How can we make our games better? That’s one of the two questions we tackle every single day at 7 Generation Games. (The second being “How can we get our games in the hands of as many players as possible?”) And the reality is, part of the answer to the second question lies in the first.
So how do we do that? How do we make better games? We improve gameplay. We flesh out storylines. We do better animation. We create richer artwork. We work with teachers to develop quality educational content. We look at ways we can integrate the newest technology. We read lots of books about game design. We do research – not just like the “Google stuff up” kind, but the active in-classroom observation and data analysis kind.
And we turn to people like, you. Yes, you.
Oh, you didn’t realize there was a part where you came in. Well, there is – and this is it. We want your feedback – because it is only with user feedback that we can make our games truly better. Now, we can do all of the above listed things, but we don’t actually know if they work unless we get people telling us what they do and don’t like about the games we have. That’s why we started getting our games in the hands of users back before they were even really games and were more like a string of webpages with some game parts connecting them. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since then. But we also realize we still have a long way to go.
So here’s another question: Will you join us as honorary member of our game design team?
Interested? Email email@example.com to sign up.
Want to know more? I get it, before you agree, you want to know what you’re signing up for. Between now and Nov. 15, we’re looking for feedback on how to can improve a couple of our current games as well as how we can improve on our games going forward. This means things like:
I like that Forgotten Trail has a stronger storyline than Spirit Lake. Narrative is really important to a game.
Or, I like the games like the street crossing game in Forgotten Trail. There should be more of those.
Or, I really like the way Making Camp is set up where you can go in and do a few activities at a time.
Or, I wish you could save your wigwam in Making Camp. That’s coming!
Or, You should have more integration of the problems in the game’s storyline. You’ll see that more in our newer PC games as well as in our Making Camp follow up (If you haven’t gotten the first Making Camp, download it for iPad here!)
What we’re looking for is practical, applicable feedback – especially forward-looking. In other words, we’re not going to go back and redo all of Spirit Lake. But if you think AzTech should have longer levels than Spirit Lake, that’s something we want to hear. Or if it’s something that doesn’t involve a complete overhaul, like more music and sound effects, that would be doable.
In order to get you started, we’ll give you a free copy of our games. And once we get get your feedback, we’ll add you to our “Game Design Contributors” credits page – where your name will live on our site and certainly skyrocket you to Internet fame. OK, Internet fame might be a stretch, but your name will be listed on the site and you’ll have our gratitude (and a free copy of our games).
One other note about the game design/revision/iteration process. It is not an overnight process. It is not as simple as saying “change this,” and AnnMaria waves her magic wand and it’s done. Changes often take a while (usually months) to get visibly integrated into our games because that’s how long it takes to build, test, fix and then release games – so the suggestions you give us today aren’t updates you’ll see tomorrow. But that doesn’t mean we’re not working on it. Although to be honest, sometimes, we’re not.
As much as we appreciate and respect all feedback, that doesn’t mean it always ends up making the final cut. And that could be for a variety of reasons. For example, we had a student suggest we add zombies to Spirit Lake. Since that conflicted with our historically accurate mission, we had to pass. However, we’ve also had people make some great suggestions as to improving games that just didn’t fit either with our budget or that couldn’t be integrated effectively in the game-educational content context or for other dozens of reasons. Sometimes, one person says “You must add X!” And another says, “Whatever you do, don’t add X.” And then there’s the age old issue of if we integrated every possible suggestion anyone had, we’d never get the games, done let alone build new ones. But that’s problem we like to have.
Game Design Contributors can be any age and come from any background. We’d love to hear from students (Grades 3 and up), teachers/educators, parents and game enthusiasts, but we also know that sometimes the best ideas and suggestions come from unexpected or non-traditional sources. You can give us feedback on one specific element or single game or share a whole bunch of ideas or thoughts across all our games.
We know that our amazing community has amazing ideas. Let us hear yours!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get set up as an honorary member of our game design team.