Interactive Animation for Games Essay

Game Design Brief

Game Description

            This game will be entitled Audio-Visual Memory Gauge. It takes the concept of simple memory games usually found in Nokia cell phones and other mobile devices. It is designed to be an individual game. It helps exercise one’s memory concentration as well as his/her strategic planning on which block to open first.

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To spice up the game, distinct audio effects will be added to each picture block. It could further confuse the player or aid him in remembering the locations of each picture box, depending on how he will take it. Time pressure adds excitement to virtually any game, so this will also be implemented in this one.

Game Objectives

            In order to win, a player must reveal all picture blocks. It can be done by opening two picture blocks with similar images successively.

            At the start of the game, all picture blocks are “faced down”. By clicking on a block, its picture will be revealed. If the next block is similar to the first one opened, the two will be permanently revealed. If not, they will be faced back down. A player will gain points on each pair revealed. Each unsuccessful attempt will be counted and will be deducted on the total score.

            On the time-pressured mode, the player has to reveal all the picture blocks on the given time limit. The score will be based on the amount of time he has consumed.

            To reveal all the picture boxes in a lesser time and with a fewer miss, the player can implement his own schemes and strategies. This could include formulating a sweeping path (wether he opens boxes along rows successively), associating each revealed picture block with an object that could easily be remembered, or hop randomly along the boxes.

Visual and Sound Design

User Interface Design

Figure1. The AV Memory Gauge GUI

The entire user interface is divided into three parts.

The Settings. This part enables the player to specify his preferences before the game starts. In this menu, he can choose wether he wants to play in the game’s normal mode or in the timed-game mode. He can also opt to turn the game’s audio effects on or off, in case he doesn’t want acoustic perturbations.

The Score Board. This menu displays the game’s running statistics. Each time the player correctly reveals two similar Picture Boxes in succession, the score will be incremented. If he fails to do so, the number of misses will be augmented. In the time mode, the remaining time continuously updates. It automatically decreases as the games progresses. The memory strength is calculated based on the score, number of misses and time consumed. It will range between 0-100 percent.

The Game Board. This part will handle the most user interactions during game-play. It is in this panel where the Pictures will be displayed face-down at the start of the game.

The player initiates the start of the game by clicking on the Start button. The Settings pane will be temporarily disabled from user input when the game starts. This is to ensure that the settings that the players choose before starting will be applied throughout the game. In case the user wants to end up the game, either because he feels he cannot make it, or when he needs to change some settings, he can abruptly halt the current session by clicking the Reset button.

Genre and Audience
Game Genre
The AV Memory Gauge is an interactive single-player board game. It is in the same genre as Microsoft’s Solitaire and Nokia’s Pairs. It can also be classified as a mind game since it stimulates the player to exercise this creativity and ingenuity in formulating schemes that could lead to a higher score.

Since it is a single player game, no definite winner will be declared. The player can only either complete the game by revealing all the Picture Boxes, or in the timed mode, do it so within the time limit. In each game, the total score will be saved in a file memory. Rankings will be based on the highest score obtained in each game.

Intended Audience
This game does not present much technical rules, so it can be played by virtually any computer literate, ranging from 7-year olds who love pictures and images, to employees and programmers who crave for mouse-clicks, to retirees who are bored of lazily watching clouds pass by. It is a good exercise for memory concentration and could be used as s therapeutic game for recovering patients. It can also be used as educational learning software, replacing the picture blocks with images of historical figures or geographical locations, to aid in classroom discussions, and serve as ice-breaker for a class of inattentive youngsters.

Game Elements

Except for specifying the initial settings, most of the game-play interactions happen on the Game Board. This serves as the container for the Picture Block, which is the chief element of the game. The Picture Block is simply a card-like interface, with a unique design on the front side, and a common pattern at the back. At the start of the game, all picture blocks obtains random positions in the grid and are faced-down. When clicked, it will reveal its front side.

Figure2. A “faced-down” Picture Block and an opened one

Rules and Game Play

Ø  At the start of the game, all Picture Blocks are faced-down.

Ø  The user needs to specify the game mode or he can leave it with the default values.

Ø  The player will choose which of the Picture Blocks he should click first.

Ø  Clicking on a Picture Block reveals the picture in it.

Ø  He will also have the option on which succeeding Picture Block to open.

Ø  Only two Picture Blocks can be revealed at one time.

Ø  If the two Picture Blocks have the same images, they will permanently be revealed.

Ø  If the player got a wrong guess, they will both be faced back down on the next click.

Ø  The Score Board is automatically updated after each payer-generated action.

Ø  The game ends when all Picture Blocks are revealed (in the normal mode) or when the time allotted is consumed (in the timed mode).

Ø  The total score, which will be displayed upon game ending, is calculated based on the number of misses and on the time consumed (in the timed mode). As an added feature, the highest scores from previous games will also be displayed.

Timeline

Game Analysis

Before actual game development, a careful planning should be done to ensure that the game objectives will be implemented well. More time should be allotted in planning the software’s concept and design, since it will influence much the game development. A clear and step-by-step plan could offer ease in the program’s actual coding. The following important points should be done:

1.      Research on existing memory games and other similar applications

2.      Plan game flow

3.      Formulate rules and guidelines

4.      Design user interface, graphics and audio effects.

Time allotment: 3days

1. Game data

Aside from the variables used in internal loops and function manipulation, all data in the game will be declared in a global scope. This includes the score, time remaining and the number of misses.

The placement of each picture in the Game Board should be randomized at the start of the game. Their location will be stored in a two-dimensional array.

The user-set preferences will be saved in a configuration file. This will be used as the default values in the next game start-ups.

Also, the list of previous scores will be saved in a corresponding file. It will be used to determine if the player got a top score (compared to previous ones) at the end of the game.

2. Functions

The game’s program will implement encapsulation. This is to add ease in the actual coding and debugging. Each response catering the player-generated actions will be coded in separate functions.

At program start-up, function randomize( ) will be called. This will assign the spatial location of each Picture Block in the game. It is done so to ensure that the player will have equal chances of having a jumbled Game Board at the start of the game.

The player’s mouse clicks will be take-charged by Event Handlers. This will invoke the related functions such as checking wether the opened Picture Blocks are similar or not.

After two Picture Blocks are opened, function compare( ) will be used to check the player’s guess. Each Picture Block will have an ID at the start of the game. Similar Blocks will have similarly coded ID’s. The compare( ) function will use this to determine the analogy between successively opened Blocks. After comparison, it passes the result to the function that is managing the Score Board.

The function processScore( ) updates the score of the player based on the evaluation of the compare( ) function. In the timed-game mode, it will also consider the period of time consumed by the user before correctly revealing similar Picture Blocks.

Time allotment: 2days

Development

1. Graphics

a. Design the User Interface

b. Gather some images for the Picture Blocks and process them

c. Obtain sound effects and edit it to suit the theme of the game

d. Integrate components into the game code

2. Code

The following code snippets will define each function mentions above

This code algorithm briefly describes how the randomize( ) function will be coded. It simply gets a random number (which is readily given by almost any programming language), and assigns this as the location of a certain Picture Block.

function randomize( )

           array location( );

           for each Picture Block

                       location = get_random_number;

The compare function will be coded as follows. It simply compares the ID of the two successively-clicked Picture Blocks.

function compare( )

           if ID_of( PictureBlock1.image ) = ID_of( PictureBlock2.image )

                       permanently_reveal( PictureBlock1, PictureBlock2 )

else

                       hide( PictureBlock1, PictureBlock2 )

Score processing during game-play will be handled by the following code.

function processScore( )

           if correct

                       increment score;

           else

                       increment miss;

Time allotment: 2days

Testing

To test the robustness of the game, a heuristic evaluation will be done. After coding, its trial version will be distributed to several beta users for evaluation. The feedbacks will then be gathered and analysed to further improve the game. The parameters that needs to be evaluated could include game efficiency, memory usage, interface layout and graphics design.

Time allotment: 3days

References

Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams, 2003.Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design. New Riders Group, May 5, 2003.

Raph Koster .Theory of Fun for Game Design. Paraglyph Press, November 6, 2004.

Richard Rouse III, 2001. Game Design: Theory & Practice. Wordware Publishing, 2001.

Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, 2003. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. MIT Press, 2003.