Generating and Selecting Ideas for our Games

Now that we have completed the initial inquiry and analysis for our educational game design, it’s time to turn our attention to developing ideas.

[What’s that you say? Initial inquiry and analysis? Yes. Initial. Remember, as you go through this process, you will undoubtedly need to do more research to help with your creation. This should be documented in your process journal and used in the appropriate sections of your work!]

To help with this development of ideas, let’s break it down into four stages:

Stage 1 – Design Specifications

Design specs, according to the MYP, are “a set of considerations, constraints and requirements for a solution: what the solution must or must not have to be successful. A specification is not a description of the outcome.” It is important that the specs are written well as they will be used throughout the rest of the project. Good design specs are specific, measurable, realistic and testable. Some (but maybe not all!) factors to consider when writing your design specs for this project are:

Aesthetics – Consider appearance, style, colour, shape/form, texture, pattern, finish, layout.

Customer – Who it is for? What is the target user’s age, gender, socio-economic background?

Function – What it must do? What is its purpose? Where will the product be stored? How easily can it be used/maintained?

Creation – What resources are available for you to use? Are there limitations as to how this can be created? How much time is needed to create the design?

Remember: specific, measurable, realistic and testable.

Stage 2 – Developing a Range of Ideas

To help us create a range of ideas, you need to write elevator pitches for each of your possible design ideas. This “pitch paragraph” tells the story of your game in a brief manner. Some questions that might help you to write this are:

  • What is the setting?
  • How is it played?
  • What is the objective of the game?
  • What will the user do?
  • What will the user learn?

Ideally, each of your pitches will create different scenarios rather than just change some minor details. These pitches should be able to give others a reasonable vision of what your game might be like. A good pitch will also include another paragraph that gives more details and/or explains why you are including different aspects in your pitch. This second paragraph should not be part of the explanation of the game but rather an explanation of your thinking.

Stage 3 – Making Your Choice

Since you have more than one possible design, how will you choose which one to create? If you immediately started thinking “design specification!”, you’re right! For this part of the process, you should justify your choice of final design by comparing your designs against the design specs you wrote earlier. To be done thoroughly, each design should be compared against all the specs to help you make your choice. This should also include some feedback from others about your designs. Ideally this would be part of your target audience but could also be from classmates, family members, etc.

Stage 4 – Detailed Planning

Now that you have chosen your final design, you need to add details to your elevator pitch idea. This is going to be done in the form of storyboards. You should have at least three different storyboard panels for this game:

  • the Start screen
  • at least one panel of game play
  • the Game Over screen

A thorough example of these storyboards will include not only the picture, but a narrative description of what is happening, annotations of the sample screen to provide more explanation, and a list of the requirements (sprites, backgrounds, music, sound effects, etc.) that are envisioned for that stage of play.

All of this will be submitted in a single document but you may wish to do some of the work in your process journal and then transfer it over to your final copy. You can use these TSCs to help guide your work.

Designing and Planning Your Game

Now that your Investigation is completed (and uploaded to Veracross and Turnitin and you’ve self-assessed your work), it’s time to move on to designing your game and planning what it will take to make it come to life. Check out the TSCs here.

The Design Stage (1 class period)

For your each of your possible designs, I want you to write a “pitch paragraph” tells the story of your game. Some questions that might help you to write this are:

  • What is the setting?
  • How is it played?
  • What is the objective of the game?
  • What will the user do?
  • What will the user learn?

Add any other details that you think might be necessary. Remember to look back at your design brief and your design specs for inspiration/ideas.

Once you have written down all of your design pitches, you will need to choose which one you will actually create. You should justify your choice using your design specifications.

The Planning Stage (1 class period)

Now that you know the story behind the game you are going to make, you need to get down to the details of your game. Use this planning document to list out these details. You will also need to complete the Project Timeline section of that document. Part of the planning document includes creating a storyboard for at least 3 phases of your game: the Intro screen, Game Play, and the Game Over screen.

These will be submitted to Veracross as a single document and will be assessed using the Task Specific Clarifications. Be sure to check Veracross for the actual due date.

For planning purposes, your final creation will be due the week of May 19, depending on when you have class. We will plan to have the Kindergarten students come up to our classroom during the week of May 26 so that they can play your games and give you some direct feedback.

Thanks to Kim Wilkens from Tech-Girls and Kevin Hodgson for making their planning and storyboard documents available for remixing!