Material Design Research Process

This post will go over how I have been going about my research when creating a custom controller. This is more specifically tied to studio 3 and the brief that we've been following for that class. The specific tasks on which this post is based on, was that we had to come up with a small game that used a custom controller.


First of all I had to look for inspiration. I had no specific idea so I decided to look online on different electronics retailers for different types of fun stuff. Problem was I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted, so I decided to search for "Sensors" and see what comes up. After some browsing I found a flame sensor and a proximity sensor, that I started to spawn some ideas for.


Once I found the sensor I started to come up with different ideas for these sensors. The flame sensor idea was that you had to light a persons cigarette perfectly by moving the lighter closer or further away from the sensor. The player would know if they did good or bad by the eyes of a giant mannequin (that would hold the sensor in a fake cigarette) that would light up if you did well.

The idea from the proximity sensor was that you would have a parallel parking simulator where the controller would be a cardboard car, with the proximity sensor attached to the back part. With it you would have a game which would have a car that would drive forward and backwards depending on the proximity of your hand to the sensor. You would also have two arcade buttons on the car roof in order to be able to turn right and left in the game. All you have to do is manage to park between the two cars in the game.


For the final step I had to consider materials. Of course a cardboard head would start to burn so I would have to use some form of thin metal sheet for the cigarette game, and a casing for the sensor. For the parallel parking game I wanted to use a cardboard car, as I felt like it would feel really good to both create and use. Cardboard has a kind of "crafty" feeling to it which I really like.

And that is practically it! Research what you can use, brainstorm and make sketches of your ideas and then find out what materials to use in order to get the cool controller you want. 

That is all for now, thanks for reading

Beat Burglar Pitching Process - Post Mortem

What Did We Do?

Final project part one consists of roughly 6 weeks of pitching and polishing an idea for a project, where the rest of the project is creating a prototype to get all the work ready for next trimester. During these past 6 weeks, we have worked as a team to get an idea and presentation ready to start working on the game. We had meetings regularly both within the team and within the game designers to try and get as good of a product as possible. 

What Went Well?


During our process of pitching and presenting, We have all been very transparent and honest in our communication. We have raised issues and discussed them with each other, and we have had meetings regularly to make sure that everyone is on the same page. We have had meetings discussing feedback we've received and what changes to make, and we have had meetings to rehearse the pitch and go through the presentation to make sure everyone knows what to say. 


Our pitching in front of class were very structured and clear. We spoke loud and made sure to detail as much as we could, highlighting all key features and levels. Everyone talked about a specific point of the project, making sure that everyone sounds engaged.

Why Did It Go Well?


When working in such a big team as we are, it is important to make sure you know exactly what everyone is doing and that it will be done on time. A big part of why I think we succeeded so well on this point, is partially because we had a lot of trust in each other that we can finish our work and make something great. It was also because we made sure to pick an idea that everyone would be happy working on, and in that we find everyone being enthusiastic about showing up to the meetings and discussing what we've done and can do. 


After we had pitched twice, we noticed that our way of pitching sounded very improvised and unstructured. Because of this, we decided to have a script that we read off of. This also allowed us to rehearse every day before class to make sure everyone knew and could agree on what was being said. 

How To Make Sure It Happens Again


For a project like this, where you've worked together with the majority of the people in your cohort, you know which ones to trust in doing the work that is required. Part of why our team in general was so successful was because we had all worked together in one project or another before, and we know each others strengths. You can trust each other to show up on meetings and get work done. It is also easier to communicate with people you know well.

However, for projects where this isn't the case, having a strong project manager that makes sure that things get done, that frequently looks through all work that we've done and checks what is remaining to be done helps a lot. It is important to keep the morale of all teammates as high as possible and include everyone so that no one is left out.

Having set dates for meetings is also a good idea, in that case everyone can make time for the meeting and make sure to show up on time.


If you want your pitch to do well, it is important to ask for feedback. Especially if you're pitching several times after one another, as this was the case here. The script writing was also very useful as it allowed us to review each others lines and comment on them before the actual pitch.

What Went Bad?

When trying to come up with an idea for our game it was very difficult for us to try and find out how to come up with an idea everyone would get something out of. Graphic design and audio was simple, but for the game designers it was tougher. We also had trouble finding a time for meetings where everyone was available.

Why Did It Go Bad?

Mainly our team size made it difficult for us to come up with ideas and meetings. When having 4 game designers trying to figure an idea out that everyone gets something out of, a lot of ideas that 3/4 designers like get tossed away. This is also why meetings was an issue. You have to find a time on a day where no one has work or an activity, and we had to do this approximately 3 times a week because of all the meetings we had.

How To Make Sure It Doesn't Happen Again

I would say pick a team with less teammates, but that is not always the case. The main reason that our team has managed to get meetings together is because we've all been participating in trying to find a time for meetings. We assisted in taking the burden off of the project manager's back and called for our own meetings where we all look through documents and iterate on feedback.

As for the difficulty of coming up with ideas, it's always important that you try to make everyone feel included, however that will not always work. Working with friends often makes the roles of project manager and creative lead sort of fade off a bit, as everyone discuss the ideas as friends and no one holds real authority over the others, and that can cause ideas to become harder to decide as no one really goes "No. We're doing this". I'm not saying that you should completely ignore the requests of your teammates, especially not in a smaller indie team, but it's important that someone takes the wheel and decides in benefit for everyone.


The pitching process has been a joy to work on. I am in a great team that all are capable of working and showing progress, as well as turn up to meetings and raise issues or questions. We always were confident in our ability to do the presentation and we never doubted that we could create a great product together. Although we've had our troubles because of our team size, we make up for it in enthusiasm and interest.

Thank you for reading this post mortem. Stay tuned for more posts regarding Beat Burglar.

Chris Shadforth - Business Design Concepts

During last Thursday's class, we were visited by a friend to my lecturer by the name of Chris Shadforth. He visited to talk to us about business design concepts and marketing. I personally found this to be a very useful talk, as it filled in a lot of cracks of questions I've had previously about marketing. In short, the presentations purpose was to reduce the possibility of failure and to build a model of customers. To do this, our main primary rule was "don't bullshit yourself", Something I as non-English speaker learned meant "don't lie to yourself".

The first crack to fill was "what is marketing". I've sort of had an understanding with it during the classes, but never really had a sentence to explain it. But thankfully, Chris's presentation did. The way it was explained was "A process for creating, communicating, delivering and exhanging offerings that have value for customers, clients etc.". This was not the full explanation but unfortunately that's all my notes said. 

The main section of the presentation was all about the 4 P's of marketing. Price, Place, Promotion and Product. I'll go through each of these and talk about what I learned and what it means for my profession.


There was a lot of good stuff to learn about this, considering I haven't charged money for any of my games. The first thing we talked about was "what do competitors charge?" which was interesting to me as often when making a game I don't really see other games as competitors. I make my thing and they make theirs. Of course, when it comes to pricing you really just want to check what they are charging, and then match your game with theirs and see if you can charge the same amount, which is really interesting. I'll try to do this moving forward with the games that I'm making.

Another thing that I learned to keep in mind is expectations at different price points. What people expect at different price points helps you as a content creator to place a price on your product depending on quality and content. For my own practices, I would most likely always place my price slightly below the price of the competitor, unless I am 100% sure that my game is better in some way. 

Other than that, we learnt about common price conventions, bulk discounts and price drops. Common price conventions meaning that most companies make a $5 product $4.99 instead as our brains interpret that as cheaper.


Place was something that we didn't need to talk a lot about as we as game developers know where to sell our products. Mainly, but there's always Gamejolt and Steam.


For promotion we learned some things we already knew and some new things. The first thing is that promotion is not the whole of marketing, however, in my personal opinion it's a big part of it. Of course, marketing is a lot about scoping out your audience and figuring out what they like. 

We were told that visual designers and writers are good to have, and even better if you know some personally, but access to the right audience is better. For example if you know an academic that can write reviews of your games and so on (hinting at the one academic we used to have as a lecturer, Brendan Keogh). We were taught there three different types of promotion. Paid, owned and earned. Paid being of course a service you pay to do promotion, owned being a friend or colleague that does it for you, and earned being the kind of promotion you get from getting a lot of downloads or views on YouTube. While doing promotion it is always important to keep track of trends.

The 4th P of marketing, Product, will return later in this post.


Next up we were taught about brand, which has two definitions. The unofficial one, is the mental model of your business/product/you.  For example, my brand is the viking themes I keep in my work. I use runes and stone, Nordic mythology and etc. for websites and games. The official definition tend to be limited to symbols of identification. There are personal brands (which is the one i'm using), team brands and product brands.


We talked a bit about risk management as well, which was a very useful thing to touch on. We should always avoid mental risk, and only take risks where failure would improve us. Through our degree we have been thought that burnout and crunching is never worth it. Crunching being the concept of working to the point where you barely sleep in order to meet a deadline. With risks you also need to minimize leaps of faith, and always look to win over the long run. 

As a game developer I feel like I have been taught risk management in a proper way. Of course, sometimes crunching is unintentional and unavoidable. Research and preparations are also good ways of avoiding leap of faiths, and just taking risks over all.


Observation in this case means observing your audience in order to find out what types of features they like in your product. The first advice was "go where your audience is", which in our case would be forums like Reddit or social media like YouTube. Then take notes. Take a lot of notes, as opinions are different in different parts of the internet.

It is also important to approach these observations as a stranger, and not as a game developer, and always be careful of participation in discussions and the like. You don't want to have influences or cause influences that may skew your findings.

The Exercise

The rest of the talk that Chris held was tied to a certain exercise that was carried out afterwards. It was a useful exercise that had us dive deep into what customers gains and pains, and what we as developers could do to create those gains or relieve the pains.


This talk was very eye-opening into all the different procedures and processess that go into marketing. It closed a lot of gaps for me in what we have learned so far, and I will take many of the things I learned from the talk into account when moving forward in my career as an indie game developer.

Definitely the main take-away for me was the part about pricing, as I've never put a price on any game I've made ever. If possible I've always had donations or ad-revenue as the main income, and Chris talk taught be a lot about what I can do in order to put the right price on my game that it deserves.

That is all for now! thanks for reading this rather lengthy blog. Until next time, take care


To Connect a Wiimote - Material Design Dev Diary #1

The other 1/3 of Studio 3 is material design. That is creating some type of controller for a game that is custom, or used in an unconventional way, or doesn't use any digital products what so ever. It's pretty fun and I must say it really makes me feel smart to sit and toy with electrical parts and making stuff light up and so on.

For the material design project, me, Paul Frame, and Nicholas Duxbury are working on a game called... FULL METAL BARBER. You are a barber that uses a shotgun in order to cut peoples hair. Sounds awesome right?

Well, in order to get this working we had to decide how we wanted the game to work. We quickly came up with the idea of making some form of light-gun that you aim at a mannequin in order to make things happen in the game. Paul had the idea of using a Wiimote as the main "pointer" for the weapon. He also built an amazing cardboard-scissor-gun that we could place the wiimote and nunchuck inside.


Here comes all the challenges we had to go through in order to get it to work. First of all, connecting a Wiimote was easier than we thought, even though it was hard. All we had to do was connect the wiimote through bluetooth and that's it. The only issue we encountered with this was where we connected it (apparently there's two different places to connect bluetooth devices).

Next issue was that the Wiimote didn't react to movement or button presses at all. Of course, we had to have some form of App to recognize the Wiimote as a form of valid input device. We figured that since we were only going to make the game in Unity, that we use some form of API for the wiimote. Luckily, there is one, made by Flafla. All we had to do was press a button, and the button input was being shown!


There was however, no reaction of the actual movement of the controller. So it couldn't be used for what we wanted it to be used for. However, after some conferring with our lecturers, we came to the obvious conclusion that we needed IR lights in order to sense the position. Luckily, one of our lecturers had a spare one for PC lying around in his office that we were allowed to use for this test, and voila, there was movement recognition. 

And now we get to the issue that plagues us to this day. The API. Flafla is amazing for having created this API, but as a user with no advanced experience in coding, I would have prefered some form of manual on how to use aspects of the code. Something as simple as "How to make shit happen on button presses" or "how to get the position of the pointer in world space and not in canvas space" would've been extremely helpful. This is still to be figured out, but it seems like Paul has a solution to it, so it remains to be seen what works and what doesn't.

Until that update comes out, take care and thanks for reading this post.

Darkness Dwells 2 - Studio 3

A big part of studio 3 has been and is the marketing. Which is understandable, as marketing is so incredibly important to get your product out into the world. The long-term assessment for the marketing side of studio 3 is that we gather all previously created games, pick some that are suitable for marketing, and then carry out marketing processes for that game along with adding/removing features that makes it more/less marketable.

The team I am a part of (team name yet to be determined), consists of me, Paul Frame, Nicholas Duxbury, and the game's owner himself, Scott "Penguin" Anastasi. As I mentioned, Penguin is the owner of the game Darkness Dwells, and we are setting out to make the sequel, Darkness Dwells 2.

A little information about the game before we dive into the marketing side of things. Darkness Dwells was a first person game where you play as a child, laying in a bed trying to sleep while monsters and horrible beings apparate all around you. If you wait long enough, you will hear your parents comforting voice through the walls talk to each other and you'll finally be able to rest, free from monsters.

What we noticed in horror games, is that jumpscares always sells. Especially in the streaming/youtuber market, as it gives both the game and the youtuber views. Youtubers gained a lot of views (and money) from sitting and screaming at jumpscares coming at them (that may or may not be scary). We wanted to try and reach that goal of having a very youtuber friendly game. So what we mainly are looking to changing/adding to the game is the following:

  • Walking
  • Monsters with purpose
  • Blanket Mechanic



What previously wasn't possible in Darkness Dwells was walking. We wanted the player to have more input on where they go and what to do, so we added a purpose. You wake up in the middle of the night, and have to try and find your parents room before the monsters catch you. Because the game is set within a house, there will be short play sessions, which are optimal for youtubers and streamers as they can play a quick game or a couple of games per streaming session.

Monsters With Purpose

A lot of horror games (nearly all of them) have at least one distinguishable threat that is recognizable for that game. Examples are the Five Nights at Freddy's (FNAF) animatronics or the good old classic Slender man. We want the player to know what Is chasing them, so that the face of the monster can be tied to the game, in order to spread. For example you might see a monster you recognize, but you're not sure where it is from so you look it up. That's how they find Darkness Dwells 2.


What we mean with purpose as well is that they all have a purpose for haunting the character. However it can be debatable why. Slender man for example kidnaps children while the FNAF characters seek revenge for their unfair deaths (also debatable). A lot of the characters have stories that you read between the lines to figure out, and that appeals to us, and to youtubers as well. It also allows a type of audience participation that is very intriguing.

The character we chose for Darkness Dwells 2 is Longtooth. We have some early concept arts of the character, and so far no backstory has been written. But I figured that the image itself can haunt you until a purpose is fully made.


Blanket Mechanic

A lot of horror games have at least one mechanic that let's them avoid the threat haunting them. Sometimes at the cost of something else. This would for example be the golden mask in the FNAF franchise. We added a blanket mechanic to Darkness Dwells 2. This means that the player walks around constantly wrapped in a blanket that they can hide in for a certain amount of time. We are also discussing ways of making this a curse, much like the blinking mechanic of SCP containment breach or the weeping angels from doctor who.

We strongly believe that all the above mentioned mechanics will allow for a strong game that can be played within 10 minutes and give the player a good scare. The game will be suitable to youtubers mainly for the short game time and plentiful of varied jumpscares that the player can try and avoid. Only time will tell what gets added and removed.

Thanks for reading this first blog post on my new website, I appreciate it!

Until next time, take care.