Case Study: GOT Who?
A 1 player desktop game was created to tie in and promote the home entertainment release of Game of Thrones season 5, to be used as a global asset.
The concept of the game is loosely based around the Hasbro well known family game, ‘Guess Who’. The player asks a question on their turn in the hope of being the first to guess their opponents selected mystery character by eliminating characters based on the answers given.
Only characters that feature in Season 5 credits could be used, so unfortunately this meant no previously dead characters including my favourites (*spoilers) Rob Stark and Tywin Lannister. This limited the types of questions that could be asked especially around a key theme of the show… being killed off.
Another limitation on the game was to build as per the Facebook spec as the primary placement would be on HBO UK’s Facebook tab. As a result this meant that the game would not be playable on mobile and tablet as Facebook tabs are only viewable on desktop.
The target audience would manly be HBO fans and current fans of the show which includes an entire spectrum of fan knowledge, from fans that know both the books and show inside out and fans that might dip in and out of watching the show season to season. However the game has been designed so that anyone can play even without any prior knowledge of the characters with prompts suggesting incorrectly answered questions.
Season 5 character selection and thorough research started the design process, compiling a data spread sheet of character facts from which a list of questions was drawn up and approved by the client. As well as the typical visual questions of ‘Do you have a beard?’ or ‘Do your have blonde hair?’ we also included questions on biography, religion and family, which we had a little fun with, featuring questions such as: ‘Is there incest in your family?’ or ‘Have you ever murdered a blood relative?’. We decided to organise the questions into categories for ease of use and to avoid massively long selection boxes.
The next stage was to wireframe a character grid to fit within the 810px spec width. Important consideration was made to the game board height fitting within the most popular screen resolution so the player wouldn’t have to keep scrolling up and down and therefore the whole board could be visible at all times.
Design cues were taken from the existing digital ad banner campaign and key art from the season 5 box set, using the metallic colour palette of bronze and gold with cracked paint effects and textures. This also included the typography. It was a requirement that all images were sourced from HBO’s asset site. As these images were all show stills it was important to colour treat and crop the characters into a consistent collection of portraits.
One of the problems with both the size and colour treatment of the portraits meant on occasion it was difficult to answer visual questions if you didn’t already know the answer. For example eye colour is especially difficult to determine by only looking at the portrait image, some characters are also squinting or looking away. To solve this issue the player has a 50/50 chance of guessing the correct answer (yes or no), in the event they select the wrong answer a prompt message appears ‘are you sure, just check please’. This also covers a situation where the player might want to cheat on purpose as this would completely throw the game off. We also included a few ‘curve balls’ for the hard-core fans that would know Daenerys has lilac eyes and silver hair for example.
There are occasions where the player can win in a few turns if their Game of Thrones knowledge is sufficient as some questions only relate to one or a couple of characters. The player can also make a guess at any point throughout the game on their turn.
As a way to entice the player to keep playing and share the game, the game stats keep score of how many games have been played and won. All end of game screens no matter what the outcome is, contain a selection of behind the scenes videos that are randomised.
To illustrate the look and feel as well as, how the game play would work, I mocked up a collection of clickable slides for the client to approve before we started the game build.
Very few changes were required by the client, however as with all builds, situations arose that we hadn’t foreseen until we played the game through several times with bugs appearing depending on the specific order of game events. This took some time find, document, fix and retest these scenarios.
As the intended use of the game is a global asset, all questions and messaging text etc. are contained within one file. This means all languages can be catered for with minimum extra development work required.