Sunday, 20 January 2013

... ACHOOO! *frrrrlll...!* (Blog Update 20/01/2013)

Heya ladies, gentlemen and gamers welcome to- Ah, AH, *ECSHEEEW!!!*

*Blows nose* Sorry guys, apparently I've caught a cold over the past few days - in the middle of the freaking summer heat of all seasons! Anyway, welcome to another update at the Sonic Punch Line!

I won't be saying much this time as I'm feeling terrible the at time of this writing. What I'm able to say (without sneezing over my laptop monitor) is that over the past week a play tester has discovered a bug that I have failed to notice and as always, it took me a very, VERY long time to figure out what went wrong. However, some good came out of this:
  • While seeing if I can change the flow of the gameplay to circumvent the bug (yeah I know that's bad practice), the end product of the bug fix enabled me to enable/disable a 1 second pause after popping the wrong bubble (the timer is obviously halted as well during the pause). Having a 1 second pause after popping the wrong bubble greatly changes the flow and pacing of Bubble Virtuoso and I must say I'm actually liking this pause - I feel that it gives the player some extra breathing space after committing a mistake.
  • The process of fixing the bug also facilitated the need to simplify the flow of the states in the "brain" (the main FSM that handles the spawning and integer designation of the bubbles as well as progression and game over conditions of the game) so that it goes through less states and actions while utilizing some of the new tricks I've learnt during BV's development - such as using an action that can broadcast an event to other FSMs. It still needs more cleaning up, but that will come in the final stages of development.
So all in all, the bug is fixed and I can finally move onto my original plan of adding more gameplay features.

Game Design Thoughts, From Me to You

I hate to end my blog updates shorts so I've decided to rehash an old post that I've made on my old personal blog ( It goes over my muses about the difference of game design perspectives between a "designer" and a "programmer". So before I copy that post here, I hope that you find it thought provoking and I'll see you guys next time at the next update of Sonic Punch Studio!

"Blog Title - Game Design: Logic or Feeling? (posted on 04/02/2012)

Hello guys, I hope all of you are doing well! Me? Just being me, the same old busy me.

This shall be the very first blog post where I am not showing off my work, the reason being that a particular discussion with some of the guys from my Game Jame 2012 team has got me thinking so I'd thought I should share my thoughts with others out there.

But first, congratulations to all of the Sydney and Wollongong Game Jam award winners! You guys deserve those awards :D

Anyway, the topic of said discussion was about game design in the perspective of an artist and a programmer. This conversation stemmed from @Gazza_N's tweet that I've brought up during our short discussion today on what we didn't do during the Game Jam. Gazza explained in further detail that while artists tend to base their game designs on themes and atmosphere, programmers base their game designs on logic and mechanics.

Being an artist myself, I can't help but agree with Gazza's statement about artist-game designers. In my rather recent career as a game designer I have been basing my game design decisions on how a game should feel rather than how a game should work. Flashback to Tuesday, where I was presenting to my boss the critical path for our game. Apparently I didn't actually do the stuff properly and I ended up suffering the wrath of boss on how I have missed the point of the critical path, especially on how I didn't consider the mechanics of player progression. In retrospect, this event has highlighted how an artist like me approached game design only by themes and atmosphere and how little we consider about mechanics and logic. Be as it may that my boss came from an architecture background, I was humbled to fact that I have plenty of things to learn in regards to game design and that what my boss had to say about game design was, much to my embarrassment, true.

Onto the other half of Gazza's statement about programmer-game designers, it is funny to note that another event at my workplace has underlined how programmers tend to design games based on logic and mechanics. Flashfoward a bit onto Wednesday; this event happened after the end of the emergency damage control meeting in regards to my blunder. This time around I was discussing with one of the programmers - who happen to be an avid gamer himself - about the pros and cons about a particular feature that I wanted to add into the game. Near the end of the discussion he mentioned that while my idea may be implementable, it may make further development harder due to restrictive mechanics. Again, goes to show how programmers approach game design from a development standpoint as opposed to artists.

Now back to the present. Gazza has philosophically pointed out that neither view points about game design from artists or programmers are right or wrong. He also added that, ideally, game design should have a good balance between art and programming; a balance between feeling and logic.

That last statement from Gazza reminded me of my closing statement from my discussion with the aforementioned programmer. After he gave me the warning about possible future complications in regards to my idea, I noted that I understand that while we must be wary about the mechanics and development processes, "If we put too much concern on the development process then the player experience will suffer, as it had been the case when we did our first public release." After saying what I had to say, I did not receive another reply from the programmer since then.

Whether I was right or the programmer just couldn't be bothered to argue with me, I will never know. However, that statement did point out one vital thing: however we try to balance logic and feeling into game design, in the end...

... We are all designing for the players' enjoyment."

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