At 10:00am on 4/18/2018, I attended the presentation “Marketing Your Game in 2018 and Beyond”, Presented by Logan Williams Founder of Indie Wolverine, at the 2018 East Coast Gaming Conference in At the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC.
Logan Williams of Indie Wolverine is a marketing & PR specialist in the video game industry. Logan has supported over 12 games in the span of 2 and a half years and has helped his clients earn coverage from the largest gaming publications around the world. Notable games Logan has supported are GRAV, Cosmic Trip VR, Heart Forth Alicia, Polygod, Reflex Arena and more.
More games are being released at a higher volume than ever before on the largest PC game digital distribution platform (Steam). With the mobile market and now PC games market becoming overcrowded and overly competitive, it’s feast or famine. Marketing isn’t an option and influencer marketing is no longer low-hanging fruit.
In this talk, we broke down marketing & PR in the video game industry to simple terms and begin to expand on more creative ways we can communicate the values of our games to our target market. This included ways to utilize guerilla marketing tactics and how to get the most out of our launch (Early Acess release, full release, major update etc..).
I hope to leave this talk with a new understanding of marketing and PR in the video game industry and the added creative knowledge of how to make the most of existing communication strategies.
This talk was aimed at industry newbies to professionals.
Catch the whole slide presentation at: https://www.slideshare.net/LoganWilliams2/ecgc-2018-marketing-your-game-in-2018-and-beyond
Indie Wolverine operates by default using guerilla marketing. Most customers have a few weeks until launch to gain coverage when they walk into the office.
FAILURE IS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY
Last year, their business had a large-ish failure. They worked with a VR team with Steam Early access title, and they handled the process from early release, and they were picked up by tons of attention-getting youtubers. The attention converted into sales. Sales were great and the alunch with early access went well. rather than small updates, the teams focused on 2-3month update cycles.
Due to the large success in the past, expectations were high. Kotaku noted his game was the favorite VR game to date. They felt they could reach out to positive reviewers. A 3-week pre-release note went out with reviewers and new press. The first round went out with virtually no response. The 2nd-week pre-release note got little or no responses. People were opening the email, but there was no response. The development team was stoked, but red flags were flying all over the place. As this was a first in-studio experience he could see the excitement. On launch, only niche clients responded, and sales did not meet expectations.
On the flight home, he was disgusted, felt sick to his stomach. Mitigating the risk and stress became his mission moving forward. We’ll talk about PR but its really about mitigating stress on launch.
Steam mechanics here show that in 2017, 7,700 games were released- roughly by the numbers that’s 20 new games every single day. As noted repeatedly in podcasts by the Jimquisition, having so many products available there is no way to get your product noted and its very easy to find your materials reshuffled out of sight.
This is something which is important and will always be important. These are your embassadors. They are ready and available on day 1. So have an incentive- give them a reason to buy your game. Engage that community- let them know and listen as they are an extension of your studio. Leverage that community- build the community and use that to make a following that uses the products, informs developers and community, and entices others to take part.
An incentive might be exclusive access to an exclusive build. Getting them in the door isn’t the last step, but rather the first step to building that community. Have team members amke contests, make them feel safe and valued and engaged. Leverage that community to validate the material you’re producing. Use the community to leverage merchandizing, partnerships, etc.
It can get worse. Self-published book authors might face 100,000 fiction books each year and they’re marketing on amazon. Building the community is the answer. How? Through mailing lists, connections, etc. The connected community are your footsoliders. They aren’t being paid, they’re paying you!
He used discord to build a dream community for our game descenders. WIth numerous options, they built a discord server with an exclusive release. They gave competition through team, protected channels, built community, and used the data to buildi nthe features which were used most by the community. You cannot depend on the game or mechanics. Community you can control
From the beginning of game build, you’ll have newsworthy beats for the media. Be organized. Have the ammunition and planned communication. Writers are trying to delight the reader. Give them good amunition. Be clear. Always have a clear call to action. Be clear to the media on what is new, what you’re doing, what they’ll like, where they should go, how you’d like it covered, how to contact you. This is for any communications. Have goals. What is the end goal? Organize your news feeds with a goal in mind. If the announcement gets on IGN, and you didn’t provide next steps for the readers, and the product doesn’t launch in the next month, you’ll disappear. If you have an exclusive beta on discord, include that info.
If you have a moment to shine, don’t step back and say “I’ll be back in 6 months”
the abilty to understand… Empathy and creativity aligns you for success. This is especially good when dealing with the press. they have an audience. They need great content that the audience wants to know. The bigger audience the author can leverage, the more they can command value and attention. Put yourself in the shoes of the writer. not only that, but the audience of that writer. What does the reader want and how do you get them stoked toplay/buy this. What’s your value to the publisher? what’s your value to them
Google, twitter, and easily voila norbert.
Last night in the AIRBnB, he searched for the google query only in the IGN website AND VR. Here’s the result
Finding writers who like the genre and game type you create can be found this way. Use the tools button to change the date back to certain dates (not more than a year ago). This is a great way to reach out to writers who will likely have well-received reviews. In this example, I might not choose Calum Marsh, as he have only 1.5 stars. Rather than a cold email, a twitter contact might be good- we have their email, but in this example:
You might get immediate feedback. If you want anything, ask immediately. Even if it says they won’t, ask anyway. You won’t get anything if you don’t ask.
I don’t know how it finds these email addresses, but it does! first 50 are free. You can always get another gmail account.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CREATIVITY
Dominic had roughly 2 months to lead his game. he didn’t have a website, online presence, no press kit, nothing. But, after playing the game, they chose to take it on. Barebones wouldn’t work- no press releases, and they needed a spark for the launch- some newsfeeds (3 guarantees). To take it out of the hands of the press, they needed to get creative. S-nce binding of isaac had a hug following, they chose to go for that audience. Those who played it, and LOVED IT. Since his game was so hard, it was an easy fit.
So what did we use? WordPress website, press kit, press lists, some other tools. The headline of the writer and the audience needed to match. SO what they did was choose that if you could receive a certain achievement on another super-difficult game with a massive following: Binding of Isaac (BOI), then you can have this game for free. It had to be a timed contest. Content creators, press, etc. They earned mass cover on the first day and it snowballed. They earned a ton of attention, but people who followed the influencers found out about this. They tweeted to other game developer and major content creators, and some of them picked it up
Mind Mapping For Success
The creative process through mind mapping can be visualized. They worked with a developer after the early access and launch. How could they inject that spark. THey added some materials which raised and lowered the difficulty level based on bitcoin rates. Using the advanced queries in google, they found games in FORBES magazine and website which likes video games and bitcoin. This person was able to take up the idea and really run with it. Once it rolled in FORBES, a few more places immediately picked it up.
Guerilla marketing is low cost, high risk, high reward. More often than not, that brings some nice feedback
when should you present? as soon as you’re presentable. Should niche games be the next big thing? Do what you’re passionate about. if its indy, if its the best new chess game, go for it. What if you have no specifc launch date, still show? yes, not a problem. What if lauch is approaching and you have no community? put yourself in the audinece shoes and give them what they need. get creative and think outside the box. use a simple demo. It may not be a high conversion, but it may bring coverage. Organize what you have, use it, and then extend into guerrilla tactics and target the people you genuinely believe will like it. It only takes a single reviewer to see things snowball. be thorough, find the best people and make it happen.
At 9:00am on 4/18/2018, I attended the presentation “Failing Forward: How to Find Fun In Failure”, Presented by Rebecca Slitt of Choice of Games, at the 2018 East Coast Gaming Conference in At the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, NC.
Failing Forward: How to Find Fun in Failure
Rebecca Slitt is an editor and partner at Choice of Games, LLC. She is also the author of the interactive novels Psy High and First Year Demons. She has also contributed to the tabletop games Timewatch RPG, Noirlandia, and Geist; and is the author of the forthcoming Dark College Years. Before joining Choice of Games, Rebecca was a professor of medieval history, specializing in the aristocratic and military culture of twelfth-century England. She has presented on game design and interactive fiction at Worldcon, Arisia, the Villanova University Popular Culture Series, and the International Medieval Congress on Medieval Studies.
Failure can be awesome
For a story to have meaningful stakes, the protagonist needs to fail. Indeed, the best stories can come from overcoming failure to fight towards a final victory. Would Return of the Jedi be quite so satisfying if it didn’t follow the end of The Empire Strikes Back, when all seemed to be lost?
It’s easy to build this kind of structure into a book or a movie, but what about an interactive narrative medium such as a videogame? First, you can’t necessarily predict when the player will fail, or at what task. Second, if the player fails too much, they become discouraged, unhappy, and disengaged from the story – but if the player never fails, the game is boring: the stakes don’t feel real, and victory doesn’t feel satisfying. Third, failure can sometimes stall the story: if the only outcome of failure is “try again,” then the player can get stuck in a loop.
As a creator of text-only interactive fiction, Choice of Games has made “failing forward” one of its core design principles. Even if the player fails at an individual task, the story must keep moving forward; even if the player has a horrible failure overall, there must still be something awesome about that failure. In my presentation, I will examine some techniques of narrative and mechanics that can help maintain narrative momentum and player satisfaction through failure, such as multi-layered success, multiple goals, success-with-complications, and more.
The player can’t doo everything. Sometimes the story requires it and building the drama of fighting back or items which can show the player they are invested, even though they’ve failed.
What is the mechanical and narrative role of failure, techniques to make failure satisfying, and then some specific examples of how to make failure move things forward with scene-specific ad game-level failures. we ‘ll see some tools and create some awesome failures.
The goal is not to convie that failure happens., but rather to discuss why failure is awesome- how they fill needs. The mechnaical role of failuremechanicla role offeres constratint and boundarieis, rules, and teaches the plauer what they’re allowed to do, what good at, and what they should do. You can get better by trying and failing, and learning my experience.
Narratively, failure evokes emotions, stopping them from doing tng s they want to do and effectively making them wanting it more. Building drama makes sweeter the positive emotions of success.
All of this is caught up in stakes. IF the player cannot fail anything, the story doesn’t feel real. for the story to free real, there must be a chance to fail and also chance to succeed. If there is no success, no way to succeed, they will check out, and not be invested. As narrative designers and writers, we must communicate to the player, why they fail, what happens next, that they could have succeeded, and that there is still something to be done- a reason to continue the story.
Sometime the story line or arc requires failure. Sometimes the story suggests that success should exist, but it does not.
What comes after failure?
is it game over, is it try again immediately, is it a try again later mechanic? Must you go away, build up skills, and try again? some games have different mechanic and they aren’t the right tools for the job in particular.
Choice of Games
At this point in the presentation, Rebecca talked about the materials with Choice of Games. This portion of the material did not strike a chord with the audience because it seemed like product-specific marketing. she discussed her projects, the choice software that she used, and the decisions that she and her team wanted to make. As many people worked in diverse genres of gaming, talking about a pinpoint design that few if any use, it is mainly a wasted moment in the presentation.
Often, a presenter is interested in showing themselves, but the audience is trying to take the information and apply it to their industry or projects. While these items are specific to the speaker, and make the speaker feel good, the point of a presentation is to speak to the audience about a topic they want to hear about and apply. A presentation is not to pat yourself on the back.
Tiered success: partial success
Tabletop games make success and failure a part of the narrative function. They incorporate partial success- not either a success or a failure. One that does this wonderfully is Apocalypse World by Vincent and Meg Baker. Even without a success, you can get some success but still have a consequence of failure. Another tier success model such as found in Archipelago by Matthijs Holter is Yes, But… and No, But… These tiered success and tiered failure models are heavily used in improv.
In tabletop gaming, these items are clear. Its harder in a digital context, as the code is hidden. So we need to find ways to communicate it to the player.
Then there was an example from one of her games. At the mechanical level, the stat is tested. You can succeed well, succeed poorly, or fail. Narratively, at the top tier, you are the star, at success you get a small part, at failure you are out, but there is still a chance to get involve in an alternate fashion.
Similarly, she discussed a 2 items test: You might give bad orders and they are not followed- people die. You give the right orders but no one follows them- some people die. You give the wrong orders but they crew follow them- some people die. You give the right orders and everyone follows to the letter and everyone does well. As a result of this double-test, you may gain or lose TRUST in the crew which can be tested later.
Partial success gives you complexity in story branches. It allows for granularity in tests of character abilities- giving a greater sense of dynamism in the narrative, and a greater sense of customization.
The other major success is a yes… but result. Let the player know the strengths and weaknesses, and how they might play to those strengths. If failing, yes, the story moves forward, but you lose resources and time. In a No.. but result, failure keeps the story moving forward, but you do not do what you’re supposed to and everyone thinks its brilliant.
Yes/No but… gives you and economy of story branches- introducing new stories through failure. It also allows for interesting tradeoffs among resources. This raises the stakes in different ways.
Extrapolating into long-term success and failure
While success or failure may seem as though it should happen now, digital games have an advantage in that a previous success or failure can reappear much later in a seemingly unrelated way. Rather than setting up a game where you can lose without and item from partway through the game- a 1 to 1 correspondence for satisfying failure may not exist. We need to revisit the top 4 strategies above and find new ones as needed.
Rather than failure-now or failure-later accounting, a system of “cumulative successes and failures” can be used. Small cumulative failures can add up to a point where later in the game a full failure is approached based on previous set of failures. Examples might include failed bluffs in the past, arrests, escapes when confronted, etc which might make you more known, causing you to be caught in the act due to recognition. Another example might be that a small failure might cause a guard to be more wary or more… on guard (on alert) making the chances of success lower and/or the alert levels to rise to make discovery easier.
Having multiple goals allows for differing levels of success. It allows for strong replay value as you can try again to push a different result. You may be feared or beloved, may have many assets or few assets, may have tons of experience or lesser experience… multiple goals allow you to have specified results and a more personalized experience or also allowing a replay to include a better result at what your players truly desired.
With multiple goals, you can never get them all, you’ll have to make choices. By directing your gameplay, players will have the ability to choose the success and challenges that they wish to emphasize. Increase drama and investment by allowing your players to try, fail, and have a responsive environment which breaks out. You can always try again and succeed.
At 9:00am on 4/19/2017, I attended the ECGC Keynote: The Intersection of AI & Play: Making Data Science Actionable, presented by Paedra Boinodiris, at the 2017 East Coast Gaming conference in Raleigh, NC
ECGC Keynote: Paedra Boinodiris- The Intersection of AI & Play: Making Data Science Actionable
This is the 9th East Coast Gaming Conference, and even though she got married last week, this is part of her honeymoon. She began by talking about science fiction.
WE began by viewing, ‘Playtest’ in BLack Mirror. That show is certainly a distopian view of tech and the future. In the show, material is fed directly into the brain, and used to create some feedback to better engage the viewer. Then we moved on to Star Trek holodeck, Ender’s Game videogames, and then into games.
Games are powerful instruments of change. They are powerful instruments for helping people to think outside the box. To recruit, assess, change cultures being the holy grail. So much data is out there, but it is tech-centric and not people-centric. Why should people care? how wwill it affect them? why should viewers believe. What should they do with the information, and are they supposed to remember this a year from now?
THere is a huge problem to find what to do with the data itself. We discussed Watson as a way to mine information in ways to find patterns. WHen this is blended with experiences which are engaging, it can be a fantastic experience.
VItuozo – assess your critical thinking in roughly 8 minutes. How do you act? how do you shift your strategy based on failure. It also builds teams for your.
Hazardous software cyber simulation suite. Rather than 1 API for watson, we now have 50+. WIth 4 different domains for data insights, language, speech, vision . THe language AI can mine written text but also has tone analyzer. Working with tweeted data, the Met built a dress with the ability to change colors of the dress. Watson Personality Insights allows us to see the personality of the subject. How might that affect an RPG? give us your twitter handle, and we’ll build a character based on your tones, etc. People love to learn about themselves. Curate info of the player and create a better game!
Star trek-like Watson Dialog uses natural language to interact with the computer. YOu can feed it data and train the ai to learn more about it. We saw a disadvantaged teen program at Connally high school reskin the minecraft game based on their works. In their version, you fly a nanobot into a diseased body to fight virus. Watson gives feedback into the game to develop a complex ecosystem. They could stand up an instance on IBM bluemax, and manage the projects directly. ONce they see their worlds come to life, they can become fully engaged. That’s the hope of every teacher.
emotivinsight: coding to use the force to move items with their mind was shown. An interesting start 🙂
Data Insights allow games to see what the proper level of engagement is. this was used with edtech for Sesame Street software. It gathers information about the
Watson similarity Search was used to recognize tumors. Watson was used in conjunction with database materials to recognize problems before they occur. Seeing robot legs and chests, it might ask, “are you building a robot?” Watson AI can be trained to have drones play a frightening noise when being approached by birds of prey. We can teach it to recognize faces and emotions.
In the world of VR, Watson speech can help youadjust or interract based on the physics you’re creating. While these are nice, blending these together is truly exciting.
IMagine you were to create an empathetic chatbot. Tone analyzer + text to speech + speech to text + visual analyzation of face+ IOT + dialog. WHat if the chatbox knew your personality, knew your history, could talk with you about what you’re interested with and able to access written information on how to work with that.
What if this could help us train? what if it could recognize when a student or policeman were depressed? Could you use this to make highly customized training and effectiveness tools. Of course, but how?
How can we engage young children in “New Collar” careers? We are using games and gamification to bring students up to speed on quantum computing, design learning, etc. The public schools are a difficult nut to break into. Its not about throwing an idea over the fence, its more about breaking the mold and getting people on board while being totally invested. We’ll see a lot more in education with serious gaming.
When this gets focused on serious gaming in the workplace, there will be mountains of businesses who will DEMAND that we have graduates with this knowledge, but how prepared will we be?
See her weekly gamification podcast at http://www.Gamesatwork.biz
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. email@example.com
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