“TSA: Frisky,” brought to us by SCAD student-run Quackback Studios, still has some growing to do. I had a chance to play the game while it was still in development; Quackback Studios will fine tune the game until its release.
For now, let’s focus on the current and possible design choices that Quackback Studios may take with their “Mechanics as Metaphor,” their level design choices, how different tonal and aesthetic choices define tone and how this will affect their game play design choices. This game has functioning core mechanics, but needs obstacles and challenges to the player. In short, they must add game play.
“TSA: Frisky” lets you assume the role of a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer as you frisk your way through airport travelers and luggage. I played this game with the virtual reality (VR) equipment that Quackback Studios used to showcase their game and it was fun, but I feel that it could have been more fun to play with a group of friends or at a party.
“Frisky” does not have the chance to instill a sense of flow, because there is currently only one level to play, but even then there are issues with the user interface (UI). There is a desk that could hold all the information you need, but instead a board that informs you of the items marked as contraband. A board I did not notice until explicitly told. It is not within normal periphery and I could have played for hours without noticing it. The space in general is not utilized to its fullest potential and needs to be streamlined to give a better sense of general flow.
The user interface should be more compact, making us look in as few places as possible. The UX should be taken into consideration in this way specifically: the desk should be better utilized as a space for information, but it should be facing towards where non-player character (NPCS) and their bags enter the frame. Perhaps later on, to indicate how to ridiculous the rules are becoming they can move the desk to an inconvenient area. Searching bags was an interesting concept, but the physics of the objects inside can be frustrating. There’s also the issue figuring out how to open the bags, or distinguishing which have contraband.
I did not have a chance to see if “Frisky” had a story-mode, but perhaps that is for the best. So far it is shaping out to be a fun party game, but not something I would turn on to play alone or without an audience.
From the aesthetic and sound choices of this game its looks like a peppy, zany and fun adventure, but when I played it I didn’t feel zany or fun. I felt like an idiot in front of a bunch of people I didn’t know. Instead of making me feel like I was having a great time with a fun game, it just managed to increase that encroaching feeling of ennui and made me question the raison d’etre of this game even more.
“Frisky” would benefit immensely from sort some form of non-frustrating challenge, obstacle or penalty in gameplay. Perhaps, something beyond the score in terms of intrinsic rewards. One can simply see the wonderful opportunity for co-operative play this possibility space offers, especially since there are two tasks that would faster if done in tandem.
“Frisky’s” aesthetic is derived from design choices to determine the mood of the game. “Frisky” is bright and bubbly. I want to see a motivation and circumstances that match this aesthetic choice, the reason it is such a bubbly place despite the line of people who are probably increasingly annoyed at my frisking ineptitude.
I still really appreciate the opportunity to experience the game at this early stage; I take this privilege seriously and I hope that this team produces the best piece of art they can. Good luck at E3, Quackback Studios. We’ll all be cheering you on!