Shadow Project Report

This semester, we are required to choose a current project from the second-year students to follow. After browsing all websites of current projects, I decided to choose the project Emotionshop as my shadow project. I made my decision for several reasons: first, the team comes out with individual prototypes every week (there are 5 students in their teams, which means 5 prototypes every week). Second, they study the relationship between emotions and game mechanics while I am super interested in game development as well as user experience. Therefore, I follow this project in the hope of gaining useful inspiration for future game development.

The first activation I joint for this project is Halves – a 20 minutes presentation that condensed half of their semester’s work. There I learned details about the project including the techniques they used, the achievement they have made and the future aim they are going to achieve. They used the “emotional wheel” to analyse their feedback. The wheel classifies similar emotions into same quadrant, layering them by inclusion relation. These help them to choose a distinguish emotion for every week, avoiding picking too similar ones. Moreover, the wheel helps players define their feeling after playing the game. Sometimes it may be hard to tell your feeling because it’s too abstract. With this wheel, player could first locate their emotion in a big catagory and specify them layer by layer. It reminds me of the amazing interaction of different subjects – in this case, with psychology. Also, I got the basic concept of the presentation of a project.

The emotion wheel
The emotion wheel

During the Halves the team mentioned that they adjusted their progress of development to 1 round every 2 weeks so that they can have more time to design their game. I learned that to develop a good game, the stage of design does and deserve to take the most of the time since it determines the whole direction of the game.

Later, I participated their prototypes refining for week 7. For week 7, the key emotion is “appreciated”. It locates in the “powerful” quadrant, neighbored “respected”, “hopeful” and “valuable”. They developed 5 games for this round. The first game is a shooting game that players gain the feeling of appreciation by shooting down terrorists to save hostages. The second game is to arrange the city in order, when players come to higher level, passers-by will appreciate their work and start helping them. The third game is a business game where players act as a cook of a udon shop. Customers will appreciate the player by giving them tips if they cook well according to their requirement and serve in time. The forth game is a sneak game that players steal money to buy their girlfriend a ring. But meanwhile, there are beggars on the road begging for money. Giving beggars money several times and being appreciated, players will eventually gain rewards. The last game is also a game to arrange the city, while NPC will appreciate your work by building status of you. It is unbelievable that they can develop such playable game individually in such a short time. They told us that every round they will first discuss the key emotion, trying to find out the features it has. Through brainstorm, they will gradually collect different moments when they feel appreciated, indicated what makes them feel they are appreciated then use their conclusion into their games. It is good that they use their life experience to help develop their game, basing their theme on realistic events. However, this method is relatively subjective. Developer may feel appreciated on some events, but players may not. As far as I’m concerned, the more effective way is to read some thesis about the generation mechanism of appreciation and use their theory. But this may cost too much time for their project. Maybe they could consider to cooperate with students in Department of Psychology?

5 games of week 7
5 games of week 7

Several days later the team invited us to join their Retrospective where they discuss playtest observations and surprises players experienced during the playtest. It seems that they didn’t do pretty well in this round –  only 3 of players claimed that they felt appreciated. The team assumed that feedbacks of their games were not strong enough, while people may feel appreciated when they were rewarded by what they have done. Furthermore, in my opinion, people are appreciated when they do something that other people are not willing to do to help someone. The more sacrifice people make, the more appreciated they may feel. Therefore, the game could emphasize that though the role of the player is not powerful and strong, or even weak, he still tries his best to help someone.

Through the shadow project, I’ve learnt the progress of ETC’s projects in a semester, the requirement of every roles in the team and the matters that need attention during the project development (say, time management). It is really helpful for the coming project semester for me. Moreover, emotionshop is a pitch project. It gives me the inspiration that as a pitch project it should consider more about practical value besides gameplay, say, the relationship between game mechanism and emotion in this case. With this experience, I would like to try to apply for a pitch project next semester.