Mandatory Assignments for Gameplay Design
{TDA580 | DIT040}


Last update: 2011-01-28

Assignment 1 - What is a Game?
# people: 1
Deadline: 20110125 23:59
Size: 1400-2000 words

The assignment consists of giving a personal definition of what a game is. Besides the definition the text should include motivations for why your definition is phrased exactly as it is. That is, it should describe why some concepts are parts of it and why some concepts are not part of it (the first lecture gives many such concepts which should be discussed). The text should also give examples of games that fit your definition, but more importantantly it should include examples of what others typically call games but that does not fit your definition.

Specifically, the text should contain:

  • One sentence which gives the definition (i.e. a definition is regarded to be one sentence long - if you do not have this you do not have a definition but instead a description)
  • The definition should be compared to the definitions given in the first lecture (similarities, differences)
  • The text should somewhere answer the question: is weight lifting a game?
  • The text should somewhere answer the question: is Sudoku a game?
  • The text should somewhere answer the question: is all forms of gambling games?
  • The text should answer the questions: if two programs log onto a online chess server and follow the rules of the game, are they playing a game then? Is a game being played?
  • The text should include several examples (besides weight lifting, Sudoku, Chess) where some fit your definition and some do not (but others could reasonably argue that they do).
  • The text should reflect on how your definition of games affects the role of a game designer (e.g. what must be emphasized)

Learning Objectives
The purpose of assignment 1 is that you should:

  • Reflect on your personal view on what a game is, and how others may differ in their opinion.
  • Write argumentative texts where you take one position with motivations and argue against possible objections.
  • Compare games that belong to different categorizes to analyze the common features and differences between genres and mediums of games.

Assignment 2 - Game Analysis
# people: 2
Deadline: 20110208 23:59
Size: maximum of 8 pages

Assignment 2 consists of doing a gameplay analysis of 2 games from one genres (e.g. FPS, RRTS, MMORPG, Puzzle games) in order to answer a question (or problem) regarding some gameplay aspect of the genre. It is up to you to find a non-trivial question. Take games you have already played or those you have access to (smart students check the choice of question, genre and games with the teacher early). The games do not have to be games according to your definitions from assignment 1. You are assumed to do research on what others have said about the games so you are sure that the conclusions are not only your own subjective ones. This means that you should provide references (e.g. links to reviews) that support your views. Further, do not simply list the differences and similiarities (e.g. by making tables) in gameplay based upon using the component framework, but make argumentation which uses the parts to clarify specific points.

Specifically, the text should contain:

  • A clear statement why the two games were chosen, e.g. that they are very similar but only one was successful or they are very similar but even so provide very different gameplay
  • gameplay design patterns to describe the relevant gameplay (the patterns should be your own suggestions; you do not need to refer to existing collections but it is suggested that you use the component framework to have a structured way to identifying patterns)
  • General descriptions of the games and their gameplay
  • Make use of concepts from lectures, .e.g. different types of rules or other analytical tools
  • Include references to external descriptions of the games (i.e. reviews)
  • Have criticism towards the concepts used, what do they miss and what should be added (that is, be critical towards the method and framework used) (smart students address this by adding this in the analysis instead of simply noting it at the end)

Learning Objectives
The purpose of assignment 2 is that you should train:

  • Defining your own question/problem regarding gameplay for a certain genre
  • Be able to explain in what ways two games are similar and different regarding gameplay and game experience
  • Use analyses of differences in the parts of games to explain differences in overall gameplay
  • Make use of references to external description to help describe the games and their gameplay as well as support (or counter) your arguments and answer to the question
  • Use frameworks and concepts towards a goal but do so with a critical view of the tools

Assignment 3A - Game Idea Description
# people: 3-4
Date: 20110211 23:59
Size: 2 pages

Having a clear vision and been able to express that vision is vital to successfully completing game projects. The game idea description shows that you can develop (and agree upon) a single concept early on and describe what the unique features are. Specifically, the description should contain:

  • Theme or setting
  • Core gameplay mechanics | core gameplay design patterns (i.e. what one does 90%+ while playing)
  • Competitors (i.e. similar game that the game is likely to be compared to)
  • Unique Selling Points (what makes this game different from other games)
  • Planned process for developing the prototype (with references to the books methods)

Learning Objectives
The purpose of this assignment is that you should be able to:

  • Develop a game idea based upon a few game mechanics
  • Explain your game ideas in the form of game mechanics
  • Show your knowledge of a certain type of games (which may mean that you need to learn about that type of games)
  • Express differences in gameplay between your idea and already existing games

Assignment 3B - Play test of Low-Fidelity Game Prototype
# people: 1 game facilitator (if necessary), 1 note-taker from group of 3-4
Date: 20110218
Time: 4 hours (10:00-15:00)

Play testing is stressed as an important part of game development, in all stages of the development. This demonstration focuses upon creating a prototype early in the process, for the purpose of testing the core gameplay activities in the game. Since development of demonstrators typically takes significant resources if they are made in the target medium, an early prototype is most effifiently done in another medium with less development costs, thereby more Low-Fidelity and "cheaper". Your task is to create and let other students (and the teachers) test a demonstrator in a low-fidelity medium which highlights the core gameplay elements of a game concept.

Specifically, the play test should contain:

  • A playable prototype in another medium than the planned final medium, which highlights the core gameplay of the intended game
  • A plan of what to test, and how to test this and why it is important
  • A facilitator that explains the game to testers and helps run the game
  • A note-taker that notes observations from the play test

Learning Objectives
The purpose of the play test is that you should be able to:

  • Create a early playable prototype that shows the intended core gameplay
  • Learn how to switch mediums for exploring designs
  • Receive and record feedback on the gameplay to feed into further development of the concept
  • Test other groups' prototypes and give constructive criticism

Assignment 3C - Oral Presentation of Game Design Concept
# people: 1 presenter and 1 note-taker out of a group of 3-4
Date: 20110222 10:00-12:00
Time: 10 minutes per group

The assignment consists of making an oral presentation of a game concept. This can be seen as a longer pitch done at a planned meeting for somebody that has already expressed interest in the concept. The presentation should be made by one person supported by a digital presentation (preferably a powerpoint presentation due to the pervasiveness of the format) and feedback should be noted by a note-taker. The digital presentation should be sent to Staffan the day before the presentation.

Specifically, the presentation should contain:

  • The name of the game
  • The core gameplay
  • Thematic aspects (character, story, game world)
  • What makes the concept original
  • How the game differs from similar games
  • Target Audience
  • Clearly the work since the brief, and especially the play test, have influence the concept

Learning Objectives
The purpose of presentation is that you should be able to:

  • Describe a detailed gameplay concept
  • Describe how a design changes during the design process due to external feedback
  • Receive and record feedback on the gameplay to feed into further development of the concept
  • Train presenting ideas for an audience
  • Give constructive criticism to others

Assignment 3D - Written report of Game Design Concept
# people: 3-4
Deadline: 20110301 23:59
Size: minimum of 16 pages

Writing design documents are a core aspect of game development. This assignment is to write the first public version of a design document, where the concept can be said finished.

Specifically, the report should contain:

  • A detailed enough description of the game concept that work could start on several different parts in parallell
  • Describe both core and secondary gameplay in detail
  • Relate to the component framework (and other theoretical frameworks) when it suppors the description
  • Note how the game concept differs from existing games
  • Thematic and Diegetic aspects (characters, story, game world)
  • Sketches or mock-ups of the interface design
  • Plan for how players should learn the game (tutorial, level design or equivalent)
  • The process used to create the concept (methods used, relation to methods in the course book)
  • What changes was done to the concept during the development (especially options that were not chosen)

Learning Objectives
The purpose of report is that you should be able to:

  • Systematically plan all aspects needed in a game concept
  • Make detailed description of a game concept
  • Plan and describe the design process of developing a concept
  • Motivate design decisions through comparing alternatives

Assignment 4 - Guidelines for designing a gameplay style
# people: 1
Deadline: 20110311 23:59
Size: maximum of 12 pages

The assignment allows you to show your understanding of gameplay design through describing, analyzing and giving guidelines for a specific gameplay style. A gameplay style can be seen as a potential game genre or, more preferably, as a more specific type of activity done in games that can clearly be described independent of the specific games (and without being genres).

Specifically, the text should contain:

  • A definition of the gameplay style
  • Appropriate use of the vocabulary and frameworks presented in the course
  • Examples of games in which the gameplay style can be found from two different genres
  • The "Does and Don'ts" for designing a game with the gameplay style (i.e. guidelines)
  • Descriptions of how methods from the book should be modified for designing the gameplay style

Learning Objectives
The purpose of text is that you should be able to:

  • Define a narrow activity within the gameplay of games, a gameplay style, as a seperate area to study indepedent of the other gameplay
  • Analyze games to see how a gameplay style can be varied
  • Relate general methods about design to specific areas of design, i.e. a gameplay style
  • Provide clear guidelines and motivations for these guidelines
  • Show a fluency in discussing gameplay through the use of concepts and frameworks presented in the course
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