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Experimental Gameplay Competition

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Experimental Gameplay Competition

Wow. Good times at GDC this year. The tutorials, keynotes and sessions all had their moments of awe and inspiration, and yet I have to say that it was the meetings and the parties and the schmoozings that were the highlights for me. Great things are just bound to happen when you get a significant portion of the games industry together under one roof.

During my stay in San Jose last week I had the privilege of attending a party that was thrown by the Entertainment Technology Center of Carnegie Mellon University. I received the party invitation after attending a session given by two (2) of its former grad students, Kyle Gray and Kyle Gabler, both of whom participated in the Experimental Gameplay session last year. They gave a great talk about rapid prototyping gleaned from their experiences last spring when they each set out to build a game every week for 10 weeks. To keep things interesting the games were usually based around a predetermined theme such as: gravity, vegetation, swarms, flight, etc.

Their experiences are valuable to game designers everywhere since it is often necessary to build many game prototypes before finding one that may work. The words of wisdom they had to offer the packed conference hall was excellent advice to anyone with a desire to design and build games: (I did some cherry picking here)
  • Embrace the possibility of failure
  • Encourage taking creative risks
  • Enforce short development cycles
  • Add constraints (they increase interest)
  • Gather concept art and music to create an emotional target
  • Build the toy first
  • Know when to shoot your baby
  • Complexity is not necessarily "fun"
  • Build toward a well-defined goal

Both Kyles have moved on to professional full-time positions at EA—Gabler at Maxis and Gray at Tiburon—but the Experimental Gameplay Project lives on with another group of students making games under similar constraints. Be sure to visit the site often to see what those brilliant CMU peeps are up to.

In fact, the Experimental Gameplay Project has been so successful they are opening up the fun to anyone who wants to get involved! They are holding a 2-week game design competition to build a game based on a theme they will announce on April 1st at the Experimental Gameplay website:

  • On April 1st, 2006, they will announce a gameplay theme (e.g. gravity, vegetation, flight, etc.) on experimentalgameplay.com
  • You'll have 2 weeks to design and build a game based on this theme; the deadline is April 14th, 11:59 PM PST
  • All games submitted will be posted for everyone to download and review. The winners will be selected by a panel of industry pros and the experimental gameplay community. See official rules for more info.

The top 5 competitors will receive an interview with THQ's Heavy Iron Studios. One will be selected for a paid summer internship with the company.

To enter you must register with them by creating an account at the Experimental Gameplay website.

Cheers to Kyle for the party invite and to the other Kyle for keeping me laughing throughout the presentation! You guys rock! =)

For more details about the GDC presentation, check out Raph Koster's blog where he expounds on the concept of rapid prototyping and even offers up a "game design prototype kit" to use when fleshing out that killer game design idea. Cheers, Raph!


If only I could learn Flash in two weeks and make a killer game. So many ideas and no way to implement them... sigh. Sounds like a neat competition, can't wait to see what comes outta it.


This sounds a lot like Iron Coder, although it's two weeks rather than 24 hours.


Imok20, Me again ;D
dude, you have ideas, i can program... see if we could map the two together....
coz im crap at thinking of them...


You and me both, imok20.

One thing I'd really like to see is a cross between Snake and Breakout. That'd be pretty interesting, no?


how would you do it... explain more, for i have made both a pong and a breakout clone!


giftedweasel, if you could send me a sample of one of your games, that'd be great. I could see what you can do etc. Email it, if you can, to [email protected].


Sure... il try

and on my last post i meant SNAKE and breakout (though i hav made pong too...)


How would the two be combined?
Well I dunno. It depends. Would you rather lean towards the fluidity of Breakout or the rigidity of Snake?

What I would expect, though, would be the combined dynamics of a steadily-increasingly-large-player with the fun of Breakout's notoriously crazy powerup system.

Let's say everytime the ball hit's the snake's head, the snake grows a segment and the ball bounces away. But if the ball hits a place on the snake anywhere else that the head, it's game over. The head can be a red block and the rest of the snake can consist of grey blocks.

As for the objective, I've got no idea. Probably something involving breaking blocks. But you could go a lot of crazy places with the powerups.

I think that'd be cool.

I'd play that.


It was Arkanoid that introduced the crazy power-up system; Breakout, by comparison, is rather boring.

Also, I encourage you to build prototypes of your ideas, both on paper and by using a fast prototyping tool like Flash or Director, since it's very easy to think of games that are fun in theory, but that turn out to be terrible when executed.


i'd give it a try but im on 2 game projects already at the mo' ...

the EGP consume game and a 'Samorost' style point and click (i don't know haw far either will get but its worth a try!)


Why don't you make a two-player game with a pong paddle at the top and bottom of the screen and break-out blocks in the middle. The person who breaks the most blocks gets more points. There will be two balls, one for each player on each side of the screen, and if the ball breaks through to the other side of the bricks, it becomes the other person's ball. If they miss it, they lose a life and if they hit a brick with the other ball it counts as their points. I'll draw a picture later if this explanation is too confusing. Obviously this game wouldn't fit into the parameters of the competition guidelines, but it would be a good game anyway.


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