"As a game design student I am constantly trying to understand and improve the game design process and to find and use tools that make ideas reality. At Seppo I create demo games and help users to improve their games." -Nathalie
Seppo is where educational design and game design meet and in this post I want to share how to make a Seppo game from the perspective of a game design student. At my studies I have learned to use the design thinking process, this design process focusses on understanding what the user wants and needs. If you use this process, it makes sure that you create something that is relevant for the user. And that is why this method is very popular in the tech industry. Although most Seppo games will not be created by a full design team nor, have multiple months of development time, it still is essential to always keep your player in mind.
Step one: The design document and the main goal.
If you keep design thinking in mind we should consider the user and the goal at the start of the Seppo game creation process. I always create a document where I write down the main goal of the game. So you ask yourself, what should the players learn from this? If you keep the end goal in mind throughout the creation process it helps you to create a game that is both consistent and insightful for the player. After you determined the main goal and topic of the game, you should also consider the user and the circumstances that the game will be played in. These aspects will help you to determine what type of game you should make. By determining these things at the start of the creation process you make sure that the game is relevant for the player, suitable for the play environment and feasible for the creator.
Step two: From (sub) goals to exercises and levels
In this step we keep expanding the design document. It starts with dividing the main goal into smaller learning goals or topics. These topics will become the main exercises of the game, these are the pins that you can place on the Seppo gameboard. Within these main exercises you can add multiple sub-exercises. If you have a lot of topics and/or the theme of the topics differs a lot, then you can also add multiple levels so, you can tailor the background to fit the exercises.
After you have created this layout of exercises, sub-exercises and maybe levels, it is time to think about the story. This doesn’t have to be a traditional story with a hero and a villain. It is about creating an environment for the game to take place. It is smart to connect the main goal of the game to the story to give it more relevance for the players. After the story it is time to fill in the exercises. At the top of each exercise you add an introduction into the topic, this should fit the overall theme and story. Then look at each of the sub-exercises and the learning goals to decide what exercise type is the best to test the players knowledge on the topic. After that, search for images and other materials that make your game more interesting. Every game should be rewarding for players to play. This goes further that points or a place in the leaderboard. Players also feel rewarded if they are able to solve puzzles, or if the game makes them curious for the next question. But points and feedback are the easiest ways in Seppo to reward the player. When you establish a system of points it’s important to look at the difficulty of the questions and the importance of the questions (give the player more points for vital topics).
Step 3: Building, testing and improving
After the last step, your game design document is finished and you are ready to start building your game at play.seppo.io. After you have built your Seppo game it is wise to test your game, it is also smart to ask somebody else to look at it and to give feedback. After you have gathered feedback you can improve your game and then you are ready to share it with the players!
Looking back at the steps above we can conclude that a good Seppo game:
Below are some ideas that you could add to your Seppo games to make them more interesting.
- Nathalie Rosenbrand – Seppo intern and game design student
Nathalie has been interning at the Seppo Netherlands office this spring and has been also helping out our product development team.