For Unit 10 we have been assigned a task to create a interactive environment for a group. The group we got was Deaf/deaf audience and make a game that is accessible to this group. In the brief it says to make a “Low poly 3D maze” but as 3D is not a strong point of mine and frankly I lack the interest, I decided to go the concept art route. Due to my difference of project, I decided I will make a character and a game level to get across how it will look of it was ever made into a 3D level.
I came up with several ideas for how I could approach this unit but they all pointed in the direction of a puzzle horror. You are Sandra Parks, a detective who specialises in missing children cases. She gets led to an asylum where she has to solve puzzles to escape the asylum and make sure she doesn’t bump into the monster that is lurking after her. How I have linked this to the Deaf/deaf audience is when Sandra is holding the heartbeat monitor I was going to send pulses of vibrations into the controller to replicate the heartbeat. It speeds up when the creature gets close and then slow down when the monster is far away. To help the Deaf/deaf audience with my game I was going to use bass as the backing track so the Deaf/deaf gamers will be able to feel the vibrations in their hands and also against their ears.
A lot of research has went into this unit as we need to know our audience inside and out. To know our audience, we had talks with gamers who are part of the Deaf/deaf community, this will then help us understand what we will need to do to make a game accessible to them. The first thing I did was look through a Deaf gaming forum: they talked about the different games that were not accessible to Deaf people and how game developers in the future could make a game tailored for their needs. The gamers talked about how all the games (that were labeled on the list, go to Unit 10 for more information) had no subtitles, too much dialogue and too many cutscenes, taking the gamer away from the game and not giving them a chance to enjoy it. I took this and decided not to include a lot of dialogue and cut scenes in my game as I agree with the gamers, it takes them away from the game and wrecks the immersion. Then we moved onto an actual interview with a Deaf/deaf gamer; my first interview was with Kags.
Kags is a twitch streamer who loves playing fast paced games like Call Of Duty and Battlefield; she enjoys first person shooters. I asked her what she thought about games and how they are more for the hearing gamers and not for the Deaf/deaf gamers? She replied simply with she doesn’t mind as long as the game gives the instructions well. That is what really surprised me: Kags loves playing shooting games – games that are tailored to that of the hearing group but she still enjoys them, even without the ability to hear. This piece of information gave me the confidence to make a game that I am comfortable with making, but to make the objective clear so the Deaf/deaf group will understand what to do. Next interview was with a tutor at my college called Ricky.
With Ricky we could ask questions as a class so everyone can hear his answers. Some questions did link to my project while others didn’t, so I mostly focused of the questions that did. Someone mentioned about vibrations and how we could use them to the advantage of the Deaf/deaf audience. Why this was important for me was the game I was making required vibrations as an indication of when the villain is coming towards the player, so hearing his opinion would help with how I could develop it. Ricky stated if we wanted to use vibrations we “should use them all over the body to make the experience inmersive” which I took into account. It did give me an idea to push the idea of using vibrations further but instead of including them on the hands use them on the body as well.
The last Deaf/deaf individual came from another college campus and was also a student. Scott was kind enough to come into our class and answer our questions. As the other media class joined us, I made sure to only focus on the questions that would relate to my game. Someone asked him how you would jumpscare a Deaf/deaf person as most jumpscares rely on that. Scott said “To use bass as a backing track to immerse the Deaf/deaf gamer” which was very useful. As my project wasn’t going to have any sound hearing Scott say this made me change my mind and decide to include a bass track so the gamer can feel the vibrations. I will match the vibrations of the heartbeat monitor to the bass track so they can feel how close the creature is.
All of their opinions built up what my game was going to be. It helped me get a deeper understanding of what Deaf/deaf gamers want and also need. I am confident that if my game ever got brought out onto the market that it would be accessible to everyone; everyone will have a chance to play my game without the struggle Deaf/deaf people face. Yes, it will include sound for example: footsteps across the tiled floor or a door squeaking open as you open it — small sounds. Though this game is mostly aimed towards that audience, I also want to include other audiences as well. If you make a game just set to one demographic you are not going to get a successful game, and that’s why I think game companies should widen their demographic – not just to the majority of the gaming audience, but the the gaming audiences who do not get the advantage hearing individuals get.
Some other research was to get different textures that I could use in my project. For my primary research I did two pieces: one was at night time while the other was at day time. Though the night time was was more of an accident as I didn’t realise how quick time flew as I was also doing primary sketches of gates (that are included in my project) I took a few quick snaps of the area, to see if they could be useful for my project; they were not. So I went out another day and took pictures when it was light, getting close up images of gates that had cracked paint, which would be useful for when I would of made the concept art of my building and I needed a reference of what a worn out fence would look like. I also took close up images of bricks so I could get best images for when I created my building; too bad it fell short.
As I could not get feedback off of Kags as she was currently busy with real life problems, I decided to ask my mum who is quite connected with Deaf/deaf gamers and I know for a fact she would give me an honest opinion if my game is Deaf/deaf accessible. The first piece of feedback was about my overall idea and how I could make it accessible to the Deaf/deaf gamers: “Good ideas but need to be open to other audiences — include more sound, indicate where the creature is coming from”
This is quite good feedback and probably would of been useful to of got that feedback before I even started production (which my mother stated several times). As I am very interested in the horror genre I didn’t really take into account other genres or age groups. I typical prefer making games 18+ as you have more leeway to do the things you want; if I wanted heavy violence – as that is part of my story — I would not be able to do that if it is a 7+ game. But as I stated previously in this paragraph, I should of jotted down my best ideas and then ask around my peers and my family and ask which one would be better for this project.With the indicate where the creature is coming from, I am not going to do that. You are in a maze, so throwing in a creature who follows you throughout the maze will not only harden the experience but also make it much more scarier, that is what I am trying to achieve with this maze: a game that is not only aimed at the Deaf/deaf audience but also will scare anyone that plays it.
Next piece of feedback was positive: “Very suited to the Deaf/deaf audience due to the bass and vibrations, making it more immersive” (I added the immersive part as my mum could not find the right words to explain). I agree with this opinion as I shown my mum some of the research I conducted from the Deaf/deaf audience and how one of the individuals stated how bass makes it a more “immersive experience” for them. As my game is a horror, it seems fitting to add bass to add the suspension most horror have – when a creature is coming closer the bass will get louder and louder so the Deaf/deaf individuals can feel how close the enemy is coming. Also with the vibrations, my mum looked at the research I conducted from the audience and how Ricky (A deaf individual who came to talk with the group) and agreed that me using the vibrations enhance their experience. The vibrations and the bass are connected to the heart-beat monitor within the game, so when that beats faster, the bass and vibrations get faster – it makes it feel as if you are currently in the situation as Sandra.
I shown my mum the interviews we had with other Deaf/deaf individuals and also the research I found out, so she stated that I “Could change the genre to a platformer, as that is the most popular genre” That I do agree with. If I wanted to follow Ricky’s advice and go down that route as that is most popular, I could but I wanted to move away from that stereotype and bring them out their comfort zone. A horror game is a good way to pull people out of their comfort zone (especially Deaf/deaf gamers) as you expect the unexpected. With the bass and vibrations this horror game
For this unit I think I have done adequate work; work that looks appealing to the eye and gets my idea across . My most strongest point of this project was definitely research as I thoroughly researched my audience to get a deeper understanding of the group and make a game that would be accessible to them and how I could make a game that they would enjoy. Though the audience was the key part of my research, I also researched what influenced my audience and what could be inspiration for how my idea will play out. Though inspiration is quite a big part of my research as I wanted some horror themed ideas, researching the audience was my key priority.
Idea planning was something that I didn’t spend that much time on as I wanted to get straight into production; I still made many ideas of what could be brought forward into production. So my production for this particular stage of the unit was quite lacking — I could of created many ideas and ask for feedback off peers/family to see which one would be better suited for this unit.
Production was the stage where my performance was not up to standard but I did manage to complete a fair amount of concept art — and in my case — a 3D maze for unreal to get across what I want my maze to look if it was brought forward as a game. The concept art I created got across what idea’s I was going for; showing the first person view of the maze. However — as I did not have enough time — I wasn’t able to add the interface which shown the HUD and the inventory slot, which I drew in my sketchbook. I did make a menu that has the logo of the game, but as I did not have enough time I could not make my background so I had to go for a picture off the internet.
The final stage is continuous reflection. This stage was something I excelled as I manage to update my blog regularly to talk about the tasks I plan on doing. However, even though I managed to update regularly, there were times when I didn’t update for a week, making it seem like I didn’t do any work throughout the course of that week.
To improve my performance throughout this unit I would make sure I give myself a deadline for each section of the unit. Why this is important is because I seem to spend a large portion of the unit focusing on one task, then I forget about other tasks’ that need to be doing throughout the unit. For example I spent almost half the unit doing research, making sure I got a deeper understanding of my audience and how I could make a game for them instead of bringing it forward into production and making concept art. Where else this was a problem was when I was too busy focusing on production that I didn’t end up having a enough time to make a video, showing all my work.