I’m back again for the third set conceptualization that I laid out in a previous post. To recap, this series of three posts is my taking three sets of PGDI components and coming up with general designs that emphasize those components. I’m writing these posts to be transparent in my design process, since this is essentially a test of how useful PGDI is for driving design. This post will largely be unstructured freewriting, with me just wrestling with the components at hand.
A bit ago, I proposed three different sets of randomly-generated components for designing a game with PGDI. In the last post, I worked out a concept for the first set of components, a game about a minor god trying to gain a following among both the people and the larger pantheon, in order to ascend into greater divinity. In this post, I’m going to work through the second set of components, in order to find a concept for that game. The eventual aim is to select one of these concepts to be made over the next eight weeks, as part of my first quarter in my MFA program.
In the last post, I randomly generated some PGDI components to use in driving the design of a game from blank slate to playable game. To do that, I polled a social media network for numbers and assigned them to the components. I got three sets from people, and so I’m going to examine each set of components individually. The aim with these Set conceptualizations is to come up with a good idea for something to explore. This will be pretty freeform. A lot of this is freewriting, rather than structured writing. By Tuesday, I’m going to be selecting one of these design ideas for going forward.
This quarter, I am expected to present something at Open Studios, an event that showcases Digital Arts & New Media student work (plus a few diligent people), in various stages of completion, in a gallery-like setting. I went through a number of possible projects before I finally settled on Designing with PGDI. Designing with PGDI is a project that follows game creation from blank slate to a working game, using the Player-Game Descriptive Index (PGDI) as a tool for design. PGDI is a model I developed, over the past three years, for describing digital games (and apparently doors) and their players. Follow the link if you want to know more. The first part of the process is selecting some components to focus on for the game I’m going to design.
I started TAing last week. It’s a terrifying experience when I have to get up and talk, but sometimes it can lead to some strange ideas. You see, the professor I’m assisting (Brenda Laurel by the way) had the students read my own essay that compares genre to PGDI as a tool for gaining literacy in games. That piece wasn’t on my blog yet, probably because I wanted to go and revise it once before I put it up here, but the students read it (at least it seemed so), and wow did they have questions. One of the more interesting comments that came up was this idea of using game-centric methods on other pieces of interactive media. Popular game genres are pretty bad at that, since they describe a very specific type of medium. The thematic genres we’ve borrowed from cinema and literature (sci-fi, romance, etc.) are better at it, by far, but then we’re already using them to do that.
PGDI, though, might be more flexible. Since PGDI started as a games studies method, it would be interesting to be able to apply it to other kinds of media. It is particularly helpful when looking at something like Coffee: A Misunderstanding by Squinky Kiai, an interactive piece that introduces elements of plays and improvisation to the gamespace. So, I got to thinking, what kind of interactive media could I test PGDI on? Well, it happens that the students are reading about affordances for class, as well, and for affordances, we have a piece by Don Norman from The Design of Everyday Things. In the reading, Norman opens by talking about doors that have a problem with perceived affordances (e.g., doors that push from the left, where the left and right are indistinguishable). Since I have doors on the brain, I came up with the idea, why not try to apply PGDI to describe a door? Sure, most people don’t see doors as media, but they are interactive and they are things that are designed. I think that PGDI is robust enough to wander out into other areas of art and design. Let’s see how it holds up. This will be a piece in three parts. The first part will deal with the Social and Participation components. The second part will examine the Mastery and Immersion components. Finally, the third part will tackle the Customization and Progression components. The format for this will be similar to my treatment of Catherine through PGDI (Part 1, Part 2).
Last week, I participated in Mini Ludume Dare 53. A mini Ludum Dare is a much more relaxed version of the full version, and it usually has some specialized rules. The number of entrants are usually much reduced (this one spawned 63 entries). In the case of Mini Ludum Dare 53, the rules were quite the same as a regular Ludum Dare (make a game in 48 hours with readily available tools). I chose to participate in the mini LD mostly because I’m moving next month right after the full Ludum Dare event, and I wouldn’t have the time to participate then.
For this mini LD, I made a game called Trash: A Story of Uncertainty [download link]. What follows is my postmortem, a look at how I made the game and what I was trying to portray with the game. As with all of my postmortems, if you haven’t played the game, then reading further will completely spoil everything that the game offers, so if you haven’t played the game, read on at your own risk.