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Grade Level:
4th - 6th Grade
Time Required:
2 Hours
Group Size:
5 - 6 Groups
Subject Areas:
Game Design Art Mathematics Biology/Psychology Computer Science

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Design of Business Simulation Game

Contributed by:Edbox Team

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Through gaming experience, students will understand the game's features and core gameplay. Students will then learn the ability to examine business simulation game, the application of IP in games and knowledge of numerical design. Students will eventually use Edbox game editor to create their Beach Juice Shop game.

Students will learn about "business simulation game" and "game design" knowledge, laying the foundation for the design of "Beach Juice Shop".  In the course content, students will realize that Beach Juice Shop examines the player's motor control ability and learn about the application of IP in the design of business simulation games. Students will also learn about the workflow of numerical design in games and its specific design ideas, while different possibilities of the game can be attained through IP and game numerical design. After the lessons, students will apply the knowledge they have learned to design Beach Juice Shop in groups.

After this activity, students should be able to:
1. Grasp an overview of business simulation games
2. Learn about Edbox and familiarize themselves with the login and game experience 
3. Understand how Beach Juice Shop examines player's motor control ability
4. Understand the application of IP in the design of a business simulation game
5. Understand the workflow of numerical design in games
6. Understand the numerical design ideas of Beach Juice Shop
7. Understand the profession of a game numerical designer

NGSS: 4th Grade:Structure, Function, and Information Processing

Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways.

Science and Engineering Practices​ Disciplinary Core Ideas​ Crosscutting Concepts
Developing and Using Models
Modeling in 3-5 builds on K-2 experiences and progresses to building and revising simple models and using models to represent events and design solutions.
•  Use a model to test interactions concerning the functioning of a natural system. 
Relationship Between Energy and Forces
•  When two objects interact, each one exerts a force on the other that can cause energy to be transferred to or from the object. 
Systems and System Models
•  A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions.

NGSS: 3th - 5th Grade Engineering Design

Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

Science and Engineering Practices​ Disciplinary Core Ideas​ Crosscutting Concepts
Asking Questions and Defining Problems 
Asking questions and defining problems in 3-5 builds on K-2 experiences and progresses to specifying qualitative relationships.
•  Define a simple design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process, or system and includes several criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
•  Possible solutions to a problem are limited by available materials and resources (constraints). The success of a designed solution is determined by considering the desired features of a solution (criteria). Different proposals for solutions can be compared on the basis of how well each one meets the specified criteria for success or how well each takes the constraints into account. 
Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World
•  People’s needs and wants change over time, as do their demands for new and improved technologies.

Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Science and Engineering Practices​ Disciplinary Core Ideas​ Crosscutting Concepts
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions 
Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 3-5 builds on K-2 experiences and progresses to the use of evidence in constructing explanations that specify variables that describe and predict phenomena and in designing multiple solutions to design problems.
•  Generate and compare multiple solutions to a problem based on how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the design problem.
ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
•  Research on a problem should be carried out before beginning to design a solution. Testing a solution involves investigating how well it performs under a range of likely conditions.
•  At whatever stage, communicating with peers about proposed solutions is an important part of the design process, and shared ideas can lead to improved designs. 
Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World
•  Engineers improve existing technologies or develop new ones to increase their benefits, decrease known risks, and meet societal demands.

Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

Science and Engineering Practices​ Disciplinary Core Ideas​ Crosscutting Concepts
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations 
Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 3-5 builds on K-2 experiences and progresses to include investigations that control variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions.
•  Plan and conduct an investigation collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, using fair tests in which variables are controlled and the number of trials is considered. 
ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
•  Tests are often designed to identify failure points or difficulties, which suggest the elements of a design that need to be improved. 
ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution
•  Different solutions need to be tested in order to determine which of them best solves the problem, given the criteria and the constraints.
Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World
•  People’s needs and wants change over time, as do their demands for new and improved technologies.

Principles and Standards for School Mathematics

1. Number and Operations

Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates
• develop and use strategies to estimate the results of whole-number computations and to judge the reasonableness of such results;
• select appropriate methods and tools for computing with whole numbers from among mental computation, estimation, calculators, and paper and pencil according to the context and nature of the computation and use the selected method or tool.

2. Algebra

Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements
• investigate how a change in one variable relates to a change in a second variable.

3.Measurement

Analyze change in various contexts
• select and apply appropriate standard units and tools to measure length,area, volume, weight, time, temperature, and the size of angles.

4.Data Analysis and Probability

Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them
• collect data using observations, surveys, and experiments;
• represent data using tables and graphs such as line plots, bar graphs, and line graphs.
Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data
• propose and justify conclusions and predictions that are based on data and design studies to further investigate the conclusions or predictions.

5.Problem Solving

Apply and adapt a variety of appro priate strategies to solve problems.

6.Connections

Recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics.

None

Business simulation game is a type of strategy game that focuses on development. The player plays the role of a manager who operates a virtual real world in the game. There are a wide range of business simulation game, such as "The Sims" (Figure 1), "Hay Day" (Figure 2), "SimCity" (Figure 3), etc. The game we want to create with Edbox this time is a common type of business simulation game - time management game. Players need to complete certain tasks within a specific time for challenge. At the same time, players need to improve their judgment ability for time and speed to make a timely strategy.

The SIMSHay DaySIMCITY

(Next, organize students into groups to experience Beach Juice Shop to get an in-depth understanding of business simulation game and combine their own experiences to think about related questions. See Course Evaluation 1.1)

The main attraction of business simulation game is that it allows players to experience another profession and gain a sense of accomplishment during the game. The profession that the player experiences in the game may never be experienced in real life, thus enriching player's life experience. Moreover, everyone wants to achieve ideals, but it's hard to succeed from the beginning in real life. When reality strikes a ruthless blow, what players need is confidence, and playing games is a good method to gain it. Players who usually play simulation games expect to gain a sense of accomplishment that cannot be achieved in reality. Crowded customers and a profitable business will make players feel they can achieve a lot.

During the gaming experience, players will notice that business simulation game like Beach Juice Shop will set a certain time limit. The more players do within this time limit, the more money they get. The gameplay ultimately tests the player's hand speed and responsiveness. Creating such design is not driven by the gameplay itself, but by the creators who would like to give players a little more fun apart from pure business simulation. It is precisely the details of this game that give players the experience of its non-core gameplay. However, this extra gameplay becomes a core element of the entire business simulation game in the end.

1. Beach Juice Shop tests the player's motor control ability
During the gaming experience of Beach Juice Shop, the player may face a situation in which the mind has reacted but the hand's speed cannot keep up. This also validates that Beach Juice Shop has tested the player's responsiveness. So what is this reaction ability? We will analyze this question from a scientific perspective. 
The ability to react is known as motor control in psychology. The motor control process involves humans/animals using their brain/cognition to activate muscles and limbs to coordinate and participate in motor function. It is the time required from receiving the stimulus to the body's reaction, which is the time interval between stimulation and reaction (Figure 4). The more complex the process, the longer the response required. To summarize, once the player's perception is stimulated, the stimulus is then processed in the brain, and the action command is later issued to form motor control. The time took in this entire process is the player's reaction time.

Schematic Diagram of Reaction Time

Hick's Law, often used in design, means the time required by the user to make a decision is related to the number of choices. According to this analysis, the human response is influenced by three factors: early cognition and observation time, cognitive processing time and number of choices. With more information given to the player, early cognition and observation takes more time, the processing procedure becomes more complexed, and the cognitive processing time is also prolonged, resulting in a longer reaction time from the player. Take the Beach Juice Shop as an example, the more complex is the juice recipe, the more information is given to the player. The player needs to observe the included ingredients in the recipe multiple times and react in time to drag the ingredients into the blender, ending with a longer reaction time.

2. Numerical design in Beach Juice Shop
Numerical design is the cornerstone of games that will directly affect the product's popularity and revenue. Thus, the rationality of the numerical setting is particularly important in game design. Traditional numerical design methods do not have a unified and systematic definition, nor standard design ideas and methods. It's based on the designer's perceptual cognition of the game after playing many games for a long time and such cognition provides a vague guidance for working method of game's numerical design. Its main workflow is: 1. Determine the core value - Beach Juice Shop is a time management game. One of its main level mode is that the player needs to complete the production and sale of fruit juice within a specific time to achieve its gold coin target. Thus, the time value is one of the core values for this type of game. Furthermore, the success of the game is dependent on the need to sell fruit juice and earn the gold coins target. Thus, the revenue value is another core value for such games. 2. Given value - Set an initial value based on the designer's experience. 3. Numerical test - Choose an appropriate tester to perform the game test and record data related to the game value during the test. 4. Data analysis - Calculate the adjustable range of values based on the test data and determine the game value to be adjusted. After that, an iterative process of numerical testing and data analysis is required to finally get the most reasonable game value.

Next, we will use the Beach Juice Shop game editing template to explore how to set the numerical value in the game.

2.1. Time value design in Beach Juice Shop
(Present the questions and organize the students to discuss and explore in groups. Each group will then nominate a member of the group to answer and share the outcome of their group discussions. See Course Evaluation 1.2)
The core values in Beach Juice Shop are mainly revenue and time values. The time value in the game editing template is mainly the general waiting time and the maximum waiting time of the customer (Figure 5).

Game rule settings of Edbox's Beach Juice Shop

The design of the general waiting time is mainly to relate to the mood state of the customer. The customer's mood state varies in four types: general state, happy state, anxious state and angry state (Figure 5). As the waiting time increases, the customer's mood changes accordingly. When the customer's general waiting time has been exceeded, the customer changes from general state to anxious state. When the maximum waiting time has been exceeded, the customer changes from anxious state to angry state and eventually leaves. If the juice production is completed within the customer's maximum waiting time, the customer's status will change to a happy state and pay for the juice before leaving. Thus we should mainly pay attention that the customer's general waiting time should be set less than the maximum waiting time.

The maximum waiting time of a customer is the time limit for the player to complete the juice production. Thus, the player must complete the juice production within the maximum waiting time of the customer. The time limit will bring psychological pressure to the player. This kind of psychological pressure is a double-edged sword. If the player cannot deal with this pressure, he/she would not be able to make full use of his/her ability in the game. If the player can handle the psychological pressure well, it can promote the player's game performance and complete the operation in a timely manner. When setting the customer's maximum waiting time, a time value that is too short or too long is not conducive to the player's gaming experience. If the customer's maximum waiting time is set too short, it is likely that the customer has already leaved before the player completes the juice production. Thus the player will have difficulty achieving the gold coin target to pass the level, thereby increasing his/her frustration. If the customer's maximum waiting time is set too long, the player will lack a sense of urgency. This may result in the player slowing down the speed of producing the juice, which leads to insufficient amount of gold coin to pass the level in the end. Setting the customer's maximum waiting time requires taking into consideration the following factors: the level duration, average amount of fruit juice to be produced at each level, the player's reaction time and hand speed, and the average amount of time it takes to produce fruit juice of various recipes. First, the duration of each level is 3 minutes. The average amount of juice that needs to be produced at each level is related to the player's reaction time and hand speed, which can be calculated through numerical testing. If other variables (test duration and number of juice recipes) are the same, select players of different levels to produce fruit juice within the specified time, record the amount of juice produced by each player and calculate the average value. The average production time for each glass of juice can then be calculated by dividing the level duration of 3 minutes by the average amount of juice that each level needs to produce. Moreover, it should be noted that there will be cases in the game where the player has yet to complete the previous customer's juice order, but the next customer has ordered and started waiting, so the time to produce juice for the next customer will be shortened accordingly. Thus, the customer's maximum waiting time needs to be slightly longer than the average time the player takes to produce a glass of juice. Assuming that the average amount of juice produced per level is 10 glasses, the maximum time for each glass to be made is only 18 seconds. It is then reasonable to set the customer's maximum waiting time not less than 20 seconds. Hence, we can determine the initial value of the customer's maximum waiting time. 

2.2 Revenue value design in Beach Juice Shop

(Present the questions and organize students to discuss and explore in groups. Each group will later nominate a group member to answer and share the outcome of their group discussions. See Course Evaluation 1.3)

Another core value of Beach Juice Shop is the revenue value, which is mainly the price of various juice recipes in the game editing template (Figure 6). The setting range of the different juice recipes' revenue value is related to the gold coin target amount (Table 1). If the revenue value is set too high, it is only necessary to produce a small amount of juice to reach the gold coin target. If it's too easy to pass the level, players will feel that the game is not challenging and will quit. If the revenue value is set too low, it is necessary to produce a large amount of juice to reach the target gold coin. Too many repetitive actions will result in players feeling tired and it is too difficult to pass the level at the same time. This leads to player frustration and resulting in player loss. A reasonable juice recipe revenue value can then be calculated using the following formula: the average juice revenue of different recipes = average of target gold coins for each level ÷ average amount of juice to be produced at each level. The average value of the gold coin target for each level can be derived from Table 1. As previously stated, the average amount of juice that needs to be produced at each level can be derived from numerical testing.

Recipe settings of Edbox's beach juice shop

Gold Coin Target in Each Level

For the juice revenue value setting for each recipe, it can be determined by the amount and price of ingredients in the recipe. Based on the amount of ingredients in the recipe, suppose the price of an ingredient is "x" and the recipe is configured to use 2 ingredients, the revenue value will be "2x". If the recipe is configured to use 5 ingredients, then the revenue value will be "5x". Based on the price of ingredients in the recipe, it is necessary to mark the price of each ingredient and the final revenue value of juice is the sum of prices of each ingredient in the juice recipe. Thus, we need to consider another question. How to reasonably configure the ingredients of juice recipes? We can consider both the amount of ingredients in the recipe and the appearance frequency of the ingredient. The 14 recipes in the game appear randomly. If the amount of ingredients configured in each recipe is the same, the game will lose the randomness and playability that bring a sense of novelty to the player. Thus, the amount of ingredients /used in different recipes must vary. The juice recipe needs to be configured with at least 2 ingredients and no more than 5. Since the amount of ingredients can affect the player's reaction time, it is best to set the proportion of ingredients of each recipe to 2/3/4/5. Moreover, it is necessary to consider the occurrence frequency of different ingredients in each recipe to avoid situations where the same ingredients are used in multiple recipes or one ingredient is present in only one or two recipes.

In summary, all game values can be calculated as initial values. We need to repeat numerical testing and constantly adjust the game value based on the player's performance and feedback to eventually get the most reasonable value.
(Next, organize students to conduct numerical design and testing of business simulation game in groups. Each group will then share the test outcome. See Practice - Activity 1)

3. Application of IP in business simulation game design
In the gaming industry, there is a saying that "whoever gains IP can rule the world". What is IP? IP stands for intellectual property. Concepts, images, creative ideas, film and television, games, social media influencers, books, music, celebrities, variety shows and other forms of media can all be counted as IP. In other words, as long as it is media that can transmit message and has sufficient content for crossover marketing, it can become the source of IP content. In the gaming industry, IP has always been an eternal theme. Take a movie as an example, based on the adaptation of "Despicable Me", the "Despicable Me: Minion Rush" game (Figure 7) had over a million downloads within three days after it was released. As another example, the "Naruto Shipudden" game (Figure 8) that was adapted from the "Naruto" anime has a 7.5 rating on TapTap and over 1.84 million downloads.

Minion Rush​                  Naruto Shippuden

One of the most important reasons why IP is highly sought after in the gaming field is that IP bears players' emotions. If a person is hooked in the power of the One Ring in "Lord of the Rings" or fell in love with Han Lingsha, the protagonist of "The Legend of Sword and Fairy 4" game, he or she will have emotional connections towards this character, story, props and IP itself. These emotional connections will allow IP to continuously generate attention when its products transcend borders. Hence, a good IP can help the game attract players and supports players to pay for their emotional carriers.
How do you match the right IP in the design of a business simulation game? Figure 9 represents the matching of the game genre and IP:

Schematic diagram of game type and IP matching

Remarks: The game types referred to in Figure 9 are: FTG-fighting game, FPS-first person shooter, RTS-real-time strategy game, ACT-action game, MOBA-multiplayer online battle arena, RPG-role playing game, SLG-simulation game, MUG-music game

The horizontal axis represents the content of IP. Towards its rightward side, the content of the IP will become more complexed and detailed. The vertical axis represents the complexity of a game. Towards its upward side, the operation of game becomes harder with more complexed game play. There is a relatively regular matching relationship between them. One simulation game (corresponding to the SLG game in Figure 9) is a moderate game and the appropriate IP content is relatively unrestricted. However, it is important to note that IP will determine the overall style of the business simulation game and player groups. For example, male characters dominate the "Lord of the Rings". When setting the art style, the character can be designed with a male image. On the other hand, there are more female characters in the "Pride and Prejudice". The character can then be designed with a sweet and beautiful image when setting the art style. As far as the player group is concerned, it is obvious that "Lord of the Rings" is more male-oriented while "Pride and Prejudice" is more female-oriented. Thus, we still need to explore the IP's content, select the most suitable IP and enhance the game to be designed.
(Finally, organize students in groups to produce a business simulation game. Each group will produce a project report once they have completed the activity. See Practice - Activity 2)

1. Beach Juice Shop game experience - Students will experience the game to gain an in-depth understanding of the gameplay and features of the business simulation game. 
2. Business simulation game numerical design and testing - Divide tasks among group members, conduct statistical data testing based on the default value of the game editing template and adjust the game value based on the data to eventually determine a reasonable numerical design for the game.
3. Design and production of business simulation game - Students will apply their comprehensive knowledge of game design in business simulation game to design and produce one.

1. Business Simulation Game: A type of strategy game that focuses on development. Player plays the role of a manager who operates a virtual real world in the game.
2. Motor Control: Humans and animals use their brain/cognition to activate muscle and limb coordination and participate in motor function.
3. Reaction Time: Refers to the time required from receiving the stimulus to the body's reaction, which is the time interval between stimulation and reaction.
4. Hick's Law: Originally known as Hick-Hyman Law, which is a psychophysical law. Its core idea is that the more choices a person faces, the more time it takes to make a decision. When the number of choices increases, the time to make a decision also increases.
5. Intellectual Property (IP): Refers to the "exclusive rights of the right holders in accordance with the law for the achievements of their intellectual work and credibility of their business activities". Generally it is valid only for a limited time.

During the course:
1.1 Organize students to experience the game to give them a preliminary understanding of business simulation game, and think about related questions. Examples:
(a) What attracts you to Beach Juice Shop the most?
(b) What abilities do you think Beach Juice Shop examine?
1.2 Present questions for students to discuss and explore in groups, guide them to think step by step and summarize the design ideas of time value in Beach Juice Shop. Examples:
(a) What do you think is the purpose of designing the customer's general waiting time and the customer's maximum waiting time?
(b) Think about the impact on the player if the time is too long or too short when designing the customer's maximum waiting time.
(c) What factors should be considered to set the maximum waiting time of customers?
1.3 Present questions for students to discuss and explore in groups, guide them to think step by step and summarize the design ideas of revenue value in Beach Juice Shop. Examples:
(a) How should the setting range be determined for the revenue value of different juice recipes? What factors may be related?
(b) Consider a feasible calculation method for setting specific revenue values of different juice recipes.
(c) What is the most reasonable setting of ingredients in different juice recipes?

Career Focus: Game Numerical Designer
Numerical design is the cornerstone of games that will directly affect the product's popularity and revenue. Thus, the game numerical designer is an indispensable member of the game designing team. His or her importance is second only to the master designer. The game numerical designer's main work is to complete the numerical system design, numerical testing and make adjustments with the master designer. Game numerical designers must have a solid mathematical foundation, especially probability statistics. Second, they must have logical reasoning skills and be able to master the overall situation in major games. They must also be able to master the database. Being meticulous is essential to achieve a precise balance of numerical design; otherwise, they will have no patience to cope with daily formula calculations.

(1) Fang Bao (2013), Research and Implementation of Intelligent Decision-making System in business simulation game. Master's thesis.
(2) Peixian Liu, Haihua Han, Li Jin, Jichao Liu (2010), The Application of Value Attribute in Numerical Balance Design of Online Games, Manufacturing Automation.
(3) Tian Xia Yi Tong (2004), I Love The SIMS, China Electronic and Net Publishing.
(4) Liao Bo Yi Pian Tian, What are we playing when we play a business simulation game? Sohu.
(5) Brain Intelligence (2019), Why can't I become a game expert even when i play games every day? Zhihu.
(6) Brain Intelligence (2019), From the perspective of game designers, which game applied psychology research to the extreme? Zhihu.
(7) Xin Zhao (2018), Game IP Manual (1): What is IP? Tencent Institute of Games.
(8) Xin Zhao (2018), Game IP Manual (2): Game IP Content Element, Tencent Institute of Games.
(9) Xin Zhao (2018), Game IP Manual (3): Periphery of Game IP, Tencent Institute of Games.
(10) Qian Duan Zao Du Ke (2017), (No.990), [Big Product, Small Details], Hick's Law, Sohu.
(11) Lu Li (2010), Game Numerical Designer: Online Game Revenue Gatekeeper, Xin Qian Cheng.
(12) Intellectual Property. Baidu Baike.

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