Carnegie Mellon University
Entertainment Technology Center
Experimental Gameplay Info Experimental Gameplay People The Games

About the Project

Totally sweet graphThe Experimental Gameplay Project is a reaction to the current state of the games industry. It seems that the overwhelming majority of releases are sequels to existing works, or derivative gameplay shoehorned into "original" IP. On occassion there's a Katamari Damacy or Shigeru Miyamoto decides to grace us with a new mode of interaction, but increases in technology (and subsequently production cost) have lead to a strong aversion to risk by the major industry players. While this aversion is justified from an economic perspective, it's somewhat disheartening for gamers who grew up with a vast range of gameplay styles. (Are our memories tainted by reminiscences and rose-colored recollection? Perhaps. Nontheless, they are our memories and our perceptions and cause the current stagnation of the industry to seem confining.)

Our project seeks to get back to what makes games fun: new systems and types of interactions. One of our central tenets is that individual vision is crucial to good game design; low quality is more often due to "groupthink" in the design process than low production values during implementation. To address this problem, every game produced by our project has been made by one person. Design, artwork, and programming are all undertaken by the same person. While this creates a much greater workload for that individual and requires a somewhat oddball mix of skills, but the singularity of thought oftentimes produces a much more interesting end product. It also means that we are each free to pursue our own ideas without having to answer to someone else.

The second tenet of our project is rapid prototyping. We've found, for simple gameplay prototypes like the kind that we are producing, that one week is ample time. Experimentation with longer production cycles has generally failed to increase the quality of the final product — a good idea is far more important than more time for polish. Every game on the site was created in a single week, though some spent a little longer in the "idea" phase before implementation.

Finally, a project like this has to have the freedom to fail. Towards the beginning of the semester, we were playing it a little bit safe in terms of our designs. After mid-semester, we have focused ourselves on more "out there" game concepts. Not all of these work out, and you will see some games here that aren't terribly fun. Especially in those cases, we encourage you to read the postmortems to see what we learned from that game. Oftentimes, more is learned from a failure than a success.

So poke around, try out the games, read the postmortems. Think about what could be gained by rapid prototyping and individual vision. We hope you like what you see. We welcome feedback via e-mail. (We're sorry we cannot respond to every e-mail due to time constraints and volume.)