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GCC #31 – Pre-Teen // Party Game

** The GCC is Chaos Theory tradition, where each fortnight we pitch a game concept to each other restricted by a particular theme and genre. **

GCC #31 marks the beginning of our new concept structure! Although we discuss each concept when we present them to each other, a lot of that additional information gets lost in translation and difficult to reproduce in the blog breakdown. Due to this, we’ve developed a more comprehensive Q&A based response that forces us to focus on smaller details, and be able to illustrate the general concept much more quickly.

Genre: Party Games
Theme: Pre-Teen Market

ETHEUS

Elevator Pitch
A unique take on the party-game genre, focusing on both competitive and cooperative play to solve rounds of quick succession puzzles. Developed for the Xbox One and targeting the pre-teen, school kid demographic, this game provides educational play through a diverse range of skill-based tasks.

Market Overview
This title is targeted at the social/casual gamers, and it places a strong emphasis on same-room multiplayer. It would be released on the Xbox One, due to strong utilization of the Kinect 2 sensor for central gameplay, most likely through the Arcade channel for a smaller title. The title would be developed in Unity, as Microsoft have recently struck a deal with the fantastic engine designers providing Unity 4 access for free for Xbox 360/Xbox One developers.
(http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-06-28-free-unity-for-microsoft-studios-xbox-360-and-xbox-one-games)
The target demographic is 7-12 year old kids of both genders, and this market is attractive because, if you can capture their attention, they will devote hours and hours of play to your game. They do not tire from repetition as easily as older gaming audiences, and so this title’s style of play is perfectly suited to them. The game also requires an ample amount of living room space to perform all the movements and actions required.

Gameplay
The game consists of a long chain of quick puzzles or tasks that require motion-sensed input, and are ideally suited to multiplayer games. Simple tasks such as ‘clean this table as fast as possible’, ‘be the first to star jump 10 times’, ‘put these ingredients in a pot according to this recipe’, or ‘work with each other to fit these puzzle pieces together’. The puzzles are delivered at a fast pace (5-20 seconds to solve each one), and points are rewarded at the end of each round which go toward character customization, and buying decorative elements or persistent puzzles that go within the avatar’s white room.
The game is controlled all through the Kinect motion sensor, requiring simple gesture-based recognition to navigate the game’s interface, and requiring a large range of complex gestures and motions to solve the myriad of puzzles. Because of the large range of movement, the players shouldn’t need to hold a controller for some puzzles and not utilise them for others, so every puzzle is designed around the use of the sensor.

Innovation
This game’s uniqueness comes from a fusion of educational puzzle solving and skill-based improvement fused with fast-paced social play. It has a strong achievement and tracking system that allows players to constantly work towards goals, and the game has different game modes which correspond to different skills, such as cooperative play, hand eye puzzles, movement based puzzles, etc. Its point-based reward system also equally balances both competitive and cooperative play, seeking to diversify the skills of its players.

Artistic Style
The artistic style utilises a simple set of 3D avatars with a great variety of customization placed within basic 3D scenes that rapidly change context based on the current puzzle. Bright colours and lots of active animations are important to capture the target market’s attention and also reinforces the style of play.
The soundtrack would need to keep pace with the gameplay, and have a moderately fast tempo. The sound effects would dominate the aural landscape however, and so the soundtrack would be mostly percussive to act as backing music. The soundtrack would shift very quickly between different tracks or styles of music based on the type of puzzle on hand.
Both the art and sound reinforce the mood of excitement and ecstatic play that follows the pace of play that this title aims to create.

Backstory
Each player chooses and creates an avatar of themselves whose actions correspond to the player’s motion-sensed input to solve each of the puzzles. These avatars exist in a stark, bare white room, which slowly fills with collectables and rewards as the player progresses.

— James

FORD THINKING

Elevator Pitch
FORD Thinking is an educational tool designed to help inspire children to teach themselves about automobiles. By giving them a set of tools to create a vehicle, and posing problems that require research to solve, we can help develop a child’s thirst for knowledge and analytical skills.

Market Overview
FORD Thinking is targeted at school students who are interested in automobiles, or curious about how they work. It is ideally designed to be used in a web browser as access to the internet is essential, and would allow the student to use it anywhere, whenever they were inspired. This market is essentially infinite, as we will always have children who are curious about how the world works.

Gameplay
When a player first begins they game, they are asked a few questions to determine what they know about the subject, “Name the parts of the car.”
If “engine” or “motor” is entered, we can assume they know that’s where the power comes from.
This will give them access to the engine in the build tools, and allow them to put an engine in their car.
If the car is missing vital pieces, the player will be prompted that there is a problem, “Your engine needs petrol” from here they can click on a “?” icon that will perform a Google search and take them to a page where it will explain very basically that an engine requires petrol to run, and this is stored in the fuel tank.
They can then go back to the game and enter “fuel tank” giving them access to that piece.
Once all basic pieces have been unlocked and the player has built there car they can hit the play button, dropping them into a 3d world and allowing them to drive around in a car that they just designed!
From here they will ether encounter a problem while driving (crashing because they are missing breaks) or can choose from a list of improvements. (I want to go faster, I want to go further, I want to go off road… etc.) The game will also look at what the player is doing and suggest improvements e.g. “you will need to add suspension to go off road.”
By selecting I want to go faster, they will be told the very basics of how an engine works and discover that an engine is made up of smaller pieces (pistons, engine block, spark plugs etc.) This will give them access to a window simular to the one they first encounter, asking them what makes up an engine. After stating most of the pieces, they will be given access to another build window, where they can build a better engine, then place it in the car.
Through this process the player is gradually introduced to more complex ideas, understanding why they are necessary and what function they perform.

Innovation
By changing the subject matter this model can be used to teach students about a large variety of subjects, such as Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geography, History and Engineering.
FORD Thinking is a prototype for my education model, where the student determines what they want to learn and provides the drive to get there.
By teaching children how to breakdown a problem and use a search engine to find the correct answers, we are essentially teaching a student how to solve any problem that can be presented.

— Nico

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