Assignment #2: Addictive Game and Project Idea Mash Up
You are to complete this assignment without discussing it with any other students in the class or any prior students in the class.
Part 1 (one page):
Select one of the addictive games from this list of addictive games that you find personally addictive: Cut the Rope, Farmville, Tetris, Bejeweled, Fruit Ninja, Boggle, Words with Friends, Orbital, Bejeweled, Touch Physics, Anodia, Peggle, Little Wings, Plants vs. Zombies, Flight Control, Sodoku, Where's the Pixel, or Drop7. You cannot pick Angry Birds.
In the spirit of the class reading on Angry Birds (by Mauro) and the class discussion on DragonBox, perform a "cognitive teardown" of the game you selected. Make a half-page bullet list concisely indicating what makes the game addictive. Primarily focus on interaction. Do not simply say the game has "nice graphics" or "engaging music." For instance, if you think that the graphics are important, be more specific about what makes them distinctive versus other less addictive games (note: many bad games have great graphics and what makes these games classics is not the graphics!). Being specific about what aspects of the interaction design makes it great is important.
Think as deeply as you can about the game and how it balances challenge and reward ... many do this at multiple levels simultaneously. Some topics, among others, that you might consider are learnability, user mental models of the game world, challenges at multiple simultaneous scales, clever aspects of scoring, use of speed and pacing, importance of storyline (or not), implementation of positive reinforcement, etc.
Now consider the unique capabilities of mobile devices that we have talked about in class and how mobile phones are typically used.
Also look at the list of project category options for the final class projects (in the slides from class 1 or 2).
Using the game you analyzed as a starting point, propose a design for a new addictive game that would accomplish one of the project category goals. Essentially, mash up the popular addictive game you selected (and the specifics about what makes it addictive) with the project goals, to come up with a new (and hopefully addictive) idea for a game with a purpose that could potentially become a class project.
As it is played, this new game must address one of the project topics. The proposed game must also take advantage of a unique capability of the phone to enhance the game play. Features you can consider using are the way that people interact with their phones in short bursts, or how the phone can use knowledge of location (and whatever additional information you might gather from the Internet based on that), or how the phone can get info from other sensors: accelerometer, light sensor, compass, camera, or microphone. Your proposed game may need to use the phone's data network connection to connect different users or acquire important data.
On the second half of the page, describe your game concept as best as you can given the space limitation. In particular, describe why you think this new game will be at least as, and hopefully more addictive and fun, than the game you based it on. It should be obvious how it satisfies the project topic category. You can include hand-drawn sketches of mock screens if that helps you to explain the idea. Do not draw any ideas on a computer. Do not go over 1 page.
(TIP: If you are having trouble with this exercise, you might get ideas flowing by taking two of the addictive games and forcing yourself to think of how you could combine them, without losing too much simplicity. A good example of this is the game Dropwords on the Android Market. If you can do that, now do the same thing again, but instead mash up the game with some of the phone's advanced functionality. What can you do that is new and different that might make the game more fun? Can you manipulate the information used in the game for an educational/health purpose so players learn something as they play?)
Once you have completed part 1, your creative energy should be flowing. As mentioned in class, the best way to generate a good idea (for your project's killer app) is to generate many ideas. So get going.
Pick 3 different project categories from the project category options list. For each category, generate 3 great ideas. You have up to 1/3 of a page to describe each idea however you like ... with text, sketches, etc. Make sure you indicate the project category at the top of each page and put the projects ideas in the same category on the same page. You can do a mashup with an existing killer app (as in Part 1) if that helps you, or use any other methods to come up with great ideas. You may need to look on the app stores to see what apps exist so that you don't come up with those ideas. Your goal is to be creative and generate NEW ideas. You should NOT discuss your ideas with others in the course or students who have taken the course before, because your goal is to come up with unique, exciting, creative ideas for apps to solve the designated problems that others haven't thought of. You probably do want to discuss your ideas with other friends, family members, work colleagues, or whoever else will listen and honestly tell you if the idea sounds promising or not.
You will have 4 pages. 1 page with Part 1, and 3 pages with Part 2 (3 ideas per page). Combine these into one PDF file and email your assignment with subject line "Assignment2" as a PDF named [YourFirstName][YourLastName].assignment2.pdf to both the TA and ...@neu.edu by the assignment deadline.
Beware! Doing this assignment well requires that you start early and give yourself time to come with ideas, bounce them off others, and think hard about their pros and cons. You will be graded based on how well your assignment clearly and succinctly describes your ideas and reflects that you thought deeply about the readings and applied those ideas to generating more creative ideas. It is most important that we can understand the ideas based on your descriptions and what makes them compelling, novel solutions.
Although it is subject to tweaking, this table will give you a sense of how you will be assigned points and the feedback you will receive on your ideas.