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Subject: Game designing as a college project rss

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matheus cohen
Brazil
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I just posted thishttp://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1467748/game-design-universi... about using game-design on class, and now i want a little of designers insight on this subject.


What do you think about game designing as a way to help students develop logic, design experience, problem-solveing ideas and things like that?

I'm talking about getting a handful of fresh engineer students and make a board game with them from 0. Not a educational game, a 'gamer' game.

I choosing a board game instead of virthal for several reasons:
1. Low entry point for designers.
2. Less cost for something homemade
3. Has better interactiom between people
4. It is pure mechanics in a way that creates 'life'.
5. I love it.

Maybe they won't need game-design in their carreers, but the point is developing some basic engineers skills in a way that they have fun. And also to introduce first years to how university projects works, so that later they can more easily look for those high-end robotic projects that everyone looks for(at least in here).

So i have a few questions.

Can you think of designing a board game as to create a machine?
A machine, as a group of mechanisms, that each of his own function, together helps bring the game to life. A clock is just a group of gear wheels that when placed in the right way, counts time :3

Can you think of designing a board game in a group a good experience? I'm talking like 10 or so guys all trying to do everything. Of coursr i or someone else would be in 'charge' so thst there is no chaos.


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Jack Poon
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I come from an engineering background (Mechanical) and am doing game design now myself so hopefully some of my insight will be of some help.

On the grand scale of things, I don't find much if any difference between game design and mechanical design. You start with a concept, you research it, you make a prototype, you test the prototype to some specifications (performance for engineering, balance for game design), you fix and refine and repeat. Then you have a working product. At which case in job experience, not much differ here either. Start with cost down, quality assurance, prepare support for the product, develop instructions, manufacture and ship the product.

The difference I've noticed comes from the smaller details. Engineering focuses a lot on numbers to justify performance. Game design is much harder to quantify. An engineered product usually must perform the same, every time it's used. A game on the other hand, has a different outcome and experience depending on who's playing it and how things are scattered. Most things I've designed as an engineer either work or don't work, or at least don't work well enough to meet specs. Game mechanics are much more fluid and flexible. I can clunk together a few mechanics and get a working game, but fun is subjective. On the other hand, I've found piecing together parts in engineering easier than mechanics in games. I can design a housing for an object that holds the internal parts together easily and once they're fixed, I can usually safely assume more internal parts will not be affected by things happening to the housing. Game mechanics on the other hand are very intricately connected. Changing a small part in the beginning of the game can have huge unbalancing effects on the end game. Effects I won't catch until several play tests in whereas usually an unbalanced load will be pointed out immediately as soon as I turn on a machine.

However, many might not see the connection between the two and end up treating the class as a joke. My entry level class in university was a semester long project to build a robot out of Legos to accomplish a specific task. Most of us found it a lot of fun to play with legos but we didn't really take the class seriously. Even now, I get the occasional "How do you go from an engineering field into game design?" (with prestige given to engineering and game design not taken seriously as a career choice which greatly saddens me). I don't see much of a difference and I'm incredibly happy with how much I've learned on game design. I plan on eventually returning to engineering but I think with the lessons I learned from game design, it'll make my work in the future that much better and robust.

I think it's an excellent idea but needs to be framed well. I think the best connection is that product design is the same between a robot, a car, an airplane and a game and game engine. You come up with an idea, you research and develop the idea, you follow rules and protocols. If the class however is something that focuses on engineering, game design may not be the way to go. It's just like describing a game. You have to frame expectations well or the class will sour.

As for the team experience of designing a game, I think that can get hectic as well but that might just be true game or not. Students will slack off and others will feel they're not carrying their weight and they'll fight. Then you have other students who are very adamant and attached to their ideas fight with other's ideas. That may end up as a lousy experience but it is a valuable experience as well. They'll need to learn how to work with others who don't share the same vision, passion or effort as them in the workplace as well.
 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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North Carolina
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A group of 10 collaborating on a project? Sounds like too many people.

I'd suggest:
-- groups of 2 or 3 people, each design a different(*) 2-player game
-- You, as teacher, act as overseer ... push them from phase to phase
-- each group must playtest the other groups' games.

(*) I'd suggest looking at some of our contests here on the Board Game Design forum... maybe...
-- put restrictions on components: like use just 6 pages for components
-- must use six-sided dice
-- common theme: college student experience

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matheus cohen
Brazil
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mechapython wrote:
I come from an engineering background (Mechanical) and am doing game design now myself so hopefully some of my insight will be of some help.

On the grand scale of things, I don't find much if any difference between game design and mechanical design. You start with a concept, you research it, you make a prototype, you test the prototype to some specifications (performance for engineering, balance for game design), you fix and refine and repeat. Then you have a working product. At which case in job experience, not much differ here either. Start with cost down, quality assurance, prepare support for the product, develop instructions, manufacture and ship the product.

The difference I've noticed comes from the smaller details. Engineering focuses a lot on numbers to justify performance. Game design is much harder to quantify. An engineered product usually must perform the same, every time it's used. A game on the other hand, has a different outcome and experience depending on who's playing it and how things are scattered. Most things I've designed as an engineer either work or don't work, or at least don't work well enough to meet specs. Game mechanics are much more fluid and flexible. I can clunk together a few mechanics and get a working game, but fun is subjective. On the other hand, I've found piecing together parts in engineering easier than mechanics in games. I can design a housing for an object that holds the internal parts together easily and once they're fixed, I can usually safely assume more internal parts will not be affected by things happening to the housing. Game mechanics on the other hand are very intricately connected. Changing a small part in the beginning of the game can have huge unbalancing effects on the end game. Effects I won't catch until several play tests in whereas usually an unbalanced load will be pointed out immediately as soon as I turn on a machine.

However, many might not see the connection between the two and end up treating the class as a joke. My entry level class in university was a semester long project to build a robot out of Legos to accomplish a specific task. Most of us found it a lot of fun to play with legos but we didn't really take the class seriously. Even now, I get the occasional "How do you go from an engineering field into game design?" (with prestige given to engineering and game design not taken seriously as a career choice which greatly saddens me). I don't see much of a difference and I'm incredibly happy with how much I've learned on game design. I plan on eventually returning to engineering but I think with the lessons I learned from game design, it'll make my work in the future that much better and robust.

I think it's an excellent idea but needs to be framed well. I think the best connection is that product design is the same between a robot, a car, an airplane and a game and game engine. You come up with an idea, you research and develop the idea, you follow rules and protocols. If the class however is something that focuses on engineering, game design may not be the way to go. It's just like describing a game. You have to frame expectations well or the class will sour.

As for the team experience of designing a game, I think that can get hectic as well but that might just be true game or not. Students will slack off and others will feel they're not carrying their weight and they'll fight. Then you have other students who are very adamant and attached to their ideas fight with other's ideas. That may end up as a lousy experience but it is a valuable experience as well. They'll need to learn how to work with others who don't share the same vision, passion or effort as them in the workplace as well.
Hi! Really appreciate your feedback.
I'm a engineer as well, i understand what you mentioned about the difference between them, but i still think there is a good enough connection, as you yourself mentioned

About the entry lvl and being a joke thingy.
As it won't be really a class, but a project. Not sure how that works on other countries universities, but noone has to take part on it but i will go from class to class asking'hey who wants to participate on a game design project' and see who comes up. Yeah, maybe some will go just for fun, and as long as that isn't ruining the experience for some that are insterested, i'm okay with that. Maybe they will still learn things even if they don't notice!

I don't plan to really have any real conection with engineer itself. I'll indeed point out how one thing has to do with another, and as a user said in another test, maybe do some fast game challenges that has a engineer theme. But most of the times will be a free design just so people learn :

Design
Teamwork
Logic
Development process
Problem-solving experience
Failure-and-sucess experiences without a real turndown.

Yeah, it may turn to be a lousy experience, and as sturv mentioned, it can be better to split into snall groups, but i think that a big team will have his pros as well. Making people used to work together when they are not in charge is a good thing.

Thnx for your time! I'll take everything you said in consideration!
 
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matheus cohen
Brazil
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Stormtower wrote:
A group of 10 collaborating on a project? Sounds like too many people.

I'd suggest:
-- groups of 2 or 3 people, each design a different(*) 2-player game
-- You, as teacher, act as overseer ... push them from phase to phase
-- each group must playtest the other groups' games.

(*) I'd suggest looking at some of our contests here on the Board Game Design forum... maybe...
-- put restrictions on components: like use just 6 pages for components
-- must use six-sided dice
-- common theme: college student experience

I thought about the splitting thing...kt has it's cons and pros. I think i will do both! Some projects as a group and some as a big team

The 2-3 people would be something more manageable, easier to them to get alone or agree with things, makes sharing ideas and progress faster.

Big ass teams would have the advantage od simulating a work place, even if every single one has a specific task, people would argue and have a lot more trouble, but they would have to manage with it...just like a real job


Thnx for the restriction idea! May as well doit!
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Jack Poon
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Having them split into two groups is also an excellent idea. That way they can play test each other's games without bias or even be more critical than normal but be able to provide constructive criticism based on their own lessons learned. Some of my best game design improvements I found through play testing with other game designers.

You can even do a test run to see how the group dynamics work if there are any game jams in your local area. Game jams are usually a 2 - 3 day long event where people come together around a theme or mechanic and try and make a playable game in those 2 - 3 days.
 
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B C Z
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So you've defined the project, which would be part of "the grade".

What curriculum do you plan to present?



I'd also look at how the various contests on this site are run, usually if you submit you have to play test some other number of titles. It would give a good way for the "designers" to provide feedback to each other (and you).

 
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Nathaniel Grisham

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I am wondering how you would grade a project like this.

There are some parts that would be easy to grade, such as whether the design meets various predefined parameters such as:
Game length
Number/cost of components, or using some or all of a specific set of components

But the things that I would really want to be graded/recognized on can be subjective. Maybe using class surveys so that the teams all grade each other would work?:
How do you quantify how fun something is?
Clarity of of the rules?
Unneeded complexity/dead-weight in the design?

I think that this project lends itself towards cooperation between teams, as they need to have playtests done. I like the way this sounds a lot better than mine/my wife's experience in intro engineering classes, that pit all of the teams against each other, with their grades depending on the rankings...

 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Hold on ...

Is this "Design a Boardgame" project part of a class?
... or is it more like a club? (no academic credit awarded)


-------------

Continuing with the discussion ...

BT Carpenter mentioned "What's your curriculum"

Here's my suggestion: given that the students will not necessarily be BoardGameGeeks, you'll probably need to introduce them to a few good games to use as a model. Otherwise, you'll end up with a bunch of Monopoly clones, or Snake and Ladder clones, or Stratego clones. There are many "types" of games, so use that to help partition the curriculum into manageable bites.

For example

1. Design a 2 Player Abstract Game
(Teams of 2, 3, or 4)
Sample: Chess, Go, Hive, Kingdoms
Abstract Strategy
Extra Credit: Design an AI / Algorithm to allow the game to played by 1 player.


2. Design a Dice game with a Science Fiction theme
(Teams of 2, 3, or 4)
Sample: Roll for the Galaxy, Alien Frontiers, Space Cadets: Dice Duel
Dice / Science Fiction


3. Design a Bluffing game with some Deduction mechanics
(Big teams ... maybe 8-12. The game doesn't have to support more than 8 players ... but the large team can help you run more internal playtests before it has to be cross-tested by other teams)
Sample: Coup, The Resistance, Werewolf, Love Letter
Bluffing / Deduction
 
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matheus cohen
Brazil
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Ok, i thought this would happen, so before answering you guys, let me explain what we call a project here.

Its not a class abd problably not a club...but maybe more like a club.

Is a...yeah a club. A teacher or a student talks with the lerso responsable for things like that. Get a time on a room, have the university backing or some times just approval and done.

What a person get from it:
-experience
-curriculum
-hours (not sure how to call it in english, but we have to have at least 200 extra hours of extra class or projects to graduate)
-name and possible money by any kind of contest.

Grades are something you may or may not get if the project is linked to some class. People on my univ. Robotic project have extra points on the mechanic or eletric classes.


About grading, if j have to, i would have it done by:
-did the team manage to work together.
-did they met the deadline?
-did they play tested it?
-did they copy it?
-if yes, in a good ir bad way?
-did they met the requeriments?
-where they innovative?
-was it gud in anyway?

Well, that is what comes out of my head l but is indeed a really hard thing to grade.
 
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matheus cohen
Brazil
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Stormtower wrote:
Hold on ...

Is this "Design a Boardgame" project part of a class?
... or is it more like a club? (no academic credit awarded)


-------------

Continuing with the discussion ...

BT Carpenter mentioned "What's your curriculum"

Here's my suggestion: given that the students will not necessarily be BoardGameGeeks, you'll probably need to introduce them to a few good games to use as a model. Otherwise, you'll end up with a bunch of Monopoly clones, or Snake and Ladder clones, or Stratego clones. There are many "types" of games, so use that to help partition the curriculum into manageable bites.

For example

1. Design a 2 Player Abstract Game
(Teams of 2, 3, or 4)
Sample: Chess, Go, Hive, Kingdoms
Abstract Strategy
Extra Credit: Design an AI / Algorithm to allow the game to played by 1 player.


2. Design a Dice game with a Science Fiction theme
(Teams of 2, 3, or 4)
Sample: Roll for the Galaxy, Alien Frontiers, Space Cadets: Dice Duel
Dice / Science Fiction


3. Design a Bluffing game with some Deduction mechanics
(Big teams ... maybe 8-12. The game doesn't have to support more than 8 players ... but the large team can help you run more internal playtests before it has to be cross-tested by other teams)
Sample: Coup, The Resistance, Werewolf, Love Letter
Bluffing / Deduction
I'll answer everybody else in a minutr, but you i couldn't wait! Lol


I already have plans on how to do that!
The first classes will be introductions before tje project!
-learn the basics
-learn the sources(bgg, extra credit and stuff)
-learn about good games
-learn what is a real board game
-learn that monopoly is crap
-introduce to the design world
-play a little things easy and fsst.
Uno -> munchkin -> smash up -> get more sofisticated-> create game nights to save class time.

I will introduce them to the classics as well!
 
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