Archive for the ‘Flash Games’ Category

Captcha Your Imagination: Comatile Mom

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

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I've started making quick prototypes of games out of captchas, because really, "why not?"  A general post mortem follows.


Why Didn’t I Think of That? – Pixel Breakout

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

パーティクル崩し | wonderfl build flash online.

This is definitely one of those things that seems like such an obviously great idea after someone else comes up with it and implements it.  A neat little remix of Breakout, worthy of a few minutes of your time, if for no other reason than for the awesome light show that results when things go a little crazy.

(Via Boing Boing)

Gamasutra: Making Games on the Side

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Gamasutra - Features - Making Games On The Side: Development In The Real World.

Great article that profiles a couple of folks working on game projects in their spare time.  A pretty inspiring read, particularly if you are trying to do the same sort of thing.  Good advice from the developers too.  Read it.

"I guess my main thing is I try never to force it, I don't try to stress myself out doing it," he says. "If I feel like I have something to say or a game that I really want to make, I'll take the steps to do it, but I'm not 20 anymore so I don't really feel like spending 24 hours of my weekend jamming on a game so much. I do have a wife, so she wouldn't be too happy with that.

Thoughts on Doodle God

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Recently, I played a game called Doodle God.

It's a simple game, and playable in your browser (assuming you've got a Flash plugin installed), so click the link if you want to check it out.  I think you should, but it took me some thought to figure out why I think you should.

Doodle god is a simple game, with a simple (but not unattractive) presentation.  Pretty much the whole game looks like this:Doodle God screenshot

What's going on here?  You begin with four elements, each in its own group.  Here I've selected the air group, with the short tutorial indicating that I should click on the fire group.  Doing so would make the left side of the screen look a lot like the right side, but with fire instead of air.  I could then select individual elements within the two groups (at this point, I have little choice, fire + air).  If they combine (they do), I get a new element (energy), which I can then use in further combinations.

And that's it.

You start with the four base elements, and through combination and experimentation, you reach the end of the game with over 100.  Each time you succeed at combining elements, you're greeted with something like this:

FirewaterYou get your new element(s) and a delightful little quote related to the process, or the result.  Some slight fanfare that isn't adequately captured via screenshot occurs, but it isn't anything worth writing about in detail.

The question is then, why is this game worth writing about in detail? It does a great job of tackling a key tool in the designer's toolbox:  experimentation.  Allowing the player to experiment in a controlled way is an excellent way to allow the player to feel as if they have freedom, and then to feel clever when they figure something out.   At the same time, the experimental process is rife with setbacks.  A quote attributed to Thomas Edison that gets bandied around often is  "I have not failed.  I've just found 10000 ways that won't work".   What this means for designers is that experimentation offers a built in ego crutch:  failure is less punishing than success is rewarding, which means that if the experimentation is implemented well, the frustration of failure won't drive players away.

Doodle God gets this right; it makes the player feel clever upon finding a neat combo, and provides a hint system that nudges players in the right direction for discoveries without actually doing the discovering automatically.  It has a nice feedback loop, in that each success creates more gameplay for the player (in the form of new elements to play with).

That said, it misses out on a key opportunity to combine that experimentation with a more rewarding learning experience.  That is, a successful (or failed!) combination doesn't actually provide any new information to the player that can be useful in future interactions.  Imagine the situation of a young child playing Pokemon for the first time.  They come across a fire Pokemon, like Charmander, and are having a rough time defeating him.  So they start swapping their monsters around until they use some sort of water Pokemon (Squirtle), and get the message that the attack was super effective.   The child learns that water attacks are strong against fire (which is basically a given to experienced gamers or firefighters, assuming it isn't an electrical fire).  Her experimentation with a variety of Pokemon lead to not only a positive result, but tactical information that can be useful in future battles against fire Pokemon (and indeed, inversely, against water Pokemon).   This is what Doodle God is missing.  There isn't any player-knowledge gained from a success, only new gameplay items.  While the player learns a particular combination doesn't work in the case of a failure, this provides no additional information beyond "don't bother doing that again", and after playing awhile, it's easy to forget what combinations have been attempted.