CHAPTER 7: THE DRAMA AND THE BOSS
It may have been a couple of days, or maybe a week in which everything was going smoothly. However, I was feeling uncomfortable, I couldn´t say about what, I just did. Although the guys were already working on the new gameplay mechanic, and they were quite happy about it, there was something that I couldn’t explain that didn´t seem to fit right.
The gameplay mechanic we chose would require the user to tap a space egg without letting it fall while the enemies in the background be sending nasty traps and stuff that would make it harder for the user to keep it in the air. The character would have to joggle the egg and keep it away from falling into the hands of the enemies, who were trying to grab it too. We also wanted to insert some of those enemies within the action layer, which didn´t happen in the previous title, so it would feel like a struggle between the two to grab the egg.
However, I still had the sense that there was no emotion, and the mechanic felt as if it was forced into the concept. It felt strange. In those days, I was reading about games generating emotion for the users, and during our classes, the teachers were also talking about it. I watched movies and noticed how they handled the scenes to create emotion on the viewers. I watched an interview, and right at that moment when the person talking was about to burst into tears, the camera operator would zoom into this person´s eyes hoping for that tear to come out, and transmit that emotion to the viewer.
Throughout all these media, we learned that what mattered the most was creating an emotional response from the user, or the viewer in the case of movies or TV, because this is what engages the audience. The number of emotions in the human mind is countless, you know, happiness, anger, sense of achievement, sadness, fear, pride, FUN, etc. All emotions are viable; it depends on what you are creating.
One of those days, right after work, it must have been around 6 pm, I stayed at the office because I had a meeting with one of our consultants. I was talking to the guy about several topics regarding brands and IPs and I mentioned the new concept about the space egg. While receiving his advice on the game´s registration, he suggested our home screen looked a bit too dark and it should include some of the characters, maybe the main character performing the joggling mechanic with the space egg. He stood up and began making the mimic, moving his arms while joggling with an imaginary object, and making a worried face. That´s when it struck me.
The scene looked ridiculous; it was embarrassing to watch this guy doing these movements. Right there I knew that the problem I had was not with the concept, it was with the game mechanic itself. It lacked the emotion I was looking for. I knew I had to do something about it the following day, and needed to set up an early meeting before we went ahead with the work we were doing so far.
The following morning I gathered the guys and told them my discomfort with the game’s mechanic. To sum up, I basically told them that I wanted something more engaging, with more action, and since we already were moving to Unity and needed to write the whole code again, we were pretty much open to doing anything we wanted. This was the opportunity to do so, and finally release ourselves from what we did before, which I also wanted.
Obviously, the team were stunned by the news, with eyes wide open, and in utter silence.
So I said to them:
“Look guys, this thing we have doesn’t feel right, I think it lacks emotion. We should build a shooter instead. Our game definitely needs more DRAMA!”
And so we did, and it felt just about right.
Footnote: Ever since, whenever a scene or an action looks dull, I tell them: “Put some more DRAMA into it”
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