Alpha

A lot of preparation went into Alpha, but no matter how much I prepare I always think we could have done better. On my end, my video animatic was okay, but I could have been more detailed with it. I’m disappointed because the footage my friend filmed of us had poor sound quality for our lead designer because the microphone was rubbing against the fabric of her shirt. I’ve asked my sound designer to rent a camera and sound equipment from Champlain so we’ll be able to do another recording as soon as possible. Luckily the final video isn’t due until about a month from now, but I don’t want to delay on it because I know I’ll have to put in the gameplay footage last minute. If I can get the interviews polished early it’ll give me a lot of time to weave the interviews and gameplay footage to make Kanji Samurai an exciting Senior Team reel. For the Alpha stage I had to layout the format of the video. I’m going to start with gameplay footage to provide context, then get into some interviews about the inspirations behind the game and it’s art. I also plan to overlay some relevant images of the artwork, and footage of the gameplay and maybe our team working. I have some footage I included in the animatic of me asking my team “When’s the last time you looked at the project plan” and them all pausing and then some laughing in response. It’s pretty humourous and the class laughed but I haven’t decided if I really want to include it or not.

Our game didn’t have to be feature complete for Alpha stage, but it did have to be able to be played from start to finish. We have planned 10 levels for our game and currently have implemented 4 of them. We have all the Kanji planned out for the levels, but failed to implement them in time for Alpha. My team has reassured me that the remaining levels will be implemented by Wednesday. In our Alpha review, Professor Manly said we need to instill more “juiciness” into our game. He said it felt too static. I knew what he meant. It wasn’t rewarding the player enough for their successes. We had a lot of nice art, but we need more particle effects and small animations to really sell the experience. I’m currently talking to my team about implementing the slash motion for selecting buttons like in Fruit Ninja as Prof. Manly suggested, rather than simply tapping the buttons.

This weekend we are meeting in the labs to discuss how to make our game more juicy. Then the rest of the meeting will be a work session. I hope that by all working in the same location we will be greater motivated to get things done. Last weekend we had a low key meeting at my apartment to make team t-shirts for the Senior Show and reaffirm our goals for Alpha. I think my mistake was not scheduling a meeting between that Saturday and Wednesday’s Alpha milestone. I’m looking forward to working in the game industry full time so I can focus all my energy on game development. It can be challenging to manage our game development capstone alongside our other classes and responsibilities. Working in the same room more frequently will make us more efficient I think. We’ll have instant access to each other for discussion and can collaborate work more effectively. Beta is in two weeks and I intend to lead my team to meeting all our milestones!

Beat of the Flames Market Analysis

Beat of the Flames was a rhythm-based educational game I created with four other classmates during my sophomore year at Champlain College. This was my second project as a game producer after having switched my major from game design. I was instructed to write up the market analysis as if we were actually going to publish the game, even though it was just hypothetical. All the art featured in this post can be accredited to my talented teammates Maria Crawford and Scott Delong.

The Team:

Designer – Jake Pierce
Artist – Maria Crawford
Artist – Scott DeLong
Programmer – Ryan Sobczak
Producer – Emily Harnedy

conceptfirebeatofflamehow

Concept

Our project is a timing and rhythm game designed to stimulate interest in Native American culture (specifically the Potawatomi tribe) among school children aged six to nine. The art style is a friendly, illustrative paper cut intended to appeal to kids. The player controls a group of dancers trying to keep the fire alive in order to ward off the Wendigo and ensure their safety. Players click on pieces of firewood that the dancers will then dance to, their movement controlled by the player’s accurate input of a rhythm that is reflected in game.

Target Market

Our target market consists of two separate markets—children aged 6 to 9 and their parents/educators. We want to engage the children’s interest while also convincing parents and schools to open their pocket books.

The game targets young school children in the third to fifth grade. These are kids who grew up playing on tablets and ipods. They like to play simple video games on their parents’ phones and computers. In school their teachers try to incorporate technology into their learning to prepare them for our technologically advanced world. These kids are constantly looking for new games to play. Our game’s papery aesthetic and caricatured characters will appeal to kids because it is quirky and fun.

To market to parents and educators, we will stress the educational aspect of our game. Parents want to foster their children’s interest in technology, but they get tired of watching them play countless bubble poppers and Angry Bird inspired games. Instead, parents want their children to play something a little more meaningful. Our game fits parents’ expectations as it is both fun for their child and stimulates their interest in a culture different from their own.

Educators often incorporate technology into their classrooms, as well as educational games to spark children’s learning. By creating a game about Potawatomi culture, a topic not deeply explored in classrooms past the feast between Native Americans and pilgrims, our game can serve as an additional aid for educators in their teaching lessons.

Our game will suit the needs of both markets—child and parents/educators. Beat of the Flame is not a cliché rhythmic game; it is a game based on Native American cultural dances and beliefs that will open up a dialogue between parent/educators and children regarding America’s earliest inhabitants.

wendigodancer

Hypothetical Player

Chris is a 7-year old kid from Vermont who attends an average public school. Most of his classmates are from middle class, white families, so Chris hasn’t been exposed to much diversity in his life.

At school, Chris and his classmates use technology on a day to day basis. His teacher often uses internet resources to aid in her teaching practices. Every Wednesday, Chris and his class go to the school’s computer lab for their scheduled computer time, in which they play interactive games that reinforce the topics they are learning in class.

At home, Chris spends a lot of time with his friends outside. During the winter, his parents restrict the amount of time he can go outside because it is so cold. In addition to outdoor activities, Chris also enjoys computer games.

One day at school during computer time, his teacher introduces the class to Beat of the Flame, an interactive rhythm game based in Potawatomi culture. This is the first time Chris is exposed to the Potawatomi tribe. He has learned about Native Americans before, but he has never considered that there are different types of Native Americans. He tells his parents about the game when he comes home, and they decide to look up more about local Native American tribes in their area in addition to the Potawatomi.

Marketing

In order to get users for our game, we will reach out to schools. We can release our game during the fall season, when students are learning about Thanksgiving. Technology is a common sight in our modern day classrooms. Our game can be of use during a class activity as an educational aid. Children do not like to participate in one activity for long periods of time. Our game will offer an additional opportunity to spice up learning in the classroom.

In order for educators to trust our game, we can apply for awards that will earn us more credibility. There are a lot of options out there for educational games, such as Parent Tested Parent Approved, Family Choose, Kids At Play Interactive Awards, etc. Teachers and parents will be more likely to purchase our game if we can promote the fact that we won an award for being an exceptional kids’ game.

We will become an active member (or perhaps even a partner in the future) of Common Sense Media (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/), an online website that features the most meaningful movies, books, games, and apps that kids should play. By doing so, we will have an instant connection with the target market we want—parents and teachers who wish to educate their children through fun and appropriate technology.

Source:

MacIntyre, Nancy. “Making and Marketing Kids Apps: Definitely Not Child’s Play.”Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Games. N.p., 26 June 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2017. <http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/NancyMacIntyre/20130626/194650/Making_and_Marketing_Kids_Apps_Definitely_Not_Childs_Play.php&gt;.

Monetization

There are many grants available to fund educational tools, including video games. It is just a matter of finding the grants we qualify for. One grant in particular is known for funding educational video games. The U.S. Department of Education’s Small Business Innovation Research grant provides funding for projects geared towards teachers and students. Our project falls within this category.

Additional grants to consider are the Teacher Development Grant, which funds K-12 learning programs. There is also Mini-Grants from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, which seek educators designing programs that “foster creative expression, working together, and interaction with a diverse community” (that last one being key in our claim to this grant). The Ezra grant is only available to public schools and public libraries, but we could discuss our game idea with a public library or school and still apply with their backing of us.Lastly, the Kellogg Foundation offers a multitude of grants to support educational resources.

We can also put our game on the app store for private purchases in addition to school use. Our game will cost $1.99 on the Apple store. It will also be available for download on the computer for the same amount.

Sources:

“The Big List of Educational Grants and Resources.” Edutopia. George Lucas Educational Foundation, 15 Feb. 2017. Web. <https://www.edutopia.org/grants-and-resources&gt;

“U.S. Department of Education Program Offers Grants to Game Developers.” Games and Learning. N.p., 26 Feb. 2014. Web. <http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2014/02/26/u-s-department-of-education-program-offers-grants-to-game-developers/&gt;

“What We Do.” W.K. Kellogg Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.wkkf.org/what-we-do/overview&gt;