This post outlines and links to the key research posts that have influenced my design decisions of Chroma.
There is a lot more research and development in this blog that isn’t linked below. It shows the whole journey of the project, indicating the range of different directions I took the project, and how I generated and developed my game ideas.
How the Research Influenced my final game idea
With colour being key theme of the project, I used Adam’s card research methodology where a selection of research areas such as locations, history, sounds etc, were placed onto cards. Selecting a card a picked the topic locations and researched into colourful and emotional environments.
I initially discovered colour wheels which lead onto different 3D colour mapping systems, such as the Gamut, Gamblin and Munsell, where different colours are positioned within a 3D space.
Discovering colours being mapped into 3D space, influenced my game’s design by having colours located within certain areas of the games environment and players having to go to these places in order to collect specific colours to heal with.
Researching more into colour to try to work out what the characters would like within the Chroma, I discovered the artist Kim Roselier, who creates character illustrations that focus on the use of colour gradients. She removes all facial and muscular detail within her work simply filling a human type silhouette with a colour.
I created experiments using her art style exploring the connection between colour and emotions.
Roselier’s strong focus on colour within her work influenced the idea that the colour of characters is of vital important to the game. Leading on to the idea development of health colours which players have to match in order to heal their team mates.
MECHANICS AND GAMEPLAY
COLOUR AND HEALING
At the beginning of the project I discovered Chromatherapy which is the process of healing illnesses, particularly depression through the use of shining coloured light at the patient. It is believed colours can change the mood of people affecting their mental state. This was the main inspiration for the use of colour for the healing mechanic in Chroma.
Within my Colour Research post I wrote about an interactive design piece by Blok Design. Where coloured badges containing the the word of associated emotions on them were pinned to a wall and allowed to be taken by passersby,to tell others the emotions they were feeling.
With this research along with the Chromatherapy research it brought up the connection of colour and emotions within my project. Ultimately leading me onto defining an emotion I wanted my game to revolve, which was stress.
STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC
With it being difficult to discover games that solely revolve around healing, I had to avert my research to MMO’s (Massive Multiplayer Online Games), as these contain healing classes, which allow players to play solely as healers.
Playing Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR) it helped me learn why playing as a healer is fun, discovering that players enjoy the thrill of controlling multiple stats at once, as well as enjoy the feeling of being the back bone of a team and ensuring all members are kept alive. Within Chroma I believe I managed to capture this by having all players responsible for a set of stats, including the health of players, Hamsas (obkects that destory enemies) and enemies.
The first hand research also allowed me to understand the healing abilities within SWTOR which influenced the mechanics of Chroma. Discovering that all abilities could only be used if both the healer and the team member were within a set distance, with some abilities requiring players to be closer than others. Influencing the healing mechanic in Chroma, by designing it so that players need to be within a small 5 meter distance of one another for healing to be used. Adding a challenge to the game by forcing players to move and communicate as a team, to coordinate healing locations.
Chroma requires players to be stationary when healing, another feature inspired by my playthrough of SWTOR. In SWTOR certain abilities require healers to stand still and channel heals, adding challenge to game by stopping players moving and avoiding attacks from enemies. Meaning players have to choose when and where they heal more carefully to ensure they don’t become damaged.
Using this as inspiration players must also be still when healing within Chroma. Adding to the challenge of the game, by creating a feeling of tension in players, as they would not being able to help with other tasks while healing and would not know if the area they were in would become a danger zone. Creating a sense of vulnerability and stress, linking to the aim of the game.
Researching into stress I identified what causes stress, how it affects our body and how stress makes us feel.
From this research I mainly took the concept of no control to design my game, as when asking people questions on stress they stated that a main reason they are stressed, is because they feel they have no control over their own decisions or what is happening.
With Chroma’s aim to create stress within players, I took this theme and used it to design all aspects of the game, though most noticeably the healing mechanic.
Players have no control over their own health and rely on others to keep them alive and so the control is in the hands of others, which helps to create stress.
Researching into cooperative play I gained a large amount of information into how to create games for a cooperative experience. Learning about the cooperative design patterns defined by Roche and co, which are used to form co-op games. Discovering the importance of players having shared goals, limited resources and players being able to help others.
Using the design patterns to influence my game-play decisions ensured Chroma’s mechanics to facilitate cooperation effectively.
Firstly all players have a shared goal, which is to destroy. Secondly, players have the ability to help one another by using healing mechanics her keep all players alive.
Lastly there are limited resources in Chroma, players only being able to hold 1 colour at a time and no player can have the same colour. Therefore ensuring players have to work as a team to utilise all the resources available to them.
My research into cooperative play was also useful in helping me define what sort of co-op the game will have. Learning that local cooperative experiences are more powerful and create more stress within players, due to players being personally connected to one another and able to shout in person, creating more tension. Also local co-op alleviates the possibility of lag over online servers, which could effect the become irritated and effect the game-play, by the lag stopping players win rather than the lack of team work. Therefore informing my choice of having a local co-op game.
Discovered an interview from Overcooked designers, I learnt the importance of avoiding players sticking to one role and becoming comfortable within the game. I was taught there must be distraction to force players to deviate from their roles or position, to create stress. Therefore I was inspired to create danger zones in the environments that will cause players to move around, keeping them on their toes.
Not only that but also it influenced the rule that characters are constantly changing colours, to prevent one player simply healing the same person for the whole level. Making the players feel as if they have less control in the game, due to their being no structure or pattern to who or when they heal people.
Researching into co-op games, I analysed the interactions learning different ways they a game can be cooperative. This helped me to better understand how to encourage team work, influencing the design of the mechanics of Chroma
Overcooked a co-op cooking game, it was one of the games I researched and was particularly inspiring.
Within Overcooked all 4 players must complete a chain of cooking tasks to fulfil the goals of each level within the set amount of time. Resources in Overcooked can only be collected and used at specific locations. Therefore this forces players to move around the map creating stress as they have to coordinate with their team who completes each task and what resources are need to be collected. Without communication and team work, the players don’t succeed.
Overcooked inspired many aspects within Chroma including the mechanic where players have to collect colours, rather than simply healing. Therefore adding another step to the healing mechanics, creating less time to heal players, as players will have to locate and pick up the colour before they can help. Therefore I thought this was an effective way of overwhelming the players, by giving them more tasks and so giving them more stress too.
Another aspect of Chroma that was influenced by Overcooked is the rule that all players have the same abilities, so all players can are able to heal.
Within Overcooked there is no defined leaders or instructions, meaning there is no guidance to the players as who needs to do what tasks. I found this to force communication between team members as they would need to distribute and coordinate roles, creating panic and confusion. For this reason I wanted to ensure Chroma’s characters were equal in ability to create the same sense of confusion and stress within my game.
From my analysis of Overcooked I discovered the effectiveness of creating an enjoyable yet tense experience by having more tasks in the game than players to complete them. Meaning the players can never relax as tasks are never finished. From my research into stress this would create pressure, overwhelming the users and causing them to feel panicked and the reason I added objects into the game that needed to be healed in order to kill the enemy. As this way there are more assets that need to be healed than there are players and so creating a pressured feeling.
Not only did Overcooked influence the design of many of the mechanics within Chroma but also the structure of it. Overcooked is a level based game, which has a confined environment in each level limiting the movement of players. This allows the camera angle to be fixed and all characters can be seen on a single screen. I felt this would be beneficial for Chroma as it suits a cooperative game play style, by having all players on one screen allowing the team to easily pin point the movements and actions of all members, helping to coordinate healing.
Having a clear outline for the aim of the game I researched into who cooperative games appeal to, to help me identify the target audience of Chroma.
Discovering survey results on the enjoyment of co-op games, I refined my audience down to players between 10-50 years old, males and females who enjoy social games and working as a team. With this being a wide age range of people I created player profiles to highlight the characteristics of players and the situations of when Chroma would be played. Helping me to better understand who game will appeal to, to ensure the aesthetics and mood will suit a family friendly market.