Kentaura Pte. Ltd. is a young startup based in Singapore. Operations started in early 2011, and it is very close to releasing its first social game. As chief game designer, Roberto Dillon is an important piece to this international company. Beginning his professional career almost eight years ago, Dillon has been involved in both the academic and production side of video games.
Dillon was born during the early years of the industry. As a witness to its early developments and arcade games, Dillon was left with a deep impression. By the time he was 10 years old and received a Commodore 64, he knew that he would both play and make games. With a background in Computer Engineering, he was able to quickly understand video game features, but there was another component that led to his success in development. “I’d say that being raised in a culturally rich environment where I was exposed to many different activities, from music to visual arts, museums, theatrical plays, sports, etc., during my formative years is what made me become what I am today and definitely added up to making a foundation of experiences and knowledge I constantly refer to during my work as a game designer,” said Dillon. His role in academia as well as production inspired the creation of “The Golden Age of Video Games: the birth of a multibillion dollar industry.” It is also inspired “On the Way to Fun: an emotion-based approach to successful game design” which introduced Dillon’s concept of the “6-11 Framework.”
In an effort to formalize the emotional experience of a video game, Dillon created the “6-11 Framework” model. According to Dillon, it is based on six basic emotions and 11 instincts which can play a powerful role in a specific game, but Greed is one of the most prevalent, in his opinion. “A gameplay based on the hoarding, collecting or simply the awarding of virtual resources and riches, in fact, can be a really powerful way to motivate players to play further, since it will immediately be perceived as an engaging and direct measure of our success in the game,” said Dillon. This can be a useful tool of measurement to a developer. He believes that by understanding a players’ psychology, a company can discover if they reached the original experience they wished to meet or if it went in a different direction.
While understanding the players leads to a better chance of success, Dillon realized that it also created another question: should the project match the taste of the audience or the creator? “Personally, I believe that understanding potential players and what they look for in a game shouldn’t necessarily compromise our vision as game designers or artists, and it’s definitely possible to express our own style within the constraints that designing a game for a specific user group may imply,” said Dillon. Rather than thinking of the question as a problem, it could be taken as an opportunity. “Making a game for a specific target audience that we also want to play ourselves may be a challenge in some cases,, but challenges are what games are all about and that is definitely a ‘game’ I love to play,” said Dillon. With a growing gaming audience, the opportunities have grown as well.
In this era of casual and social games, the audience has grown to include older, less experienced players. Due to this fact, Dillon places importance on straightforward, easily-understandable gameplay and stylish, colorful, and easily recognizable characters. A game with these concepts will be more attractive to this booming audience. It is different from the traditional hardcore audience. The concepts of profound storylines and complex interactions can be detrimental to a casual game, in Dillon’s opinion, and bore this casual type of audience who plays shorter sessions and may be multitasking while doing so. The necessity of simplicity is more pronounced in casual and social games.
Dillon informed us that Kentaura’s first casual game, tentatively named “Horse Master,” should be released in open beta in a matter of weeks. “Expect a farming gameplay at its core as players manage a stable of racing horses, but gameplay gets elaborated further through different minigames and exciting competitive action,” said Dillon. Dillon, who is also active academically being an associate professor at the Singapore campus of James Cook University, is also at work on some experimental game projects: “in 2010 my short form game Orfeo was showcased at the Sense of Wonder Night in Tokyo and now I’m refining those experimental music-based game mechanics for a new, more complex gameplay based on the old fairy tale of the pied piper of Hamelin”.Casual Connect Asia Highlight: Roberto Dillon, Kentaura Pte. Ltd. ,