Interactive and New Communication Technologies

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					          DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNICATION, FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY

 Interactive and New Communication Technologies


                        A Proposal for a Creative Project

                                  To Be Titled


              FLOORED: Game Development for Mobile Devices with Flash Lite 1.1


                                       by


                               James Richardson


             To Be Submitted in Partial Fulfillment for the Degree of


           MASTER'S OF SCIENCE IN MASS COMMUNICATION
         WITH AN EMPHASIS IN INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION


                             February 20, 2006




Approved ____________________________            Date: _________
         Program Committee Chair


Approved ____________________________            Date: _________
         Program Committee Member


Approved ____________________________            Date: _________
         Program Committee Member
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Table of Contents


Overview                                                           2
   Executive Summary                                               2
Background                                                         4
   Cellular Gaming                                                 4
   Relevance                                                       8
   Problem                                                         9
Target Audience                                                    10
Technology Assessment                                              11
   Platform                                                        11
   Mobile vs. Traditional Video Games                              12
   Technical Notes                                                 14
Objectives                                                         15
Product Design                                                     16
   Genre                                                           16
   Story                                                           17
   Metaphor                                                        18
   Game Design                                                     18
   Flowchart                                                       21
   Level Design (with storyboards)                                 22
   Interactivity                                                   43
   Usability                                                       45
Functional Specification                                           50
   Color Specification                                             50
   Icons                                                           50
   Typeface Specification                                          51
   In-game Graphics                                                52
   Database Design                                                 53
Project Review                                                     55
   Lessons Learned                                                 55
Conclusion                                                         60
Sources                                                            62
Appendix A: Floored Game Script and Password Scheme                64
Appendix B: PHP Source file for Top-Ten Database Connectivity      68
Appendix C: Still Photographs of Game Operating on Mobile Device   69
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Overview

Executive Summary

The following is a creative proposal for the culminating activity for attaining a Master’s Degree in

Communications with an emphasis in Interactive New Communications Technology from Florida

State University. Completion of project will consist of the planning, design and development of

an interactive Flash-based puzzle game, intended for use on mobile devices supporting

Macromedia’s Flash Lite 1.1 plug-in. This type of technology can benefit the marketplace by

allowing advertisers to reach consumers through in-game ads or product placement. It can also

be beneficial to the education industry by applying educational or training concepts to the game

design.

          This application will be developed using Macromedia Flash 8 Professional. It will feature

colorful, “cartoonish” graphics, a simple and intuitive interface and likewise, simple and easy to

learn, yet challenging, gameplay. Like many other games of the puzzle genre, this game will be

low-involvement and fast paced, geared for instant gratification and short-term amusement. This

game will be typically used for filling time between other activities. For example, one may play a

cellular-based game while waiting for a friend in the fitting room at JC Penny. Or perhaps while

waiting for a flight to board at the airport.

          The product will have the most in common with online puzzle games such as those found

on games.yahoo.com, lycos gamesville, shockwave.com and addictinggames.com. What sets

this project apart from the previously listed is the platform in which it is intended to run. While

most online puzzle games are intended for delivery through a web browser or standalone

projector on a PC or Mac, the proposed application will be intended for use on capable mobile

devices, like cellular telephones, PDAs, palm-top PCs and any other devices which support the

installation of the Flash Lite 1.1 player.
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        Within the game, the user will find him or herself in the role of a creature being held

against his will by the “evil alien scientist” in a fortress of puzzles. The only way out is to solve

the evil alien scientist’s puzzles and make a great escape. Within each room of the fortress is a

new puzzle to solve. Each puzzle consists of a grid in varying size and shape. Much like a

checkerboard, each matrix contains squares varying in color depending on the current level. The

player’s goal is to change the color of the squares in the matrix so that every square is the same

color. This is accomplished by stepping from one square to another. Upon stepping from one

square to another, under typical circumstances, the color of the stepped on square will change.

Each level will have a unique starting pattern of colored squares. To add variety, and in some

cases, increase the difficulty, many levels will have variations on the way the game reacts to the

player stepping from one square to another. For example, one level may consist of squares that

vary in a sequence of three colors rather than the typical two colors. So a player may step from

red tile1 to blue tile2, tile2 may change from blue to white. In the previous level, the tile2 would

have changed directly from blue to red. However in this level, tile2 requires the player to step on

the twice to achieve the red color. Once to turn the tile from blue to white and once more to

change the color from white to red. Stepping on the tile a third time will cause the tile to change

back to the original blue. Since the objective of every level is common – to achieve a floor

consisting of tiles of all the same color, adding variations on the way the tiles react and other

“gimmicks” will keep the player feeling challenged and engaged throughout the course of game

play.

               The target audience for the proposed application will be the casual online gamer.

According to a Screen Digest article, casual online gamers “see gaming online as a time-filler

and form of light entertainment. [They enjoy] intuitive and attractive interfaces, well-known brand

names and familiar, instant gameplay gratification (2004).” Mobile devices provide an ideal

vehicle for delivering games to this audience when a computer or Internet connection is

unavailable.
                                                                                                   4




Background
       In an August, 2005 article, Folio reported on a survey of wireless subscriptions in the

United States conducted by CITA – The Wireless Association. According to the 2004 survey,

there were over 182 million wireless subscribers in the US. An article in Twice (2005) cites a

similar CITA survey and notes, “cellular penetration has reached 61 percent of the US

population.” US News and World Report in March 2005, reported cell phones to be replacing

landlines in the homes of many young people. Globally, sales of cell phones are expected to

reach nearly 800 million in 2005. The expected number of cell phones in-use worldwide is

projected to climb to 2.6 billion by 2009 (Information Week, 2005).

       The sheer number of current and projected future cellular users has prompted marketers,

many accustomed to traditional advertising methods, to wake up to the potential benefit of using

cell phones and other mobile devices as delivery vehicles for their advertising message (New

Media Age, 2005). In the same article, New Media Age cites “richer creative potential ushered in

by fast networks and high-functionality devices.” A year prior, New Media Age touted

Macromedia’s new Flash Lite plug-in for handheld devices as the “second generation of mobile

content,” following Java, the current standard (New Media Age, 2004). The Macromedia website

lists over 50 models of mobile device which support Flash Lite 1.1, many preinstalled with the

software. Though the vast majority of these models are not yet available in the United States,

each year around the December holidays the US sees a shift in the quality of mobile devices

(New Media Age, 2005). This is the time when new technologies are introduced to American

consumers.

Cellular Gaming

       As the spread of cellular phones and other mobile devices reaches its zenith, and the

market becomes saturated with service carriers and device manufacturers, opportunity for
                                                                                                  5

service providers to grow through new subscribers will lessen. As predicted by the product life

cycle, the market for cell phones and voice-service plans will mature. During the maturity phase,

a product, or in this case service providers, will need to rely more on repeat business for

sustaining sales (Polli & Cook, 1969). In Western Europe, the beginnings of this market

saturation are already starting to become visible. MGAIN writes, “Mobile phone penetration in

Western Europe has reached saturation and subscriber rates have stagnated (2003).” It is a

safe assumption that other Western countries will likely not lag far behind in this market

saturation.

       To maintain growth, most - if not all - mobile service providers have begun offering

customization tools and aesthetic features to subscribers on an a la carte, pay-per-item basis.

Such customization tools can include, non-standard ring tones, downloads of images to use as

“wallpaper, ” or backgrounds on the phone screen, carrying cases, lights, etc (Bells, whistles ring

up sales, 2005). Also among the services offered are downloadable video, and on-demand

games. As Ben Charney wrote in his CNET article, Sprint PCS, announced that over 16 million

ring tones had been downloaded in the final four months of 2003. Additionally, in September of

2003, Sprint’s cell phone game sales broke the 4 million sales mark. “U.S. cell phone service

providers need the sales of these items to boom to help replace the shrinking amount they are

earning selling voice calls. It's a business plan that's working in some Asian markets, where

three-quarters of subscribers spend more money on data… than they do on phone calls

(Charney, 2003).” In 2005, almost two years after Charney wrote his article, the Boston Globe

echoed the sentiment by reporting, “cell phone-game sales revenue has risen more than 300%

in the last two years to a half-billion dollars (Bells, whistles… 2005).”

       Despite starting slowly due to marketers’ lack of promoting data services (Charney,

2003), the mobile gaming industry is rapidly growing, and with this growth many within the

industry are beginning to see the profitability. In a recent Business Week article Olga Kharif

describes the “juicy [profit] margins” available to industry investors. The most popular cell phone
                                                                                                       6

games are simple games like Tetris, Pac Man, or Baseball to name a few (Kharif, 2005). MGAIN

concurs, noting “the ‘sophistication’ of a game is not necessarily the key to success in the mobile

arena (2003). ” This point is illustrated with the citing of the success of the mobile version of

“Who Wants to be a Millionaire” in European nations. Taking a look back to 2002, wireless-

gaming.com reports the top ten mobile games. Among the most popular are Tic Tac Toe, Tanks

and Black Jack.

        Given the growing popularity of mobile games along with the low overhead of designing

and programming these “simpler” cell phone games, developers are realizing great profits,

especially when compared to the development costs of ultra-sophisticated console games

(Kharif, 2005). Although in the past developing mobile content was relegated to small start-up

firms (MGAIN, 2003), operating from a programmers basement, Kharif reports, the “big boys” in

game development, like Activision and Electronic Arts have begun to demonstrate interest by

shifting some focus away from strictly console-based games and adding efforts to cell phone

game development. Activision has doubled its mobile game development staff in the year, which

Kharif wrote her article (2005). With many experts within the telecommunications industry

predicting such a bright future for the mobile gaming, it is difficult to argue against entering the

mobile game development field. The barriers to entry are relatively low for the fledgling discipline

and before the so-called big boys fully divert their development resources to mobile gaming.

Mark Nagel, director of premium and entertainment services at Cingluar predicts that cell phone

games growth is so rapid that it may surpass the current $3.5 billion ringtone market as the

hottest revenue stream for wireless carriers (Kharif, 2005).    As cell phones and mobile devices

become more of a part of minute-to-minute life rather than simply a communication device, the

financial upside to getting involved in any up-and-coming mobile device based industry is going

to expand. Eventually, the enormous companies will likely recognize this opportunity, at which

point barriers to entry will be too high for small, independent start-ups to be involved with the

industry in any significant level.
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       There are two delivery methods typical for cell phone-based games. The first, and thus

far most common, is the bundling of games with a cell phones operating system. Games

distributed in this fashion are preinstalled and ready to play right out of the box. This method is

analogous to finding solitaire or minesweeper on a PC, ready to play after a fresh install of

Windows. For instance, on a Nokia phone with enough capability you are likely to find the game

Snake pre-installed (MGAIN, 2003). The next delivery method is the on-demand download of

games from service provider or developer servers. For an example of this we can look to almost

any major cellular carrier. If one were to log on to Sprint/Nextel’s website it would not be

necessary to navigate far before one comes across an area for downloading games from Sprint.

The subscriber would download the game to his phone and be charged a fixed amount on his

next cellular phone bill (Sprint PCS - Games). Though available through Sprint, many times

these games are developed by a third party. For example, some of the sample games on

Sprint’s website are licensed through private development companies rather than developing the

games under the Sprint/Nextel umbrella. One such private development firm is Digital

Chocolate, which is cited as a little-known private game company in Kharif’s article. Also in the

article is the citation of a woman downloading the game Tetris from her cell phone carrier for a

one-time download fee of five dollars (2005).

       If data delivery channels continue to expand in capability, as far as bandwidth or data

transfer speed, - and this is purely speculation – it is likely going to be possible for games to be

developed and delivered to a cellular “inbox,” like an email message. The value in doing

something such as this is two-fold. Users could receive new and enjoyable games, for free, that

they may play or discard as they see fit. Secondly, to cover the expense of game development

and delivery, marketers could pay to have advertisements or product placement within the game,

or even a complete branding of the game, which could potentially be played by millions of cellular

phone customers. The method branding an entire game produces a product known within the

industry as an ‘advergame, ’ as described in the article Game Advertising: Target Acquired in
                                                                                                     8

New Media Age. Branding video games, though not a new concept, is becoming more profitable

for developers because marketers have realized that the 18-34 demographic that typically play

video games are not easy to reach with marketing messages (2005). Even though the typical

video game player as described in the New Media Age article may differ, in terms of

demographics, from the cell phone game player, the marketing technique will likely prove

valuable nonetheless. Also, since mobile games have many similarities to fast-play online

games, one of which being possible connectivity to the Internet, advertising can be tied to an

online database thus making dynamic advertising possible. The marketers are happy because

their message is being delivered to millions. Subscribers are happy because they can play new

and fun games for free at their will. Carriers are happy because customers are happy, and they

are getting paid by both the advertisers and the subscribers.




Relevance

       This project is relevant to the field of New Media or Interactive Communications because,

as many speculate, mobile devices are the next frontier for marketing and content delivery.

Much of the media we find on the Internet today will also be available to the world via wireless

mobile devices; we can see this progression even today. Verizon currently offers a service

called “V-cast,” which delivers video content to wireless customers with properly equipped

devices. We can also observe the delivery of downloadable audio files to mobile devices that

double as mp3 players. Downloading of mp3 files for personal enjoyment is an activity that was

limited to the computer just months ago. It is not a far stretch to imagine that online games, too

will transition from being limited to the computer and venture onto mobile devices. One reason

for the likelihood of this transition is the adaptation of the PC/Mac Flash Player for wireless

devices in the form of the Flash Lite Player. The Flash Lite Player makes it easier for games and

other interactive content to be developed for the wireless world. Prior to Flash Lite’s release
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Java was the development platform for mobile applications. Java, while very powerful, in many

cases, is difficult for non-programmers to use as a development tool, and thus not as attractive to

designers and other content developers.

       By adopting and utilizing this new technology, in doing this project, I hope to join the other

developers who have chosen to become early adopters and add to the pool of content available

for the new medium. As with any product or technology, early adoption is important for the

overall market penetration. The greater availability of utilities, games and content for use with

the Flash Lite player, the more likely users will be to adopt and take advantage of the

convenience and functionality the player offers.

Problem

       As of this writing, the Macromedia Flash Lite Exchange features 122 utilities, games,

chatbots, and animations that are intended for use with the Flash Lite Player for mobile devices

(2005). Some of these have been adapted from the PC/Mac Flash Player for use with Flash Lite.

Contrast this with the 922 applications available on the Flash Exchange, and it becomes

apparent that Flash Lite development is still in its infancy (2005). This can likely be attributed to

the unavailability of devices supporting the Flash Lite player in the Americas. Without the

devices on which to run the Flash Lite Player, American developers choosing to develop for

Flash Lite are creating applications that, for the time being, will only be able to run on computers

and higher-end handheld devices equipped with the full-featured Flash Player. In effect, these

developers are unnecessarily setting boundaries on the level of sophistication their applications

can achieve to those limitations inherent with the Flash Lite Player, when in fact; end users have

access to the Flash Player without those limitations. These developers seem to be volunteering

to work within these boundaries with the assumption that it is only a matter of time before the

Flash Lite-capable mobile devices migrate to the Americas.

       The lack of content utilizing this technology is only half of the problem, however. The true

problem lies in the limited availability of fresh, downloadable activities for mobile devices. Many
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cellular devices come bundled with a few simple games for killing time while waiting for a

delayed flight or waiting for a name to be called at the doctor’s office. While the Internet may

offer computer users a great selection of games and activities for their time-killing amusement,

the cellular world does not offer nearly the same variety. The proposed game will add to the

growing pool of applications designed for mobile devices, in turn doing a small part in alleviating

the overall lack of content issue.




Target Audience
       The puzzle game genre is one of the most popular forms of gaming online. One article in

Incentive reports 55% of online games selected by players are of the trivia/game show/puzzle

genre (2005). These types of games are especially popular with the casual online gamer

(Screen Digest, 2004). Specific demographics of cell phone game players in the US are not

readily available, likely due to the non-availability of the technology in the present. Yet, this

demographic of casual online gamers will likely have much in common with the typical user of a

similar genre cell phone game.

       According to a Screen Digest article, casual online gamers “see gaming online as a time-

filler and form of light entertainment. [They enjoy] intuitive and attractive interfaces, well-known

brand names and familiar, instant gameplay gratification (2004).” Surprisingly, Screen Digest

reports these casual online gamers are typically married, female, unemployed and approaching

middle age. The author surmises the next most common demographic is younger, employed,

males killing spare time on the job (2004). I believe these demographic groups will also be

typical of the user of a flash based puzzle game for use on a mobile device. It is unlikely that the

“hardcore gamer” audience will find much excitement with a cellular phone based type of activity

because of the lack of technical sophistication the device can support versus the standard video

game console or the PC.
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        This medium is appropriate for the aforementioned target audience versus typical video

game players, because as Maija Pesola wrote in her Financial Times article, “the typical games

console owner tends to be a 19- to 34-year-old man, mobile phones could be a way for games

companies to reach older consumers and women - who make up less than 40 per cent of the

gaming population… You have the opportunity to take someone who doesn't play games and

interest them in the experience (2005).” Pesola points out that adaptations of film-based games,

which normally sell quite well in the console world have not done as well in mobile form. In fact,

as of the time of Pesola’s article the top mobile games in the UK were the arcade classics, like

Pac Man and Tetris. This is a fact in support of the theory that hardcore gamers would find little

interest in games developed for mobile devices. The demographics for cellular telephone

subscribers overlap with the casual online gamers thus supporting the appropriateness of the

mobile medium for this project.




Technology Assessment

Platform

This project is intended to be executed on a mobile device equipped with Macromedia’s Flash

Lite Player version 1.1 or later. As of the time of this proposal, the intended platform for this

application is not yet readily available in the local area, and may not become available in the

near future. As many American developers have done, as a contingency, I will develop the

application to run on the Flash Lite emulator bundled with Macromedia Flash 8. For the

program to run successfully, the end user will need a keyboard, monitor capable of 8-bit color at

a resolution greater than 176 x 208, a web browser with the Flash Player 4 plug-in or later, or the

standalone Flash Player 4 or later, and an optional Internet connection. With the exception of

the controls, PC/Mac users will experience the game exactly as the mobile user would, including
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the smaller stage. Computer players will use the number pad or keyboard arrows, where the

mobile users will use the device’s keypad. For players with access to devices supporting Flash

Lite Player, the proposed game will require Flash Lite 1.1, and will be enhanced by an Internet

connection.




Mobile vs. Traditional Video Games

This section outlines the major conflicts between gaming in the mobile environment versus

gaming in the traditional PC or console-based environments. The most obvious, and perhaps

most important difference between the two environments is the size of the viewable area. On the

traditional PC, the low end for desktop screen resolution is 800 x 600 (Rhodes, 2004, p.380).

However according to the research firm OneStat.com, the most popular screen resolution is

1024 x 768, used by over 57% of personal computer users. Of the screen resolutions appearing

in the results of the research, 800 x 600 is the screen resolution allowing the least viewable area

being used by under 20% of the Internet viewing population (OneStat.com, 2005). This is in

stark comparison to mobile devices. The typical pocket PC comes out of the box with a screen

resolution of 240 x 320 pixels (Rhodes, 2004, p.387). A quick search on google for “pocket PC

screen resolution” will yield an occasional mention of very high-end pocket PCs with screen

resolutions of 640 x 480, but for the most part will show that 320 x 240 is the most common.

With that being said, it is important to point out that the proposed game is intended for use on a

cell phone, more specifically, the Nokia 3600, which has a maximum screen resolution of 176 x

208. Upon browsing through the settings for consumer-grade cell phone emulators available

within the Flash 8 Professional software, 176 x 208 is the typical maximum screen resolution for

the Flash Lite-capable cell phones. When you think about the difference between 800x 600 and

176 x 208 in terms of a percentage, the contrast becomes more abundant. The 800 x 600
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resolution is over 450% larger than 176 x 208. With this great of a difference, it is obvious that

screen resolution is a major concern to mobile game developers.

       The next major difference between the PC gaming environment and the mobile gaming

environment is the ergonomics of control. When it comes to controlling the action on a PC or a

console, players have options available as to the types of input devices they may use. Game

pads, joysticks, steering wheels, mock weapons, gloves, floor pads, and more are all at the

disposal of PC or console gamers to use as input devices, depending on the players’ choice of

game and/or platform. Many of the game pads and joysticks come in varying shapes and sizes,

so that a player may decide on one that feels the most comfortable to himself.

       On the other hand, with the exception of the N-Gage, (a mobile phone developed by

Nokia specifically for gaming) mobile device gamers are limited to the buttons on the device

itself, or in the case of a pocket PC, maybe an auxiliary keyboard. As for the buttons on the cell

phone itself, in 2003 Janine Croasmun wrote an article for ergoWeb in it she writes, “What was

supposed to be a simple 12-key phone has turned into a user nightmare…Every phone is

different…” She also writes of the inadequate screen size and difficulty of use (Croasmun, 2003).

Two years later, Jennifer Anderson reported on the failing of cell phone designs to address

usability issues in regards to ergonomics. Her article directly addresses the problems with

controls on a cell phone, “…a common criticism is that aim and accuracy suffer when adult

hands finger child-sized buttons…” She too, addresses the small screen size, “…tiny screens

mar experiences like viewing pictures, browsing the Internet and emailing (Anderson, 2005)…”

       The ergonomic problems associated with controls on mobile phones, until properly

addressed will likely be a major factor in hindering players’ enjoyment of mobile games. This is

especially evident, as we have seen in comparison to the PC or gaming consoles.

       The last major contrast between the PC and the mobile devices is performance speed.

Performance, for the most part is determined by processing power (CPU) and memory (RAM). I

will address both of these issues in detail as this document progresses, but, in a nutshell, the
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difference between performance speed on a PC is dramatically higher than on a mobile device,

especially a cell phone, which is not technically intended as a gaming device.




Technical Notes

Due to the limitations in processing power and display speed on the majority of mobile devices

available today, the Flash Lite Player 1.1 supports an abbreviated version of Macromedia’s

ActionScript programming language. The version of ActionScript employed by Flash Lite 1.1 has

much in common with the Flash 4 version of ActionScript released by Macromedia in 1999

(DiGiacomo, 1999). Cutting-edge at the time, Flash 4 has become perceived as a rather

rudimentary version of Flash. I suspect this is mostly due to Flash 5 marking a turning point in

some of the paradigms governing the syntax and performance of ActionScript, which was, again

greatly improved in the subsequent MX release.

       Given this, Flash 4 is still powerful enough to create media-rich, interactive environments

while allowing the host device to get by with relatively low processing power or memory space.

The purpose of using most of Flash 4’s language, with some of Flash 5’s less-demanding

routines and several Flash Lite exclusive functions and properties is to add functionality to

devices that could not normally support the PC/Mac Flash Player. While these limitations do

offer some challenges to the developer, they also force a more frugal approach to development

whereas in the past, Flash has been rather lax on efficiency restrictions. This may seem like a

big downside to developing for Flash Lite, but it seems also to be an opportunity for the

developer to step back, examine the goals and find more efficient ways of achieving the goals

based on the restrictions presented. The same application developed with Flash Lite 1.1 may be

developed in Flash 6, without realizing it; the developer may not fully think through the problem

and use a more resource intensive approach than necessary, just because she has the
                                                                                                   15

additional capability to waste. I look at developing with such restrictions as an exercise in lean,

discretionary, efficient programming.

       Another limitation to the majority of mobile devices is the lack of processing power they

have in comparison to their PC/Mac counterparts. According to the welcome kit supplied with

the Flash Lite CDK from Macromedia’s website, the least powerful cellular devices which support

the Flash Lite player can only reliably achieve a frame rate of 6 frames per second. With that

being said, it is important to note that like computers, wireless technology is constantly evolving

and becoming more capable and advanced. Many devices today can support frame rates of 12

frames per second or more, with some achieving as much as 20+ fps. This relative lack of

processing ability also limits the amount of complexity in animations, code and quality of

graphics.

       These constraints have been taken into consideration while conceptualizing and planning

the scope and level of interactivity of the proposed game. An overly complex concept or

graphically intensive gameplay would be doomed to failure on the mobile medium as it stands

today. Several ideas were rejected on this premise before finally deciding on the concept as

outlined later in this document.




Objectives
The primary goal of this project is to provide a challenging, engaging, and entertaining

experience that may last as long or as short a time period as desired by the gamer. The

secondary goal is to explore a new technology and add to the growing pool of applications

created for use with the Flash Lite Player. Specific objectives are as follows:

               An interactive puzzle/adventure game for primary use on mobile devices with

               Flash Lite 1.1.

               A minimum of ten, sequential, unique levels, each with an original puzzle to solve.
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               Password-style save state system. (Password-style serves the dual purpose of

               eliminating a hard drive space requirement, and eases debugging and user

               testing for the later levels.)

               Web-based high-score database for players with a detectable Internet

               connection.

               Opening and closing sequences for storyline advancement

               Tutorial screens for help with controls and gameplay

               Several post-level “intermission” advertisements and/or trivia facts.




Product Design

Genre

This game is intended to be a hybrid of puzzle and action genres of video games. The puzzle

aspect will likely be the most apparent to the end user, but the game will combine some mild

action elements. Such elements may include the ability to jump, move quickly and react to

changes within the game. It is expected that the audience will have little to some gaming

experience, but not to the extent that many action games require for peak enjoyment, which

serves as one of several reasons that action elements will be limited.

       The genre and parts of the concept for this application were inspired by the Nintendo

classic Lolo, (see image) and also the 1980’s puzzle toy fad the Rubik’s cube.
                                                                                                  17




Nintendo Classic Lolo                                        1980’s toy box staple Rubik’s Cube




Story

Imagine if you will, that you are a stringy, bean-pole-looking alien on your home planet, minding

your own business, when suddenly out of the clear red sky comes an alien ship from the planet

Earth. This evil intruder swipes you up and hauls you off to oblivion. You are awakened to the

sounds of distant, yet omnipresent voices, but you cannot see the source of the ominous

whispers. Below you is a matrix of alternating colored tiles. You step from one to the next and

the tile changes color. You continue until the entire floor is uniform. Then suddenly you find

yourself whisked to a different dungeon, but the floor has changed. This time it will not be so

easy to unify the tiles. Your three alien minds begin to race. At last you give up trying to

rationalize this fortress of puzzles, and you pray that solving these puzzles may lead to your

escape. After all, your race is naturally gifted at decompiling conundrums. How long can you

survive on your body’s energy reserves? This is life or death; experiment or not.

        The player serves as the main character, a small alien from another planet that human

astronauts have sampled and brought back to Earth. Earth’s best and brightest scientists are

testing the samples for intelligence. To do so, each of the abducted is run through a series of

puzzles, much like a rat through a maze. While these experiments may be for the betterhood of
                                                                                                          18

man, to the protagonist in the story, these scientists are the evil dungeon masters. Escaping from

the fortress is the difference between life and death.



Metaphor

Rather than simply presenting a collection of puzzles, each autonomous from the others, the

dungeon metaphor will tie all the puzzles together into a collection of areas in the fortress. Like

many of its predecessors, this game will feature a “dungeon” metaphor, however, with a small

twist. The twist being a dungeon with more of a “clean room” look, like a laboratory. Rather than

the dingy, dark earth tones that many dungeons present, the proposed application will have a

lighter, more sanitized feel. This is reflected in the color scheme, as shown later in this

document.




Game Design

As alluded to in the story above, the object of the proposed game is to solidify the color of a

matrix of tiles that make up the floor below the feet of the player’s character. Each level will

feature a different matrix with a unique starting pattern and some variation on the base rules.

The base rules are as follows:

       The main objective is to transform the colors of each of the tiles so that every tile is of the

       same color.

       Generally, tiles will change color upon being stepped on by the player’s character. For

       example, if tile #1 is red and tile #2 is blue, stepping from tile #1 to tile #2 will cause tile

       #2 to change from blue to red.

       Stepping on a tile will not necessarily change the tile from one color back to a second

       color. Depending on the level, the sequence may be of two colors or more. For example,
                                                                                                      19

       if the sequence is red, yellow, blue, stepping onto red tile #2 may switch the tile’s color to

       yellow. To achieve a blue color, the player would have to step on tile #2 a second time.

       Stepping on a tile will always cause some change to happen. Again, depending on the

       level, the tile may simply change color, or in the case of some later levels, other tiles on

       the floor may change. This adds some mystery and challenge to the game to keep the

       player engaged.

       After each level the player will be issued a password for return to the same level in a later

       session.

       Upon completing the level, the player will be shown a top ten scores list based on a level

       timer. If the player beats one of the ten best times, the player is asked to enter his or her

       initials for the list.

       Players will have a suicide option for every level. It is possible, especially in the more

       complicated puzzles, to make enough mistakes that success is at least improbable. The

       restart option will reset the level and place the character back to the starting point.

       Originally, it was theorized that players would have some finite number of lives, or

       chances per level. With the password system for reentering the game however, the

       notion of having a “game over” scenario where the player will be forced to restart the

       game and enter a password to get back to the exact same place seems more or a

       nuisance than a beneficial feature.



As outlined in the flowchart that follows, the application will begin with a starting sequence, likely

some sort of animation. The player will be prompted to press a key to begin the game and he or

she will begin the first level. Once level1 is completed the player will be presented with a screen

containing some text, which will begin to outline the player’s short and long-term objectives as

well as provide some context to the puzzles. When finished, the player will be prompted to
                                                                                               20

press a key and will be given a choice to enter a password or begin level 2. Entering a password

will whisk the player to the level, which the password corresponds.

       Upon completing every level, the player will be presented with a congratulatory

“intermission” screen. This screen will feature random trivia facts and/or company logos and

marketing messages. Doing this adds some educational or communication value to the

application beyond the fact that it is a just-for-fun game.

       Following the intermission screen, a password will be displayed so the player may reenter

the game at the point which he or she last received a password, as described above.
                                                             21

“Floored”
Flowchart                                    Start Screen




                                             Level 1



                  TRUE                        Story Screen
   Jump to               Password?
   level…
                                     FALSE


   Intermission          Password            Level 2
    Screen




                                             Level 3

  Level n+1


                                             Level 4




                                             Level n
                                                                                                   22


Level Design

In designing the levels, every effort was made to conform to a logical, common-sense

methodology where the player begins the game with as little information as is possible to begin

and gradually learns more about the game. As the player’s competency rises and she masters

the basic principles and rules of the game, another layer of complexity is added. Be it through

changing a constant into a variable (Falstein, 2002), or introducing a yet unseen obstacle, or

combining multiple previously experienced obstacles to create multi-dimensional complexities,

each new stage in the game serves some purpose to advance gameplay.

       In 2002 a 20-plus year veteran of the game design industry, Noah Falstein began “the

400 project.” The 400 project is a working compilation of 400 (an admittedly arbitrary number)

rules that game designers should follow to create the best game possible. Rules are submitted

by veterans of the industry, and are transcribed incrementally in the Game Developer publication

(Inspiracy, 2004).   In navigating through the small amount of academic research done on video

game design, Falstein’s 400 project is almost always among the works cited.

       In the following, I will describe the design of each proposed level, the goals, the

challenges, the justification for its place in the game and notes from the research, where

applicable.

       Level design for this project began with a look at the medium. As Falstein suggests in his

April 11, 2004 article, the core concept for the game, and the types of levels it would feature

were conceived in consideration of the medium’s strengths, rather than attempting to thwart its

weaknesses. For many of the reasons outlined in previous sections, certain high-paced, graphic

and processing intensive game concepts just flatly would not be possible. Another of the 400

rules that an attempt to follow was made was the suspension of disbelief (Falstein, 2002). The

back-story, the characters, and the story screens, were interwoven into the game in an attempt

to engage the player on another dimension, in addition to solving the actual puzzles. The

narrative elements serve another purpose as well, to inform and interest the player of the long-
                                                                                                   23

term goal. “Many (but not all) games benefit by having an ultimate goal that is made clear to the

player fairly early on. Making this goal enticing is one way to pull the player into the game world

and encourage passion (Falstein, 2003).”



Level 1: There are a couple of rules that level 1 addresses. The first is “make the first player

move painfully obvious (Inspiracy, 2004).” The second is “emphasize exploration and discovery

(Inspiracy, 2004).” The latter of the two maintains its importance throughout the game. In fact,

the premise of the game is entirely based on the principle of exploration.

       It is in this level which the player becomes acquainted with the game controls and the

base rule system of the game world. This stage is designed to be very easy to keep the player

confident in pursuit of completing further levels.
                                                                                         24


Storyboard                       James Richardson                11/03/05    “Floored” – level 1




Description:
Storyboard 001

Opening level- post title screen but pre-introduction screen. Very simple level serves the
purpose of familiarizing the player with the basic controls and boundaries of the game.




Go to Password screen   After homogenizing tiles   Filenames:
Menu 1. Done                 6.                    floored.swf
      2. Menu               7.
      3.                    8.                     Notes:
      4.                    9.
      5.                    10.
                                                                                                      25

Level 2: The second stage is used to reinforce the lessons taught to the player in the first stage,

the empirical laws of the game universe. In addition to the experience the player achieved in

completing the first level, level 2 demonstrates to the player that the floor need not be a 2x3 grid

as it was in the introductory level, but rather the floor may vary in size, as it does to a 16-tile, 4x4

matrix.
                                                                                            26


Storyboard                        James Richardson                11/03/05      “Floored” – level 2




Description:
Storyboard 002

Level 2 – Much like the first level except the matrix is extended to a 4x4 grid and the pattern is
slightly more complex. By the time the player makes it to this stage, he or she has been
exposed to the first part of the game’s story, and has likely surmised the basic rules from his
or her experience in completing the previous level.




Go to Password screen    After homogenizing tiles   Filenames:
Menu 1. Done                  6.                    floored.swf
      2. Menu                7.
      3.                     8.                     Notes:
      4.                     9.
      5.                     10.
                                                                                                     27

Level 3: This stage is the first to add complexity to the game by exercising the “make a

contestant into a variable (Inspiracy, 2004)” rule. By adding another level of variation to the tiles,

the goal is to add a little more difficulty, and stay within the ground rules laid out by the previous

levels, and also the narrative screens. The purpose of varying the pattern is also to keep the

player wondering what type of modification could be coming up as the game progresses, and

also to stimulate to the explorative spirit of discovering the unknown.
                                                                                             28


Storyboard                         James Richardson                11/03/05      “Floored” – level 3




Description:
Storyboard 003

Level 3 – This stage introduces the first variation on the “ground rules.” The user, for the first
time is exposed to the three-color sequence for the tile changes. First step Black – White
second step White – Blue; third step Blue – Black; This area is not very difficult, but is
important in building the player’s awareness of possible future obstacles.




Go to Password screen     After homogenizing tiles   Filenames:
Menu 1. Done                  6.                     floored.swf
      2. Menu                 7.
      3.                      8.                     Notes:
      4.                      9.
      5.                     10.
                                                                                                       29

Level 4: With this level, it is intended that the user become aware of the real, and over all

challenge of the entire game: to observe and recognize the patterns in the changes that the tiles

go through with each step, and formulate a strategy to manipulate those changes to achieve the

goal of solidifying the tiles’ color. The reason that this particular stage is where I theorize this

awareness to occur, as opposed to any of the previous stages is due to the new obstacle

imposed on the player. In level 4, the player is hindered from taking a step back to the tile from

which she stepped. It is likely that stepping back and forth from one tile to another was a

common technique used by the player, up to this point, to solve the puzzles. With this added

restriction, the player is forced to change the way she approaches solving the puzzle and thus

must truly recognize the variation pattern in order to solve the problem. This level can be very

difficult to complete, especially the first time through. However, by the time the player reaches

this level, she should be familiar enough with the game world to negotiate the new challenge

without getting overly frustrated.

       It was very important in designing this level to adhere to the rule of “mak(ing) the effects

of the AI visible to the player (Inspiracy, 2004).” While the game logic behind level 4 may not be

“AI” per se, it was very important for the player to see and understand that the previous tile was

purposefully disabled and that the non-ability to step backward is not a bug. This simple

communication with the player was handled through a tile icon with hatch marks through it.
                                                                                            30


Storyboard                        James Richardson                11/03/05     “Floored” – level 4




Description:
Storyboard 004

Level 4 – Level 4 returns to the basic two-color tile switch sequence. However the user is
exposed to her first taste of movement restriction. In this stage, the user may not step back
on the tile whist she came. The player is made aware of this restriction by the changing
appearance of the previously active tile, as well as the non-ability to move back to that tile.
This restriction offers the highest level of difficulty yet experience by the player.




Go to Password screen    After homogenizing tiles   Filenames:
Menu 1. Done                  6.                    floored.swf
      2. Menu                7.
      3.                     8.                     Notes:
      4.                     9.
      5.                    10.
                                                                                                      31

Level 5: One of Falstein’s 400 rules is “fight player fatigue.” In a September, 2002 article,

Falstein addresses this topic and suggests adding something unexpected every once in a while

to prevent the player from getting burnt out by the game too soon (2002). In an attempt to

alleviate some possible player fatigue in the proposed game, following a very challenging level 4,

I will include a not-as-challenging level 5. Not only does this give the player a little break from

racking his brain so he can collect his thoughts after likely being consumed, for at least a minute

or two with level 4, but it also provides a boost of confidence. Winning is fun. It is not likely that

a player who struggles with every level is going to be interested in continuing the game for any

length of time. What fun is a game that makes you feel like a loser?
                                                                                         32


Storyboard                       James Richardson                11/03/05    “Floored” – level 5




Description:
Storyboard 005

Level 5 – Level 5 has a striking resemblance to Level 1. In fact, it is the same stage, however
Level 5 marks a return to the three color. Deceptively difficult at first.




Go to Password screen   After homogenizing tiles   Filenames:
Menu 1. Done                 6.                    floored.swf
      2. Menu               7.
      3.                    8.                     Notes:
      4.                    9.
      5.                    10.
                                                                                                       33

Level 6: In level 6 the rule of changing constants into variables (Falstein, 2002) is revisited. Up

until this point whenever the player would take a step from one tile to another, the tile the player

was stepping to would change. In this stage that assumption is challenged. Not only does the

tile, which the player is stepping to change, but also does the tile immediately to the right of the

destination. Although not immensely difficult, floor 6 is important because it acts as a primer for

the upcoming levels by communicating to the player that her attention need not be focused on

just one area on the floor, but also the surrounding area as well.

       The key to player success here is to experiment and first, discover the level’s ground

rules, and second, learn what the exceptions are to these rules. If the tile immediately to the

right changes, what happens when there is no tile to the right?
                                                                                            34


Storyboard                        James Richardson                11/03/05     “Floored” – level 6




Description:
Storyboard 006

Level 6 – Level 6 gives the appearance of a simple, straightforward level, but once the player
takes his first step he realizes that not only does the tile beneath his character’s feet change,
but also does the tile immediately to the right. This stage uses the two-color tile change
sequence.




Go to Password screen    After homogenizing tiles   Filenames:
Menu 1. Done                  6.                    floored.swf
      2. Menu                7.
      3.                     8.                     Notes:
      4.                     9.
      5.                    10.
                                                                                                      35

Level 7: Likely the most difficult floor in the entire game, fighting player fatigue was of utmost

concern when developing this stage. This level combines the challenge of the three color

sequence (black, white, blue) along with multiple tiles changing upon each step by the player.

As Falstein suggested, to combat fatigue, this level has “an exploding barrel,” or a special

surprise for the player to break up the rhythm of play a little (Falstein, 2003). The surprise, as

the player would find out by reading the inter-level story screens, is the ability to “jump.” Jumping

allows the player to change one tile, beneath his feet, and that tile only. The catch is that it may

only be used once in this level.

       While completion is possible without using the newfound jumping ability, the skill adds a

little more excitement to the level. The player may find herself contemplating when the best time

to use the jump is. In this case, the ability acts as a wildcard, giving the player one variable to

ponder when sorting out the tile change pattern or figuring out the rules.
                                                                                            36


Storyboard                        James Richardson                11/03/05      “Floored” – level 7




Description:
Storyboard 007
Level 7 – This stage introduces the use of the special “jump” ability. The player will be hinted
about this ability in the story screen immediately preceding the start of this level. Upon
pressing the enter key (or the select key on some devices), the character will leap into the air
and land in the same location from which he jumped. The result is a single tile changing
beneath the character’s feet without having to step to another tile. The player is limited to one
jump in this stage, which will require a bit of strategy. When walking normally about the floor,
the tile below the player’s feet, and also each adjacent tile will change to the next color in the
sequence of three.


Go to Password screen    After homogenizing tiles   Filenames:
Menu 1. Done                  6.                    floored.swf
      2. Menu                7.
      3.                     8.                     Notes:
      4.                     9.
      5.                     10.
                                                                                                          37

Level 8: After a difficult puzzle in the previous stage, this floor takes the challenge down a

notch. Much like stage 5, this is designed to give the player a little breather so that he may

regroup with some less-intense puzzle solving. This stage is considered less intense because

the tile color pattern is reduced back to two colors, and also only one tile changes per step. But

there is a catch, and in it lies the true value for level 8. For the first time, the tile that is being

stepped on does not change, rather the tile that is stepped from changes, and the tile is disabled

so the player may not step back to it. The pattern is relatively easy to detect, once the first few

moves are made. From there solving the puzzle is a cakewalk compared to floor 7.
                                                                                         38


Storyboard                       James Richardson                11/03/05     “Floored” – level 8




                                                                            MENU



Description:
Storyboard 008

Level 8 – Also known as the “rake” level, returns to the two-color tile changing sequence. In
this area, the tile which the player steps to does not change, but the tile she stepped from
does. This changed tile also becomes disabled so the player may not immediately step back.
Within game play this will give the character the look of dragging a rake or pulling a wagon.




Go to Password screen   After homogenizing tiles   Filenames:
Menu 1. Done                6.                     floored.swf
      2. Menu               7.
      3.                    8.                     Notes:
      4.                    9.
      5.                   10.
                                                                                                         39

Level 9: Providing a consistent, single vision is important in the design of any game (Falstein,

March, 2003). In designing the levels for the proposed game, it was a goal, a vision, to start with

a set of ground rules and within the context of a story, add variation to the to the rules and

combining variations, to encourage the use of pattern identification and problem solving skills

among game players. The reason this is mentioned at this point in the discussion of levels is

because level 9 marks the apex of all the variations and combinations of variations of tile-change

patterns throughout the game. By design, nowhere in the game is a yet unseen variation used in

combination with other unseen variations. Doing so would not adhere to the original vision of the

game, where complex patterns are built level-by-level starting with the most basic rules and

progressing to a formidable challenge.

        Without a doubt, the pattern for floor 9 is difficult to detect, but if the player recalls the

lessons learned from the previous levels she should be familiar with the types of patterns to look

for, and will be less difficult than if having no prior experience at all. To keep gameplay from

becoming too repetitive, the jump function returns in this stage. This time it can be used up to

two times, though it is possible to win without using it at all.
                                                                                             40


Storyboard                         James Richardson               11/23/05      “Floored” – level 9




Description:
Storyboard 009

Level 9 – Like Stage 7, Floor 9 allows the user to utilize the character’s ability to perform the
jump action. However, unlike Floor 7 the player may use the jump action up to twice. The
additional jump is due to the added difficulty of the puzzle and the tile changing scheme. On
Level 9, with every step the player takes, the four tiles immediately adjacent to and not
including the previously stepped on tile change. This pattern is very difficult to detect, which
lends itself nicely to this next-to-highest level.



Go to Password screen    After homogenizing tiles   Filenames:
Menu 1. Done                  6.                    floored.swf
      2. Menu                 7.
      3.                      8.                    Notes:
      4.                      9.
      5.                     10.
                                                                                                       41

Level 10: At last it is time for the grand finale. The player has completed several very

challenging, draining levels. It is time for a break; time to end on a light, positive note. Level 10 is

designed to give the player a feeling that they have some higher level of control over the game

than he had in any previous level, but still add a fair level of difficulty. In the story it will be

explained that the character has some type of undiscovered mental ability. He can change the

tiles on the floor, at will, without stepping to them. This ability is unlimited except that a step

must be taken between exercising this power. Of course, when a step is taken, the tiles diagonal

to the destination tile change. Despite the added control over the floor with the new power, this

will be no walk in the park to complete. The player worked so hard to get to this point, it would

seem unjust to make the final level a complete cakewalk. Who would be proud to beat a game

with a final level that is complete in thirty seconds?
                                                                                        42


Storyboard                       James Richardson                11/23/05   “Floored” – level 10




Description:
Storyboard 010

Level 10 – The final level features the most programmatically complex tile change scheme.
With every step the player takes, the four tiles immediately diagonal to the stepped on tile
change state. To make the level less impossible, the player has the added ability to change
any one adjacent tile upon taking a step. The player may not change more than one tile, or
make multiple changes to a single tile, without first taking a step. This gives the player a
feeling of control over the game that provides an upbeat conclusion to her playing experience.



Go to Password screen   After homogenizing tiles   Filenames:
Menu 1. Done                 6.                    floored.swf
      2. Menu               7.
      3.                    8.                     Notes:
      4.                    9.
      5.                   10.
                                                                                                  43


Interactivity

Inherent in the nature of video games is a high level of interactivity between the user and the

system. The proposed game is no exception. The player’s experience is entirely dependent on

his or her interaction with the game. The game reacts to the player by adjusting the world

around the player’s character based on the player’s input. As a result, the player must adjust his

or her strategy based on the changes made to the display by the system. For example, the

player presses the right arrow (or the number 6) on his cellular telephone keypad. In reply the

game checks to see that movement to the right is valid, (right movement may be invalid because

of a wall or some other obstacle) if so, the player’s character is moved one tile to the right. The

system then applies the applicable changes to the tiles on the floor (which varies per level) and

checks to see of the player has finished the puzzle. If the level is not complete, the player must

then contemplate his next move based on the newly modified tile scheme. In short, the system

reacts to the user who reacts to the system.

         The goal for this application is not complete simulation, so the messages exchanged

between the user and system are not extremely complex. Simplicity of messages aside, this set

of reactions provides an adequate demonstration of two-way communication.

         There also exists an opportunity for a small level of user-to-user communication. This

opportunity lies in the Internet-based “top-ten scores” database. Users have the chance to

compete with one another in hopes of becoming the player with the overall best time for each

level.



Interactivity Notes:

The project outlined in this proposal was developed for, and tested on, a Nokia 3600 cellular

telephone. The same file that is executed on the phone has also been converted to a
                                                                                              44

standalone Flash Projector for use on a PC. There are a few items to note when running this

file:

        The “Left Soft Key”, “Right Soft Key”, and “Enter/Select Key” are controlled by the Page
        Up, Page Down and Enter buttons on the computer keyboard respectively (see diagram).
        The directional pad keys are controlled with the computer keyboard arrows
        Text input boxes do not require the special instructions that are on the screen when
        running on PC from the .exe file. Simply click in the box to activate it and type on the
        keyboard as you normally would.
        Flash Lite 1.1 cannot detect an Internet connection from the PC file. For the game to
        work, the computer running the file must have an Internet Connection.
        To quit the .exe file, close the projector window. The PC version does not support key
        presses to close the file from within the game.
        Pressing the 9 key will initiate a skip to the end of the level when debug mode is
        activated. (The files included with this package have debug mode activated).
        The game is enhanced immensely through use on the mobile device. It is strongly
        recommended that players sample the game from the cell phone if at all possible.
                                                                                                  45


Usability

Introduction

The following describes the procedure and findings of two usability test conducted in November,

2005. Both tests were completed using a rudimentary prototype of the proposed application,

running on its intended native environment, the Nokia 3600 GSM-enabled cell phone. The

prototype included 4-5 working levels, complete game control, but verbal prompts for menu

actions.

Purpose

The primary objective for this test was to evaluate the intuitiveness and ease of use of the major

game controls. Evaluation of the enjoyability and level of challenge provided by gameplay were

also being scrutinized. Formal objectives were as follows:

           Evaluate intuitiveness of controls and game layout

           Test effectiveness of in-game icons (character, tile, disabled tiles, etc)

           Gather information regarding level of challenge appropriate for some levels

           Observe user experience and discuss enjoyment level and suspension of disbelief

           Expose problem areas in navigation between levels

           Survey players expectations of menu options and performance



Participants

Players were asked to think aloud, to share any and all observations, comments and especially

complaints and suggestions. At the end of the fifteen to twenty-five minute session, the players

were asked what they liked and disliked about the prototype. As the facilitator, I attempted to

take a hands-off approach, only interacting with the player to prompt feedback and answer any

questions the player had.
                                                                                                    46

        Demographic information about participants in the usability study
                     Age          Occupation          Level of Education        Notes
      Participant    24           Multimedia          Completed Bachelor’s      Male
      1                           Design              Degree
      Participant    23           Educator            Completed Bachelor’s      Female
      2                                               Degree


All participants are or could potentially be members of the target audience for this project. All

own mobile devices, and both have enjoyed online puzzle games as a way to be entertained, at

some point in their lives. Both participants were moderate to advanced in experience with

computers. Both may be considered somewhat to very “tech savvy,” but none were experts in

games or gaming.

Method

The program had buttons enabled where menu screens would be, but no indications to users on

which buttons to press or what they would do, which is why verbal instruction was given. In this

situation, players were simply told ,”there will be a menu here with the actions… pressing this

button would… or pressing this button would…” The events that would take place on a button

press were not specified except in the term described by the labels that would appear on the

screen, once menus were implemented. For instance, rather than saying “ if you press the left

soft key you will proceed to the second introduction screen,” I would comment, “ press the left

soft key for menu, or the right soft key for quit.”

     Tests were conducted informally in a one-on-one environment including only the player, the

prototype and myself. Players were aware that participating in the usability test was voluntary,

done as a personal favor to myself, and were free to quit at any time with no penalty for failing to

finish the test. Participants were not paid, as payment would give the impression of work being

performed. They were volunteers after all.

        Upon commencement of the evaluation, players were given a short introduction to the

game. This introduction included the purpose of the game, a short brief on the technology used

to develop the game, and the purpose of performing a usability test. The players were not
                                                                                                       47

however, given any information about the actual gameplay with the exception of a brief

introduction to the main character and the backstory (i.e. character was abducted by evil alien

scientist and was forced to complete puzzles in a lab filled with tiled floors). Players were left to

determine on their own how a level was successfully completed. Surprisingly, neither participant

had trouble determining how success was measured upon seeing the first couple of tiles change.

The test proceeded as the player worked his or her way through the test levels. Between levels,

where the menus and screens were incomplete, instruction would be facilitated to communicate

contents of intermission screens and windows as described earlier in this section.

       At the start of each level, players would wonder out loud what the tile change pattern

would be for the particular level they were playing. As they navigated around the tile floor,

players would gather more information about the pattern. It was encouraging to observe the

players seeming to gain enjoyment from the game as they figured out the tile change schemes

for each level. Most often the player would be almost certain he or she had figured out the

pattern, perhaps by instinct the player would look to me for conformation of the theory, but would

only receive a smile and shrug in return. It is worth noting that none of the sample levels were

extreme in their level of difficulty. Judging by the players’ reactions, however, the majority of the

levels seem of an appropriate level of challenge for the very beginning of the game. The one

exception was the “jump” level, which would later become floor 7 (see storyboards). In the

prototype, this level was served as the fourth floor. It had been intended to be a later level, but

for the purposes of usability testing, I wanted to make testing this particular floor a priority. My

initial intuition had been correct, that this level was most appropriate as one of the final levels.

This is evidenced by all players complaining of the seemingly extreme difficulty of completing the

puzzle. Unaware as the players were, their suggestions of moving the level to later in the game

were echoing my sentiments and intentions exactly. After spending a good ten or more minutes

toiling with the difficult floor, the level was either skipped, using a secret skip level key sequence
                                                                                                      48

built in for debugging ( on the five-level prototype), or the usability testing on the actual prototype

was concluded (on the four-level prototype).

       The post-test discussion took place, where the players summarized their observations. At

this time the player was asked for any closing suggestions or observations he or she could

make. Players were then thanked for their time and the test was complete.

Results

The following addresses the formal goals of the usability test as previously outlined.

Intuitiveness of controls and game layout

It was observed that neither player had any difficulty with the navigation or button scheme. This

may have been due to both having prior experience with cellular telephones. Players had a

prerequisite knowledge of the proper use of the multidirectional keypad as well as the soft keys.

This is no surprise, as the navigation is not at all complex, and also the target audience for this

project will have some prior experience with cell phones.

Effectiveness of in-game icons

       Players had no difficulty understanding the representation of the tile floor, nor was there

confusion about the graphic representing the top view of the main character. Where there was

some confusion was with the design of the “disabled” tiles that appeared in one level of the

prototype. This confusion was caused mostly by the lack of contrast between the symbolic “do

not step here” grid lines and the white tiles. On the device screen the lines were not as

noticeable as those covering the disabled black tiles. This issue is being addressed in the final

versions of the game.

Difficulty of levels/suspension of disbelief

       As alluded to above, the reactions for appropriate level of difficulty were encouraging. In

designing the levels and composing the order which they appear, I hope to encourage and

challenge the player in a sequence that will keep the player interested in completing the game. It

is a delicate balance, where too many very hard levels too early will not give the player the
                                                                                                      49

confidence of success and may thereby foster sentiments of giving up. Too many very easy

levels late in the game will fail to engage and challenge the player. This would defeat the

purpose of playing a game of this genre all together. It is my intention to have several very basic

levels up front, so that the user may become accustomed to the controls and become mindful of

the patterns of success, then interrupt those patterns with a more difficult level. This will force

users to think of a different way to achieve success. No two extremely difficult levels will be back

to back. Rather than a linear increase in difficulty as the level gets higher, I have chosen a more

staircase type distribution of difficulty. This way, once a player completes a really hard level, the

sense of accomplishment gained from completing the tough floor is encouraged by the rapid or

moderately speedy success of the following level.

Inter-level navigation

       The goal of analyzing the inter-level menu system and controls yielded some result. After

discussing with the players the option of being able to exit the game directly from between levels,

it was decided that this was favorable to the alternative option of quitting exclusively from within

each level. This way a player may quickly exit the game once receiving the password for

completing the most recent level.

Game performance

       Performance in all but a minor, isolated error was surprisingly smooth. By performance I

am referring to the performance of the game on the Nokia 3600 hardware. All users were

satisfied with the speed which the game loads and reacts to user input, as well as the pace of

gameplay. The one incident was an error with the Flash Lite Player being unable to support an

animated background (which has since been removed) and the loading of a five by five matrix of

tiles, as well as the animation of a menu. When the player gets overloaded with activity or file

size, it will throw an “invalid content” error. This error did occur once during a test, but was

quickly resolved by simply restarting the device to free up some memory.
                                                                                                           50

Conclusion

        In summary, the usability tests were worthwhile, in the least to confirm some of the

notions that had been developed during planning. In several cases the tests helped to catalyze

some changes and give a fresh perspective on the game. I do not doubt that the end product will

be more solid, playable and enjoyable because of conducting these informal investigations.

Functional Specification

Color Specification Table
Table contains only colors and values essential to gameplay. Deviating from specifications in this table
may result in confusion on the player’s part because specific colors are referenced within the story.
        Color                  RGB value                  Hex value                  Usage/Notes

                Black              0,0,0                   0x000000                    Tile State


                White         255,255,255                 0xFFFFFF                     Tile State


                  Blue          0,51,255                  0x0033FF                     Tile State



Icons
 Table contains icons used as elements within gameplay. When a player is exposed to an icon he or she
should be communicated a message as outlined in the description column.
                Icon                                         Description of use


                                      Disabled Tile – Black; Used to mark ineligible black tiles




                                      Disabled Tile – White; Used to mark ineligible white tiles
                                                                                                           51




                                     Spring / Changer – Used as indicators to player that they may

                                     use a special ability;




                                     “Secret Helper” – character who secretly gives advice to the

                                     player between levels.




Typeface Specification Table
Table contains typefaces and fonts used throughout the proposed application, where the specific typeface
will be used, and a sample of how the font may look.
        Usage                   Typeface                           Typeface Sample
 All text rendered       Generic _serif device      Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing
 by mobile               font, 10pt, no variant     elit. Aliquam pharetra tortor blandit mi. Curabitur
 processor                                          tincidunt. Duis tincidunt ante et lacus. Mauris nisi
                                                    lorem, mollis eu, accumsan et, laoreet non, magna.
                                                    Aenean nonummy erat et nisl.


 Title Screen and        ITC Franklin Gothic        Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer
 Intermission            Medium, 11-12pt, no        adipiscing elit. Cras elit. Curabitur convallis
 screen text             variant                    lobortis nibh. Fusce eu dui. Sed malesuada est
 rendered outside                                   et elit. Vestibulum dignissim, odio fringilla
 of Flash.                                          bibendum dignissim, metus magna hendrerit
                                                    ante, sed dignissim odio nunc et sem.


 Main Game               Times New Roman            Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
 Interface Button        14pt bold
 Text
                                                    consectetuer adipiscing elit. Phasellus
                                                    pulvinar mauris ut erat. Fusce et
                                                    metus. Cras justo neque, dictum nec.
                                                                                                         52


In-Game Graphics
Table contains proposed graphics for use within the game. This includes character design and interface
elements
 Character Design                 Front                         Back                       Side



  Neutral/Standing




    Left Foot Step




   Right Foot Step




      Top view

  (main game view)




     Main Game

    Interface idea
                                                                                                   53




   Interface as it

 would appear on

 Nokia 3600 GSM

  Mobile Device

 (available in U.S)




Database Design

As players play through the levels, the game will keep track of the users score for the level. This

score is calculated by taking a base point level based on game level and subtracting from it a set

point value for number of steps taken, special abilities used, etc. The player who achieves the

highest score will have taken less steps and/or used fewer special abilities than the player who

achieves a lower score. In a nutshell, the fewer button presses, the higher the score.

       To add another level of interactivity to game design, the highest ten scores from each

level will be recorded and stored in a remote database for other players to view and compete

with. Upon completing a level, a screen will appear with a message communicating to the player

what his or her score was for the preceding level. It is at this time that the game will dynamically
                                                                                                         54

acquire a list of the top ten scores previously achieved for the level just played. The player’s

score will be compared with the lowest score on the list. If the player’s score is greater than the

number 10 score, the player has earned a spot on the top-ten list of high scores. Her score and

initials will be added to remote database listing for that level, to remain until her score is no

longer among the ten highest. He or she will then have the option of viewing the top-ten list.

        Achieving the end of a true, dynamic top-ten list requires some means of remote

information storage. It is very possible to create this functionality with a simple text file. If done

correctly with the full version of the Flash Player, using a simple text file would require little (if

any) use of a middleware language like ASP, CGI, PHP or ColdFusion. However, when

developing for the Flash Lite Player 1.1, the developer has very few means of string

manipulation, and is quite limited in the amount of data that can be processed at one time by the

host device. Given this, it is important than most of the processing be done outside of the Flash

Lite Player, so that the game will be served with data in it’s most ready-to-be-used form. To

keep the Flash Player’s workload at a minimum, a remote MySQL database and the server-side

scripting language PHP to manage the data that will comprise the top-ten list will be used. This

method also helps ensure the integrity of the data while potentially having multiple users

accessing and/or writing to the top-ten list at the same time.

        The table design of this database will not be complex in the least. The only real decision

to make regarding this design is the number of tables to use. There are two obvious choices,

one table or ten (one per level) tables. Choosing one table means having all information

consolidated in one simple table with 100 records and three fields per record, name, score, and

level. This option is perfectly viable. However, using ten tables lower the required number of

fields down to two, name and score. The level is known by the name of the table itself. This also

poses an advantage in processing speed. It is faster for MySQL to traverse a table with ten

records than it is to traverse a table with100 records. The time gained using ten tables over one
                                                                                                   55

table may be inconsequential, but in the world of games, any wasted time is cause for concern.

The design for the level…n table is as follows:


Table: level(n)
 playerName varchar(3)                score int(6)
            JTR                          2250




Project Review
Lessons Learned

Despite all intentions of not allowing this section to become a dissertation on the limitations of the

Flash Lite Player 1.1, many of the lessons learned through this development experience have

been about contorting programming style and problem solving methods to the infancy of the

platform. For starters, upon beginning the project I was quite aware that there would be a ceiling

to the amount of graphic data that could be used on the device. What I was unaware of was that

the height of that ceiling is 1024kb. This may sound like a high enough ceiling with most image

files at 1-3kb. However, what I failed to account for was that memory is consumed by each

instance of graphic data, on the entire timeline. Still, even with 25 tiles at less than .5kb a piece,

there should be plenty of wiggle-room. Such is not the case. Without getting overly technical,

the Flash Player redraws the entire stage from the bottom-up at the frame rate of the movie but

also any time one object overlaps another (Rhodes, 2004). When one object is semitransparent,

not only does Flash Player have to redraw the bottom image and the top image, but it must also

calculate and draw the new image that is the result of the two overlapping. This means that

tweens (especially alpha tweens), graphics with transparency, and movement where graphics

overlap one another can quickly eat memory since each change is another graphic instance in

addition to preexisting graphics. This includes data that is on the stage, but off the screen. A

common practice in game design is to move sprites on and off the stage so that the game seems
                                                                                                    56

to react quickly to the player’s actions. I did not use this technique more than a few times in this

particular project, but other more graphically oriented games will require thorough rethinking to

run on some mobile devices.

       The 1024kb memory limit is also just a guideline, some devices, such as the Nokia 3600

– the device this project was designed for and tested on – have a lower ceiling. When running

on the mobile phone and the ceiling is exceeded, the device does one of two things. It either A)

Throws a “Problem with Content 6: Bad JPEG Data” error and throws out the graphic(s) that

caused it to approach the ceiling and continues playing or B) Throws the same error but aborts

the application entirely.

       Graphics aren’t the only consumers of resources. Code can also put a strain on a device,

especially in cases where content is dynamically generated. So the combination of an intense

subroutine and a heavy animation (probably controlled by the subroutine) can cause the device

to throw the “Bad JPEG Data” error. This can be frustrating because there are no trace or

debug options while testing on the end device. Running into an error like this leaves a developer

scratching his head back at the drawing board.
                                                                                                  57

       The Macromedia Flash Lite Authoring Guidelines, which are distributed with the Flash

Lite 1.1 Content Developers Kit, suggest that most mobile phones have a limit on the size of files

they will support. “For most mobile phones,” it reads, “the limit is 100Kb.” Luckily, after dealing

with many of the memory errors early in this project’s development, most graphics used were

stripped down to 64 colors or less which led to an economy in file size. The final version of

floored.swf is 85 Kilobytes, meaning that it can be downloaded from a website or network in less

than ten seconds with even the slowest of connections.

       Shying away from the technical for a bit, one of the more challenging aspects of this

project was designing the levels and then testing the levels to ensure the schemes I had come

up with were possible to solve. The better part of many days were spent trying to solve some of

the later levels. When a person is busy, it can be very disconcerting to find oneself spending

dozens of hours trying to solve a puzzle that may or may not have a solution. Luckily hard work

and perseverance prevailed and I have successfully solved every one of the puzzles contained in

the game. I am sure that end users will appreciate knowing that they are not wasting their time

investing, perhaps hours, into a level that is un-winnable. Hard, sometimes yes; impossible, no.

       I’ve also learned to appreciate more the efforts of writers for video games. Once I had

decided on the concept for the game, it was not easy to come up with a story that would make at

least some sense and give the player some purpose to solve all these puzzles. The story I finally

settled on, though maybe not as compelling as the Great American Novel, gets the job done, and

provided myself with some entertainment as I developed it into it’s final form.

       The final version of the game varied a bit from the flowchart designed in the planning

process. When the first few levels were coming together it dawned on me that having level 1

come before the first story screen really interrupted the flow to the game and killed any sense of

momentum coming off of an easy win on floor 1. Also, I realized that having to play level 1 each

time the game begins, whether the player will be using a password or not, can be a nuisance to

those players who do have a password and wish to skip to a more advanced level.
                                                                                                       58

       Diving back into the technical, a few things were learned with regards to using a database

in conjunction with the Flash Lite Player 1.1.

       First thing is first, and this is an important note. There is only one version of floored.swf

that runs on both PC and mobile devices. But because of security features built into the Flash

Player, connecting to the Top Ten database is impossible without the end user adjusting the

security settings on his or her copy of the PC Flash Player. To make it possible for PC users to

also play the game, there is also a Flash Projector that is exactly the same source code, but acts

as a standalone executable. The Projector is a Flash 8 Projector, but the source code is still

written in Flash Lite 1.1 ActionScript, which makes it impossible to detect whether a PC is

connected to the Internet or not. Therefore, floored.exe requires a network connection to

function properly, but the .swf file running on the cell phone does not, because there is

functionality to detect a mobile device’s connectivity in Flash Lite 1.1 ActionScript.    There is a

conditional at the start of the game that detects whether the game is running on a PC or a mobile

device. If it is running on a mobile device it checks for a connection. If a connection is not found,

the scoring and top-ten system is disabled and seamlessly removed from play. If a connection is

found, or if it is detected that the file is running on a PC, the game will connect to the database.

       Since the Nokia 3600 that was being used to test the project has no service provider and

thus no network connectivity, I have not been able to test the connection to the database on the

device, but the end result can be seen both on an emulator (as included with Flash 8 and Flash

MX 2004), and also on the standalone PC executable.

       The next piece of information learned in regards to database connectivity and Flash Lite

1.1 is about the shaky support that the Flash Lite Player has for the “loadVariables” method.

Though the documentation says that loadVariables is “Fully Supported” by Flash Lite 1.1, using

query string variables and the “GET” method to communicate with PHP yields unpredictable

results. This is because Flash appends every variable declared up to the point in the file where

the loadVariables was called to the query string. If the query string is too long, little or no results
                                                                                                       59

are returned. This difficulty was exacerbated by the fact that when alone in a test file, (with no

other variables to append to the query string) the function proceeded smoothly without any sort

of hold-up whatsoever. As I discovered after hours of testing, the workaround for this is using

the “POST” method and reinitializing the variables PHP needs to query the database just prior to

calling the loadVariables routine. It is difficult or even impossible to find information on quirks like

these because the Internet is not yet full of discussions and tutorials on Flash Lite like it is for

Flash




A few quick more rapid-fire types of technical lessons learned follow:

        Flash 4 and therefore Flash Lite 1.1 ActionScript do not support arrays. Developing a

        game based on tiles and grids was interesting without the array data structure.

        Likewise, this version of ActionScript does not support custom function calls. Everything

        is based on actions in frames. This means that there are no function parameters to pass,

        all variables used by functions are global (or at least on the highest level in the scope of

        the MovieClip’s timeline). This led to a more sporadic and disorganized timeline.

        The only way to control a graphic’s depth (as in what is above and below it) is to convert

        it to a MovieClip and duplicate the movie clip. One can imagine what this meant for

        memory consumption.
                                                                                                   60

    Finally, just a lesson learned as far as the aesthetics of the game. Running the game on the

cell phone provides some kind of undistinguishable appeal over running it on the PC screen.

Whether it is because of the novelty of the technology, or the differences in the way the screen

displays the colors versus the computer monitor, or the way the game is controlled, or something

else is open to interpretation, but running the game in its intended environment does have some

sort of X-factor that gives it an edge and adds to the enjoyability.




Conclusion
        Developing content for mobile devices in today’s day and age, with all the advancements

we have in computer technology, can be a double-edge sword. To begin, cell phones are not

computers, nor are they really intended to be. Sure they have some neat features, like capturing

images and sending text messages, but still, they are first and foremost telephones with these

other features added to them. Yet, many expect the device to deliver the same quality of media

rich content that we’ve grown accustomed to on the computer screen.

        The fact is the technology is not there yet. In essence, this project was created to run on

a device with 1 Mb of RAM and 100 Kb of free hard drive space. The expectation that any

application created within these specifications will perform at the same par as a similar

application on the PC or Mac is pretty absurd, if you think about it. However the evolution is

taking place as I type this. I predict that it will not be long before cellular phones have

processors with speeds measured in the gigahertz or flash memory hard drives with capacities

measured in gigabytes. Until then, or until something better and yet unthought-of of comes along,

it is important for developers to accentuate the strengths of the mobile device and continue

completing projects that consumers will find so convenient that they choose to use them despite

their minor limitations.
                                                                                                 61

       There are an infinite number of marketing, entertainment and educational implications

that mobile content delivery will make possible. People will be reachable with a marketing

message and the ability to purchase from anywhere, not just from in front of a computer screen.

Think of this one example. Say you are in a department store, like Sears for instance, in the

middle of the Christmas rush. You have found an item you want to purchase, but you do not

want to wait in line for twenty minutes. Maybe you can take out your cell phone and wirelessly

connect to a virtual catalog. The device has read your GPS coordinates and loaded the catalog

with the inventory from that store. You ring up your item, pay with a credit card and leave. Your

phone would store a virtual receipt. You never have to visit a check out line. OK, so maybe it is a

bit far fetched, but the possibilities for advancement are there.

       As a final note, this project has opened me up to the world of developing for mobile

devices. This will not be the last project I complete for Macromedia’s Flash Lite Player. Now

that I understand the limitations and advantages more, I feel that I can be a more effective

developer of mobile applications.
                                                                                             62


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      http://www.ergoweb.com/news/detail.cfm?print=on&id=1177, Accessed Dec. 28, 2005.

Bells, whistles ring up sales, July 18, 2005,
        http://www.jsonline.com/bym/tech/news/jul05/341880.asp, Accessed Dec. 20, 2005.

Charney, B., Sprint PCS to Talk Wireless Data, Jan. 7, 2004,
      http://esquared.info/technews.asp?story=/Sprint+PCS+to+talk+wireless+data/2100-
      1039_3-5137122.html?tag=nl, Accessed Dec. 28, 2005.


Croasmun, J., Cell Phones Turn 30, But Ergonomically Are They Still In the Dark Ages?, April 4,
      2003, http://www.ergoweb.com/news/detail.cfm?id=712, Accessed Dec. 28, 2005.

DiGiacomo, G., Macromedia Ships Flash 4, June 16, 1999, http://www.internetnews.com/dev-
      news/article.php/139081, Accessed September 1, 2005.

Falstein, N., The Inspiracy, Feb. 16, 2004, http://www.theinspiracy.com, Accessed Dec. 28,
        2005.

Falstein, N., The 400 Project, Game Developer, Mar. 2002 – current, v10 – 13.

Flash Lite 1.1 Authoring Guidelines, Macromedia, June 2004, available at
       http://www.macromedia.com/devnet/devices/development_kits.html

Flynn, M. K., Who needs a Wired Phone Anymore? U.S. News & World Report, Mar. 7, 2005,
       v138 i8 p40

Game Advertising: Target Acquired, New Media Age, Oct. 27, 2005, p20.

Kharif, O., Taking Video Games to the Next Level, Business Week, May 9, 2005, i3932, p46.

Macromedia Flash Developer’s Exchange
      http://www.macromedia.com/cfusion/exchange/index.cfm#loc=en_us&view=sn110&view
      Name=Flash%20Exchange, Accessed September 1, 2005

Macromedia Flash Lite Developer’s Exchange
      http://www.macromedia.com/cfusion/exchange/index.cfm#loc=en_us&view=sn310&view
      Name=Flash%20Lite%20Exchange, Accessed September 1, 2005.

Malykhina, E., Strategy Analytics survey examines trends in mobile device ownership,
      Telecomworldwire, August 16, 2005

Meyerson, B., Study: Mobile Phone Sales To Reach 779 Million This Year…, Information Week,
      July 20, 2005

MGAIN, Mobile Entertainment Industry and Culture, Jan. 31, 2003,
     http://www.mgain.org/MGAIN-wp3-d311-revised-final.pdf, Accessed Dec. 20, 2005.
                                                                                                63

OneStat.com – About Us – Press Box, July 25, 2005,
      http://www.onestat.com/html/aboutus_pressbox38.html, Accessed Jan. 3, 2006.

Pearse, J., Mobile Flash technology. (Making Money Out Of Mobile), New Media Age. April 11,
      2004 pS5(1)

Pearse, J., The ball starts rolling. New Media Age. London: May 5, 2005. p 24

Palenchar, J., CTIA: '04 Subscriber Gains Are Second-Best In History, Twice. New York: Apr 4,
      2005. v20 i8 p16.

Pesola, M., Game on as industry eyes mobile marke,t Financial Times June 28, 2005

Polly, R. & Cook, V., Validity of the Product Life Cycle The Journal of Business, Oct 1969. v42 i4
        p385.

Rhodes, G., Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Game Development, Charles River Media Inc.,
      Hingram Mass., 2004.

Rauch, M., Game time: online games let consumers play with your brand., Incentive, Feb 2005,
      v179 i2 p20

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        Accessed Dec. 28, 2005.

Verizon Wireless VCAST, http://getitnow.vzwshop.com/vcast.learn.technology.do, Accessed
       Oct. 12, 2005.
                                                                                                         64


Appendix A

Floored Game Script & Password Scheme

Introduction Screen

So there I was, minding my own business, when all of a sudden, I am abducted by a bunch of

Evil Alien Scientists. Now I am stuck here in their Evil Sky Lab, forced to succumb to their Evil

Alien Experiments. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if I will ever get out of here. All I

do know is what they keep telling me. “Try making the floor a solid color.”



Intermission 1

I’m Todd the Intern. I know I probably shouldn’t be talking to you, because I may bias my

bosses’ experiment, but I just can’t resist! Can you imagine what will happen to my career

prospects if our lab is the first to discover “intelligent” life on another planet!? I’ll be rich! All you

have to do to prove your species is intelligent is complete the rest of puzzles. You’ve already

finished one! It’s easy! Just take a step and watch how the tiles beneath your feet react. Once

you get all the tiles the same color, shout “DONE,” and you will move on to the next floor. \n\n

Just between me and you, there will be some surprises, but I’ll be here to give you a hand.



Intermission 2

OK, so the second floor wasn’t too hard. Was it? Well, that’s not important. What’s done is

done. After you complete a level, make sure you remember the password that is displayed on

the “Level Complete” screen. You can use that to come back to the game at the point which you

previously left off. Don’t tell me you forgot the password you just saw! All right. I will remind you

this time, and this time only. Your password to come back to level 3 is-- 3atx -- Now don’t you

forget it! Now get ready for the third floor! You’re in for a surprise. Just use the techniques you

used on floor 2 and you’ll be fine. I am counting… literally… on you!
                                                                                                      65




Intermission 3

I knew those blue tiles wouldn’t phase you! Great job! Now, the next floor is the most difficult yet.

The key to success on level 4 is recognizing that stepping back is not an option! If you can

complete this one, you’ll have me convinced!



Intermission 4

Floor 4 was a doozy. Was it not? I am glad you got passed that one. This next one should be a

piece of cake. It will look vaguely familiar to you, and should be about as easy as it looks. The

bosses think you need an easy floor to keep your confidence level up. Let’s see if this gives you

any difficulty! Get ready for level 5!



Intermission 5

Piece of cake! But now it’s time to get back to work. Watch the floor as you take those first few

steps. It’s probably not what you were expecting. It’s not impossible! Just look for deviations in

the pattern. Move to the right if you don’t believe me!



Intermission 6

This is just a warning to you. The next floor is definitely the most difficult yet. I can’t believe the

bosses are making you do this. Just to make it fair, I want to teach you something. When you

begin floor 7, look at the menu bar across the bottom of the screen. You will see a picture that

loosely resembles a spring. When you see this picture, it means the bosses aren’t looking, and

you can activate the springboard in the floor, BY PRESSING THE ENTER KEY (in the middle of

the 4 directional keys on your keypad). Doing this will throw you high into the air, when you land,

the tile beneath you will change. BEWARE. YOU CAN ONLY DO THIS ONCE ON FLOOR 7. If
                                                                                                     66

I were you, I wouldn’t use the jump until the only tile I need to change is the one below my feet.

This floor is possible without using the springboard jump, so don’t fret if you waste it. Good luck.

You’re going to need it!



Intermission 7

WHEW! I am a big fan of yours. That previous floor was not easy at all! Level 8 is no walk in

the park either. If you can’t figure out what’s happening when you step, just look to where you’ve

been for the answers.



Intermission 8

The next level is the type that will have you pulling out your hair… That is if your species had a

lot of hair to pull out. On the bright side, you do get to use the springboard jump action again. In

fact YOU MAY JUMP TWICE IN LEVEL 9! I would wait until I absolutely needed to. But that’s

just me.



Intermission 9

So here we are just prior to the final floor. There are millions of $…. Er… Reasons for you to

complete this floor. For starters, you’ll be going home! (I think…) To help you out, I want to tell

you about a new ability I discovered your species has when you are here on Earth. You have

the ability to telepathically switch any tile adjacent to you on the floor. All you have to do is press

the ENTER key (between the 4 directional keys), pick a tile by pressing any directional key, and

press ENTER again. Presto chango! The selected tile is swapped. The catch is this: You may

use this ability as many times as you like, but you must take a step between uses. You’ll get it!

Now c’mon it’s time to show the world how intelligent your species is!
                                                                                                     67

Closing Screen

This is amazing! You are everything my bosses and I had hoped for and more! You are proof

that intelligent life exists outside of Earth’s solar system! And you know what? I think you

probably could have done it, even without my help. Hahahahaha! Well… Maybe not! But that’s

not what’s important. What’s really important is that I am going to go on to become a rich and

famous scientist. And you… You get to return home to… whatever planet it is that you come

from. I don’t know how I will ever thank you. But I do want you to feel welcome here on Earth.

So if you ever want to return and try your hand at an even greater challenge, enter the password

- 2rth – (get it ‘to earth’). If you enter in that code you will have to complete the floors over again,

and this time all the tiles must be black to complete the level. Well, for now it is goodbye, my

friend. May the force live long and prosper!



Epilogue

The journey is finally over. You are currently being transported back to your home planet…

wherever that is. You have been abducted and held against your will for longer than you would

ever wish on even your worst enemy… And yet you strangely long for the excitement to

continue. You desperately wish to return home, but you consider this: Is there really intelligent

life on my planet? 2 r t h


Password Table complete level… get password…

 1       4ffs      4         8tad       7         5bdi

 2       3atx      5         2hhh       8         6is6

 3      99nz       6         7ryu       9        2end
                                                                              68


Appendix B

PHP Source File for Floored Top-Ten Database Connectivity
<?php
header('Content-type: text/plain');
$username = $_POST["fname"];
$table = "level".$_POST["level"];
$score = $_POST["score"];
$highScore = false;

if(!($conn = @ mysql_connect("localhost","*****","*****")))
 die ("cannot connect to database");
mysql_select_db("topten", $conn);

$minScoreResult = mysql_query("SELECT min(score) from $table", $conn);
$msRow = mysql_fetch_array($minScoreResult, MYSQL_NUM);
$minScore = $msRow[0];
if($score >= $minScore)
{
      $highScore = true;
      echo "highScore=true &";
      $delRes = mysql_query("DELETE from $table where score=$minScore LIMIT
1", $conn);
      if($delRes){
      $myQ = "INSERT into $table values('$username' , $score)";
      $insRes = mysql_query($myQ, $conn);
            if(!$insRes)
            {die("insert not working");
            }
      }else{
            echo "error=true &";
      }
}
else{
echo "highScore=false &";
}
$result = mysql_query("SELECT * from $table ORDER BY score desc ", $conn);
$count = 1;
while ($row = mysql_fetch_array($result, MYSQL_ASSOC))
{
      $temp = $row["playerName"];
      $temp = str_replace(' ', '_', $temp);
      echo "num".$count."name=".strtoupper($temp)." &";
      echo "num".$count."score=".$row["score"]." &";
      $count++;
}
echo "error=false";

?>
                                                                  69


Appendix C

Still Photographs of Game Operating on Mobile Device




   Main Title Screen                    In the midst of Floor 3




   End of Floor 3                        Level Cleared Screen 3
                                                           70




Post-level Intermission Screen   Some Help from a Friend




Level 7 is Tough!                 Game Options Menu

				
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