HangMe: What’s Better than Mr. Potato Head?

Saving Mr. Potato Head

Help Mr. Potato Head Keep His Face! Click to Play.

For this assignment, I decided to create a hangman-themed game based around Toy Story’s Mr. Potato Head and the unique quality of being able to remove facial features. I wanted to create a progress meter that did not perpetuate the morbid theme of hanging a man. I found myself thinking about things that made me feel relaxed and generally happy, a quality in which I feel all casual games should possess. Much of what I remember about my childhood is relaxing, happy and involved animated shows and movies. Naturally, Toy Story was not far behind in the thought process and the movie eventually became the theme of the stage design as well as the word bank choices. I am more than comfortable in saying that the Mr. Potato Head character and the facade of the stage are the creations I am most proud of in this assignment.

The screen that appears if the player fails.

The player’s progress is measured by how many facial features of the potato head character have been removed. Too many wrong choices leaves the face of the character blank and consequently, a phrase appears asking the player, with a phrase from the movie, “What’re you lookin’ at?,” and a button appears giving the option of restarting the game. If the player successfully completes the word, a button appears giving the player the option of playing the game again.

I was very conscious of the design of my game. I considered the appearance of the Mr. Potato Head character and it’s toy-like features. I attempted to match the color palette that the movie primarily used in it’s title images as well as the type of font that the movie uses. There is a very toy-like quality about the quirked angles and the primary colors that the palette uses which added my overall idea of creating a game that elicits childhood feelings.

In addition, I kept in mind certain design mechanics that Anderson discusses in “Seductive Interactive Design.” Specifically, the point Anderson makes about limited choice and creating the illusion of ‘less’. According to Anderson, less options is more appealing as a user interface. I felt that putting more than two rows of letter buttons on the stage gives the player too many options. I felt that it gave the stage a more clean look. Players may be overwhelmed by multiple layers that clash with the button font design as well as the color choices. Therefore, I created the illusion that there are less options, but in reality there are as many options as any other hangman-themed game.

I am not sure there are enough words to describe the kinds of frustration I experienced with this assignment. I went into the planning process with high hopes and optimism. I had a great design in mind and confidence in the fact that I had generally done similar coding in other exercises. To begin, after being informed that there was a way to write an event listener for all 26 letter button options, I attempted writing the code. I could not get the program to properly ‘listen’ for the MouseEvent. Even after looking through different tutorials on loops as well as asking Dr. Delwiche, I could not wrap my head around why the loop was not working. After many attempts at writing and re-writing the “for loop” code, I decided to write out every single event listener and function for each button.  Another major problem I had was figuring out how to get the numberWrong and numberCorrect counters for the guesses to trigger what to do if the player had made too many guesses or had guessed the right word. This problem is still unsolved. When playing my game, at first it works fine it identifying if the player has made too many or the right guess, but upon playing the game further you’ll start to notice that the counters are starting to hop around. It seems as though the counters do not reset when the restart or playagain buttons are pressed.

I find little satisfaction in knowing that so many hours were spent coding this game and something so little as a guess counter is holding me back from having a mini masterpiece.

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