Tag Archives: Games Design

Career Change

About this time last year I was seriously thinking of a career change.  I was (and still am part-time)  working as a Medical Scientist in a hospital laboratory as feeling unsatisfied with my career path and repetitive nature of my job.  Fellow scientists would say that “we are saving lives!!”, but because of the lab is behind the scenes, we would never really get any recognition, gratefulness or even any idea of outcomes for patients.  It is a button pushing kind of job, and I know it is a good career for most but it wasn’t enough for me.

scientist

I started looking into courses that I thought I would be interesting in.  I really like watching films, old and new and went through a period for a couple of years where I caught up on watching the highest rated films of different genres.  I though I could get into film and television production and perhaps I could be a camera man.   I knew that this would again be another technical job, but thought if I was filming something creative it would be a better option for me.  The same university that I looked into doing film and television (JMC Academy) also offered games design and when I called to inquire they sent out information on both courses.  I almost rejected the idea of doing a games design course simply because of my gender, looks and how I am not addicted to playing games.  After checking the curriculum, I found that I would be willing to give it a go because of all the interesting and creative subjects.  I was scared but enrolled anyway into the course, thinking to myself “be brave, if you don’t do something out of your comfort zone, you won’t be able to grow”.  That’s how I have found myself studying games design.

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I have now completed two semesters, which I have found so enjoyable and has taught me so much about creative industry that I am kicking myself for not starting this earlier.   There have been ups and downs and I still don’t think I fit the mold for typical games designer or even a games enthusiast but I feel like it is right for me.  I encourage anyone who wants to do something but is scared of taking that leap to think – whats the worst that can happen?  You can try and fail or find it doesn’t work for you, but you will be closer to finding what you really want to do.

The Stanley Parable Review

**** Warning: This post contains a couple of spoilers. 

the stanley parable

I have recently played The Stanley Parable, the highly praised 2013 HD remake version bought through the Steam engine.

You start from a first person perspective, the narrator calls you Stanley.  Stanley works in an office building and he finds that all his co-workers have gone missing.  Your quest is to find out what happened to your co-workers and to explore the environment.  The player is able to alter the story line and will finish with one of the sixteen possible endings.  The story is told from a first person perspective yet you can’t see any of Stanley while playing the game, including his hands and feet, which is pointed out by narrator when Stanley questions his existence.  The player can interact with the environment by opening doors and pushing buttons.

Self-taught, first time, young game designer, Davey Wrenden came up with Stanleys parable using a source mod.  The narrator is played by English voice actor, Kevan Brighting, who delivers his lines with dry wit and style.  Wrenden attributes half the games popularity to Brightings narration.   When coming up with the idea of this game Wrenden wanted to explore how games can change the narrative depending on choices the player makes.  The third wall is often broken and the player is very aware that they are inside a game.  At one point the narrator directly addresses the player by pointing out that you aren’t Stanley, you just control him, giving this game a feeling of self-awareness.

After playing this game for a couple of hours I had finished most of the endings and was left unsatisfied, yet I still continue to think about it.  This game is all about player choice.  I played the first time through following the narrator’s instructions, which resulted in a good ending for Stanley.  I won’t spoil other endings but will talk about some parts of the game that I found brilliant.

During the game in the emotion control room, I was frantically pushing buttons trying to work out how to stop a terrible thing from happening.  I thought I had worked it out and played through again but found that the buttons didn’t seem to be responding.  Wrenden admits that this was actually a design fault as he wanted Stanley to be able to interact with the buttons but didn’t know bind keys inside the Source mod.  This design fault actually made the game even more interesting to players because of what is says about the gamer and their expectations of how games should work.

baby minigame

Another part I was amused by is the baby mini-game.  Stanley is in a room with a cardboard cut out of a baby and has to press a button to stop the baby from crawling into a fire.  The narrator describes the game as an art piece that represents the pressures of parenthood and the constant needs of children.  The sound design in this part of the game is really interesting because the player is told to do one thing – save the baby –  but is ‘rewarded’ with terrible repetitive sound of the loud buzzer and the baby wailing.

I found this game was too short and it left me a bit unsatisfied.  The player doesn’t actually have that much control over Stanley as you can’t even jump of pick up objects.  It did make me question my preconceptions of how a game has to be, which is ultimately with linear storytelling.  As a budding game designer it did make me think about how to incorporate more player freedom in game.  It is a difficult task because the game maker has to include new areas and story lines depending on player choices, resulting in a much bigger game that the audience will only experience a small percentage of.  Yet it does want me to make games with more unexpectedly adaptable story lines depending on player choices or actions throughout the game.

All in all I think it was a really interesting game but not for everyone.  If you are looking for a meaty game for recreation, The Stanley Parable may not be for you.  I would recommend this to non-gamers because there are no complicated actions or controls to master in this game, literary types and anyone who would be interested in game design.