Harnessing the Power of Empathy Games for Mental Health Awareness

Finding and creating a supportive mental health community while developing games I have been a game developer for the past 8 years. But I worked in game studios and I programmed whatever my company told me to. But I never made my own game on my own. As part of my Masters by Practice for a degree in Video Game Enterprise and Production, I had … Continue reading Harnessing the Power of Empathy Games for Mental Health Awareness

Making a Game: Video Update 4

In other news, I just handed in everything for my Masters degree and I turned 30. I’m going to keep working on this game and I have this idea of developing a platform for people to share their stories and talk about their experiences with depression and then I’m going to spend some time making those stories into little puzzle vignettes. One of the things … Continue reading Making a Game: Video Update 4

Making a Game: Making breakfast is harder than it looks

Okay, personal issues aside, I have been making very slow progress with the Kitchen Level. Turns out (yah, like the title of this post suggests) it’s not as easy as I thought it would be (and I haven’t even gotten to coding the actual cooking bits yet!!).

I think because there are actually quite a few elements involved and puzzles inserted here and there to make your lives harder (as if life isn’t difficult enough).

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Making a Game: More Bad Days…

Just a quick update about what I have been up to lately. Dropped by Google #DigitalGarage today to learn about Digital Marketing pic.twitter.com/xAhqIqzNC7 — Michelle Chen (@purplelilgirl) August 3, 2017 I also cut up, or at least tried, to cut up some snowflakes for another puzzle. People are like snowflakes, everyone is unique in their own way. pic.twitter.com/R4p3brZfXd — Michelle Chen (@purplelilgirl) August 6, 2017 … Continue reading Making a Game: More Bad Days…

Making a Game: Good days and bad days…

First my board… Note to self: Buy post it notes #indiedev #agile pic.twitter.com/C7C1zqWusB — Michelle Chen (@purplelilgirl) July 31, 2017 Oh and I set up a GameJolt page: http://gamejolt.com/games/depressionsimulator/272098 Nothing playable yet. Although, because I did that, I made a header for the game, also it’s now called “Depression Simulator” semi-officially. Okay about good and bad days… The point of my game is that sometimes … Continue reading Making a Game: Good days and bad days…

Making a Game: Choosing to go alone and wearing many hats…

Why did I decide to make a game all on my own… As in own art, own code, own design, not my own sound and music though… Also I have less than 3 months of dev time (only 1 month left…).

I think because at the beginning I didn’t know what I want to do. I just know that I wanted to make a game. What game? No idea. And that’s dangerous territory. And I didn’t want to drag anyone else down with me. It’s not as if I don’t have any artist or code friends that I can bribe. I do, I just didn’t want to bribe them.

It has never been about how I can do everything myself. I mean, I can to some degree, but you know, my art will always be a little programmer art-ish and rough around the edges. My design will reference a lot of existing designs and now tropes. And actually production wise, managing myself is actually… Bad, really bad.

I have problems with motivation. I sleep a lot, and I don’t want to get out of bed ever. But I’m trying. People who don’t understand me and what goes on in my head, will think that I’m lazy. Okay, maybe I am. But it’s more complicated than that.

But choosing to go alone means that I have to wear many hats. Last week I had my programming hat on (which means that I find excuses to go out and not work on it). I am by practice a programmer, but I think of programming or coding for short, as a process, a means to and end (yes, in a Nietzsche manner, I think of the means as pretty bad).

This week I have my artist hat on and I actually don’t have a tablet, I have pencils and paper though. But I actually draw in Flash and I don’t even own a mouse, so it’s just the touch pad of my beat up Macbook Pro, and me, manipulating vector shapes until they resemble something. The whole, the game is only in gray scale helps too, ‘coz color… That’s another hurdle.

Anyway, I am not a fan of GDDs (Game Design Documents), because I don’t believe in design written on paper. You’ll never really know if a game is fun, without playing it. And there’s no way for you to play it unless you have a game. You get it. Rapid Prototyping for the win!

One of my only plus points is that I’m a relatively fast coder. At least once I have a clear idea what I need to create. So with this whole no GDD thing, it’s actually a lot of experimentation and a lot of trial and error. And that’s alright, because whatever code I scrap is well, my code, and I have no hard feelings.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, because I work alone, it is tough at times, but at least the only person that I’m letting down is myself.

Although for this project, I’m not entirely alone, I actually have a HitRecord project where I do ask for ideas from other people. So when I do get stuck, I just issue another challenge and the lovely people contributes and I am inspired again, and I keep moving.

Also since this game is about depression and having more voices make it better and in a way in makes me feel less alone. Because I know now that other people also go through the same thing and other people can beat it. So, so could I.

One month to go! Good luck to me~!

Random Note: “Haunt” by Echos describes how I feel everyday quite accurately.

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Making a Game: Looking for Ingredients and Cooking Breakfast

Part of the mundane every day life is cooking breakfast and well eating.

So in my game, in the kitchen level you can open all the drawers, cabinets and fridge and scavenge for all sorts of ingredients that you then can cook in a “Cooking Mama” style.

Today I have my art hat on… and I still draw my assets in Flash, even though it was recently announced that support for Flash will soon be gone forever… 😦

Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 11.43.09 PM

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Making a Game: More puzzles…

I’ve been focusing on adding as many puzzles and interactions in the game the past few weeks, and I’ve also added new rooms. So the evolution of the puzzles is from the mundane to the surreal. So you have a normal closet, where you need to rearrange the clothes according to it’s gradient color. Okay, this is a bit difficult. This idea came from ferdonkers … Continue reading Making a Game: More puzzles…

Making a Game: Other Games about Depression and Mental Health

Another Day   Link: http://gamejolt.com/games/another-day/124458 Fractured Minds Winner of the BAFTA Young Game Designers competition, made by 18 year old, Emily Mitchell. “Fractured Minds is an immersive puzzle game that uncovers the daily struggles of people living with anxiety or any mental health issue. It is designed to give the player a genuine insight into the experiences of those quietly living with mental illness – … Continue reading Making a Game: Other Games about Depression and Mental Health

Making a Video Game: MVP

Okay, I realize that I only have a little more than a month to finish the game… o.O

So it’s time to be realistic and de-scope.

The MVP according to my lecturer is:

  • 3 rooms (yes, I originally, ambitiously planned on 12), so there is a beginning, middle and end.
  • there should be an evolution of the puzzles
  • integrate sound and music ASAP

So for the rooms, it’s going to be Bedroom, which I’ve already done, Bathroom, Kitchen and Foyer (yes, I added one).

Between each room is a door that can be unlocked based on a happiness-sadness meter, based on kmarushige‘s suggestion on HitRecord.

As for your game, my gut says to have a “happiness/depression” meter as the scoreboard. As the player moves through a typical day, they are presented with choices that will either shift them towards happiness or depression. These choices could be actions, mental choices/interpretations or interactions, including being receptive to help from others.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 4.01.32 PM

And the evolution of puzzles and interactions will be from the mundane to the surreal. You start of with normal day to day interactions like waking up, putting a smile on your face, making food, then it shifts to the surreal.

The surreal, like when a shadow of yourself appears from the closet (I call her anti-character, like Anti-Helena from “Mirror Mask”), and she starts following you around and these whispers of “you’re worthless and no one likes you” plays, but you can fight her, you can win, but you can also lose.



Also note to self: I need to buy more IRL Post-Its.

The foyer represents the ultimate (yes, ultimate) door that is standing between you and the outside world.

And thanks to the lovely people at HitRecord, I have a lovely background music for the game.

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Competitive Analysis: “Windosill” and “Feed the Head”

Best part of doing a Masters degree in video games? Research is playing games… What can you do with a head? Apparently a lot. You mess about with the head, removing its nose, its eyes, opening up the head… Quite surreal and a little Dali-like. Totally my thing. Each room in Windosill is self-contained, but the objective is always the same, find the cube and … Continue reading Competitive Analysis: “Windosill” and “Feed the Head”

Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles

And going down the TV Tropes rabbit hole… Please forgive me if I use some of these… Links: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PuzzleGame http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StockVideoGamePuzzle http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StockPuzzle http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ControlRoomPuzzle http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SimonSaysMiniGame http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SetPiecePuzzle Continue reading Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles