Jed Merrill, Producer/Game Designer

Week 2

Tuesday, January 14, 2014.

As thesis project groups, we present the feedback we gathered from classmates on Thursday on ten game ideas each.  We narrow 100+ ideas to five in the course of two hours.  Our finalists?

Button, Robot, Crazy Person, Brain Hacker, and Roger’s favorite (but no one else’s), Body Pillow RPG!

I am surprised when my top choice does not make the cut, but one of my ten ideas is merged with Brain Hacker and, to some degree, Robot.


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My first level design concept for Virtual World Studies, made with the N level editor.  I call the level Gazelle.  Thematically, the adventurer runs across the rough terrain, climbs up the leg of a giant beast, and makes his way to a button on the gazelle’s tail, then escapes through a doorway in the Sun.  GAZL is written at the bottom in morse code, but I ran out of space for full size dots and dashes…  The design appears simple, but I got some good feedback from a classmate.  “Mind blown.”


This morning each team pitches their five best ideas as narrowed down from 100.  I represent the game we call “Brain Hacker” and get some very positive feedback from Roger and many others in the class.  At least two people say the pitch was among their top three of the morning.

Collectively as Producers we get less positive feedback for not adequately owning the room.  Bob and Jose suggested we not spend a lot of time putting together flashy presentations this time, but it showed in how the pitches went.  Sometimes polishing a presentation also polishes the presenter.  Roger suggests if we do not have enough time to get a good presentation together, it is okay to push back and ask for more time.  Do what is right for the game!  At least one Producer is dejected, believing his pet project will now not be chosen.

In the afternoon, Corrinne asks me to repeat my pitch, and says mine was one of just three that included any degree of narrative.  When it comes to pitches, story matters more than mechanics.

As I see it, narrative is how we make sense of the real world, and is also how we make sense of virtual worlds.  A pitch without narrative is like soda without bubbles–flat.

Lest you think I’m a star emerging unscathed from this morning’s feedback bloodbath, Corrinne does not like my use of the word pacifist in the game description, suggesting real pacifism is not true to human nature.  Pick a better word, she advises.

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