Thursday, 26 May 2016

Game Design Journey

Hey there everyone,

As I mentioned in my last blog, we are releasing our prototype of Skorian Tales very soon. If you want to help out by testing the core features of the game then sign up for our newsletter here or scan the QR code below. We will email you some instructions on how to participate.
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With that said, I thought I would make this blog a lot more personal. I wanted to talk about how I design games from concept to post-release. I am by no means an expert in the field, I just wanted to share my journey through game development with everyone and give you all an idea of how we do things here at Late Panda.

So let’s get into this with my first step in game design, deciding on the game’s genre or genres. There are so many to choose from; platformer, puzzle, strategy, role playing game, first person shooter, the list goes on and on. I always try to combine several game genres, not only does this give the game more playability but it extends the possible user base significantly if done well.

Once you have your genre(s) it’s time to make the core gameplay mechanics. I start with a question, what would the player find engaging and entertaining? That seems like a very obvious question to ask myself but it gets me started on the gameplay mechanics. At this stage I go through many different versions of the gameplay mechanics but once I have a few ideas on paper I begin crafting the narrative of the game.

I find it best to begin the creation of the narrative with the start of the game, what is the first 30 minutes of the game that the player will see/play. Once I have my beginning I jump right to the end of the narrative. I find that the beginning and the end of the narrative are the most important from the designer’s perspective as these are the first and last impressions that the player has from the game. If your game has a slow start players will not get to the middle, if it has an unsatisfying end players will be noticeably upset as they experienced the entire game only to be let down at the end of the narrative.

My next step is to merge my gameplay mechanics with my narrative, if one does not suit the other I will rework them both until I think they fit best with the world I am aiming to build. This is when I take the concept to the team, we will begin discussing improvements to the narrative and/or the gameplay mechanics until we are all fully satisfied. This is when I begin to flesh out the entire game storyline, creating the script for dialogue and laying out the groundwork for the scripted/dynamic events.

Before the development begins, I work on the backstory and worldbuilding to give the game’s world more life. This makes the development of the art, music and gameplay easier to create in the future as the team will fully understand what the finished version of the game will be like.

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This is when my job becomes more difficult, I have to juggle between character design, environmental design, sound design, gameplay design and narrative design while working with each related team member. That said each task is only required when we begin implementing the features into the game itself, so I can focus on art at the beginning while dipping my toe in the audio design and watching over the shoulder of the programmers while the mechanics are implemented.

My next steps are to design how the player will navigate throughout the game’s storyline, whether that be from quest to quest, mission to mission or a more open world game allowing for a more diverse journey.

With the development coming to a close I spend most of my time jumping from art, music and code to make sure it all follows the vision of the game and when brought together brings the user experience that we all wanted to provide.

Once the game is completed we focus on bug fixes and any redesign required if there are any features that the players do not enjoy. After this we begin preparations for a global release, redesigning and integrating features to suit the new cultural and language differences of other nations.

So that is my journey from concept to release, I’ve missed out a lot of detail as the blog would be far too long for a more detailed rant. I wanted to give everyone an idea of what it is like to work as a game designer in Late Panda.

Feel free to post a comment asking any questions you think I didn’t answer and I will be happy to give you more details.

You can also follow us all over the internet

Thanks for reading,
Stephen.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Game Developer Personality Tests

This week I’m talking about the famous Myers Briggs personality test. For those who don’t know it’s a test designed to help understand the actions of those around you and states that random variations in people's behaviour is actually quite consistent with their personality type of which there are 16. Game designers use the Myers Briggs test a lot when designing characters to ensure personalities and actions are not all over the place.
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Jo-Anne Chidley from Beauty Kitchen lead an event where she perfectly demonstrated the power of the test by first getting each audience member to complete the test, then assigning everyone into seemingly random groups then had us perform different tasks in those groups. My groups task was simply to describe what love is. We worked together and decided to act out the actions of trust, happiness, forgiveness, and caring all together on the stage. Another group with the same task chose a spokesperson who stood up, listed three characteristics of love then sat down again. Jo-Anne then revealed in the next slide of her presentation that I was in a group of people with the INTUITIVE personality trait. The slide revealed that people with this trait tend to be more visually focused, share experiences and have a higher focus on novelty. The other group had the OBSERVANT trait so they were more likely to focus more on hard cold facts. She did this for each group and each reveal was like a Derren Brown mind f**k experience.

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My full personality type is The Mediator (INFP-T) according to 16personalities.com. That’s a lot of depth I could cover but I’ll sum up what my takeaway is in a sentence. I’m a naturally reserved, creative, sensitive and laid back kind of girl. It’s important that not all INFP-T’s would view themselves in this way and not all types are perfect indicators of somebody’s personality.

Still I thought it would be good to know the personalities of everyone at Late Panda to improve communication, productivity and all that other businessy stuff. We had everyone complete the test and here’s the results.
Turns out after some quick analysis Late Panda is made up of a bunch of free spirited, passionate, creative, community loving and self improving individuals who at times can be shy or misunderstood.

You can do the test yourself if you’d like and learn a little bit more about yourself and why you do the things the way you do them.

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Quick update: We have a MailChimp newsletter now so if you like what we’re doing and want to know more you can sign up by either clicking on or scanning the QR code below. There are chances to win things in the future. ;)
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You can also follow us all over the internet

Hope you enjoyed that,
Ellie xx
“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.” - Babe Ruth

Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Prototype

Hey again everyone,


So against my best wishes Ellie talked about Game of Thrones in the last blog, very cheeky. Hope you all enjoyed her talk about Bert Wednesdays though, we had a ton of fun.


Before I get into the blog today I would like to talk about our vision for Skorian Tales. At the end of the year we are aiming to create a mobile role playing game, with an engaging narrative experience similar to console/PC titles, that can be played for 5 minutes or even 5 hours by any type of gamer. The user interface will focus more on playability making it easy for anyone to pick up and play the game however, the background game mechanics, lore and extra game features make the game more complex for the avid gamer to enjoy.


Due to the complexity of our vision we will need to start small, so we will begin with our prototype. in the next few weeks we will be releasing a Pre-Alpha of Skorian Tales onto the Google Play store for free. This is so we can test the core features of the game and get feedback from our potential audience.


As I said this release is a prototype, so most of the game features are still absent. We will be releasing updates for it over the next year to include more mechanics, characters, monsters, environments and a full fleshed out storyline as well as releasing the game onto Apple and a web browser version. We wish to take our development slowly and gradually build up the game over a prolonged period of time, with your help, to allow us to create the best possible version of Skorian Tales that we can.
Old user interface


New redesigned user interface
If you would like to be involved in the test group, please subscribe to our newsletter and we will keep you updated about the release of the prototype, the next updates for the game and any other company information like these blog posts. Anyone that subscribes to the newsletter will be involved with the game’s development throughout the entire project. There will be no extra cost to be involved, we will just keep you updated via email whenever a new update is ready and if you have any feedback, positive or negative, you can email us at any time with suggestions to improve Skorian Tales.


Facebook: - LatePanda
Vine: - latepanda


Thanks for reading,
Stephen.

“The more a person seeks security, the more that person gives up control over their life” - Robert Kiyosaki

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Bert Wednesdays

Hello dear reader,


Up to this point all of our blogs have been written by Stephen McCallum but we’re going to be doing something slightly different from now on. One week I shall write for the blog and the next week will be Stephen’s turn. Pretty simple yeah?

Consider this my introduction. I’m Elisabeth Andi-Leigh Heed, or Ellie for short. I’m an executive director for Late Panda and the lead programmer for Skorian Tales. I have an unhealthy addiction to Coke and I’ve been told I’m no longer allowed to talk about Game of Thrones in the office because apparently I do that too much. Seriously though we’re only two episodes into Season 6 and it’s fantastic. L + R = J is obviously true and like most fans I’m pretty sure Jon Snow is Azor Ahai come again! :P


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Let’s get back to the blog. For my first entry I wanted to talk about Bert Wednesdays. For those who don’t know Bert Wednesdays is a game developers meetup that happens every... Wednesday… Obviously. Basically you all meet at the pub and have a night of drinking and chatting about pretty much anything you want.


Last Wednesday Stephen, Joe (one of our artists) and I went along to the Glasgow meetup and had a laugh with the like-minded industry folk. They hold separate events in Glasgow, Dundee and I think they do Edinburgh as well.


Conversations evolved rapidly. We talked about everything ranging from the Scottish parliament elections in May to whether or not you’d be willing to eat a Slow Loris. In my own personal opinion nobody should be eating a Slow Loris for the following reasons:


  • They’re endangered thanks to illegal trade
  • They’re the only venomous primate
  • They’re way too adorable


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I LOVE THEM!


So you should definitely come along to Bert Wednesdays if this is something you’re likely to enjoy. I speak from experience when I say everyone there is super friendly and interesting.


Facebook: - LatePanda


Hope you enjoyed that,
Ellie xx


"Power resides where men believe it resides; it's a trick, a shadow on the wall, and a very small man can cast a very large shadow" - Varys