Game Log: Phase 4- Log 2

Expo time = crunch time. It’s time to make sure all of my game logs are in order, finish the directions and make my paper prototype as polished as it can be. I’ve playtested, polished, revised, replayed, reworded, and generally made my game as fun and efficient as possible. All I can do now is hope that it is ready to go when it’s time to present it to a real audience at the expo on Thursday.

Speaking of the expo makes me realize how much I have learned throughout this semester. It’s been stressful, for sure, no doubts there. It seemed that at times, I would have no work to do at all, and the next day an entire pile of work would be sitting on my desk staring me in the face.

Nonetheless, working on this game has taught me how important details are. The details of the game were cloudy in my head for a long time as I tried to work on developing it, then as I began to fix each one in place, they started to fall into place. Each step was a little more complicated than the last, but at last, the game is done and I have a workable prototype ready to be presented.

I am certainly not sure how the expo will go, and I can only hope that people like the game that I made. However, I am so glad to have had this opportunity to learn about the game-making process, and I look forward to using the feedback from the expo to make my game “The Story of Esther” as ideal as it can be.

Game Log: Phase 4- Log 1

It’s time to share now, and everything is coming together. It’s a bit scary, honestly, because I keep wondering if there is a glitch that I missed, or an error that simply hasn’t come up yet. I’ve never really made a game before, so this is a new experience for me. I can’t say that it is something that I would pursue again, but it was definitely an interesting experience and one that I am glad to have had.

As I prepare for the expo, I’m working on fine-tuning my game. I added the changes and improvements that playtesting showed me that I needed, such as the color key for the game spaces and the longer board for a better play. I am hoping to play it one more time before the final expo, but if I don’t have time I am still fairly hopeful that the game will go well.

My final few tasks are lining up in preparation for the expo. I still need to get the last few logs in order, and type up all of the information for the board and the table. I’ve gotten a great deal done for the expo in the last few days, though, so the workload hopefully won’t be too rough.

    The game is my main concern, even as I work on the expo information. I plan to go back over the instructions and the board one more time to be sure it is as polished as possible. Even if it is still in the prototype stage, I want it to look as refined as if it were ready to be published. I am both excited and nervous to present my game, and I can’t wait to see how it goes!

Game Log: Phase 3- Log 2

  • Describe the user-interface:
    • There is very little menus or screens needed for the game. The directions page is really the only menu-type piece of the game, seeing as it is a board game and not a digital game with pull-up menus and such.
  • How will you account for chance, real-time feedback, and other features:
    • Chance, in my playtesting, actually helped me to see that I needed more challenge spaces. One player made it all the way through the third phase without hitting a single challenge space, while another hit one that she couldn’t possibly have succeeded against, showing me that I needed to rework the point card system. Real-time feedback wasn’t really a problem in playtesting.
  • Observations and questions:
    • The main observations was whether or not the players had difficulty playing (not really) and whether they had fun (they seemed to). My main questions were whether they, again, had fun, as that was an important part of my game design problems, and the clarity of the rules, which needed to be reworked a bit after each playtest. Each time, we hit snares that I didn’t realize were there, which was helpful to make it as smooth and fun as possible.

Game Log: Phase 3- Log 1

  • How will play testing answer your questions about the design?
    • I want to a: make sure the game is fun, and b: make sure the directions make sense. By playtesting, I can be sure of both, because I can get player feedback about the various pieces. If I can get actual players to tell me what parts could be improved and which parts are good, I will know what parts to change and which to keep the same.
  • What questions do I want to answer by producing a prototype?
    • I want to know if it is a workable, playable design, and if the various aspects will come together alright. By building the board and playtesting, I can again answer both questions. It really is the sort of thing that has to be attempted to determine an answer, so building the board and getting player feedback will help to make sure that the game comes together not only cohesively, but also in a fun, playable way.
  • What elements should you build?
    • I will build the stages, one at a time. That’s how I figured out the directions, and that’s the best way to go about making and playing the game. Instead of focusing on the game as a whole, I will focus on the stages individually, to make sure each is the way I want it before I move on to the next.
  • What information do players need?
    • The players, in order to get the full experience of the game, need to have some idea of the story of Esther. As such, a summary is given in the directions so that players will have some idea of the different origins behind the game. Players also need to have an understanding of the color meanings of the board, as the many colored squares can prove confusing without some explanation, which is why there is a color key on the game board.
  • How will a digital/board interactive version of your game differ from the prototype?
    • It won’t, not really. The paper version covers everything that an official, board version of the game might, since it is simply  a flimsier version of the same thing. However, in the matter of appearance, an official board game would look more professional and perhaps more attractive than the hand-made paper version.

Game Log: Phase 2- Log 2

  • Stages of Game Play include:
    • As the players move through the game, they proceed through stages. They experience Esther’s journey through the stages. The first is “Becoming Queen”, followed by “Appearing Before the King”, and then “Saving Her People”.
  • Global and level/challenge specific goals include:
    • Global goals include the overall drive to win, as well as the drive to have fun or to beat the other players. When players take the alternate method of play, they get a new goal: to help each other through the game, and to make sure someone makes it through the challenges at the end.
    • Level/challenge specific goals are to win each stage. The winner of each stage has a better chance of winning overall, so each stage is very important.
  • Players earn points and achievements for:
    • The point cards are for stage 3, in which players face obstacles as Esther would have faced along her difficult journey to free her people. Each challenge costs a certain number of points, and the player must be able to beat the challenge or they have to go back to the beginning of the stage.
    • The achievements are incorporated through the stages. Each stage is its own achievement with a winner per stage, which eventually helps to determine the overall winner.
    • There is also achievement built in through the first stage’s ‘battles’, in which players compete as Esther did to become queen. The players have to play rock-paper-scissors with each other, and there is a winner and a loser with space bonuses or penalties for each.
  • Play space setting and description:
    • The point of the game is to experience the story of Esther. As such, the setting is that very story, and the players assume the role of Esther herself as they play. The  different stages of the game are designed to give players the chance to explore the different stages of Esther’s journey to save her people, so the players get to experience a vaguely similar journey as they progress through the game.
  • The player acts as… and has specific props, features:
    • The player acts as Esther. They begin by competing with each other through “Rock, Paper, Scissors”, in order to win the “Becoming Queen” stage. They then proceed to the “Appearing Before the King” stage, in which their journey is aided mainly by luck, again trying to win the stage. Finally, the player proceeds to the “Saving Her People” stage, in which they face obstacles as Esther faced. In this stage, they have the use of the ‘Point Cards’, which they use to defeat the obstacles they face.
  • Protagonist(s): Power, props, and features:
    • Each player is their own protagonist, in some ways. They are each Esther, the queen of the Jews, the girl who saved her people. They are each fighting to win, to witness Esther’s journey and complete the game. Their powers are limited, as the players are guided mainly by luck and faith in order to truly experience Esther’s journey for themselves.
  • Antagonist(s): Powers, props, and features:
    • While the players are somewhat of antagonists also as they battle the other players for the win, the main antagonists are elements built into the game itself. The main antagonists are the battle squares in stage one, the back-to-start squares in stage two, and the challenge squares in stage 3. These squares provide setbacks and frustrations to the players, just as the obstacles Esther faced did.
  • Overall graphic directions and look:
    • The board is very colorful, out of necessity and for aesthetics. Each stage has its own color, and each antagonist square has its own color as well, leading to a total of seven different colors scattered through the board. While this can be chaotic at times, a color key is provided to help make sense of the colors, and they are also labeled in the directions. The players play along a linear path through the three stages, each labeled with a start and end space.
  • Key user interface elements or menus:
  • Key controller/input and navigation elements include:
    • The player moves through the world through dice rolling, moving their piece the number of spaces shown on the dice. Through this, they interact with the board. They also use the point cards given to them to escape challenges, using them as a tool to help them complete the game.
  • Music:
    • There isn’t really any specific songs that I can think of that would suit the story of Esther, though it would perhaps create the desired mood by playing hymns or just Christian music in the background of the game. This is an optional addition, however, and is up to the player how they want to go about it.
  • Sound Effects:
    • As it is a board game, there is little opportunity for sound effects. Again, any such additions would be left to the choice of the player.
  • Interacting with other characters:
    • The players battle each other, forcing each other to move back or forth on the board a designated number of spaces. They can also help each other through the ‘Alternate Play’, allowing them to share point cards in the third phase. As it is a board game, outside communication is, of course, encouraged.

Game Log: Phase 2- Log 1

  • What do I want players to learn? What’s the target age/grade/audience?
    • I want players to learn and understand the idea of overcoming obstacles in the Bible. For this, the ideal audience would be a Sunday School class as they learn about the stories in question. The ideal age would be perhaps 8 to mid-teens.
  • To win, the player must…
    • They must reach the end of the game. This can be through the help of others, or through their own strategy, but when a player reaches the end, the game is over.
  • To advance a level, the player must…
    • Each story will have sections. For instance, Daniel and friends’ time trying to eat healthy despite the king’s rule. As the player moves to a new section, they level up.

Game Log: Phase 1- Log 2

My sources:

  • Barrow, G. (2007). Game Show Tests Teens’ Bible Knowledge. In Sacramento Observer (Vol. 44, p. A7). Sacramento, Calif.
  • Campbell, H. A., Wagner, R., Luft, S., Gregory, R., Grieve, G. P., & Zeiler, X. (2016). Gaming Religionworlds: Why Religious Studies Should Pay Attention to Religion in Gaming. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 84(3), 641-664. doi:10.1093/jaarel/lfv091
  • Digital Praise Brings Hot DVD Game Trend to Small-Town Odyssey!; New DVD Board Game Based on Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey Series Will Rival Popular ‘Scene It?’ Franchise. (2007). PR Newswire, N/a.
  • Freeman, D. (2004). Creating emotion in games. Computers in Entertainment, 2(3), 15. doi:10.1145/1027154.1027179
  • Gonzalez, V., Ariel, Y., Bivins, J., Boyarin, J., Morgan, D., Saunders, B., & Styers, R. (2014). Born-Again Digital: Exploring Evangelical Video Game Worlds. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
  • Hartley, J. (1978). The story as an educational form for the church. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
  • Jackson, J., Gorham, B. W., London, H., Hamner, M., Kinsey, D., Niebuhr, G., & Wright, R. (2011). Christian identity in response to moral choices in gaming: A textual analysis of popular video games. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
  • New Board Game Takes Christian Community By Storm. (2005). In The Tennessee Tribune (Vol. 15, p. 4C). Nashville, Tenn.
  • Overcoming Obstacles. (1991). In The Christian Science Monitor (pre-1997 Fulltext) (p. NOPGCIT). Boston, Mass.
  • Piacenza, J., Gayley, H., Echchaibi, N., Hoover, S., & Whitehead, D. (2013). Mobile mindfulness: Practicing digital religion on smartphones with Buddhist meditation apps. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

What is fun/playful about the topic?

  • I’m looking into exploring the idea of overcoming obstacles, the way that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Ruth, and Esther did. I’m considering the idea of obstacles such as “Back to Start” and such, to add an element of fun to the story. The stories will be made into a game in which the player has to overcome obstacles themselves, putting themselves into the shoes of the characters.

Where does ‘freedom to experiment’ emerge within and around your topic?

  • In overcoming obstacles, there are multiple ways to get around them. The players will be free to try different means of reaching the end to find which way works best for them.

Where does the ‘freedom to fail’ emerge within and around the topic?

  • In the potential to fall prey to the obstacles, players will have that freedom to fail. They will not be successful every time, or the game won’t be fun. They will have the opportunity to fail, in different ways with each obstacle.

What ‘freedoms of identity’ does your topic inspire?

  • In offering different paths for each story, the game allows players a freedom of identity. They can choose to play as Daniel, or as Ruth, etc. For each path, there would be a slightly different sequence of obstacles, etc.

What ‘freedoms of effort’ emerge around the topic?

  • Players can choose different modes of play. They can choose to help each other to reach the end, to share points and cards along the way, or they can choose to go the solo route and play ‘every man for himself’. This will change how hard it is to play.

What vocabulary, definitions, and facts are critical to understanding the topic?

  • There would need to be some sort of background knowledge on the Bible and the stories involved in the game. Perhaps the basic story could be included in the directions as a side note, or it could be advised that players read the stories themselves. There is little vocabulary needed or definitions, but the stories are fairly important.

What processes and procedures are important to grasping your topic?

  • I suppose it would be important for players to understand the process of overcoming obstacles in the Bible. The players will learn through the game as they face obstacles, overcome setbacks, and eventually reach the end.

Game Log: Phase 1- Log 1

  • What do I want to learn more about?
    • I would like to learn more about mythology and theology. I think it would be really interesting to adapt mythology and theology into a cultural-understanding game, in order to increase the reader’s understanding of historical and current cultures.
  • What do I want to help others understand?
    • I would love to help others understand my religion.. I have always found it interesting to learn about other peoples’ cultures and the myths of Greece and Rome, and I would love to make a game that allows people to learn more about the religion that I have grown up in.
  • My strategy to learn more about the topic:
    • I think I’m going to talk to my Hebrew Bible professor to see what sort of games she might think would be good. Update: She responded along the same lines as my thoughts. She suggested a game about the story of Esther, Ruth, or David as an option.