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14 Examining Premium Content In This Chapter ▶ Finding out what premium content is available ▶ Weighing the benefits of a Premium account ▶ Upgrading to a Premium account ▶ Applying complicated premium sprites he Gamestar Mechanic store offers a number of premium packs that you Tcan purchase. The Addison’s Complete Quest premium pack adds a huge amount of content to your experience, as detailed in this chapter. You can also purchase less-expensive sprite packs, which give you access to specific groups of premium sprites, some of which are not available in the Addison’s Complete Quest pack. In this chapter, I explain what premium content is available for you to purchase, show you how to upgrade your account, and give you an overview of premium sprites. Exploring Premium Content With a free Gamestar Mechanic account, you have a wealth of features at your disposal; you have access to the Addison Joins the League quest, and you can make and publish as many games as you want while interacting with the Gamestar Mechanic community. But after you become more experienced with the site, you may discover that you need new challenges. For experi- enced players, purchasing premium content is often a good choice because it provides plenty of useful new sprites, as well as features such as custom backgrounds. Looking at your premium options The Gamestar Mechanic store offers the following premium content: ✓ Addison’s Complete Quest: Upgrading your account to this premium pack — for a flat fee of 20 — gives you unlimited access to these features: • Two new quests: These quests begin a new story arc to help you master advanced concepts in game design.Part V: Going Deeper in the Gamestar World 248 • More than 100 missions: The new quests contain a wealth of games designed by the Gamestar Mechanic administrators. • More than 20 backgrounds: You also unlock as many as 21 new backgrounds from Quest missions to use in your games. • Custom backgrounds: A new challenge is unlocked in your work- shop, letting you design your own backgrounds for your games. (See Chapter 13 for more on custom backgrounds.) • More than 100 sprites: You can unlock as many as 104 new sprites as you progress through the quest. You can also access the Locked On Challenge, which grants you two bonus sprites from the gateway pack. Even if you already have some of these sprites, you can always find useful new ones, such as the Naviron knight and the Karakuri phoenix (discussed later in this chapter). • Two soundtracks: You can unlock two new, instrumental soundtracks: the airy Altair jig and the darker Acheron beat. ✓ Sprite packs: If you’re looking for a less-expensive option, you can purchase individual sprite packs, which give you access to groups of premium sprites beyond the ones found in Addison’s Complete Quest. Figure 14-1 shows the sprite packs that are available at the time of this writing, ranging in cost from 1.99 to 2.99. The Mystical sprite pack, for example, contains 11 sprites representing the medieval and mythi- cal, as well as the Naviron informer and health pack from Addison’s Complete Quest. Figure 14-1: The seven sprite packs, each marked with either a banner labeled Owned or a button labeled Add to Cart. Chapter 14: Examining Premium Content 249 Deciding whether to purchase premium content Here are a few points to keep in mind as you consider whether it would be worth your while to purchase premium packs: ✓ To get a feel for how a Premium account might translate to game design, play some games that were designed by Premium account holders. Then you can evaluate what other users are doing with their Premium accounts. In Game Alley, you can find a lot of games created by users with Premium accounts. You’ll recognize the games because of their unique sprites and backgrounds. By playing interesting premium games from experienced users, you can see what sprites and opportuni- ties the premium content offers you. ✓ Fully explore what you can do with the sprites in the free version of Gamestar Mechanic. If you find a major obstacle in your design pro- cess (for example, there are no health packs or checkpoints available in the free version, so you can’t make levels too long and challenging), see whether some games in Game Alley feature sprites that clear this obstacle (sprites such as health packs and teleporters are very useful for surpassing the limits of the free toolbox). If you aren’t sure whether you want to purchase premium content, use the free version as much as you can — when you reach the limits of your creativity, you can become inspired to try out the premium sprites. ✓ Plan out how you might use premium features to design a game. The best way to decide whether you would benefit from a Premium account is to find lots of ways in which you want to use it. You can practice applying premium content by designing games for contests, as described in Chapter 15. Some contests give you access to premium- level sprites even if you haven’t purchased premium packs, so you can see what the interface is like. Purchasing Premium Packs If you decide that you want to upgrade your account by purchasing Addison’s Complete Quest or other premium packs, follow these steps: 1. Click the Store button at the top of any Gamestar Mechanic page, or go to 2. If you want to see specific information about the pack, click the image corresponding to the pack you want to buy. The description page appears, as shown in Figure 14-2.Part V: Going Deeper in the Gamestar World 250 Figure 14-2: This page gives a description of the pack and a list of the challenges and sprites it contains, which you can expand by clicking the plus-sign (+) buttons at the bottom. 3. Click the Add to Cart button. This button is below or on the image for the sprite pack (depending on whether you followed Step 2). If you don’t see the Add to Cart button, you may already have this feature. 4. Follow the instructions to pay for your purchase. If you aren’t yet 18 years old, a parent or guardian must complete the credit card purchase. After you purchase a product from the store, the new quests and challenges become available in their respective places: Quests are available on the Quest page, and challenges are available in the Workshop. You have no hardware to install or files to download, so you can access these features right away. Using Complicated Premium Sprites A major feature of premium packs is access to advanced sprites. If you select an item in the store, you can see a list of all available sprites in that purchase. These sprites can be difficult to understand and apply, but used well, they can unlock a wealth of possibilities, such as epic boss battles and intricate puzzles. This section gives you an overview of some of the premium-level sprites. All sprites described in the following sections are available when you complete the Addison’s Complete Adventure content. For a description of all the sprites, see Chapter 6. Chapter 14: Examining Premium Content 251 Megasprites The enemy class known as the megasprite is four times the size of other not-so-mega sprites and occupies a 2-by-2 square on the grid, as shown in Figure 14-3. You can place a megasprite on your grid only if all four of the squares it’s being placed on are empty. A total of eight different megasprites are in Addison’s Complete Quest: They are either pacing megachasers or sharpshooting megasnipers (one per school). (See Chapter 6 for more on megachasers and megasnipers.) Figure 14-3: Megasprite game. Megasprites have a number of unique characteristics: ✓ They cannot be spawned. Enemy generators and enemy spawn points (described in Chapter 6) are too small to create megasprites. This means that megasprites work best as boss battles, since they can only be destroyed, never created. ✓ They have increased health boundaries. Whereas most enemies can have a maximum of only 10 hit points (outside of the Quest missions), megasprites can have as many as 15, depending on the sprites. They also have an increased minimum health, which varies between mega- sprites: Only Acheron megasprites can have 1 hit point (as well as the megadragon from the Mystical sprite pack). ✓ Some megasnipers have better shooting damage. Usually, all bullets deal 1 point of damage, and this value cannot be changed. However, cer- tain megasprites shoot more powerful bullets: The Acheron megasniper deals 2 points of damage, and the Altair megasniper deals 3. In addition, the Acheron megasniper shoots three bullets at a time: one straight ahead and two angled to each side.Part V: Going Deeper in the Gamestar World 252 ✓ They pass over gaps. If you add a megasprite to a platformer game and have it walk toward a pit that’s one block wide, the megasprite passes right over the pit. You can use this to your advantage, making platforms that certain sprites fall through and others do not. If you make a platformer game in which the avatar is on the same platform as a megasniper, the megasniper’s bullets fire slightly higher than normal ones, making them difficult to block. The megadragon from the Mystical sprite pack (a pack containing many sprites beyond Addison’s Complete Quest, available in the Gamestar Mechanic store) is a useful addition to the megasprite family. It has triple bullets that deal 1 point of damage apiece, and its health and damage sliders have the widest variety (1 to 15 health; 0 to 10 damage). It can also fire bullets at superfast speed, similar to the Acher on megasniper. Naviron defender and Naviron guardian The special avatars known as Naviron defender and Naviron guardian (see Figure 14-4) are sprites with green clothes and yellow shields that can block attacks when you hold down the Action key. The defender is a top-down sprite that blocks in whichever direction it’s facing; the guardian is a plat- former sprite that can block left or right. Figure 14-4: An avatar hidden behind its raised shield. Chapter 14: Examining Premium Content 253 The shield, which is treated as a solid object, gives these avatars some interest- ing properties: The shield deflects enemies and absorbs bullets. The guardian can squash enemies by jumping on them while shielding. Naviron knight and Naviron hero Similar to the Naviron defender and guardian, the Naviron knight and Naviron hero sprites have a shield (activated by pressing the Action key) and a sword (activated by pressing the Attack key). (See Figure 14-5.) The sword can extend a short distance and, unlike bullets, can damage every enemy in its range. Hitting an enemy knocks it two squares backward. Figure 14-5: An avatar with a sword and shield. These sprites do lots of damage to groups of enemies, and they can hit twice with each strike if the enemy is against a wall and cannot be pushed. If you use one of these sprites, be sure to design the game around its powerful abilities. If one of these avatars picks up a blaster (described later in this chapter), it becomes quite powerful. However, you cannot hold down the Attack button to fire as you normally can, because the bullets are in sync with your sword strikes.Part V: Going Deeper in the Gamestar World 254 Naviron lancers and Naviron sentries The Naviron lancer and Naviron sentry enemies make Naviron unique, by replacing the traditional chasers and snipers with two melee fighters: the spear-wielding lancer and the shield-bearing sentry, as shown in Figure 14-6. These sprites have many interesting properties: Figure 14-6: Lancers and sentries. ✓ Each sprite consists of two components: • The lancer’s spear, which is almost a sprite of its own, sticks out in whichever way the sprite is facing, effectively doubling its size. However, the lance is unimpeded by walls and doesn’t prevent the lancer from navigating tight places. • The sentry’s shield is held close to its wielder. Only the sentry’s body does damage, whereas the lancer can hurt the avatar with both of its components. ✓ They both push the avatar around: • The lancer’s weapon pushes back the avatar with every hit. However, it can do only as much damage as it’s programmed to do, regardless of whether the avatar is pushed against the wall. Its range is as long as its lance, which is slightly shorter than the sword wielded by Naviron knights and Naviron heroes. • The sentry pushes the avatar as it walks, dealing no damage but possibly destroying the avatar by pushing it into a wall or another shield. Chapter 14: Examining Premium Content 255 ✓ They can guard. These two enemies have a unique Movement Style option, labeled Guard, that lets them stay in place while watching a tri- angular area in front of them, depending on which way they’re facing. If one of these enemies sees the avatar, an exclamation point () appears over its head, and it starts chasing you. Fortunately, you can dodge it or escape it, causing it to become confused and then return to its position. ✓ They’re stronger against shooters than sword users. Both the lance and the shield can absorb bullets, making them difficult to defeat with a blaster. You have to sneak up on them and attack from the side or back. Alternatively, shooting the lancer just above or below its weapon dam- ages it. The Naviron knight, using a sword instead of a blaster, is quite effective against these enemies: Its sword is longer than the Lancer’s lance, so if you use it at the right time, you can damage and knock back a Lancer before it can do the same to you. The sword can also push the Naviron sentry back with its attack, even if the sentry blocks. The knight’s shield is also effective: The lancer can push a shielding knight without dealing damage, giving the knight time to escape, and the shield causes sentries to change course. Karakuri phoenix The Karakuri phoenix destructible block can repair other sprites. After plac- ing this block on the level you’re designing, you must click on another sprite that you want to attach the block to. When the attached sprite is destroyed, it becomes transparent, and two red orbs spin around it (indicating that it’s being resurrected), as the phoenix block turns red as well (indicating that it’s resurrecting the sprite). After a set amount of time, depending on the phoe- nix’s Resurrection Duration setting (which you can set with the Edit tool), the sprite returns to the game with full health. This can be done with enemies or destructible blocks — you can even have a phoenix block resurrect another phoenix block. Phoenix blocks work at any range, so the sprite they resurrect keeps coming back until the phoenix block is destroyed. Figure 14-7 shows an example of how the phoenix block can turn a shooting game into a dodging game. The gray-and-red blocks spaced throughout the level are all phoenix blocks, and each one is linked to one of the enemies. The phoenix block in the figure is bright red because it is in the process of resur- recting a destroyed sprite. The player must defeat seven enemies on each side, but the enemies on one side are regenerated by the phoenix blocks on the other side — you cannot destroy any of the enemies (they’ll just revive themselves) until you destroy the phoenix blocks opposite them. In the figure, the player tries to destroy the phoenix blocks at the top, shooting the invincible guards to stun them as they regenerate.Part V: Going Deeper in the Gamestar World 256 Figure 14-7: Phoenix block game. If you set the resurrection duration to 0, the phoenix block effectively makes its linked sprite invincible unless the phoenix is destroyed. This is useful when making a glass door that requires the phoenix block to be found before it can be opened, or for making an indestructible enemy with a consistent motion pattern. However, this setting allows the linked sprite to gain back only 1 hit point after resurrecting. Transmogrifier This advanced block, the transmogrifier, has the ability to shoot Its maxi- mum firing rate is extremely fast, and it can fire in any direction, including all four at once. However, its bullets have special properties: They hit and damage enemies rather than avatars, and when they frag an enemy, that enemy changes into another sprite of your choice with full health The trans- mogrifier is quite versatile because it can turn its victims into dangerous enemies, helpful informers, stronger or weaker opponents, or even items that the avatar can collect. Figure 14-8 shows an example of enemy-making transmogrifiers that turn a shooter game into an interesting exercise in population management: All enemies in the figure are running around in a circle, but the transmogrifier at each juncture changes them as they pass by. The player can change the cycle and edit the population of each enemy by touching or destroying the transmogrifiers. Chapter 14: Examining Premium Content 257 Figure 14-8: Transmogrifier game. To modify the effects of the transmogrifier’s bullets, select the transmogri- fier with the Edit tool, and click the Edit Settings button in the Transmogrify Bullet option. This action opens a new editing page containing the most of the transmogrifier’s unique settings. You can ✓ Set the bullet’s damage (which cannot be done with any other bullet). ✓ Pick the sprite in which to transmogrify targets. ✓ Edit the settings of the sprite. You can set the transmogrifier to create either an enemy or an item from its targets. If you want to edit the settings of the Transmogrify Into sprite, do not click Pick Sprite by mistake You will have to readjust all of your sprite’s settings, which return to the default. The transmogrifier can also be affected by the avatar. It can be destroyed, and can even be toggled when the avatar bumps into it. By touching the transmogrifier, you make it turn transparent and inactive; move away and touch it again to reactivate it. If you want your transmogrifier to cleanly destroy an enemy without chang- ing it, have the transmogrifier bullet turn the target into a Naviron grazer or Naviron gnasher (both of which have an energy meter) with Start Energy 1, Energy Usage 50 or more, and Damage 0.Part V: Going Deeper in the Gamestar World 258 Power-ups A number of square power-up items are available in Addison’s Complete Quest, granting the avatar improved abilities when it touches and automati- cally picks up the item. All active power-ups, including keys, are displayed in the upper left corner of the game screen, as shown in Figure 14-9. Figure 14-9: Avatar with several power-ups. Armor pack The armor pack gives the player armor, allowing it to take more damage. The red beam in the health meter turns white and is covered by a large, white number denoting armor points. Your avatar cannot lose health until its armor is depleted. Armor isn’t accumulative: If you have X points of armor and you pick up an armor pack worth Y points of armor, your armor becomes whichever of X and Y is greater. This makes armor helpful, but no substitute for health. Backpack A more indirect item, the backpack sprite lets you see a tooltip the first time you collect this sprite on a level. When you have a backpack, you don’t use any items you collect (except keys). Instead, they’re stored in an inventory Chapter 14: Examining Premium Content 259 that’s accessible with the inventory key (I), which lets you click on items to use them. Using the backpack, your players can use health packs only when needed and save power-ups for the right moments. Blaster The blaster is an obtainable weapon that causes the avatar to glow with a red aura, allowing even defenseless avatars to fire bullets at an extremely fast rate. This item can last indefinitely, or it can burn out after 10 to 40 seconds, depending on how you structure your game. You can also apply a blaster to an avatar that can already shoot, which can be advanta- geous to avatars with low fire rates. If you give a blaster to an avatar that doesn’t normally use one, the power-up can be overridden by the similar freeze blaster (described later). Double jump boots Effective only in platformer games, the double jump boots allow the avatar to jump twice before hitting the ground. While in midair, the avatar gets an extra jump. This jump isn’t as strong as the first one, but it allows for better maneuverability. For maximized jump height, don’t jump twice in quick succession — wait until the peak of your first jump before launching the second. Freeze blaster The freeze blaster power-up grants the avatar a freeze blaster (a weapon similar to the blaster), which fires bullets that encase their targets in ice. You can use frozen targets as walls or platforms, but they unfreeze from 2 to 10 seconds later, depending on the blaster’s Freeze Duration setting. If you freeze a frozen sprite, the ice around it thickens, and the timer counting down to the enemy’s release resets. If you freeze a sprite that’s overlapping with other sprites, the unfrozen sprites are fragged instantly. In a platformer game, you can freeze an enemy in midair so that it falls and squashes other enemies. The freeze blaster is a built-in feature of the Altair iceman, Altair freezer, frost wizard, and frost mage, as well as some enemies. However, like the blaster, the freeze blaster increases the fire rate of the default freeze blaster, and an avatar with both blasters can fire with alternating attacks. Frozen sprites are unaffected by collisions, but they can still be damaged by weapons. However, a frozen avatar is unaffected by freeze blasts, whereas frozen enemies are affected.Part V: Going Deeper in the Gamestar World 260 Phasing A property of all Karakuri avatars except Naja, phasing lets you share the phasing ability with other avatars. While this item is active, the Action button causes your avatar to freeze in place and become invisible. Nothing can harm you while you’re phasing. Shield-bearing sprites can still deflect enemies while phasing.15 Entering Game Design Contests In This Chapter ▶ Searching for contests ▶ Creating your own, unofficial contest ▶ Designing a game to enter in a contest ▶ Taking a look at the benefits of entering contests ▶ Composing a design document ame design contests are competitions in which users submit games to a Gpanel of judges, who evaluate the games and select winners to receive awards for their work. Contests often require participants to create games focused on certain topics or styles. Gamestar Mechanic hosts many contests, from carefully judged, company-sponsored competitions to unofficial ones planned by users on the site. Contests take place over a specified period. If you miss the due date for one contest, you have to wait for another one. Official, sponsored contests offer the best rewards, but each one generally only comes around once a year, so take these opportunities seriously. This chapter explains how to perform at your best for contests and helps you understand why you should do so. Finding Contests Contests are relatively easy to find. The official contests are strongly advertised, and many Gamestar Mechanic users make contests of their own. Looking for contests sponsored by Gamestar Mechanic You can find contests sponsored by Gamestar Mechanic in the Challenges & Contests section, which you can find by scrolling down in your workshop until you reach a group of eight large challenge icons and titles. Click on an element in this group to identify the type of challenge or contest it is. If it’s a contest, the contest page should resemble the one shown in Figure 15-1. Part V: Going Deeper in the Gamestar World 262 Note that the front page of the Challenges & Contests section sometimes contains only challenges, if no active contests are available. Challenges aren’t usually judged; they often simply require you to play games rather than design them — though they can be useful for unlocking new sprites and features and for trying out new techniques. Figure 15-1: The contest page. Though the header is labeled About This Challenge, this is true for both challenges and contests. On the contest page, you can find information about how the contest runs. The page is divided into sections, though some sections are hidden until you click on the appropriate tab. You can find various sorts of information from these sections: ✓ About This Challenge: This section of the page presents an overview of how the competition works. ✓ Important Dates: In the upper right corner of the contest page, you can see a list of dates that represent, from top to bottom: • The day the contest started • The day all entries are due (also appears in seasonal challenges) • The day the results are published, which is shown only for contests (doesn’t apply to challenges) Chapter 15: Entering Game Design Contests 263 If you see the initials TBD (indicating to be determined) rather than a date, the date isn’t available yet. ✓ Design Brief: This tab displays detailed information about the contest, such as a description, guidelines, recommendations, and information about how the contest is organized. Check the design brief again before submitting your entry to see whether you should do anything else to enter the contest. Contests are often run by way of Gamestar Mechanic from other websites, which have different requirements for entry. ✓ Create an Entry: This tab lets you view one or two options for submit- ting a game to the contest. (This tab is available only before the due date of the contest.) • Build a New Game Template: Usually, you see this button on the page, which opens a special version of the toolbox, where you can design your game. If you click the Save button on a template, your draft appears on the Create an Entry tab for you to work on later. • Choose a Game from My Workshop: Depending on the restrictions of the contest, you may see this button as well; click it to see a list of your published games, and select a game to submit to the contest. ✓ Challenge Missions: This tab is available only in certain contests. It lets you see specifically made missions that teach the values expected by the contest. Try to complete these missions whenever they’re available. ✓ Other Entries: After the judging is complete, this tab provides links to winning entries, which you can click on to play those games. If you’ve entered the contest, a link to your entry is also provided. Looking for user-created contests Some game design contests are created by Gamestar Mechanic users and pub- lished on the site in the form of games. These are not official contests; they’re organized for fun by Gamestar Mechanic users who set the rules and decide the winners. Users do this by publishing the rules and results through games, which contain message blocks outlining the details of the contest, as shown in Figure 15-2. These contests often require entrants to submit their games by recommending them or by posting the name of their submitted game in the Comments section. The contest host decides how to judge and select winners, and usually publishes the results by creating or editing a game to display them. User-created contests are beneficial for both the host and the participants. When you submit your game, the contest’s judges are sure to play it, and they often leave reviews. Whether you win or lose, this process is a good way to advertise your games.Part V: Going Deeper in the Gamestar World 264 Figure 15-2: This message block outlines the rules of the contest. The best way to find these contests is to search for games using the keyword contest or competition in Game Alley. By looking through the search results, you can find a number of contests to enter at once and reap both short-term and long-term rewards: Simply entering can get people to play and possibly review your game, and users often check out your workshop if you have a winning entry. And some contests even allow you to reuse a game you’ve already pub- lished. All it takes is a review or a comment to get started: Comment on the contest game to let the contest manager know that your entry is ready (and follow any special instructions set by the designer). When you search for contests in Game Alley, the results are sorted from newest to oldest. Focus on the newest ones because their due dates probably haven’t passed yet. Starting Your Own Contest Users create contests because they consider the process fun and interesting. If you want, you can make a contest yourself. Follow these tips: ✓ Decide how to restrict entries. How do you want entries sent in? Are you looking for a particular sort of entry, such as platformer games or games with a limited selection of sprites? Consider your own skill level because you want to be able to complete all the submitted games — if you’re a beginner player, for example, request some easy games. Also consider whether you want users to design new games for your contest, or allow them to enter games they’ve already published. Requesting new games ensures more topical — but fewer — entries. Chapter 15: Entering Game Design Contests 265 ✓ Build a game that provides all necessary information about the con- test. Use message block sprites, as well as the Level Intro and Level Win messages, to tell players how to participate in the contest. Ask yourself what your entrants need to know: • When are the games due? • What restrictions did you decide on? • How should the games be submitted? • How are the results published? Think about these questions ahead of time so that you can organize this information to make it as clear and concise as possible. ✓ Evaluate your own ability to manage the contest. Always carry out what you promise: Play the games submitted to your contest, publish the results in a timely fashion, and issue any rewards you might have offered. Don’t run a contest that gets you in over your head — for exam- ple, you might limit the number of entries to your contests or enlist help in the judging process. Running a contest can be a great way to meet interesting people, and to get people interested in you. In particular, contests are good at attracting users who like to share interesting games. However, remember that users often play your games for a fun challenge, so if you run too many contests (which usually means publishing games with no gameplay), people may not want to follow you or visit your workshop as often. Delete games that pertain to con- tests you’re no longer hosting, and use these no-challenge games sparingly to keep people coming back to your workshop. Adding one or more fun little levels to your contest game doesn’t hurt, either. Building an Effective Game for a Particular Contest After you enter a contest, the next step is to put together a good game as your entry. You’ll notice a few differences about designing a game for a con- test than designing a game normally: ✓ You may have a different set of sprites. If you work from a template for an official competition (which opens a special version of the toolbox), check to see what sprites you have to work with. (See Chapter 6 for a run- down of different sprites and their abilities.) Some official contests grant access to new sprites, and some have extra limits on what sprites you can use. User-created contests cannot do this strictly (because they’re no more than games asking other people to submit entries). However, some users only accept entries that use certain sprites or combinations of sprites.Part V: Going Deeper in the Gamestar World 266 ✓ Your entry is being judged, possibly by those who haven’t played many games at the Gamestar Mechanic site. Give your game a moderate diffi- culty level, and explain any difficult concepts. You don’t have to provide the keyboard controls for the game (they appear automatically at the beginning of every level), but keep your audience in mind. ✓ Most contests are centered on a certain topic. Make sure that you under- stand what the judges want to see in a game. This section gives you some tips for how to design such a game. See Chapter 5 for the basic principles of designing a game, and check out Part IV for a look into the deeper concepts of elegant design. A common strategy for building a game is to expand as much as possible on an idea you like. However, building a game for a contest sometimes requires a dif- ferent approach. Professional game designers often have to design according to a prompt, a provided structure in which the designer must build his game, whether it’s the request of the client or the restrictions of the design engine. Similarly, when designing a game to submit to a contest, you often have to meet certain guidelines — your prompt is generally included in the contest’s Design Brief. To create a game that satisfies the contest requirements and is fun to play, try the following method: 1. Find an interesting aspect of the contest prompt and use it as inspira- tion for your game. Rather than think of the contest prompt as a restriction (and try to mold your outstanding idea into one that fits the contest), use the prompt as inspiration. Do the contest judges want educational, original, or themed games? Think about these guidelines first and foremost, and find an interesting way to translate them into a game. Your game structure will be much more interesting to you and the judges if you work with the prompt, not in spite of it. 2. Develop a strong outline for your game. When you develop a contest game, a balanced and elegant structure is a vital quality. Strive to create a game that’s well organized and easy to follow so that players understand the main points you’re trying to make. 3. Build the individual levels. Be sure you can work out the smaller portions of the game as well as you’ve planned it in the big picture. Keep detailed notes of how you’ve organized the game, fix mistakes carefully, and track the flow of your game. To make a game that stands out in a contest, maintain a steady flow of information from the game to the player.

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