Design ideas are everywhere: part 1

Where do you get your ideas?

This has to be one of the most common questions I get about game development and it’s interesting because I think design ideas are EVERYWHERE!

Bad design gives me ideas how not to make things.

Good design (more about that next post) gives me ideas how things should be made.

Yesterday,  I wrote about how even though the bike-sharing app sucked, I still had used it twice and might use it again.


It was convenient

Even though the bike was somewhat broken, as in, it didn’t shift gears, it worked to get me from Point A to Point B and there was a bike rack two blocks from my house and directly across from Maria’s house.

So, what does this tell me about game design?

That sometimes just being easy to get is more important than the best product.

We started out with our games just downloadable from our website and you paid through Kagi (may they rest in peace). Now, you can get our games

It was a pain in the @$$ to get access

You can learn from bad design how not to do things. I hated the bike sharing app because it was hard to enter my account and PIN number.

Here are four names I will never forget – Art Dionne, Rusty Parisien, Sherrie Keplin-Bercier and Chris Morin.

Do you you know why? Because these were the people who helped us with IT at the first three schools where we tested our games.

When we made our first games, you had to play the games in the browser, and it required setting a default browser, which you might have to download, setting preferences to allow pop-ups, installing the games on each machine – it took , literally, days from professional staff to install at a large school.

Every iteration, we have made our installer easier. This is a feature many people overlook because it’s not as fun as designing game play, it’s not as impressive to teachers as designing educational resources, but if you need to spend 5 minutes installing , vs 30 seconds, by the time you are on the 60th computer of the day you are ready to kill someone.

My annoying bike app experience reminded me to revisit our download/install/ setup process yet again and see if we can make it any easier. Can we take out any unnecessary files to make the games smaller and download quicker?

Every time I have a bad experience as a customer, I look at how I can learn and make sure our customers don’t have that same problem.

Next time, I’ll talk about happier subjects – like how I learn game design from the happiest place on earth.


In the meantime ….
Our first bilingual game, Making Camp Bilingual, is available on the app store for $1.99 now and on Google play (sign up to be a tester and download here, since the Android app is still in beta). You can learn Spanish, English and math. (As some of our Mexican viewers of our youtube channel have pointed out, I should really be playing in Spanish to improve  my grammar. I feel such shame.)

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