Valentines Day Game I Created for My Sweetie

I have recently switched from being a full-time employee from a company for the last decade and a half to running my own consultancy services company. It has been great so far. I’ve been able to focus on some of my passions like creating video games and creating content for folks to consume around video game creation.

But running your own business also comes with some challenges. Having a steady paycheck every two weeks for the last 20 years is comforting. Not knowing exactly where the next project will come from and how the next month’s bills will be paid takes a little bit of a mind shift. Due to this mind shift, I decided to make my wife a game instead of buying her a card. It was sort of a geeky thing to do, but my wife has come to expect the geeky ways I express myself.  (When we were in college, I’d send 3.5 floppy disks to her through the college mail system for her to run different applications I had made. These included instructions like, “on the DOS prompt enter iloveyou.exe”. Yes, she can’t say she didn’t know what she was getting into!)

The Valentines Day Game

Anyway, even though I haven’t changed my cheesy ways all that much in 20 years, the technology has. Unity 3D makes it really simple to get something going. I spent about 2 hours getting the Valentines Day game to work as I wanted to.

Happy Valentines Day Game

The game is simplistic and randomly puts candy inside of the 3 heart boxes. It plays one of 3 random songs when it starts and tapping on the flowers makes it switch songs. If you find the candy on the first try, you get 3 points. If you find it on the second try, you get 2 points. If you didn’t find it until the last box, you get no points and you get a strike. If you get three strikes the game is over. It also keeps track of the high score and updates the screen (and storage) if a high score is achieved during the gameplay.

The game won’t win any awards to be sure, but it was fun to do over the course of a couple of hours this past weekend.

If you haven’t tried out Unity yet, I’d highly suggest you give it a try. It is really easy to get into and after a little bit of a learning curve, you can be creating awesome games – even a Valentines Day game like this one.

The game in its current form is using a font that is only licensed for personal use and I’m using songs that I have rights to listen to, but not to redistribute.  So I’m not releasing the game’s source in it’s current state.

That being said, if getting your hands on this Valentines Day game is something that interests you, please let me know in the comments below. If I get 20 comments asking for the files, I’ll spend some time to rework the game with assets I can actually distribute and make it available to download. So if you want to see it, let me know (and let others know too so they can comment as well.)

Introduction to Game Design: Toy vs Game

In the last game design article I discussed a definition of a game. Another book, that quickly addresses that question is:

Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design

Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design

In the book, Scott Roger has the following:

Q: What is a game?
A: A game is an activity that:

  • requires at least one player
  • has rules
  • has a victory condition.

He goes on to answer this question:

Q: What is a video game?
A: A video game is a game that is played on a video screen.

So the question now is, what is a toy and how does that differ from a game?

Hopefully, with the game definition above (and the definition talked about before), it is clear that a toy isn’t a game. Why? Well, a toy can have a single player, but a toy doesn’t have rules and there is no victory condition.

Scott uses the analogy of hand ball.

Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design

He says the following:

Bouncing a ball against a wall without missing it is hardly a metaphor for reality; unless you lead a very boring life. Let’s face it, sometimes a ball bouncing against a wall is just a ball bounding against a wall.

He goes on to say:

Playing hand ball therefore may seem like a time-waster, but a time-waster becomes a game when you add rules and an objective. A rule may be to throw the ball with your right hand and catch it with your left, or to not drop the ball. A victory condition could be that you have to catch the ball ten times in a row. A failure state would be if you violated any of the rules or victory conditions. Once those criteria have been met, you have created a game.

In the book, I mentioned in the previous article about game design, The Art of Game Design – A Book of Lenses, the author Jesse Schell talks about the Lens of the Toy. He also talks about a ball:

Toys are fun to play with for their own sake. In contrast, games have goals and are a much richer experience based around problem solving. We should never forget, though, that many games are built on top of toys. A ball is a toy, but baseball is a game. A little avatar that runs and jumps is a toy, but Donkey Kong is a game. You should make sure that your toy is fun to play with before you design a game around it. You might find that once you actually build your toy, you are surprised by what makes it fun, and whole new ideas for games might become apparent to you.

Toys are fun to play with. Toys and games are not the same thing. Many games have one or more toys in them.

Think about a toy and then think about a way to turn that toy into a game by creating rules and a victory state.

What other things do you think make a toy and a game different? Let me know in the comments!

Game Development Contest – $28K Up For Grabs

Game Development Contest from Microsoft has $28,000 up for grabs!

Already have a game developed but it isn’t on Windows and Windows Phone?  Or are you thinking about making a game? You should check out the Windows Game Development Contest from Microsoft!

The contest started on January 21st, but applies to any games that were already published to the Windows Store or Windows Phone Store on or after January 1st. The deadline to submit your game and apply it to the DVLUP challenge is March 20th, 2015.

The game entries will be judged on the following:

Quality of Submission – 50%

Creativity – 30%

Technical Excellence – 20%

Get all the details on the Windows Game Development Contest

Windows Game Development Contest

Windows Game Development Contest

So if you’ve been wanting to get started in game development, but needed a little motivation, perhaps the cash prizes would entice you.

First Prize: $10K USD

Second Prize: $5K USD

Third Prize: $3K USD

10 Honorable Mention Prizes: $1K USD each

If you are just starting out, you may want to check out the webinar I gave on my game development tutorial site, The webinar has been made available for a short time as a replay. If you are interested, you can sign up for the game development webinar replay.

Are you excited about this opportunity? If so, let me know in the comments below!

Introduction to Game Design: What is a Game?

A fellow game developer, and friend of mine, Charles Humphrey, recently asked on Facebook:

What do you consider a game to be?

Video Games

His purpose, I believe in asking this, was to start a conversation around game design. What is fun? What is a game?

Game Design

I’ve been working on a talk I’ll be February 11th around Game Design.

Because of this, I’ve been re-reading two great books on game design:

The Art of Game Design – A Book of Lenses

Art of Game Design

Introduction to Game Design, Prototyping and Development

Introduction to Game Design, Prototyping, and Development

A lot of smart people have tried to define game.

“[A game is] an interactive structure of endogenous meaning that requires players to struggle toward a goal.”  – Greg Costikyan

Endogenous basically means, things that have value in the game, only have value in the game.

Another, more scientific, definition is

“Games are an exercise of voluntary control systems, in which there is a contest between powers, confined by rules in order to produce a disequilibrial outcome.” – Elliot Advedon and Brian Sutton-Smith


Here is a summarized statement about what a game is from the Art of Game Design:

Games are entered willfully, have goals, have conflicts, have rules, can be won or lost, are interactive, have challenge, can create their own internal value, engage players, are closed, formal systems, and are a problem-solving activity.

I think, this is why many developers like playing games. In general, we like solving problems.

Do you like playing games? If so, why do you like playing games?

Let me know in the comments below!