard IBM process for assessing potential employees. The project gives a multipage assessment upon completion. How you approach the task tells them about you and how you work individually and in a team environment. The future of HR is in analytics.
Workright created the game: The Guardian Angel. Biofeedback and sensors were integrated into clothes and helmets. These items of work uniform (helmeted sensors, clothing with GPS and biofeedback) were used to locate persons on the construction jobsite to note how their bodies reacted when in certain zones, how and where they traveled in the site, and how their bodies reacted to area of the jobsite. It is interesting to find out how your analytics might gauge biofeedback to help create a safe work environment and process change.
What if your game had a social wrapper?
The Next Grand challenge is to see how larger companies and systems can leverage social tools in their business enviroment. IBM’s Grand Challenge leveraged social tools to leverage worker participation. This materials was covered pretty heavily last year. Find the article: ECGC: Gamified Talent Management: Using RPG design to motivate employees and redefine work.
Bluemix is a platform specifically built for gaming. The need for this system comes directly from students and business owners who have an idea to get a game off the ground but may not have the ability to purchase all the front-end work, or may have a great component and no way to bring it to the market.
Monetize their IP. Build your market and win together. Developing on bluemix can be built as a web service. Integrate your service or game with other services, and then sell it. 130 million people play with IBM services. (here she talks about working with IBM as a business partner)
Bluemix is made on SOFTLAYER ( cloudant ). Thursday you can sign up to meet with a bluemix consultant. The Watson incubator lead will be looking for projects to fund new materials. See games at work.biz
If I’m a small studio, why is this interesting to me?
If you don’t have the bandwidth or funding to make your own AI, bandwidth, etc. BLuemix is pay as you go, and has a free trial. Use their services to meet enterprise-level clients without having to spend up front.
Success metrics: what can you plug in to give back to clients:
What are the success metrics? What do I need to show? When you build your own platform, you need to integrate into that platform how to cough up those metrics at any time. Bluemix has those capabilities already built into the system and they can be adjusted live.
Without a client, will I have to make my own use cases? There are wide ways to go about this. You might break into groups of participants or not. Bluemix has built-in analytics and that can be used.
Business and gamification. Those who ignore this… where do you see them going?
Few notes: a large trough of disillusionment on gamification. because points, badges and leaderboards are enough to cause change. But it fails. Those who go about this the right way find work attitude, process, and participation go up. I suggest you read this book on motivation THE BOOK DRIVE. What motivates us is a sense of self-direction. I encourage you to read the book and think about if the book is giving them mastery, purpose, self-direction, etc. you really want this to be as engaging and enjoyable as possible
You talk about fast turnaround times. How big were your teams?
innov8 and DOD games. innov8: 1-3 months per iteration. Teams of 7 part-time people. Artist, sound, etc. For large data-integration and AI-integration, they aren’t ready to integrate. We create a canned diversion of this. As data sets become available, different iterations will change. With a cloud model, times have drastically increased. However, we can’t wait a year for the military to have ISIS training. How can you create a game that changes and is customized with new data in a modular design environment? Only through integration of live data, and that is what makes Bluemix and cloud data integration so exiting.
how does bluemix work with twitter?
What are people saying about the game? Learn more at the bluemix booth.
As a teacher, what within bluemix would be valuable?
We will have an academic initiative, but its coming slowly. To leverage a free trial, join the academic roster. Then you’ll be able to find out as soon as possible when that’s available.
Learner metrics with bluemix.
Kenexa team will be looking to move onto bluemix. Once that is integrated, you’ll be able to find many ways to use our HR metrics.
Using Watson would compromize gameplay because no programmer could be involved. However, no programmer can access all info fast enough. Watson is really to mirror the real environment, because that’s what we want. In gaming, Watson could be an advisor for the gamer. If you have certain players, what is the best gameplay methods to win? Can Watson recognze patterns and advise in real time? If you could use a game to teach Watson faster, that would be fantastic.
Phaedra Boinodiris is the Global Lead for Serious Games and Gamification at IBM