10.8 The Element of Surprise

Big Ideas for this lesson 
Guiding Questions          
Recommended Games     
Ghost sprites have the ability to disappear and reappear during gameplay.

Some enemy sprites have the ability to spawn additional enemies.
How can the disappearing and spawning mechanics be used to design interesting challenges? Panic Room

Disappearing Maze

Quest - Addison Joins the Rogue:
The Spawning Source, Episode 4, Mission 9

What's on for today:

Disappearing and spawning can be used to change the level of difficulty of a game. Additionally these mechanics can be used to create the feeling of surprise, excitement, and suspense. Understanding how to adjust these parameters is the core focus on this lesson.

What you need:

-A few copies of “Screenshot of disappearing and spawning parameters” to pass around
-One copy of “Presentation worksheet” per student
-Multiple copies of “Playtester feedback worksheet” per student

What's attached:

-Screenshot of disappearing and spawning parameters
-Presentation worksheet
-Playtester feedback worksheet


Total: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Play - 10 minutes
Discuss - 10 minutes
Design - 20 minutes
Playtest and Iterate - 20 minutes
Circle Up - 10 minutes

10 minutes

1. Choose or create a Gamestar Mechanic game or series of games for your class to play that high- light the use of disappearing and spawning. Make sure these games show a range of approaches to the use of these mechanics.

2. Pay particular attention to how games that use these mechanics often feel very dynamic or dramatic.

3. If you are having trouble choosing a game or creating one of your own, refer to the recommended games for this activity.

10 minutes

1. Begin a conversation with your class about the game(s) that they played. Focus on the concept of disappearing and spawning as it relates to the level of challenge and difficulty.

2. Ask students to pinpoint specific strategies they used as players when faced with sprites that were disappearing or spawning.

3. If your class is having trouble with this concept use the following questions:

    How do disappearing and spawning sprites create challenge for the player?

    What kinds of strategies do you think the game designers used when choosing where to place       the disappearing or spawning enemies in the game space?

    What kinds of things would a game designer consider when setting the parameters of enemy       sprites that disappear or spawn?

30 minutes

1. Ask your students to design a multi-level game using either disappearing or spawning.

2. Challenge them to design the game so that it becomes more difficult over time and focuses on creating a feeling of surprise or suspense.

3. Encourage students to use the intro and outro message screens to set up the story for the player.

Playtest and Iterate
20 minutes

1. Instruct your class to playtest their game with each other.

2. Encourage them to refer to the criteria they developed for what makes a game fun.

3. If time allows, have them refine their designs based on feedback.

Circle Up
10 minutes

1. Have the class present their games to each other. Encourage students to make notes in their “Presentation worksheet” before presenting.

2. When presenting encourage the students to discuss about the following:

    Which mechanic did you use for your game?

    How did you use this mechanic for the design of your game?
    How did your game create a feeling of surprise or suspense?

    How did your game become more difficult over time?

How did it go?

Were students able to successful create a feeling of surprise in their games through the use of disappearing or spawning sprites?

Were they able to create different types of surprise, of varying degrees?

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Jan 4, 2011, 8:28 AM