We recently re-ignited our work with “casual” and Expanded Game Experience model (EGE). After presenting the article “Casual Games Discussion” at the Future Play 2007 in Toronto, I have been working tentatively with heuristics concerning the design of casual games. I set up an internal blog for our team and started writing down the thoughts about “casual in games” in the form of design heuristics. Since then we have had also two internal brainstorming sessions concerning the topic. We are now working towards a new comprehension of the Expanded Game Experience as well, since the understanding the wide spectrum of casual in games seems to require wide perspective and holistic view on the game experience design.
One of the comments at our internal brainstorming session was quite humorous: “It is far more complicated to design a casual game than a hardcore game”. That is propably true in the end. But that was a thought sprang from our first draft and we are working towards a modular and easy-to-use heuristic set. We also experienced that even though brainstorming problematic subject as “casual” can be very fruitful, it seems to be very energy-consuming. Hard work indeed.
Pictures of us working with the model and the heuristics:
In between my Seattle trip, I visited Canada for one day to give a workshop for Play New team at Nokia, Vancouver led by very nice dude, Dan Scott.
Play New team is divided to Vancouver and Espoo, so I started with the same presentation that I gave to Espoo Play New team earlier in September. After the basic info on our techniques, the team was divided into smaller groups and we started to play the GameSpace idea generation games. I got a lot of interesting feedback from Vancouver team and enjoyd the discussion with them, which also gave me some foretaste from the upcoming study of idea generation techniques that we are currently conducting.
Here some pics (mouseover for explanation):
I have been rather busy with travelling and starting up the idea generation study from the middle of September till now. The craziness ended last Monday when I arrived from Toronto, Future Play 2007 conference where we presented our “Casual Games Discussion” paper and “Creativity Techniques in Game Design” poster. It took me more than a week to recover from the jet-lag. It’s like Japan all over again. Well, some of the jet-lag problems must have been due to the lag of sleep that I gained in Northern Game Conference in Oulu, week before that.
Future Play 2007 conference was actually my second trip to Canada, since in September as I travelled to Seattle and Microsoft, I spent one day over border in Vancouver with Play New team playing our idea generation games.
In between these two I have been completely busy on putting finishing touches to our idea generation package that was sent for GameSpace industry partners. As we delivered the packages, we conducted pre-interviews with Hannamari Saarenpää and Johannes Niemelä and even though we have not have time to analyse the data, I have to say that we are holding a valuable piece of information. 🙂
During this first year of GameSpace project we have been, among other things, developing idea generation techniques for games to utilise at our research workshops. In these workshops we have discussed the limits and possibilities of casual, multiplayer and mobile games and expanding the game space with new game ideas produced with game specific idea generation techniques. From these workshops we have gathered the data of the use experiences and developed techniques based on the analysis of that data and ideas recorded.
On the last workshop (Workshop III on mobile games) I was giving a presentation on some theoretical issues lying behind the idea generation techniques and underlying som points that rises from our analysis. I also introduced new techniques that our team had been working on. Some of the techniques are based on brainstorming, some of them were more game-alike or computer aided techniques.
At the moment we are putting finishing touches to our techniques to conduct an extended study in real workplace situations. So far our findings have only concerned the first time uses of the techniques in a mixed company groups and workshop surroundings, which could be seen problematic. We are interested how they would be perceived as a normal part of the daily work in real game designing situations on a longer period of time. I am also working on a paper that would conclude some theoretical assumptions lying behind the creativity techniques to gain better understanding on the possible modification issues when it comes to the game specific ideation techniques. Comprehensive view on our findings on workshop uses of game specific idea generation techniques and the theoretical background I am also presenting at the Mobile Games Seminar in Los Angeles this September.
Here are the slides of my presentation on Creativity Techniques in Game Design held in GameSpace Workshop III in Helsinki this May:
My last week was filled with interesting discussions, since I was attending Games and Storytelling workshop here in Tampere. Emma Westecott did her job beautifully by pushing our workshop experience towards more discussive than the previous Eric Zimmermans “fast and dirty” equivalent (which was also great strategy). Together these two weeks of game design workshops gave us participants lots to continue with.
Here are my slides from one short exercise that we had last week: