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Old 07-01-2008, 11:11 AM   #71
jillduffy
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Default Deadline clarification: Design Challenges

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Originally Posted by EnSanity View Post
These new deadlines are very unclear. Does "submit by June 25, 2008" mean by midnight tonight (the 24th), by midnight tomorrow (the 25th), or some other time?
My apologies for not answering this question earlier!

We're all in different time zones and such, so "by June 25" really just means try to get it in before you go to bed on June 25, whatever your time zone may be. The contest judges (me and any additional special guests) will not start judging submissions until the following day.

Occasionally if you send an email to the submission address asking for one or two days extension, you will get it. If you send a submission three or four days later, though, you're SOL.
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Old 07-03-2008, 07:30 AM   #72
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The results are in! http://www.gamecareerguide.com/featu...me_design_.php

They liked my entry! I'm happy!
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Old 07-05-2008, 06:46 AM   #73
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Can I say I'm happy yet? The results are up and such, and I got 3rd place (Yay!). I tried posting something here earlier, but the post didn't get through :S.
Congrats to the other winners as well!

Edit - Oh what the... Now my post appeared!

Last edited by Protector one : 07-07-2008 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 07-07-2008, 12:26 PM   #74
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I may be out of line here, not having submitted an entry myself, but I thought the winning entry was completely undeserving.


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Level and Story
This game is a modern day game. This level takes place early, around the 10 percent story completion mark. The challenge is moderate difficulty, forcing players to experiment and put some thought into their actions.

The prison is run down somewhere in the developing world. Our main character is a regular Joe, who has an organization chasing him, believing that he'll develop some magical power. The group has just captured and imprisoned him. The player does not have any powers yet.
Having been criticized for this myself, I have to point out that none of this matters, aside from the difficulty.


The Cell
The prison cell is a small room, with a bed, toilet, and a disgusting sink that's not connected well to the wall (it's very off center). The room is painted, with cracks lining the walls. In one area the paint has chipped off completely and the wall looks like it's about to collapse, with the underlying brick broken and crumbling. Rats and other things can be heard from the other side of the wall here. A small air vent continuously pumps in stale air, (As a level designer, how do you demonstrate to the player that the air is stale, and not fragrant?) the old A/C unit loud enough to hear when the player is near the vent. The vent is barred, but the bars look to be in disrepair, with a few dangling from one end. (This is not enough information. These bars (http://www.arrowsecurityshutters.co....le_gates_4.jpg) are hanging from one end, but it is impossible to tell by looking. If it were specified that they were hanging from the bottom, this would be acceptable, but as it is, it does not demonstrate that the 'bars look to be in disrepair.) A guard walks by every so often with a key ring on his hip that jingles. He's nice enough to drop off a plastic food tray that looks like it hasn't been washed very well and is full of cracks. A small amount of food is on it, that's almost guaranteed to give you dysentery. (The perspective of this game has not be defined. In a first person game, you could get the camera close enough to the tray to see how nasty the food is, but in a third-person game, you likely couldn't. It could be third-person, with the ability to look around if first-person, or the food could be shown close-up in a cut-scene, or any number of possibilities, but it is the level designer's job to design the level down to the specifics. As I read a level design, I shouldn't be left wondering.)

There are three ways out of this cell, each with unique cues to help the player. The cues when put together help to build the horrible conditions of this place, adding to the ambiance of the prison.

The Solutions
1. Break the wall. The wall with the broken brick is ready to break, but it's not quite able to be punched through. Attacking the wall will make it shake and buckle, but the player needs something bigger to punch through it. That's where the sink comes in. It's not attached to the wall very well; it can be ripped off and tossed through the damaged area. (The gameplay mechanics that make this possible have not been defined. Can all objects be picked up? If so, what if the player broke off one of the bars from the grate and attacked the wall with that? How does the player know the sink can be ripped off the wall? Does a prompt appear?) This is very loud, and will draw the guard's attention. (What happens if the guard's attention has been drawn? Can it be drawn by other noise making efforts? If the guard comes close to the bars, can he be killed, or otherwise placed in a position in which the keys can be stolen?)

The cues here serve to draw the player's attention to the area and let him experiment with solutions, instead of handing him a way to get out. The large splotch of missing paint draws player's attention to the wall. Once he gets close, he starts hearing the rats and other vermin in the hollowed out wall, drawing him to experiment. Before it was stated 'Rats and other things can be heard from the other side of the wall here.' Now it only happens when the player is close to the wall. This discrepancy should be cleared up. Finally, the shake of the wall lets the player know he's on the right track. (Not necessarily. I've played more video games than I can name in which walls or other objects shook, but couldn't be interacted with further. This is bad design, but it exists, and I would assume the same with this wall, where there not some cues as to what I could hit it with.) Also, the really important cue is the one that points out that the wall doesn't just lead to a adjourning (locked) cell.
2. Escape through the air vent. The bars on the air vent are falling out. The first time the player looks up at it, one bar falls out, letting her know something is happening with them. Once again, this is different from what is stated before. One good pull on them removes them completely, letting the player escape through the vents. How does the player achieve 'one good pull?' Is there a one good pull button? Is it possible to have bad pulls? Is there any indication that the player is capable of pulling on them? What if the player rips the sink out of the wall and throws it at the bars? However, getting up there is a challenge and will force the player to jump on the furnishings and work out a creative solution to reach it. What is a creative solution? There are three furnishings, what is creative about jumping on one of them? Of course, she needs to make sure the guard doesn't see her. Why? As this is a video game, this is not self-evident. You are designing a level, you must design everything that happens in it.

Much like breaking the wall, the cues here are meant to be environmental draws. The sound gets players to look up, and the bar falling is both good for a draw and ambiance. Climbing on the bed and other things lets players figure out their own way to get through. There are three things to climb on, a toilet, the sink, and the bed. I'm having a hard time seeing anything creative about this.

3. Use the lunch tray. The lunch tray is able to be broken apart, allowing the player to build a weapon to attack the guard with. What? It hasn't been defined that the tray can be interacted with other than looked at. What are the cues that show it can be interacted with? A little button appearing, like in Dead Rising? A little hand, like in Oblivion? (Alternatively, he could build an arm to lift the keys off the guard, but this is extremely difficult.) What? How does the player know that it can be made into different things? How is combat and key-lifting controlled? Analogue, like Alone in the Dark? Lock-on like Zelda? How does the player get the keys off the guards dead body if he decides to fight? How is it assured that the guard won't die somewhere that the player can't reach? How does the makeshift weapon interact with the bars or the wall? When the tray is picked up, a puzzle mini-game initiates, allowing the player to break the tray down the cracks and fashion it into some sort of prison spear, which allows the player to kill the guard and steal the key.

This one is more of a situational draw. The guard character drops off the tray, making the player want to investigate it. The jingle grabs the player's attention and makes him wonder how to grab the key. The food on the tray simply plays up the environment and will cause a slight health loss if the disgusting slop is eaten. How does the player interact with the food and not the tray, or with the tray and not the food?

The Multi-Solution Approach
Having these three solutions will cause some players to develop unique methods for solving the level. They might use the tray to build an arm to pull down the vent bars, How does the spear pull? and then rip out the sink for easier access to the vent, as an example. You are designing a level, and yet, I have no idea where the sink is in relation to the vent. They may also try to attach the bar from the vent to the spear, making it deal more damage. How is this achieved?

Also, unbeknownst to the player, choosing one of these solutions will begin to reveal the powers the organization wants. Using the sink to bash through the wall will begin to awaken the inherit strength he possesses. Climbing through the vent will bring forth his super dexterous nature. Lastly, using the tray will activate a super intelligence, allowing him to jury-rig other things later in the game. Players who use multiple methods to solve this level will get powers in each discipline, but not as many as if they had specialized. How does this work? Is there a experience pool, that is allocated to the powers? This method gives players a natural flow of character development, without having to resort to a level-up screen. What is wrong with a level up screen? Before you remove a commonly used design element, you should provide some reson why. Also, does this mean that every area of the game will feature the same three choices (which would wear thin after a while), and that the player will be bottlenecked into using the same strategy every time, because they only have experience in it? If the player is only getting experience now, what did they do for the first 10% of the game?
Overall, I felt that this submission didn't have enough thought behind it. No mechanics were defined, and I have an impossible time trying to imagine what the game would play like. The implications for much of it are rather far reaching, but never gone into. For example, the three escapes must lead to different areas, as you leave the cell in compleatly different ways.
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Old 07-07-2008, 12:27 PM   #75
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Sorry for the double post, but the 10,000 character limit has to go.
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Old 07-07-2008, 12:55 PM   #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ronnoc10 View Post
I may be out of line here, not having submitted an entry myself, but I thought the winning entry was completely undeserving.

Overall, I felt that this submission didn't have enough thought behind it. No mechanics were defined, and I have an impossible time trying to imagine what the game would play like. The implications for much of it are rather far reaching, but never gone into. For example, the three escapes must lead to different areas, as you leave the cell in compleatly different ways.
I agree his entry was a little, how shall I put this... unrealistic? Inpractical, perhaps. However, the multiple solutions idea is a nice concept. Something I can get behind, as a gamer. Yet I do realise such an idea is less straightforward as he makes it sound.
On the other hand, I felt that Hoosain's entry (the honorable mention) was even better. The idea of defeating enemies that provide clues really struck a chord with me (given that doing so is optional).
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Old 07-07-2008, 01:16 PM   #77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protector one View Post
I agree his entry was a little, how shall I put this... unrealistic? Inpractical, perhaps. However, the multiple solutions idea is a nice concept. Something I can get behind, as a gamer. Yet I do realise such an idea is less straightforward as he makes it sound.
On the other hand, I felt that Hoosain's entry (the honorable mention) was even better. The idea of defeating enemies that provide clues really struck a chord with me (given that doing so is optional).
Why thank you, I feel honored you liked my ideas

One thing in the winner's defense, should this be a real world scenario, he will be working on a team. In art (so I've read. If I'm overridden by someone who knows from experience, ignore what I said), the concept artist defines a lot, but sometimes there still are holes the 3D artist needs to fill in. A 3D artist could be given this design and create a tray that had deep/glowing grooves that outlined the pieces of the spear to be assembled...
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Old 07-07-2008, 07:55 PM   #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilLlama View Post
Why thank you, I feel honored you liked my ideas

One thing in the winner's defense, should this be a real world scenario, he will be working on a team. In art (so I've read. If I'm overridden by someone who knows from experience, ignore what I said), the concept artist defines a lot, but sometimes there still are holes the 3D artist needs to fill in. A 3D artist could be given this design and create a tray that had deep/glowing grooves that outlined the pieces of the spear to be assembled...
But as the level designer, his job is to design the level, which he didn't do very well. It doesn't matter if you are on a team, if you don't do your specific job on the team.

I was a bit surprised to see none of the winning entries with drawings of their levels.
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:16 AM   #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ronnoc10 View Post
But as the level designer, his job is to design the level, which he didn't do very well. It doesn't matter if you are on a team, if you don't do your specific job on the team.

I was a bit surprised to see none of the winning entries with drawings of their levels.
Well, the challenge was all about the cues one would use in their designed level, not so much about the actual level design itself.
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Old 07-12-2008, 10:48 PM   #80
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First, I would like to point out that Don Squires did accomplish everything that was required in the challenge. It may not have been as fully detailed and fleshed out as some may have wanted but it did its job.

Second, as a designer with design experience I can say with certainty that you will be working with several people as you create a 'new game' or 'concept.' The reason for this is because sometimes you will not see every angle of an idea. If all the designers in the world worked by themselves in a locked room, we would have a bunch of horrible games out in the world. When I say a bunch I mean enough to make gamers turn to other hobbies like... Soccer... Or something. Don't get me wrong, there would be a few shining gems that would be born but not many. Great ideas come from brainstorming. Even if its just with one other person, it can take a good idea and turn it into an amazing idea.

Wrapping this into the challenge with Don's entry, he would be working with other artist and possible other designers (depending on the size of the studio and scope of the project). Don laid out the basic concept. He would then pitch this idea to the Leads, Producers, Art Director(s), and other designers. Some studios then have an open forum for brainstorming but other companies will ask for everyone to leave except the Art Director and other designers and then the smaller group would brainstorm.

With all that said, I do think that Don earned this victory. He did a great job. As for the other participants, I believe they did a fantastic job as well! Each had a fantastic and unique approach to the situation! Great job to all and I hope to work with all of you sometime!

-bair
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