Browsing articles in "Research"
May 15, 2019
alchymy

Re-Research

Third time is the charm, once again embarking upon the research journey with the Masters in Design (Innovation) thanks to a generous arrangement to accommodate me. This time I cannot give up or fail as I’m undertaking this with friends. As the research excitement builds, this blog will double as a space for research findings and thoughts.

Oct 8, 2016
alchymy

Dice Souls

Limitations can be seen to confine ones creativity but after years of work, I feel that it is actually the opposite. Limitations confine one which forces them to innovate even harder and focus more on their objectives. While limitless resources can be empowering, I’ve seen it create confusion or a sense of needing to do too much hence missing the primary objective altogether.

In a recent exercise on Coursera to create a single-player game on a single sheet of A4 with two dice, this was the outcome of such limited space. The emphasis was to make a game that could be played by a single person, provide incremental challenges using only two dice. Then the next step came refining the rules in order to be easily understood by people unfamiliar with the game. Then the exercise threw us a whopper by adding an additional player to the mix and then adding narrative to the game, all still within the limited space of an A4 piece of paper.

Here is my version of DICE SOULS, (as tough as Dark Souls but with Dice!). Feel free to print out and play with two dice.

Apr 11, 2014
alchymy

On Dice-Rolls and Results

Dungeon Fodder had a loot table which operated on a dice-roll. One issue was that the odds for “Leveling Up!” were too ridiculously difficult so I had to think about why. A player only levels up on a roll of 3 or 18 but what were the odds? I had a look around and this site explained it pretty thoroughly to me;

3 dice or 3d6 equates to 6 to the power of 3 which comes up to 216 possibilities. Typically a 3d6 would yield you only 16 possibilities (3 to 18) so from there one can calculate the odds of getting a specific number. While not something astronomically new, it does highlight the fact that game designers must have a strong understanding of mathematics to handle data, probability and statistics. Therefore the odds for 3 dice would be as follows;

Probability of a sum of 3: 1/216 = 0.5%
Probability of a sum of 4: 3/216 = 1.4%
Probability of a sum of 5: 6/216 = 2.8%
Probability of a sum of 6: 10/216 = 4.6%
Probability of a sum of 7: 15/216 = 7.0%
Probability of a sum of 8: 21/216 = 9.7%
Probability of a sum of 9: 25/216 = 11.6%
Probability of a sum of 10: 27/216 = 12.5%
Probability of a sum of 11: 27/216 = 12.5%
Probability of a sum of 12: 25/216 = 11.6%
Probability of a sum of 13: 21/216 = 9.7%
Probability of a sum of 14: 15/216 = 7.0%
Probability of a sum of 15: 10/216 = 4.6%
Probability of a sum of 16: 6/216 = 2.8%
Probability of a sum of 17: 3/216 = 1.4%
Probability of a sum of 18: 1/216 = 0.5%

Also on an unrelated note, the designs for an Orientation type activity is underway and there are thoughts of using comparison tables such as the one below. It has been a long time since I’ve seen one used but it is a fun and visual way to figure out the results of a dice roll. I might also try to integrate this into Dungeon Fodder if the need arises and it helps by visually explaining concepts on the game.

Mar 27, 2014
alchymy

Price Point

During the first Gameplay Test, testers were asked about how much they thought Dungeon Fodder could typically charge on an international market. Fortunately 3 of the playtesters were frequent board-gamers that also purchased plenty of physical tabletop games themselves so they mentioned they were typically used to paying up to 50USD for a product of similar content. A game mentioned was Ankama’s Krosmaster and Skylander that also has miniatures.

Miniatures would increase the cost of the production of the game but also add to the ‘collectible’ quality of the game. Perhaps some research into this is timely.

Dec 6, 2013
alchymy

﻿Research Progress Report #1

Research Progress Report #1

While initially planning to research into ways of commercializing a board-game of my own devising, I’ve realized that I would need to first explore what has been done and from that, find out what works and what doesn’t. In order to achieve that I am now exploring the potential of Practice-based or practice-led research which based on a guide written by Linda Candy is an “original investigation undertaken in order to gain new knowledge partly by means of practice and the outcomes of that practice.”

I have yet to discuss this in full with my supervisor but I think my next step would be to interview the many table-top game developers in Malaysia and find out how they attempted to commercialize their own board-games and also whether or not those methods were successful or did not achieve their intended goals. Armed with that knowledge, I would like to plan out my own pathway to commercializing my own board-game entitled “Dungeon Fodder” and see if my new approach works.

The few hurdles I foresee would be the means to manufacture as well as sell my board-game. During my research I’ve also come across many websites and services that sell small-order custom board-games by independent developers internationally. This could also be a practical modal that I can emulate or subscribe to in order to self-publish my board-game and document its progress.

Looking forward, I’d be looking into these areas as I conduct my research (through Interviews) with various parties such as table-top developers, board-game communities, manufacturers, retailers and also businesses.

Research Areas

Inspiration – How and why develop board-games as opposed to other mediums
Prototyping & Testing – Their process of prototyping and testing and documenting the results
Funding Projects – How did they fund their projects?
Manufacturing – How did they approach manufacturing?
Self-Publishing vs Publishing – Their opinions on the benefits and cons of both methods.
Copyright, Patents & Protection – How did they go about protecting their Intellectual Property.
Social Media & Marketing – How did they market their products.
Board-game Festivals – Alternate ways of bringing board-games to the international arena.

Oct 7, 2013
alchymy

Interview – Ooi Leng Hang

Today’s interview went off pretty well as I met up with Mr. Ooi Leng Hang who is the Election Bureau Executive Director of the Democratic Action Party. As for why I am meeting a member of the opposition party, it is because of the board-game adaptation of Monopoly that they made to highlight their objectives and create awareness of some of the current ruling government’s shortfalls. It was named Monopoli which wasn’t too creative but they are very willing to draw similarities to that other board-game which it drew inspiration from.

As I did not have my recording device with me, I’ll be paraphrasing;

A student of Fine Arts from the Kuala Lumpur Art Center, Mr. Ooi is the illustrator behind the DAP’s hornbill mascot ‘Ubah’. He currently handles a lot of their promotional material and media projects.

Are you a board-gamer?Not really, he plays or have played the usual (common) board-games such as Monopoly but has not gotten into the whole Euro-Boardgame trend.

Do you play Digital Games?
Not really as well, he plays games on his mobile device but not really on a PC. He quotes Candycrush as a game he has been playing for the past 6 months.

What is Monopoli’s objective?
To teach others about politics especially what is happening locally. The game highlights plenty of scandals and each player is given C4 to use in the game. The game was also used a a means of fund collecting but that was not its primary objective. Using games also makes it more accessible to today’s youth who might previously have not shown any interest in politics or the governance of their country.

How long did it take to make Monopoli?
About a year, from conceptualization. The actual production was faster but the idea remained an idea for quite some time until the general elections neared.

How did you do your testing?
They tested it out amongst their colleagues and friends. The final version of the game underwent rebalancing and does not resemble the earliest prototype.

What was the response?Very positive with them selling quite a number of units. Currently the game is no longer in production. (Number of units sold is withheld from this journal)

Price?
Ooi was unsure but other news articles priced the game at RM5. The game was not meant to generate income but as a more effective and fun brochure.

Future plans or possible commercialization?
There are no current plans for Monopoli but they’ve been approached by developers interested in converting the game to an application for the iOS. Interest in that project has died down somewhat but they are open to explore the possibility.

End of interview.

Oct 6, 2013
alchymy

Research Topic Redefinition

Before the redefinition class, my topic was “The Commercialization of Table-top Games in Malaysia” which was broad enough a topic to allow for much exploration yet I’ve scoped it down to focus on Malaysia which is basically where I have the most access and connections thus making it easier to realize.

After the class on redefining my research topic with Dr. Tan however, it might be prudent to revisit this and really think this through. According to my colleague Hilmy, my topic could actually be broken down further and a part of it was actually the content for a PhD research (if I ever get there).

The initial plan was to

1. Study existing methods of commercialization employed by the many companies I know of, analyze their results and identify their problems or strengths.
2. Look at their model through areas such as Conceptualization, Prototyping, Testing & Iteration, Funding, Manufacturing and Publishing.
3. Study the current retail landscape  within Malaysia.
4. Come up with a way to actually lay the groundwork for the commercialization of future tabletop games.
5. Test the new model with my own board-game Dungeon Fodder.
6. Report the findings and graduate.

It seems though that for a Master’s level of research, articles 1 through 3 would actually suffice. Article 4 & 5 could be a more focused and pretty large area to explore for a PhD instead. I’ve got to run this through my supervisor but in that case I think it would definitely make this easier to separate and execute.

According to Dr. Noraini Idris, quoted by Dr. Tan, a research title should be

1. Specific in nature
2. Reflect fundamental issues to be resolved
3. Novelty
4. Preferably 12 – 15 words long. (I can attest to this as I’ve seen some rather long gibberish)

More to come on redefinition

Aug 1, 2013
alchymy

A Journey Begins

‘The commercialization of table-top games in Malaysia.’ will be my title for my postgraduate masters degree at University Pengajian Sultan Idris (UPSI) Tanjung Malim, which is an hours drive away from where I live.

In the research proposal;

This research is aimed at exploring the existing methods employed and how an approach might be formulated to locally produce and commercialize a table-top game with international value.

In non-academic terms, figure out how to manufacture and produce a board-game that sells. This might seem pretty simple but I’ve come to realize that its ridiculously difficult and I’d like to explore this while also documenting this for future wannabe board-game designers and developers. Why the analog pathways? I enjoy it.

This journal is to document the path I will be exploring, the findings of my research and also to remind myself of what I’ve done and how much further I’ve got to go. My previous attempt at a research paper fizzled with my previous company so this time I’ve got to do this right.

Mar 22, 2013
alchymy

Immortality

I’ve just found out something amazing about certain lifeforms on earth. In particular, about one of the most delicious, priciest crustaceans out there, the Lobster! Turns out, lobsters are seemingly immortal. Other such creatures according to wikipedia would be bacteria, hydras, tardigrades and jellyfish but the largest would still be lobsters.

This is apparently because researchers have found that lobsters do not slow down, weaken or suffer reduced fertility. Their cells are rejuvenated and can theoretically live forever thanks to their DNA. If not eaten, injured, or killed, a lobster might actually continue living and growing which makes you wonder if there exists a huge lobster species in the ocean deeps.

Imagine if geneticist were able to give humans the same ability to constantly reproduce cells, would immortality be within our reach?

Feb 11, 2013
alchymy

Post-Apocalyptic Currency

In the aftermath of a devastated world, a certain form of currency would definitely be necessary to define items of value. Most agree that a system of barter will definitely be the first form of trade that reemerges once the rebuilding begins but who is to say a carrot is worth ten potatoes? This is why I feel the need for a new form of consistent currency to be in the picture.

For a game world, an economic model that operated purely on bartering and trading goods would be extremely difficult to pull-off. There has to be at least a basic value system in place in order to base all the other items or services in the world. Imagine having to compare the value of a salvaged AK-47 assault rifle with the value of a healthy un-mutated cow? Also value varies between different people so a culture that lives near a stream would have a different value placed on clean water than a culture that lives on a dry rocky mountainside.

This is probably why for my post-apocalyptic world, I’d need at least a rudimentary form of new government or authority that have reestablished a working economy and a simple banking system to mint new coins that are unique to the citizens of this government. For the purpose of this idea, I’d imagine a large settlement or a city that produces ‘Ducats’ as their currency. These coins might be worthless to survivors that live beyond the influence of the city but if they wish to do trade within the city, these Ducats would come into play.

The Ducat has to be;

• made from a material that is difficult to obtain.
• Difficult to reproduce (counterfeit)
• Durable (unlike paper currency)
• Consistent in size and weight
• Can be manufactured in a regulated manner

Other suggested forms of currency;

Bullets and ammunition as the processes for making bullets might be lost in the destruction of the old world. In a world where Might makes Right, this would inadvertently make any surviving military force the main economic force as well (especially since soldiers may retain the knowledge of manufacturing the bullets).

The Fallout universe utilizes Nuka-Cola bottlecaps as their main currency which is also a pretty good choice as it does fit the requirements for a form of currency. It is hard to counterfeit as making caps might have been lost, its durable and consistent in size and weight. Also in game-rationale, it is also light, small and durable.

Cigarettes, canned food stuff are also possible but ultimately, it is one currency without a sustainable source. A currency which only gets rarer and rarer as time progresses would not be suitable for any long-term economy.

Clean drinkable water is also a legitimate contender to become post-apocalyptic currency, especially in a dry wasteland type of world but it also suffers from the fact that it isn’t very sustainable. One could argue that the only existing water treatment facility is under the control of the ruling authority therefore they control the value of water and trade. The only major beef in using water as a proper currency for a game would be the logistics of carrying around sufficient water to trade unless of course water consumption is controlled by government issued water vouchers and then THAT could be the currency.

Everything else would be a trade of objects of value or services of value. Even the act of selling sexual favors wouldn’t be uncommon. Slavery will definitely come back onto the scene but all of these cannot really be considered as proper currency.

Over time of course, things would progress from bartering to currency with real value (such as my Ducats) to currency with an insured value, (such as money value that is pegged to the value of gold) to credit (non-existent money) and we’d be right back where we started before the apocalypse.