385 Final Portfolio

Chris Wootton
385 Final Portfolio Project



Introduction

This project is to explore and create a piece of software focused on fun. This video game is made in the Unity Game Development engine in order to rapidly iterate new ideas for testing. The game, titled "Be The Ball" centers around directly controlling a bouncy ball into target areas. I was directly inspired by arcade skeeball, the popular video game "Marble Madness", and direct feedback from my own children on what physical toys they like to play with most.




First Iteration Video Demo:




It was a bit of a challenge learning unity from scratch, but over time I would learn more and more techniques for getting the game to behave the way I intended.

Physical Prototype




Revisions and additions (the orange pad is extra bouncy!) were made.




Contextual Inquiry

A big part of my design was fine-tuning the physics elements of gravity, bounciness, and top speed of the ball. It was quickly apparent that it was not enough to make it mimick the way my real ball moved. According to the book Game Feel, "realism is not necessarily a worthwhile goal...the perception that the impact is powerful is what we’re after." With that in mind, I tested iterations with various falling speeds, jump height, and ball weight/drag. For what I found, the sweet spot was a bit slower than real life to increase the feeling of control for the player but also allowing a bit of unexpected randomness to keep it fresh and exciting. My research for this project was mainly centered on the ideas from this great book, which is directed toward as general an audience as possible and includes in-depth analysis of some of the most successful video games produced.



Sources:
SWINK, STEVE. GAME FEEL: a Game Designers Guide to Virtual Sensation. CRC PRESS, 2017.


Evaluation Plan

    The method I chose to test my game was an empirical evaluation. My goal was always to make something my own son would not get bored with too quickly, so I would conduct my focus groups with the total number of participants consisting of 100 children aged 5-10. This may seem like a lot of participants, but the questions will be short and yes/no style so as not overreach the attention span of this age group. I would have different iterations of the game being tested, to compare which combination of physics settings lead to the most satisfying experience. The evaluation will consist of a few pre-questionnaires and post-questionairres to determine if the game was fun, as well as an observation list to measure which iteration the participants were most successful at gaining progress within the game. For me, ease is not enough, because it needs to be fun too!



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