Emotional Engineering – Philippine Game Development Festival ’11 Takeaways Part 1

GDAP Festival 2011 Auditorium

5th Floor Theater at DLSU College of Saint Benilde. Image courtesy of GDAP (Facebook)

Verne was considering to study something related to game production next year and he needed a push to convince himself to do it. What do you know?  It came in the form of dinner. I just love discovering ideas out of nowhere.

The previous evening at Bon Chon, a graphic designer by the name of “Princess” informed that there was a game development festival that will be held at the College of Saint Benilde tomorrow. Verne decided he needed to kill time on Saturday and hence, walked in and got the all access pass.

Verne was fashionably late to listen to the first two keynotes but was just in time for the start of the Game Development and Design Tracks. Wasn’t really interested in listening to Generation Klik and Design Council of the Philippines anyways.

Four tracks at four different rooms start simultaneously. You got programming, game design, game art, and production. Verne chose to focus more on game design and production.

First on the list was Engineering Emotion – Weaving psychology into games – courtesy of Elendil Canete (@ravenwolfshin). He describes Emotional Engineering like this ~

- Emotional Engineering is a psychology, a life changing experience.

- What does a user feel when he plays the game? Does he feel as if he is the character himself? There needs to be a chemisty between the characters and the player – like an attachment of the player to the character.

- A game has to be remembered! – this opens avenues for a sequel.

The advantages of emotional engineering are:

- it’s cost effective

- provides a memorable experience – something vibrant and thought-invoking

- focuses on core gameplay – which is defined as the icing on a cake. Mario in Super Mario won’t be cool enough if he simply was Mario. That’s why you give him the ability to get powerups (like the mushroom, the star and the flower) to make the game more interesting.

- strong user feedback

Emotional Engineering applies to narrative, visuals, audio, and game mechanics. Spoilers included.

In terms of narrative, there needs to be a part of the game that is thought-invoking and a compelling conclusion to the tale.

Case Study: “Dead Space 2” – Ending.

In terms of game mechanics, you make the player commit to your game through rewards and consequences. Make them pick a choice.

Case Study: Irrational/2k’s “Bioshock”

In terms of visuals, they have to be breathtaking. The usage of colors. Character presentation where a person’s alignment changes. Orcs were given a good alignment in Warcraft 3 even though they’re usually represented as evil.

Case Study: Pandemic: The Saboteur

In terms of audio, sounds are needed to set the mood or convey emotion better.

Case Study: Konami‘s Silent Hill. Highlight: The Radio feature.

In a nutshell, Emotional Engineering in games would be – “The best games out there are those you can still feel – long after the console is off.”

Overall Winner : Metal Gear Solid 3 .

Verne’s verdict : Loved the insights, theories and the case studies. Verne can tell he does play a lot of games. A lot of recent ones that I need to catch up – probably through Youtube lol. He will now stop here because he feels sleepy. Part 2 coming in a few hours.

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Verne