Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Week 8 - Progress (Minor Game Adjustments and Yoke Idea)

Just a small update

For Interactive Prototype 2, I have made a few minor adjustments to my game and have started looking into how I could build my physical yoke.

Some adjustments to the game include decreasing the frequency of letters spawning. A noticeable change is that now the letters have bubbles around them. This was a great suggestion from one of my testers. The coloured ellipse adds some extra surface area to the letters to make them easier to shoot since they have a visible hitbox now.

Letters are surrounded with an ellipse/bubble

For my yoke, I am thinking of building it out of LEGO. There'll be two components - the base and the actual handle. The handle will be attached to the base and will pivot left and right. The base will detect the handle rotations when the bottom of the handle makes contact with the base. The handle will have two buttons - one to shoot and one to start a new game.

Week 8 Exercise - Physical Interactions

For this week's exercise we were required to think of five physical inputs each for Email, Twitter and Super Mario Bros.


  1. Different trash bins represent different folders/contacts. To send an email to a specific contact, toss some paper into the right bin.
  2. You hold an address book and slide contacts to your email on the screen to choose the recipients.
  3. Use a guitar for typing your email.
  4. Flush to clear your trash folder and junk mail - an external 'toilet flush handle' device connected via USB.
  5. To mark an email as read, stare the screen for a certain amount of time. To mark an email as unread, look away from the screen.


  1. To hashtag something, perform the 'hashtag gesture' (Jimmy Fallon style) - this will require a wearable glove-like device
  2. To tag other people, whistle then touch them.
  3. To retweet something, open it then whistle twice.
  4. To follow people, drag them onto your queue - each person is represented by their avatar.
  5. To upload a picture, give it to the bird and pull the sling (similar to Super Angry Birds)

 Super Mario Bros

  1. Use a treadmill, or better, an elliptical trainer to walk forwards and backwards.
  2. Use a pressure plate to detect jumps.
  3. Ride a skateboard to control Mario, roll back and forth to run in either direction and perform an ollie to jump.
  4. Punch to shoot fireballs - use a speedbag or punching bag to detect the punch.
  5. Physically squat 100kg to crouch in the game.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Reflection for Interactive Prototype 1

I believe the testing session for my first interactive prototype was very successful.

My implementation so far served me well to test my intended ideas and interactions. This is mainly because the prototype was essentially a near-complete game with only minor elements missing. This had allowed me to test all of my game mechanics and rules very early. I now have a solid idea of what is good and what needs to be tweaked for the next iteration.

My goal for the first interactive prototype was to implement all core game mechanics which would form the foundation of my game. The aim of the testing session was to test this foundation before I had progressed any further into development. Elements such as player movement, alien movement, falling letters, shooting, and guessing the secret word were essential for testing as these form the basis of the game. These elements need to be perfected before moving onto things like physical inputs and other additional features/ideas.

Due to the nature of my game, there weren't any constraints which hindered me to test my ideas. Flash and ActionScript 3 is the perfect platform to work with for testing my core functionality.

Overall, I believe my first interactive prototype was effective for testing my concept. I had executed everything well to ensure I had received the feedback that I wanted.

Feedback from Interactive Prototype 1

Today we had conducted testing of our first interactive prototype. I believe today's testing went really well because I had received a lot of constructive and actionable feedback. I think this is a result of me asking very specific questions. The questions I asked are below:
  1. Is the objective of the game clear?
  2. Should the player movement be adjusted?
  3. Should the alien movement be adjusted?
  4. How easy is it to shoot the letters?
  5. Is it easy to infer what happens when a letter-bomb has landed on the ground?
  6. Is the placement of the answer field effective?
  7. Overall, is the game too hard or easy?

Summary of Feedback

Game's objective

For most people, the objective of the game was clear. The reason for this is that they were already familiar with games, particularly Space Invaders. They knew that they had to shoot the falling letters. However, some people struggled to figure out which letters to shoot or spare. But after multiple playthroughs, these users became familiar with the game rules. A few users suggested that a hint for the secret word should be displayed, because they were just shooting all of the letters because they were afraid to lose. I am not too sure yet how to address this because I believe it will make the game too easy.

Player movement

Interestingly, I had received mixed opinions regarding player movement. Half of the people loved the movement and thought it was perfect in terms of speed and smoothness. However, the other half did not like it at all because it wasn't accurate due to the deceleration. To address this, I will have to find a good balance of speed and deceleration. I am planning to reduce the amount of smoothing/deceleration and ensure that the player's speed is the same as the falling speed of the letters.

Alien movement

There were a few issues with the alien movement. The problem is that when multiple incorrect letters fall down at roughly the same time, the alien row will move down multiple times rapidly.This was  overwhelming for users to see. One of the users suggested that I should implement a delay timer to prevent the aliens from moving down rapidly in such a small amount of time.


Most users had no troubles shooting the actual letters themselves. They said that the letters were a big enough target and shouldn't be increased in size. One user suggested that the letters should be encapsulated in a circle. I think this is a good idea because it gives the letters, as targets, more surface area and a visible hit-box. This will aid in more accuracy for shooting the letters.

One major issue regarding the letters was that since they are randomly generated, sometimes the player has to wait for long periods of time for the correct letter to spawn. A great suggestion was that there should be some bias towards the correct letters for the generation and not to have it purely random. Another issue with the letters are that, sometimes, too many letters are spawned on the screen and it becomes very difficult to shoot them. This is due to the random timer interval which triggers a letter to spawn. Again, I will need to tweak this.

Overall difficulty

The overall difficulty of the game will need to be adjusted and balanced since I had received varying opinions regarding this.This was mainly due to the users' varying skill levels, but also because of some of the ways that the existing game mechanics that are implemented such as the player deceleration, alien movement and letter generation.

Over the next couple weeks I will tweak these mechanics and address the issues mentioned above.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Week 7 Exercise - Evaluating Previous Questions

For this week's exercise we were required to think about our questions from our Video Prototype (the questions can be found at

I believe most of my questions were quantitative. I also used Semantic Differential scales for most of them, however one of them was a simple binary choice.

I think that my questions were very specific so the users could not give general answers. However, I did offer them the option to give general comments and suggestions at the end of the survey.

The question "Based on what you saw, does the interface look familar and easy to use?" is a compound question. I should have split this up into two questions:
  1. Does the interface look familiar?
  2. Does the interface look easy to use?
Also, instead of the binary choice, I could have used a scale like the other questions.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Interactive Prototype 1 - Progress

I had commenced development of the first Interactive Prototype in Flash a week ago. Back then, I was able to spawn the player and aliens and make them move. However, the player would move in a very primitive manner - i.e. the  movement was very choppy and linear.

The player and aliens can be spawned and they can also move.

The sprites in the game are exactly the ones used in my Video Prototype, they've just been imported from the Illustrator file. This not only saves my time, but it also makes everything consistent. What my Video Prototype showcased was intended to be exactly what the game should look like (as much as possible, of course), and therefore that is what I am aiming to accomplish.

As of today, the majority of the game is complete. The player is able to move smoothly with acceleration as well as shoot bullets. The aliens can drop letter-bombs which are able to land on the ground and turn red or green depending on whether they are a part of the secret word the player has to guess.

As you can see, much more has been implemented.

Currently, the aliens cannot be killed because the entire row is a single entity. Also, the player cannot be killed by the letter-bombs. I have done this purposely because I want to know people's opinions on whether or not the aliens should be killable and the player should be invincible. This will be done during the testing next week.

The game is over when the row of aliens get too close to the player, so it is actually possible to lose the game. However, right now it's impossible to win because I haven't implemented the player's answer which should be at the bottom of the screen to populate with the correctly fallen letters. In the Video Prototype, I had shown an array of boxes at the bottom of the screen which would contain the correctly fallen letters. For now, I will just implement a single text field which updates itself as the correct letters fall.

Some additional miscellaneous functionality I have implemented are the splash screen and game over screen. For now, they are just basic images created in Illustrator and imported into the Flash project.

Personally, coding in ActionScript 3 isn't very difficult as I have learnt Java previously and the syntax is almost exactly the same. I am also used to the concept of OOP. Using Flash overall hasn't been hard to grasp because I've worked with Flash a few years ago (back in the Macromedia days, but I've also used the CS3 version). It just took a little time to adjust to the interface changes because I haven't used Flash since then.

For next week's testing, I just need to implement the answer text field at the bottom of the screen and that will be sufficient for my testing purposes.

Week 6 Exercise - CRC Cards

For this week's exercise were required to create CRC cards to help us identify what classes we need for our game. So far, I could think of five classes. The cards are below.