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Grade Level:
7th - 9th Grade
Time Required:
2 Hours
Group Size:
5 - 6 Groups
Subject Areas:
Biology Physics Mathematics Game Design Psychology Computer Science

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Design of Fruit Master

Contributed by:Edbox Team

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In this game courseware, students will explore the knowledge game designers apply when designing Fruit Master, including response inhibition and game design knowledge (e.g. Factors affecting game difficulty, background images, icons, sound effects, user experience, etc.). Students will learn the principles of the game through gaming experience and design their personalized games with the game editing tool on Edbox.

Students will explore basic knowledge about biology, physics and mathematical principles as well as game design of Fruit Master, which is critical in the initial design process of the game. Students will recognize that human response inhibition can be trained and improved through games such as Fruit Master. They will have a better understanding of factors that affect game difficulty and will learn how to apply theories of curiosity, visual and auditory feedback to enhance gaming experience. After the lessons, students can put what they learned into practice and design a personalized Fruit Master.

After this practice, students should be able to:
1. Understand the origin of Fruit Master;
2. Understand the relationship between Fruit Master and response inhibition;
3. Understand the probability theory in stimulating player curiosity;
4. Understand the factors that affect game difficulty in Fruit Master;
5. Understand the impact of background image and icon design on user experience;
6. Understand the impact of background music and sound design on user experience;
7. Understand the importance of the ranking list in the player's gaming experience and the impact of score settings on rankings;
8. Understand what is a user experience designer.

NGSS: Energy

Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.

Science and Engineering Practices​ Disciplinary Core Ideas​ Crosscutting Concepts
  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. 
 

 

Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.

Science and Engineering Practices​ Disciplinary Core Ideas​ Crosscutting Concepts
Scientific Knowledge Is Based on Empirical Evidence
•  Scientific knowledge is based on logical and conceptual connections between evidence and explanations. 
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. 
Energy and Matter
•   Energy may take different forms (e.g., energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion).

 

NGSS: Structure, Function, and Information Processing

Gather and synthesize information that sensory receptors respond to stimuli by sending messages to the brain for immediate behavior or storage as memories.

Science and Engineering Practices​ Disciplinary Core Ideas​ Crosscutting Concepts
  Information Processing
• Each sense receptor responds to different inputs (electromagnetic, mechanical, chemical),transmitting them as signals that travel along nerve cells to the brain. The signals are then processed in the brain, resulting in immediate behaviors or memories.
 

 

NGSS: Engineering Design

Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.

Science and Engineering Practices​ Disciplinary Core Ideas​ Crosscutting Concepts
Developing and Using Models
•  Develop a model to generate data to test ideas about designed systems, including those
representing inputs and outputs. Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Developing Possible Solutions
•  Models of all kinds are important for testing solutions.
Optimizing the Design Solution 
•  The iterative process of testing the most promising solutions and modifying what is proposed on the basis of the test results leads to greater refinement and ultimately to an optimal solution.

 

Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.

Science and Engineering Practices​ Disciplinary Core Ideas​ Crosscutting Concepts
Analyzing and Interpreting Data
•  Analyze and interpret data to determine similarities and differences in findings.
Developing Possible Solutions
•  There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem. 
•  Sometimes parts of different solutions can be combined to create a solution that is better than any of its predecessors.
Optimizing the Design Solution
•  Although one design may not perform the best across all tests, identifying the characteristics of the design that performed the best in each test can provide useful information for the redesign process—that is, some of those characteristics may be incorporated into the new design. 
 

 

 Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Science and Engineering Practices​ Disciplinary Core Ideas​ Crosscutting Concepts
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
•  Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria.
Developing Possible Solutions
•  There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem. 
 

 

Principles and Standards for School Mathematics

Understand and apply basic concepts of probability
 •  use proportionality and a basic understanding of probability to make and test conjectures about the results of experiments and simulations. 

None

1. Origin and Overview of Fruit Master
(Organize students to watch Fruit Master advertising videos and think about related issues. See Course Evaluation 1.1)
The original game of Fruit Master is Fruit Ninja whose idea came from a knife commercial. While at home, a game designer from Halfbrick Studios saw a TV ad selling fruit knives. The salesman in the ad threw the fruit and sliced it in the air with the knife to demonstrate its sharpness. This designer then came up with the idea of developing a fruit-slicing game at "Halfbrick Friday", the company's monthly brainstorming event where every employee, from the cleaning lady to the CFO, can raise new game ideas. Those who can impress other colleagues, will receive rewards and be able to set up a temporary team to develop a game model. Fruit Master was born swiftly, with the background and basic gameplay determined at the designer's first "Halfbrick Friday". In just six weeks, Halfbrick officially launched the game. This shows that the idea of a game often comes from life. As long as you look carefully, you will realize that an idea for a game may be hidden in some of the most common things. Of course, the idea itself is far from enough. It requires you to expand and redefine it to form the final version of the game.

Fruit Master is an action game that involves the slicing of fruits before they vanish. Players have to slice as many fruits as possible to get higher scores. In the game, fruits and bombs will constantly appear on the screen. The player is given three chances to miss the fruits. The game immediately ends when a bomb is sliced (Figure 1).

fruitfigure1


Fruit Master has a unique gameplay. It is simple and easy to understand and grasp the user's pain points. The player can play the game anywhere without any restrictions during their fragmented free time, which makes it attractive to a large number of players. Players can find huge pleasure in the "high-speed sliding". The pleasure seems to come from the smoothness of "slicing the fruit". Yet, if we look deeper, we'll see that it actually comes from the rewards gained after following the game rules. The fruit thrown out is a new problem and slicing it is the solution. Players will repeatedly experience feelings of "encountering new problems" and "solving problems successfully" in the game. 

2. Relationship between Fruit Master and response inhibition
(Next, organize students to experience Fruit Master so that they have an in-depth understanding of the game and combine their experiences to think about related issues. See Course Evaluation 1.2)

In Fruit Master, players must slice all the fruits and avoid touching the bombs. What ability does this process train? We can experience it through a game called "Sponge Bob Says". When the game organizer says "Sponge Bob says touch the nose", then everyone needs to touch the nose. When the game organizer says "touch the nose", then nobody should touch the nose.

(Answer relevant questions based on "Sponge Bob Says" gaming experience. See Course Evaluation 1.3)

We will notice that there are similarities between "Sponge Bob Says" and Fruit Master. In "Sponge Bob Says", everyone will need to adjust their behavior based on oral command changes and suppress their responses that do not meet current needs. Similarly, in Fruit Master, we need to make timely "slice" fruit actions based on the appearance of fruits and bombs, and suppress the impulse to "slice" bombs. Both games use response inhibition. Response inhibition is one of the advanced cognitive functions of humans. It is an ability to suppress inappropriate behavior or actions that do not meet current needs. Individuals suppress the formation of dominant responses through response inhibition. Studies have shown that the ability to do so is thought to be related to the physical and mental health of individuals. It can predict the development of early mathematics and reading ability in children and even affect people's social function. Can this ability be improved through training? The answer is yes. We will notice that as the number of playing times increases, players' attention will gradually increase, impulsiveness decrease and the longer it will take to slice the bomb.

In summary, Fruit Master not only cultivates the player's response inhibition, but also the visual differentiation ability and attention. Visual differentiation ability refers to the ability of an individual in distinguishing one object from another, including the ability to seek common and different aspects. Attention is the ability of a person's psychological activity to point to and concentrate on something. During the game, the player needs to concentrate attentively, observe carefully and quickly identify the fruit, especially in cases where the background image color is similar to the fruit/bomb color, and juice color to fruit color. In these cases, the requirements for attention and visual differentiation are higher.

3. Fruit Master and theories of curiosity

Do you have any experience with wheel of fortune? Various prizes are listed on the wheel. When the wheel turns, we cannot predict where the pointer will stop. Therefore, for anyone who participates, every turn is full of anticipation and surprises. This makes use of theories of curiosity, using probability to make players curious as it doesn't follow routine. Here, the concept of a random event needs to be introduced. A random event may or may not happen under the same conditions. Probability reflects the likelihood of a random event occurring. For example, one of the prizes drawn in the wheel of fortune is a random event and the likelihood that this event will happen is its probability.

Fruit Master uses probability to perfection. We cannot predict the number of fruits and bombs thrown each time. This means it is random and uncertain, which makes the player feel anticipated about the game and find pleasure from new discoveries. The player will be unconsciously curious about the number of fruits and bombs that will appear in the next round. Fruit Master increases uncertainty by introducing probability so that players encounter something different each time, thereby increasing the feeling of novelty, delaying weariness for the game and stimulating their curiosity. Moreover, probability affects game difficulty. The greater the probability of a bomb appearing in the game, the greater the probability that the player will slice the bomb, making the game more difficult. However, there is a special case whereby all of them are bombs. The probability of this random event is very low. For some people, it may be difficult to be in a situation with all bombs appearing because they are used to constantly slicing fruits. Thus, it is difficult for them to restrain the "slicing" movement, resulting in the game ending. Some people will think this situation is simple because they have a strong visual differentiation ability, can quickly make judgments and control their own response.

4. Factors affecting difficulty of Fruit Master

In Fruit Master, the player needs to distinguish the fruits and bombs thrown in the air, avoiding the bombs and quickly slicing the fruits to get high scores. In addition to probability, there are many other factors that can have an impact on the game difficulty, including the speed of the throw, the angle at which it was thrown, the number of throws, the background image, the time the juice takes to disappear and the similarity between fruit color and bomb color.

Let's first look at the impact of throwing speed on game difficulty. This is the movement of fruit and bombs in the air (Figure 2). Situation 1: The object is thrown in the air at a certain speed. Situation 2: The speed is getting slower and slower with deceleration. Situation 3: When the highest point is reached, the speed is reduced to zero and the object stops briefly. Situation 4: The object begins to fall and the speed is getting faster with acceleration. Situation 5: The object leaves the screen. During the ascent process, if the conditions are the same and the object is thrown at a greater speed, the rise will be higher and the time in the air will be longer. Players will then have more time to identify it, which requires less visual differentiation ability and response inhibition, thereby making it easier to slice the fruit. So where is the best place to slice the fruit? From the movement we have just analyzed, we know that the falling speed is relatively small when the object moves fast to the highest point, thus it is easier to slice the fruit around this area.

fruitfigure2

Second, let's take a look at the impact of throwing angles on game difficulty. Two sets of pictures are shown below (Figure 3, Figure 4). We will notice that it's more difficult to slice the fruit in Figure 4 than that in Figure 3. This is because there is a relatively large difference in the throwing angles of the fruit and bombs in Figure 3. The movement trajectory in the air varies greatly, making it easier to distinguish. In Figure 4, there is a minor difference in the throwing angles of the fruit and bomb, thus the movement trajectory is small. It's more difficult to distinguish but easier to slice the bomb, resulting in the end of the game. Thus, the closer the fruit and bomb are thrown, the more difficult the game.

fruitfigure34

Third, let's look at the impact of the number of throws on game difficulty. Two sets of pictures are shown below (Figure 5, Figure 6). We will notice that it's more difficult to slice the fruit in Figure 6 than that in Figure 5. First, there are fewer throws in Figure 5. Second, in Figure 6, it is obvious that slicing all the fruits in one swipe while avoiding the bomb requires higher visual differentiation ability and response inhibition, resulting in greater difficulty. Finally, if you choose to slice one at a time, it will undoubtedly take longer to slice all the fruits in the picture on the right. Because the time for the fruits to fall is certain and there are more fruits in this picture, which makes it more difficult.

fruitfigure56

The final part is the effect of color on game difficulty. Two sets of pictures are shown below (Figure 7, Figure 8). We will notice that slicing fruits in Figure 8 is more difficult in comparison with that in Figure 7. This is because the color contrast between the fruit and the bomb is greater in Figure 7, making it easier to identify. On the other hand, in Figure 8, the color of the fruit is similar to that of the bombs. This makes it easier to make visual errors and interfere with the player's visual differentiation ability. Furthermore, this has relatively high requirements for the player to distinguish, focus and suppress responses, thereby increasing game difficulty. We will also notice that the higher the similarity between the color of the background image and color of the fruit and bomb, the more likely it is to make visual errors and the more difficult the game. The higher the similarity between juice and fruit color and the longer the juice takes to disappear, the more likely it is to make visual errors and increase game difficulty.

fruitfigure78

In summary, the speed of the throw, the angle of the throw, the number of throws, background image, the disappearance time of the juice, and the similarity of fruit and bomb color will affect the requirement on the ability level, thus determining game difficulty.

5. Fruit Master user experience

A good game cannot be separated from a good user experience which will determine whether players can be retained. User experience is a subjective feeling that users build when using the product. It presents the player with an entertainment experience through the game's user interface. The user interface, or UI, is the medium of interaction and information exchange between the system and users. It enables the conversion between the internal form of information communication and the form that humans can accept. The user interface's design is crucial to improving user experience. It needs to focus on what players need to play the game comfortably and how to create a smooth and enjoyable user experience. Fruit Master did an excellent job in user experience. 

First, we usually need to transmit information to the player on the game genre before the game starts. At this time, the background color plays an important role in the game because the nature and theme of the game are often conveyed through color. For example, casual games often use bright background images, while hardcore games often use dark background images. In Fruit Master, the user interface presents a theme with an ancient Japanese style, in which the bright colors of fruits are used to give players a summer feel and a casual tone to the game. Thus, when designing the game, we need to determine the game's theme, background image and color tone based on the nature of the game.

Second, the game's icon design can also give players a good user experience. Fruit Master did an excellent job in this aspect. At the start of the game, the player will try to unlock the game by clicking or swiping over the fruit icon on the homepage (Figure 9). The game's core mechanism is already communicated to the player once the player learns that a sliding gesture can unlock the game. This interaction naturally extends into the gaming experience. When the player sees a fruit popping up, he/she will feel the natural urge to slice it. When a bomb appears, the user will know not to slice it or the game will end. Also, the user will gradually realize that there are rewards for slicing fruits in one swipe, thereby striving to slice the fruits at one time. Through such a process of discovery and learning, users will soon understand the core gameplay. At the same time, Fruit Master's icon design also echoes the game's theme, reflecting the consistency of the UI design. All of these details provide a good gaming experience. 

(Next, organize students in groups to design and produce UI. Each group will then display their work and share their design concept. See Practice Activity - Activity 1).

fruitfigure9

Third, strong visual feedback during the game will also give players a sense of exhilaration. Most of the player's experience during the game comes from the signal-feedback interaction (sending a signal first and then receiving the feedback). Thus, timely visual feedback enhances interaction and makes the experience more realistic. When the fruit is sliced open, you can clearly see the splashing of the juice and how the juice disappears bit by bit. This is not only a visual effect, but also a good psychological effect. The player can intuitively feel the bursting of the fruit, which provides a sense of stimulation and letting off steam. Similarly, when the player managed to accurately slice the fruit or fruits at a time, a score will be displayed. This allows the player to intuitively feel the "reward" feedback from the game and experience a sense of accomplishment. Furthermore, the source of the player's sense of exhilaration is also based on a good interactive design, which is the "slicing" action of Fruit Master. First, this action has realistic graphics (blade), making it natural for people to have the impulse to slice when they see a fruit. Second, this action is simple and easy. Imagine if you change the "slicing" action to drawing a five-pointed star or a circling action. Wouldn't this increase the action difficulty and reduce the sense of exhilaration at the same time? Thus, using the action of sliding on the screen at high speed to simulate the "slice" action, combined with the splashing of juice visual effect, raises the sense of exhilaration and satisfaction to another level.

(Next, organize students to listen to the game's background music and think about related issues. See Course Evaluation 1.4)

Good visual feedback and interactive design are not enough to develop a good game. There needs to be corresponding auditory feedback to complement the two other elements. Bad music and sound performance will spoil the game. First, the  background music can set up the tone and mood of a game. In general, the player can judge the tone of the game once he/she hears the homepage music. Fruit Master's background music gives the impression of a cheerful tone which echoes the theme. Second, sound effects are also frequently used in games, corresponding to actions and events in the game, such as the sound of throwing and slicing fruits. Considering that sound is often used as a warning for danger in the real world, it can be used as an indicator of something that the player needs to pay attention to. For example, the sound of a bomb being thrown can alert the player to avoid slicing it. Thus, when designing a game, sound effects and music should be taken into consideration as auditory feedback elements in UI or gaming experience. They should be used in harmony with the game's theme.

Finally, the ranking list will also affect the player's gaming experience. It can reflect the objective strength of things in the same kind and bring competition to players in games. The ranking is an indication of the player's strength or abilities. Have you noticed that most individuals like to label people? For instance, a straight "A" student, or a faster runner. Similarly, people are divided into two groups in a game, strong or weak players. A strong player will naturally gain envy from others, enjoy wielding his/her superiority. The concept of strength has multiple meanings. It can refer to the player's level of performance in the game, such as combat power. But how do you show this label in games? This is where a ranking list (Figure 10) comes in. Its biggest feature is that all players can check their rankings anywhere and anytime. For example, a certain player is placed first in all game servers. A leaderboard can satisfy the player's sense of honor, creating a sense of belonging to the game and enhancing user experience. Rankings in the leaderboard are related to the scores. The higher the score, the higher the ranking. The score settings for different fruits and the reward set for combos are particularly important as they will affect how the user plays the game, whether to slice the fruit one by one or to slice three or more fruits in one swipe. This will further affect the gap between the final score and rankings in the game.

(Next, organize students to design and produce their Fruit Master games in groups. Each group will then present their work and share their design ideas. See Practice Activity - Activity 2)

fruitfigure10

1. UI Design and Production - Students will choose a theme, then design and produce background images, fruit and bomb images based on the theme.
2. Fruit Master Design and Production - Students will apply related knowledge they learned to design and create a personalized Fruit Master.

1. Response Inhibition: One of the advanced cognitive functions of humans. It's an ability to suppress inappropriate behavior or actions that do not meet current needs. Individuals can suppress the formation of dominant responses through response inhibition.
2. Attention: Refers to the ability of a person's psychological activity to point to and concentrate on something.
3. Randomness: The lack of pattern or predictability in events. It refers to the uncertainty of each event in a set of events with a certain probability.
4. Visual Differentiation Ability: Refers to the ability of an individual in distinguishing one object from another, including the ability to seek common and different aspects.
5. Probability: Reflects the likelihood of random events occurring.
6. Hardcore Games: Games that have a threshold and a specific audience.
7. User Interface: UI in short. It's the medium for interaction and information exchange between the system and user. It enables the conversion between the internal form of information communication and the form that humans can accept.
8. Ranking list: Refers to the leaderboard that reflects the objective strength of things in the same kind, which can be used to bring competition to players in games.

During the courseDuring the course
1.1 To let students understand that the idea of a game is derived from life, organize them to watch videos and think about relevant questions. Examples:
(a) Can you find any inspiration for game design from this tool ad? 
1.2 Organize students to think about questions based on their gaming experience. Examples:
(a) What kind of response is needed when a bomb appears with the fruit in the game?
(b) What ability does the game help to train?
1.3 Answer relevant questions after having the "Sponge Bob Says" game. Examples:
(a) What does this game have in common with Fruit Master?
1.4 Organize students to listen to the background music of Fruit Master and think about relevant questions. Examples:
(a) What do you think about the tone of the game after listening to the music of Fruit Master?
(b) Is this tone consistent with the theme of the game?

Career Focus: User Experience Designer
User Experience (UX) is a special design discipline that focuses on the player's psychology, behavior, thought process and game skills. User experience design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility and desirability provided in the interaction with a product. In a game development team, a UX designer is responsible for assisting the team in making decisions over designs that can impact players' gaming experience, such as UIs (list or grid), interface interaction (button or gesture), feedback, operational tips, icons, psychological models, colors, languages, terminology etc. Without the user experience designer, all of the above decisions can only be made on the basis of the developer's imagination - "I think players will use this enhancement tool and they will understand its function." But unlike players, developers tend to get "too close" to their projects to make effective assumptions. Thus, this "fictitious player" is just a reflection of the developer's knowledge, experience and world view, whose opinion could lead to flawed design decisions. In a word, UX designers can promote game quality.

1. Adams, Ernest & Rollings, Andrew. Editor: Pengjie Wang. Translator: Xiguang Dong. (Published in 2009-1). Fundamentals of Game Design, China Machine Press.
2. BI Research Institute. Fundamentals of Psychology in Game Development 1: Visual Laws and Psychology. BI Research Institute.
3. BI Research Institute. Fundamentals of Psychology in Game Development 2: Visual Laws and Psychology - Motivation to Play the Game. BI Research Institute.
4. Explanation of the Innovative Aspects of UI Game Design Such as Fruit Master. Tencent Cloud.
5. Game Industry Veterans Explore the Definition and Role of User Experience (UX). Tencent Institute of Games.
6. Background of Fruit Master. Baidu Baike.
7. A Simple Game Can Improve a Child's Response Inhibition. Zhihu.
8. What Is the Role of Ranking List in Games? Why Do Many Games Have This Setting? Zhihu.
9. Probability. Baidu Baike.
10. Randomness. Baidu Baike.
11. Hardcore Games. Baidu Baike.
12. User Interface. Baidu Baike.

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