PILLS OF INSIGHT
A modest blog about my journey in the games industry
Finding the fun in Quidala
While I was at Lean Mind, I was offered to make an educational multiplayer game about pet care for elementary and high school students. I will always be grateful to Carlos for thinking of me when he received the proposal!
When this was being cooked I was very interested in how gamification could be approached differently and with that and the help of my colleagues, we ended up with an interesting idea of making a WarioWare-like game.
You can find out more at Games and education.
However, time runs short and some of the colleagues were about to leave this project to focus on other projects at our disposal, leaving only two of us in the project, so we had to something less challenging.
The idea of Laborsord, the ones who were behind this educational project, was to make a Trivia clone, including their prepared questions about pet care. However, we didn't feel like it was worth the time to do this, simply because there are tons of Trivia clones out there that allow you to use your own questions.
Instead, we came up of a much simpler concept than the Trivia thing (which in the end was a good idea because of the second 90% of the development)
In essence, the game is about answering questions and receiving points when answered correctly. Pretty boring, if you ask me.
Where the magic resides is in how this is presented to the player, which can be divided in 3 categories, which they also correspond for different stages of a game session:
- Premise - Early game
- Dynamism - Mid game
- Twists - Late game
Let's take a closer look at these categories.
The target audience was children between the ages of 6 and 12, so we needed to have a quick and exciting way to show the players who's winning and who's falling behind.
We ended up opting for making a platform race (similar to Takeshi's Castle's Skipping Stones) because it was a solution to both problems.
- On one hand, races are exciting, so giving the illusion of racing against your friends was a good way to engage the players.
- On the other hand, players can see in the blink of an eye where they stand relative to the other players There is no need of leaderboards anymore.
Okay, so we got the player's attention (hopefully). Thats good, now we need to keep they engaged.
And what better way to keep a child's attention than flashing lights, rapid movements and Fortnite dances (let's ignore the latter).
Since we don't want any injures caused by strobe lights, we opted for making every possible element of Quidala as dynamic as possible.
Due to the simplicity of the game, there were only two things to work with.
- User Interface
However, I was in charge of making the pixel art, which isn't one of my strengths by any means, let alone animating pixel characters! So making cool and funny animations wasn't feasible at all.
So, there was only one option left, making a UI that felt quick and engaging.
In essence, this was achieved by animating every element of the UI. Round counter moved as a mechanical counter, question panel came in from below, answer buttons from the front, other panels came in from one corner, left from another, and so on.
If we did our job properly, the children are having fun! At least the ones who are winning or are close to victory.
But what about the others? They would feel discouraged to keep playing if they give a bad answer in the early rounds and fall behind.
To mitigate this, and to make the game more exciting, the last two or three rounds (depending on the number of rounds set at the start) give extra points. First, they give 2x points and the last round gives 3x points.
This way, the first time a special round occurs, if a losing player answers correctly, their chances to win suddenly become real, which translates into excitement.
And, at the very end, there is a high chance that players will turn the tables, with which we can infer that players who lost at the last moment will feel betrayed by their luck and will want to play another game, confident on they are going to win the next one.
And with that, we have covered every phase of the game. I hope we made a fun and educational
Sadly, game servers are down so it's not playable anymore, but you can watch a gameplay here