How Design Students are Taught to Prototype on their Own

I am a lecturer teaching Game Design in KDU UC Malaysia, and about four years ago I undertook the task to train game design students. While the School provided various forms of training for the design students – student projects with artists and programmers, classes on various aspects such as World Creation, Level Design and Systems Analysis – there was an issue regarding training designers I had to address.
The Problem Statement

There are three problems I found with training design students:

  1. Group projects could fail in ways that a designer couldn’t control.  The designer could do good work and the game could still fail due to ineffective management, lack of resources or team conflict. The opposite could also be true: a good game may not be the result of a good designer, but intervention from the other members. The success of a team game project is not a reliable way to measure the ability of the designer.
  2. Regardless of what a University student studies, a Degree graduate is supposed to graduate alone. It simply will not do to have a design graduate that saysI’ll need a programmer and an artist to prove my design will work‘. As a former IGDA Chapter Coordinator, I have met designers who cite that exact statement as a reason for why they couldn’t find work. That’s not an acceptable situation for a game design graduate.
  3. I have noticed that our local game dev students I’ve had generally are inexperienced presenters. Richard Carrillo in his GDC2015 talk on designing design teams clarified what I realized over time: only a subset of game designers – termed by Carillo as Salespersons –  can sell ideas to others. The rest will struggle. Designers are required to be articulate – they have to explain their work to their fellow developers – thus design students have to learn to communicate on a higher level than their fellow classmates. Obviously, they’ll have to learn to communicate on that level, but it is possible to have students who have a good design in mind but could not communicate it properly, thus being unable to prove their design works.

In summary, I will have students who have to graduate alone, show expertise in creating work that can only be proven by others working on it, and may be unable to communicate what he and she can do.

I noted this issue since 2012, and thus went looking for solutions.
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Three Minute Answers: Richard Wnuk

Richard Wnuk is a veteran Game Business executive, having served in various high-level positions in Konami Digital Entertainment, Majesco, Jaleco and Red Storm Entertainment. He was giving lectures in KDU for the past four weeks – giving out stories on Rainbow Six, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Dance Dance Revolution – so had the pleasure to hold this quick interview with him.

Here, he was addressing a question he heard from a student. He chose to address it here as the question reflected a student concern he wanted to settle.

Overextended Inktober 2016 1-3

inktober2016-1-3

Inktober 2016 was a bust. Even though I started the first Ink on the 1st, there was too much to last month – including two overseas conferences – to focus on an Ink a day. I could have if I went simpler, but I realized the investment is part of what makes the inking fun. Doesn’t meet the goal of Inktober though.

Nevertheless, the prompts for this year are useful; had an idea just from a cursory glance through the words. So let’s see if I can take it further.

So, 1-3:
1) Fast
2) Noisy
3) Collect

Prop design – Charlemagne’s sword Joyeuse

Joyeuse concept

ConceptArt.org’s challenge was to redesign Charlemagne’s sword, Joyeuse. The sword is real, so the task is to reimagine it as a fantasy weapon.

The key features to the sword was that it changes color multiple times in a day, and it represented joyousness. More of a mass media weapon than a slaying device.

For the color feature, I settled on using opal as a material source. Opal was reputed to be a gemstone that changes color, even when the owner dies. The change of light throughout the day would change the refracted light from the sword, so it explains the color-changing feature. Continue reading

Usability Testing Method for Design Students

Usability Testing in KDU for Design Students

Previously I posted on the prototypes my game design students did for their game design classes. This post is on one of the processes we used to improve the design of their prototypes: usability testing.

The research and application started in 2013 where I was looking into the best ways to teach design for design students. As cited, one of the strongest feedback received was to get the design students to create prototypes. The second strongest feedback I got was to train them to design based on feedback. That is, to collect data from users, and to create a design that would respond to the issues pointed out by said data.

I recognized the application; it’s what online games do when they track user behavior and adapt their game to maximize wanted behavior. It’s a process used by Facebook games in the late 2000s and being used now on data collected from users on mobile games. The feedback made sense in terms of keeping designers relevant.

That means figuring out how to do playtesting for designers in order for them to collect data to analyze. Continue reading