Aug 282012
 

Just Press Play is all shiny and new both inside and outside. We hope you enjoy playing with us. Let us know what you like, and what things might be causing you grief. We’ve implemented FORUMS where you can let us know how it’s going and give us suggestions on how to make your playing experience better, or ideas for achievements and quests. Thanks for being here.

 Posted by at 12:19 pm
Aug 272012
 

We’re starting anew, and that means if you played last year, you’ll need to create a brand-new account on our shiny new system.

What happened the  old achievements? A few went away. Many new ones have replaced them.

While none of your past achievements will automatically carry over, this is not to say that they are gone for good. For example, those who earned “For the Lawls” by making Professor Lawley laugh (not an easy task), may ask her to give you her achievement again. Ditto “Knock Knock” from the most evil Professor Pietruch. Others? May be negotiable.

For those of you who played last year, we have a special achievement.

You've played the game before Title: Early Adopter

Description: You were a player before it was cool.

  •  Earned at least one achievement in JPPv1 (2011-12)
  •  Have the IGM office staff scan your PlayPass
  • If you can’t make it to campus, email play@rit.edu from your RIT email account.
 Posted by at 12:02 pm
Aug 022012
 

It’s hard to keep a sustained interest in many things. I think, often there is a tendency to take a plunge, dive in, drink one’s fill and be happy to say, “Been there, done that.”

There have been a bunch of casual games that became a temporary obsession and once over, not revisited. That’s normal. The trick is to find a casual game that has a sustained ability to engage over a long period of time. I don’t think it is possible to have constant obsessive engagement. One burns out. Again — normal.

So my thinking in terms of designing this experience – this Just Press Play thing, is that when we launch in the Fall, I expect there to be a good amount of activity the first week. Then it will taper off significantly after the third. There will be things going on the remaining seven weeks of the Fall quarter, but only the hard core will play.

Our mistake last year was that we didn’t have anything in our back pocket to make the game shiny and new in the successive quarters. I was responsible for organizing “Flash mobs” – essentially, large group ephemeral experiences, which were great. Those were bright and shiny moments, but as I said, ephemeral. Not quite enough a kick in the eyeballs to get people into the game who weren’t already actively engaged.

This is a design problem.

We have a population that do have a sustained interest in playing games. What comes to mind are things like League of Legends, and World of Warcraft. Multiplayer games where they work cooperatively or competitively have an entirely different dynamic. The only reason I dipped my head into WoW last year was because of the people involved. (Granted, even that was not enough to keep me in the grind.)

I am proposing a solution to this. So we roll out Just Press Play in the Fall. Players get collectible cards for every achievement. When Winter rolls around, we provide an expansion pack of achievements, but also a card game that uses the collectible cards. So we have an added game that uses resources from Just Press Play. My thesis is that we snag a different kind of player with this card game, and reenergize those already invested in the game.

When Spring comes, we switch focus a bit and make room for players to design experiences. Some Quests will have an associated card. (Every achievement has a card, Quests – not yet). Perhaps every JPP created quest will have a card. This is me still thinking this through. But the kicker is this — users should be able to group achievements to create their own quest lines. (Some of those may be vetted and earn the ability to have an attached card). Additionally, depending on the success of the card game, perhaps users suggest cards for that as well.

So the long thinking is that we design the game to be pushed in spurts, understanding that a sustained interest is not possible.

 Posted by at 8:55 am
Jul 252012
 

As Weez said in her last post, we’re changing the look and feel of Just Press Play for the new academic year. But that’s not all that’s changing, not by a long shot. Some of the changes are technical, and we’ll devote a post later to the nuts-and-bolts of the infrastructure. This post is about how things will be changing for the players.

The most obvious change in the mechanics of the game will be around the collectible cards and awarding of achievements. There will still be cards associated with achievements, but there will now be cards for *every* achievement, even the ones awarded automatically or based on materials you submit online. Once you get an achievement, you can stop by the IGM office to pick up the associated card. The cards will be professionally printed playing-card format, and later this year we’ll be developing some card games that you can play with them.

The cards won’t have those impossible-to-enter codes on them anymore, either. We know that lots more people participated and got cards than ever entered them into the system. That meant the mechanic was broken, so we spent a lot of time thinking about how to improve that aspect of the system. What we decided on was to equip anyone who can award an achievement (professors, staff members, etc) with a mobile app that can scan a QR code. Students will still get a keyfob for the game, but instead of RFID transmitters (which we were never able to integrate properly with our game engine) the keyfobs will hold a unique QR code linked to your game ID. When you qualify for an achievement, the person who can award it will scan your code, instantly giving you credit for the assignment. Sometimes they’ll have the collectible with them, other times you’ll need to pick the card up at the office. Either way, you won’t have to enter anything online to redeem the achievement. (For faculty and staff who don’t have mobile devices, we’ll provide a web interface they can use to assign the achievement.)

Another big change is in the core mechanic of achievements, quadrants, and “leveling.” We’ve changed the quadrants to four distinct categories–Create, Learn, Socialize, and Explore. Every achievement is worth 4 points in the system, and the points can be all in one quadrant, or distributed across 2 or more. There won’t be levels in the same sense that we had them in the past, either. All achievements and quests will be available to all players. We’ll reward players with achievements for reaching certain milestones (for instance, 25 points in each quadrant), but the levels will simply be progression markers, not restrictive barriers.

We’ve also added repeatable achievements into the game, which we’ll use for things like the “Flocking to Hockey” achievement. Go to one hockey game and find the JPP rep and you’ll get the base achievement. Go to 5, and you’ll get the next achievement in the series. Go to 25, and you get yet another achievement. We’ll use that mechanic for a variety of repeating events.

For every achievement you earn, you’ll be able to upload an optional text narrative and/or photo to help remember the activity. We hope this will allow people to build a nice record of the activities they engaged in to get the achievement.

And finally, you’ll now be able to make your achievements public if you’d like. By default, your achievements will be visible only to your friends in the JPP system. But you can opt to make them visible to the outside world, and even share them on Facebook if you’d like.

We’re excited about these changes, because we think they’ll make JPP more accessible and enjoyable for our players. What do you think?