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IMGD 2900 Digital Game Design I. Class 4: Monday 11.05. Today’s topics. Prototyping Designing puzzles Iteration and playtesting Playtest your puzzles! Assignment 05. Prototyping. The purpose of prototyping is to answer questions about your game by trying out ideas.

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imgd 2900 digital game design i

IMGD 2900Digital Game Design I

Class 4: Monday 11.05

today s topics

Today’s topics


Designing puzzles

Iteration and playtesting

Playtest your puzzles!

Assignment 05

begin with a problem statement

Begin with aproblem statement

What are the project constraints?

Resources? Engine? Schedules? Deadline?

Who is the target audience?

How will you measure success?

Write down the answers


Start with specific questions

How large should the grid be?

Should we use arrow keys or the mouse to move around?

Should the background scroll?

What colors should we use?

What sounds should we use?

How fast should zombies move?

How many types of weapons?


Move on to general questions

Is the core play fun?

Does it stay fun?

How many levels do we need?

How large do levels need to be to feel right?

Are zombies lame?

Is our title lame?

Is our ending lame?


Each prototype should answer

one question

Forget quality!

Quick and dirty

All that matters is:

Have you answered the question?

You will polish later


Don’t get attached

Prototype code and design ideas will and must be thrown away

“You must learn how to cut up your babies.”

Nicole Epps

designing puzzles 1

Designing puzzles 1

Build a toy first

When people see it, do they want to start fooling around with it, even before they know what to do?

“To design a good puzzle,

first build a good toy.”

Scott Kim

designing puzzles 2

Designing puzzles 2

Make the goal easy to understand

If the player doesn’t know what to do, they will lose interest

Make sure you are clear about what you want the player to know about the goal of your puzzle

designing puzzles 3

Designing puzzles 3

Make it easy to get started

Make it act like something they have seen before

Draw attention to any similarities to familiar things

The power of the title

designing puzzles 4

Designing puzzles 4

Provide a sense of progress

What does it mean to make progress?

Can we add progress steps?

Provide real-time feedback

Let the player know whether they’re

on the right track or not

designing puzzles 5

Designing puzzles 5

Offer a sense of solvability

Assure players that they are not wasting their time!

Can you begin the puzzle in its

solved state?

designing puzzles 6

Designing puzzles 6

Increase difficulty gradually

Each step towards the solution

should get a little harder

Let players choose order of steps

Examples: Jigsaw puzzle, crosswords

designing puzzles 7

Designing puzzles 7

Avoid bottlenecks

Add parallel challenges, something else to work on while stumped

Don’t make challenges too similar

If possible, connect the challenges so that progress in one eases the others

designing puzzles 8

Designing puzzles 8

Offer hints

Well-timed hints help avoid bottlenecks

Gradual hints work really well

Example: InvisiClues

Solving a puzzle with a hint is better than not solving it at all

designing puzzles 9

Designing puzzles 9

Give the answer

Give players a way to find the answer from within the game

If they turn to the Web, you have failed

Example: “Solid Gold” Infocom Games

today s vocabulary

Today’s vocabulary

Sine qua non

“Without which [there is] nothing”

Indispensible, essential, must-have

today s vocabulary1

Today’s vocabulary

Sine qua non

“Without which [there is] nothing”

Indispensible, essential, must-have

today s vocabulary3

Today’s vocabulary


The sine qua non of

great game design

today s vocabulary5

Today’s vocabulary


The sine qua non of

effective iteration

many types of testing

Many types of testing

Design review

Focus group testing

QA testing

Usability testing


playtesting is embarrassing

Playtesting is embarrassing

The whole point is to find out which

of your assumptions are wrong

But you need to find out what’s wrong

as soon as possible!

Great games come from exhaustive, ruthless playtesting


One year for game design & developmentTwo years for user testing“They just iterated and iterated.”Sequel has been in development since 2009

playtest questions

Playtest questions

Is the player having the experience

we thought they would have?

Does the puzzle actually work as

we intended?

  • Is it easy to understand?
  • Is it complete yet? (Probably not.)
  • Is it balanced yet? (Probably not.)

Shut up and pay attention!

  • Ask testers to think out loud

If testers get quiet or hesitate,

  • ask what they’re thinking
  • Watch faces, not the screen
  • Record everything they say,
  • especially questions.
  • Be alert for surprises
round 1

Round 1

Beadwalkers vs Colored Blocks

D N Algorithms vs Hambingers

Pearl Etched Spears vs Team Ishmael

Team Rocket vs Team Sauce

Team Subtlety vs Team Swag Check

Teampest Sereande vs Stormriders

post test questions

Post-test questions

  • What is the goal of the game?
  • Is anything confusing or difficult?Is there any info that would have been good to know before starting?
  • What did you like? Dislike?
  • How would you describe this game
  • to someone who has never
  • played it?
  • Record the answers.
assignment 06 refine and polish your puzzle

Assignment 06:Refine and polish your puzzle

Refine and polish – no errors!

Update your journal

Post final puzzle on team Web page

Bring puzzle and journal to class

ask yourselves

Ask yourselves

Is our puzzle easy to understand? What can we do to make it clearer?

Is it too easy or too hard?

Can/should we add difficulty levels?

Can we make it more attractive? Should we change the color scheme, improve the layout, add sounds or choose better ones?

Can we make it more like a toy?

ask yourselves1

Ask yourselves

Did we see any interesting techniques or ideas used by other teams that we can stealadaptto our project?

Was another team’s puzzle obviously similar to ours? If so, what can we do to distinguish our puzzle?


Comment your codeAt the top of your main .js file:// PuzzleName// Team Boring// Joe Lazy (jlazy), Mary Idle (midle)// Released to the public domain (optional)


Post your puzzle on your team Web page before noonthisThursdayMake a backup for each team member on USB flash drives and bring them to class



Next class: Thursday 11.08