Game UX – An Introduction

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This being the first post of its kind, let me start with a small intro 🙂 Apart from teaching and making games I also end up playing a lot of games, let’s just call it an occupational hazard 🙂

Being a designer, most of the time when I play a game I keep noticing the small bits that make these games pleasurable and really stand out. Some people call it polish other call it juice, whatever it is, it makes the experience a whole lot better! Ask any developer on how costly in terms of time and effort it is to implement such things and chances are that most the time, it is super simple and cheap!

For most game and UX designers, their internal vocabulary consists of thousands of such examples; but that vocabulary is built over a lot of time, crafting and playing with such experiences. When it comes to teaching game design, I’ve always wanted some sort of a glossary that could give a glimpse of that experience without actually having the need to play the game – of course, this is not a substitute for actually playing the game and experiencing it first hand, but rather act as a quick reference or an easy way to convey an idea.

Game-UX is a series of articles and videos that tries to give a running commentary on good and bad user experience design in games. The large chunk of the content will be on this blog and the videos up on the game-ux youtube channel (please do subscribe!).

An experiment

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There are a lot of people out there who want to learn how to code or make games, some of them are interested in making robots to doing creative coding while others are interested in game design and development. Many students who start off learning to code or make games give up early on mostly because they hit a wall and there is no one around to help them.

We’ve tried workshops and they also doesn’t seem to help greatly as the amount of work one needs to put in on their own is really high. People assume workshops to be self-contained units of learning and that everything they need will happen in their time in class. Be it game design or programming, one never really stops learning – and the biggest chunk of what you learn comes from the amount of exploration, experimentation and work you do outside of any classroom.

So especially for those who are really keen, can keep themselves motivated and push on through the muck and mire, I’m thinking of using a new channel on chat.gamedev.in for a virtual #gamelab.

As I was going through the tigforums, I kept on wondering how anyone would discover new games and activity that keeps happening on the devlogs and realised that the forums by design foster and cater to active participants and participation – and those who stop updating their devlogs or stop working on their games, their conversations are automatically buried and lost. This also really forces you to take the effort to put enough work to move forward; the onus is upon the learner to keep asking questions, keep prodding for more information and showcasing their work. So, we take a chapter from what we learned from running and seeing how online communities work and try to apply in creating a mentoring space and see how it goes. One also hopes that the proximity it has to other game developers and general activity in the community should only help such a space.

As a friend pointed out that this does not mean that face-to-face meetups are moot; only the opposite! They suddenly become more meaningful, crisp and full of purpose as both parties now come together with intent.

So if you are interested in learning on your own or helping someone with how to design and build games, programming, design, ux and anything else infact, do feel free to come and join the fray.

Check out chat.gamedev.in

Workshops are done, back to work :)

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Workshops ended today! It wasn’t the most satisfying of classes that I’ve had, mostly due to amount of time we lost due to the bandhs and holidays in Bangalore. All of us were left a bit unsatisfied but we covered a lot of ground and did a lot of work, for a group of people who didn’t know much python 🙂

My forte is not python and this probably was the first time I’m using python this extensively (the last time I used it was to work with arduinos and twitter and what not back in NID). I am not new to it, but I rarely use it for any production work. Most of my work now-a-days revolve around GML(Game Maker Studio), Haxe(HaxeFlixel), C++(Cocos2d-x, SFML) and some bits of C#(Unity3D) and so I can safely say that I am not new to programming. The main reason why I picked Python was that it was very easy to learn even if you don’t know much about programming. It was verbose enough, syntax was not hard to pick up and it offered a large amount of handy modules. I also hoped that that the students would find it useful later – in Blender/Max/Maya or if they did web and related work or if they ever wanted to make applications or automate things.

The core idea behind the workshop was to get the students acquainted with programming and also creating game like virtual words(with/without user interactions). Since the class was new to programming, a large chunk of the workshop was spent in learning the ropes. Thankfully, I had a very small group of students to start with, which meant that there was a lot of back and forth and one on one time. It was great to see this tiny group of people move along with gusto even after a whole day of programming 🙂

Again, if you feel like taking a look at what happened in the workshop, all of code that was done during the workshop can be found here on github. I’ll hopefully be cleaning some of it up and also adding in the submissions made by the students. Most of all the work was done in class itself on a projector.

This year seems to be the year of collaborations. Since I am not teaching the rest of the semester, I’ve some pretty cool projects lined up! More on this later 🙂