The first prototype of the game SpaceMercs was made during the game development course on the IT University of Copenhagen last year. However, when the game was delivered for grading at the end of the game development course it was only a very polished alpha build. Many from the group that made the game thought that this game still needed and deserved so much more in terms of content and gameplay. This feeling of wanting to further polish SpaceMercs also served as inspiration for this master thesis which focus is on adding new game mechanics and game elements to the existing game in order to both force the gameplay out into the real world through the affordances of the platform, but also to strengthen the collaboration between the players and make them more effective as a team by using the generated metagame.
What is SpaceMercs
The original version of SpaceMercs is a collaborative local multiplayer gameplay experience where four players will play as a team of seasoned space mercernaries. The four players inhabit different roles such as the light gunner, heavy gunner and pilot role in their quest to survive the various obstacles that the game throws at them. Each role is optional and can be switched at any time but this needs negotiation between players in the real world for that to happen. The game is primarily played on portable devices that act both as controllers and seconds screens. For further info about the game, the setup or use of the platform, please click on link: SpaceMercs..
Post thesis, the game still plays the “same” way as the old version did, but there some new additions that affect the overall gameplay experience. The game has now received a new role (the engineer), new game mechanics, new game events, new enemies as well an enhanced user interface for each role and a new interactive/adaptive soundscape. This does not mean that the game is done yet, it has just moved closer to completion but even if the new prototype is not complete, it is playable in its current form.
This thesis make use of a mixed methodology as both the method of research through design and grounded theory have been used to gain insight into what design decission needs to be taken during the several iterations to achieve the intended gameplay experience that we aim for. During this process, SpaceMercs has gone through three new iterations during the thesis that focussed on implemented the new role, game events and new enemies. After each new implementation, a play test with a subsequent focus group has been conducted in order to both observe and inquire the players about their experiences with the game. The findings have been used both to explore and test ideas but also to validate if what we did during the different iterations was on the right track. Finally, this design process has also been used to create a design framework that can help other game designers if they want to build similar game experiences as SpaceMercs.
Want to learn more
If you want to learn more, please feel free to read the master thesis on the link: SpaceMercs Reloaded Thesis. As this is a group project, in case you want to use this master thesis or only a small part of it for your own studies, please mail me or one of the others that has been part of this project. If you want to know something specific about a certain part, our names has been listed in the project which shows which part we indidually have been responsible for.