Friday, January 02, 2009

Game 8: Kongregate

Game: Well its really a whole bunch of games....
Platform: Online - Kongregate.
Price: Free!

While I was searching for games for this series, Christy reminded me of Kongregate.

Remember yesterday when I talked about recognizing and finding motivation for pushing past the frustration point. I think Kongregate has an interesting model.

Kongregate has a system of badges. The activities for obtaining the badges range from easily achievable to impossible. This approach does 2 things. It encourages you to try out new games that you would not necessarily try and it encourages you to play long enough to achieve the badge.

I've currently got 4 easy ones.

There is also an online card game as well. Collect cards by completing challenges / badges and play the game. I don't understand this nearly as well. But then, I wasn't much of a Magic the Gathering player either.


Playing the different games within Kongregate also demonstrated the importance of well designed levels.

Since our goal for many of the games we design is for the player to actually FINISH the game, we need to pay close attention to how the difficulty increases from level to level.

Too much of a jump, and the person may abandon the game because they don't want to take the time / energy to complete the level. Too little, the person gets bored and abandons the game.

An example of too small a gap - Music Catch

An example of too big (for me at least. I can't seem to get past level 6) - Super Stacker

An example of just right (and with a killer introductory activity to show you how it works) - Fantastic Contraption

I enjoy all of these games, but it was interesting to see where I quit in each of them and why.

Of course - you can always design a game like this if anyone complains that what you design is too easy.

Or you could send them on a scavenger hunt of mindless tasks. And yes, I WILL figure out how to change the elephant's colors.

FYI - Kongregate also has a very nice series of tutorials to teach you how to build your own simple flash game. Looks like I have a new project for this weekend....


christytucker said...

So...the fact that I have 6 pages of Kongregate badges (which means I'm approaching 100 badges) and a bunch of cards (which I've never used) probably means I spend too much time playing games, huh? It's taken me a year to get to level 12 though, so I suppose that isn't too bad.

BTW, the trick on level 6 is that you have to be really fast. Start dropping the circles at the top and get them off as fast as you can. They'll start rolling down the top triangle and then the bottom one. As soon as you get to the square piece, put it at the bottom of the lower triangle as a "bumper" to stop the circles from rolling. It took me a few tries to get the timing right. This level is about timing rather than exact placement. If you played more physics-based puzzle games, this wouldn't be so hard; it's a typical type of puzzle in other games. :) Don't worry though; the later levels go back to being about stacking carefully rather than timing.

Wendy said...

Hmmm...I think it's now listed as level 5 because I managed to solve that one. Currently I'm stuck at this thing that has lots of triangles, some circles and a couple of rectangles. Actually - I probably just described the entire game.....

Anyway - this is where my spacial-relations weakness comes through. One goal for this year is to play more games (particularly physics ones) to see whether I can shore up this skill a bit.

What do you use the cards for anyway?