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Session 2 Summary: MDA & Programming Concepts

Second session down- lots to talk about!
Everyone had had the chance to try out some tutorials and we were impressed with the clarity people had in their game visions. If you’re having a hard time getting clarity, try forming a sentence along this template:

I want to make a [GENRE] game about [THEME] where the main mechanic is [VERBE] in [GAME ENGINE].

For example, “I want to make a Fighting game about Cats where the main mechanic is Pouncing in Game Maker”. Having a focus helps you make decisions and set your main goal for your game.

Keep in mind, even if your idea seems 100% clear right now, it’s still early enough in the game to change it up! As you implement your game, you can discover new paths and unexpected fun and there’s no reason not to take a new opportunity or change ideas as you’re making it. In fact, it’s expected that the game you make won’t be exactly what you thought initially- embrace it!

On to the learning!

Breaking Down Games with Alicia

Our very own coordinator Alicia presented the concept of MDA: Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics. It’s on of the many frameworks we can use to analyse games. It helps give us a common language to talk about our games and other games.

Additional reading:
There’s also a good run-down on MDA in a presentation we had in PGI2.
Here’s another link to the main source cited in Alicia’s presentation.

Paper Prototyping

Alicia talked as well about “paper prototyping”: sketching out your game on paper first, and using props (like quarters and dimes, a stack of playing cards) and diagrams (post-it notes with different outcomes, flow charts) to try re-creating your game concept on a few sheets of paper. Rather than spending time tackling unknown tasks at the computer, use your paper prototype to make clear what your goals are, and to take inventory of what exactly it is that you even need to code and make art and sound for. Consider your game design and ask yourself: Can I even play this? Is this a fun (or whatever other emotional state you’re trying to trigger) game?

Particularly helpful too if you want a branching narrative, drawing a diagram by hand can help you figure out holes and missing branches quickly.

→ Here is an example of a very simple game found in a Google Doodle, that was step-by-step paper prototyped.

Game Engines and Programming with Marion

Marion Esquian, currently a game design student and ever proficient indie game creator (seriously, check out her portfolio), was our mentor for the week! She gave us her first-hand perspective on different game engines, and a basic introduction to the logic of programming.

Extra Info: Variables & Logic Operators

Want some extra basics in programming? Check out this short little presentation on variables and logic operators.

(Sprites are from here)

Meet Up: Different Time at GamePlay Space

We encourage you to go online to discuss at our Facebook Group! There’s still no substitute for face-to-face interactions though, so we encourage you to meet with us again at our weekly Extra Sessions.

When: Saturdays from Jan 16th to Feb 20th, inclusive
Time: THIS WEEK ONLY 11 am to 2pm We’ll be hosting Cookies & Cocoa during our regular 2pm to 5pm time block. Bring a friend!
Where: Gameplay Space, 1435 Rue St Alexandre (Metro Place-des-Arts)

And of course, if you haven’t already, join us on our Slack!


  1. Analyse your game in terms of MDA: What is your core mechanic? What’s your Aesthetic goal? What Dynamics do you think the players will have?
  2. Get the main input of your game working in your game engine. How will the player play- Dragging the mouse? Typing on the keyboard? Screaming into the mic?
  3. Make a paper prototpe of your gameplay. Use cards, paper, post its, drawing to flesh out level ideas, narrative trees, or point and click options. Get creative, and don’t be shy to show it to other people to see if they understand! Paper prototypes help find problems in your design much faster than if you had to code them all to find them!
  4. If you hit a wall, it’s okay. Come out to the meet up or contact the group via email, slack or Facebook. As long as you’re started this week, we can suss out where you may be having problems and adjust, for next week!

Don’t hesitate to send us any questions, ask for feedback, or bounce ideas. Use the FB Group! You can send us e-mails at moms@pixelles.ca. We are also always happy for new members on our Slack!

Next week: Scoping & Internal Playtest!

Posted in News, Pixelles Game Incubator 4

Pixelles is a non-profit initiative committed to helping more people make and change games. We're based in Montreal, and have already succeeded in building a supportive community of game creators, both hobbyist and professional.

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