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Collaborative Weeks

I decided to group all the collaborative weeks as one homogenous experience. Because although the projects I worked on by my own were individual unique experiences, the same is not true for my experiences working with my peers. On some extend all of them followed the same patterns of detached interest, communication issues and a failure to consistently collaborate through no fault of either party but the nature of the process itself.

I did find myself procrastinating the most during these projects, and I am sure that my peers when asked will attest to this fact. Especially Ousama who was very vocal about his disappointment in my disengaged attitude. I find myself for the very first time at a loss for words. I definitely realise that I have a long way to go, in learning to work with other people and in teams. And rest assured I am actively working on it. Although I live most of my life in a sate of delusion walking the streets pretending to be someone more adept and confident that I really am. I also hold in high regard my ability to realise my flaws, accept them and work in any way possible to improve on them.

Click Date
Baby Nightmares

With that said I would also like to point out that almost each one of these collaborative experiences was also the most fun and stress free time I had throughout the course mainly because of the distribution of work and tasks. I had an especially inspiring experience with Susanna and Ousama, and it gives me hope that there is still hope for me.

Game A Week – X

Ah… the end. After nine long weeks of active game development we are finally there. It was a gruesome experience at times but was always highlighted with feelings of pride and accomplishment after the fact. Even if they came from my weird, insignificant games that probably mean nothing to anyone who is not me.

[ For Professor Csongor : I already mentioned in detail my experience with the course module during the milestone presentation and so I would avoid repeating it here. ]

The theme for the last week of the course was un-ironically ‘Destroy’. We were probably supposed to use it in a more literal sense. By that I mean in a literal sense in terms of mechanics. But I have often used the themes that were vague enough in a more imaginative and figurative way. And this being the very last week I decided to go with that in an attempt to solidify my personal style one last time. For some time during the course I had a game mechanics idea rattling around in the old noggin. And I managed to not only achieve to implement it but also quite successfully managed to connect it with the theme in an imaginative way. The idea was basically a chain production where you convert raw materials into a finished product but in a twist you do this in a puzzle way.

No revelations occurred this week apart from one. I realised that after weeks of practicing making games using a visual scripting tool I have become adequately proficient in it. Something that I have always struggled with is my limitations of technical understanding of programming to successfully manifest my game ideas into a functioning game. Using Bolt visual scripting has to some extent removed that limitation. When it comes to making small games like these, I no longer have to rely on google searches and YouTube tutorials. I am capable of turning my game ideas into functioning games almost on my own. And I am incredibly grateful and proud of that fact.

Game A Week – IX

Two things to know about me, I love Nicki Minaj and I am an excellent gift giver. So when the professor disclosed that the theme for this week was to make a game to be gifted to someone you love. I was positively chuffed and looking forward to the upcoming week. In a slight detour from my usual process, for this week, I spent the first few days not trying to figure out the concept but rather the person who I wanted to make the gift for. I had a few candidates most of them family and after developing rough concepts for all of them I ultimately decided on my mom. Mainly because It is the most personal and powerful relationship I have and I wanted to, in some way, recognise it as an appreciation of her. 

I started out simple, relatively simple for me, by composing a small poem for her. It is one the best ways I have to express myself.

You wore red for love, for marriage and for commitment

You wore blue for life, to nurture and to protect

You wore green in envy and in discontent

And then wore black in both fear and strength

You wore white for your mother, your father and your brother

Now you wear yellow in enlightenment, and in intellect

The poem when completed revealed to have a literal theme of colour, colours that my mom wears on her ‘sarees’ that for me represented different aspects of her personalities as well as different times in her life. As soon as I realised this I instinctively connected those metaphorical layers to the nesting layers of a nesting/babushka doll. This instructed the mechanical design of the game, which was to be simple enough that a non-gamer like my mom could easily access. 

All this became the basis of the development of the game. After the fact I can now say that this is definitely the most personal game I made in this course. And the game I am most proud of, mainly because of my mom’s reaction to it. For this reason I believe that the collective player experience is the most important emotion for game design is emphasised here to its full extent.

A year later

The last post I made here was exactly a year ago. Now I know I promised myself that I was going to be blogging more frequently and I have quite obviously failed on that promise. but I have not completely abandoned it, and decided to make a post to remind myself of why I wanted to be more active on my site in the first place. And while I am doing that also update you guys on everything that’s happened since the last time.

I know it’s only been a year but it seems like such a long time ago. The last time I talked to you guys I was in the first semester of my game design studies. So excited to make games, settling in a new city. Now Berlin is starting to feel like home and I am up to my neck in video-game projects. Anyways, just to recap, the second semester was quite uneventful. I had to lead a team of six trying to make a game for my narrative class. I must say I am proud and very happy with the game we ended up making.

This semester we had an option to choose between something similar to what we did in the second semester or go for something completely different called ‘Game-A-Week’. Guess what I went with.

Game-A-Week is basically a course where you make a new game based on a completely new theme every week for the whole semester. It is one of the most intense courses at my university but I am glad I took it. We are half way through the semester now and I am quite happy with all the games I have ended up with so far. I will be talking more about those games as well as the second semester game in individual posts in the coming weeks. I can’t wait to share them with you guys, also they are all downloadable and playable form, so it would be awesome to get your feedback on them.

And also happy holidays.

Game A Week – VI

Autumn in Berlin is a beautiful time of the year, the leaves are red, the weather is calm and creatures of all kind are in love. And for a 20 something single man with no romantic prospects it is depressing as all hell. The one thing you don’t want to do then is make a multiplayer game and play test it over and over again pretending to be your own friend. But despite my best efforts to avoid situations that remind me of how lonely I really am, I keep finding myself smack dab in the middle of those situations all the time.

Just like the weeks before I decided to dive into my bottomless bag of childhood experiences and try to recreate one of them for my game this week. The Indian childhood classic “Chidiya Udd” is a game played by a group of friends sitting in a circle with their fingers placed on a flat surface. One of the players would exclaim “The Pigeon FLIES!” at which point all players will raise their fingers to agree with the fact that a pigeon does in fact fly. The player who fails to do so loses and the remaining players continue on. The “Caller”, the player who makes claims will often confuse other players by sneaking in a statement that is obviously untrue, something like, “The Rabbit FLIES!”.

“Chidiya Udd” (The Sparrow flies)

Recreating this experience digitally turned out to be not as difficult as I expected. All I had to do was keep track of the two players’ on button up inputs and check them with the image displayed at that moment. The images themselves were creatures and objects selected randomly from a modest pool. I then assign points to the players accordingly and time the game loop to determine a winner when the time runs out.

The game development although not as mechanically challenging did prove challenging in other aspects. I spent most of the time making art for the objects/creatures and polishing the overall look and feel of the game. I believe the efforts of my subconscious mind to create an arcade experience were by far displayed the most in this game.

I was also really thrilled by the reception of the game during the play test especially by Prof. Florian who was visibly elated throughout the play and played the game multiple times with different students.

Game A Week – IV

“Physics” was one of the first theme that really stumped me for a while. I spent most of the week just trying to come up with a decent game idea. Now I think I understand why I had such trouble with this. Usually when I come up with a game idea, I will make a mental calculation of how capable I am technically to realise said idea, not in time but, just in its feasibility. Physics based games is something I never have had any luck with, and have thus tried to stay away from it as much as possible. It is too unpredictable and random and I hate that amount of lost control over my project.

But all week this concept of water ring toss games from my childhood had been constantly on my mind. So somewhere during the week I decided to roll up my sleeves and at least try to figure out if I can recreate the experience digitally. 

1976 Tomy Waterful Ring-Toss

And because I had already used up my free week last week there was no running away from it this time. 

By using really basic rigid body physics I was able to recreate the experience I was looking to accomplish. I used a mixture of 3d objects for the main interacting physics object and then 2d UI objects for the background, scene buttons, score and basically everything else. 

During the process I realised that the “game” works better as a “toy” than a game, this is something that we had discussed in the past, more specifically in the first semester. So I decided to run with the idea of making a toy and then package it into a project that can be completed within a week and still be fun to play without the exclusive aspects of what we expect from a game: an end goal, objective or a set of designed rules or a complete core game loop.

Regardless, during the play tests I was surprised to find how much the players were constantly in a state of “flow”. Even after telling them that their is no end goal of win condition, the players still were engaged enough and kept trying to get as many rings as they could into those pesky hooks until they gave up or got them all.

Game A Week – II

The theme for the second week was ’10 seconds’. This at first thought seemed challenging, but what helped was the ambiguity. It never specified any form of gameplay or even concept. Mechanics wise I could make a game that lasts for 10 seconds, quite obvious, but it did not feel powerful enough or long enough to experiment within. And this was an opportunity to experiment, who knows how many more of those I’m going to get.

I love narrative games, just as much as I love strategy games. But 10 second narratives have already been done before,

Queers in Love at the End of the World, Anna Anthropy 2013

So I decided to create a narrative game, that doesn’t play like a narrative game. Sort of like a breaking the fourth wall playing with your preconceived gameplay exceptions kind of a game. Ok, I am kind of gold plating a copper ring here, and honestly I wasn’t even aware of what exactly I was doing when I was making the game. A lot of it became clearer after the fact.

The Quiz

But where’s the ’10 seconds’? you say, well I did not forget about that. I made it a timed quiz, 10 seconds to answer each question.

At first I decided to make a multiple choice kind of a quiz but that made it quite difficult to keep track of all the different narrative branching. With games like these just a couple of variants and it all multiplies into enormous branching narratives. I knew what kind of experience I wanted to create, it was simple really. It starts out as a normal quiz, then it asks questions with no right answers, then it responds accordingly to your previous choices and always ends with the same message. For this I realised I did not really need branching narratives, so I kept it simple by making them all ‘Yes or No’ questions. This allowed me to implement all the ingredients I had hoped to implement while keeping it achievable in under a week’s time of development.

Game A Week – I

So, like I mentioned in the last post, every week we receive a new theme. We are to use this as our central theme to make a game (a complete game NOT A PROTOTYPE), I have found this to be the real challenge of the course.

Anyways, the theme for the first week was JUMP, the professor mentioned something about how the themes would grow from more mechanics focused to being more conceptual towards the end of the course.

As soon as I heard the theme my mind immediately went to a childhood classic from the NES, Circus Charlie

Circus Charlie, 1984 – Nintendo Entertainment System

After a few walkthroughs of the classic game on YouTube and a heavy dose of nostalgia, I decided to make a game inspired by ‘Circus Charlie’ called ‘Circus Carly’ (please don’t judge me)

Circus Carly

I experimented with designing a single level by using a variety of obstacles to create quite a bit of challenge. But hopefully it is still accessible as the mechanics are very simple. I would like to iterate more on the idea to create random generation for obstacles and a scoring system, but as of now you just win by surviving until the end of this single set level.

I would describe it as a short but quite challenging game with one simple mechanic, i.e jumping. I would really appreciate any feedback on the game. leave me a comment or tweet about it.

Berlin – Week 6 & 7

4, Nov 2018

It’s Sunday
It has only been over a month but I somehow feel like I have known these people for a long time, and this place for a lifetime. I reconnected this week with Parham, one of the first people I talked to in university, and for some reason did not interact with as much again. And it was fun, he is a good man and quite smart, who I feel like has been unfairly ostracised, but he is doing very little to help his case. But I am not really sure if he even wants to correct it, I get the feeling he is fine with it.

But what I am definitely sure about is that I hate being the third wheel, I think everyone does. And I especially do not like it when people blame their shitty relationships on you just because you kind of interact with both of them. People are who they are, they are capable of change but will hardly make an effort to do so because the world already revolves around them.
Chemistry is a powerful thing, you might walk into a bar start talking to someone and then stop only to realise it has been hours or you might get stuck in a forced friendship with someone you have to see everyday but don’t really care for as much. In my experience the latter fizzle out but the former is forever.

I spent the Friday evening with Robyn (a woman, unlike any I have ever met before), Christopher (my partner for game mechanics class), Freddy (the human form of the words “Geek” and “German”) and Justin (he is Californian, but believes he is German). We had dinner together and then spent hours playing Mario Kart and Wii Sports. We chatted about everything and nothing, like you do, and got to know each other a little better. We are in the same class but it was the first time we hung-out outside of university you see. I like them.
And on Saturday, Tung and Hari came for a visit and we stumbled around the pool table and just ended up hanging out for a bit. I was kinda feeling gloomy so it’s good that they came, it’s always fun when we get together.

For the first week here each day was an adventure but just in a few weeks now, days have started merging into one and I can’t really tell one week from another. In one of my earlier blogs I complained about how monotonous life had become in India for the last year I was there. I fear if I don’t shake things up every so often I might end up in the same place again. But even if I do at least this time it’s a choice, my choice.

These past two weeks have drained me, not physically but emotionally.
I cried, for the first time since I moved here, and the weird part is that there was absolutely no reason, sometimes you just need to cry. No one hurt me, I am obviously not sad or depressed or homesick, I am having the time of my life. But still for some reason, last night, I just burst into tears and cried myself to sleep.

Samartha Ingle

Berlin – Week 5

21, Oct 2018

It’s Sunday
Unlike the week before, a lot happened this week. Interesting dynamics among friends were observed and shocking new information was revealed. For the sake of their privacy I will not write about this in this blog as it would then be public information and as such not be fair to them.
Lets just say their is a lot of DRAMA !!!!! both in and outside the university and I am trying my very best to not get sucked into any of it.

The goal is simple and it is clear and I cannot afford unnecessary engagements and distractions lead me astray. Thankfully, my blog, my reading, my shows, my games and my work all keep me extremely busy throughout the week.
Me and a couple of my new friends, Hari and Tung have made a pact (sort of) to do something together every weekend. I enjoy their company, they are honest, fun and hardworking guys with whom I am getting along very well.

I know I didn’t have a lot of friends back home but right now I find myself really missing the ones I had. I often find myself making comparisons between these new and old friends as if in a way I am trying to replace them.

How stupid is that ?
Samartha Ingle