Game Journal – TitanFall

Designer/Developer: Respawn Entertainment

Platform: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC

Date: May 23, 2014



Titanfall is a FPS in which players battle each other in multiple game types. This includes CTF, Hard Point Domination, Pilot Hunter, Attrition, and Last Titan Standing. Players engage each other in teams of up to, but no more than 6 vs. 6. Killing enemies or NPC’s provides the player with a discount to the time required to call in a Titan. Once players have killed enough enemy units or they have waited out the titanfall timer they may call in a titan, a vertical mechanized tank, to enter and pilot. Once in a titan any enemy units a player kills reduces the titan’s ability core. Ability cores boost a titan’s shields, damage, or movement capabilities depending on the type of titan the player is using. There are three types of titans: Ogre – Slow heavily armored titan with the shield core ability (increases defense), Strider – Fast lightly armored titan with the dash core ability (increases mobility), and the Atlas – Medium speed, medium armored with the damage core ability (increased damage). The titans can be personalized by selecting weapons, abilities, kits, and artillery. Just like titans pilots can also be personalized. The game employs a combination of genres into to create its unique feel. The genres are military shooter, mech combat, and parkour style movement mechanics.




Spatial Awareness

Twitch Reaction


Combat Strategy




TitanFall Screenshot 1

Figure 1. The view from inside a Titan

Titanfall, like many fast paced combat shooters, has a lot of data that needs to be managed at any given time. Starting with Figure 1 we can see the mini-map in the upper left corner. The mini-map functionality is similar to Battlefield in that, players and enemies are not visible unless they are firing their weapon. This is combined with the Halo style mini-map for the NPCs which are always shown and are more obvious when they are moving. In the upper center of the screen we can see the titan life bar. Notice the six thick sections below the six thin sections. The thinner part represents the titan’s outer shield. The shield discharges before the titan begins taking physical damage, which is represented by the six thicker bars. If the six thicker bars are depleted the entire indicator will become a black and yellow striped bar, this is known as doom. Just under the health meter there is a small orange bar, this is the enemy health meter, it only shows up when a titan is targeted and will remain until a new titan is targeted. On the right side of the screen you can see the orange, white, and teal text. This text is the player death data. It reads from left to right [This Player – Used this Weapon – To Kill This Player]. The color of the text identifies whether the players are enemies or friendlies. Enemies are always in orange text and teammates are always in teal text. On the bottom right corner of the screen you see a hexagon with a couple of broken up rings circling a smaller hexagon. This is the titan’s core ability meter. It counts down like a clock until it can be activated. Directly to the left of the ability core we can see the currently equipped weapon and the ammo available in it. Slightly to the left of the weapon we see a small white bar and the letter F, this is the titans Artillery slot, when the white bar is full the artillery is ready to fire, otherwise it is red and will slowly recharge. Moving further to the left we see a small shield with another white bar below it, this is the titan’s activated defense ability. This can change depending on the load out a pilot chooses for their titan. Finally in the far left corner we see the game timer and team scores. Again the enemy team is represented by the orange bar and the friendly team is blue/teal. The bars fill up as the goal for the round is completed; first team to fill the bar wins. Figure 2 shows a pilot performing parkour maneuvers with the assistance of his belt rockets. When a player utilizes his belt rockets they become increasingly visible to enemy titans and players. The jet exhaust is like a fingerprint that other players look for and can be a pilot’s saving grace or their downfall.   Figure 3 shows the game from the view of a pilot. Again the mini-map is located top left, but this time there is no health bar in the center. Pilots are informed of their health by the color of the edges of the screen. If a pilot is injured they become cloudy and red until the pilot recovers. The bottom

TitanFall Screenshot 2

Figure 2. A pilot using his belt boosters for parkour.

TitanFall Screenshot 3

 Figure 3. A titan waiting to be embarked.

right corner shows the pilot’s titan’s cooldown instead of “core ability”. To the left is the weapon currently equipped and then the pilot’s explosives represented by a small white grenade and the letter F. Continuing to the left is the pilot’s active ability shown with a small white bar and the letter Q, and finally the game information counter in the bottom left exactly as it was in the titan. In this image the center targeting reticle for the player’s weapon is more obvious and exists in the same position regardless of whether the player is controlling a pilot or titan.


  • Players can utilize stealth to evade enemy titans and assault enemy players and NPCs.
  • Grenades can be utilized to dispatch a camping player or a group of NPCs.
  • Setting up Arc Mines in highly traveled paths can provide a player with a quick free kill while providing the enemy with a headache.
  • Players can grapple walls and hang on them to surprise enemy pilots.
  • Selecting your burn cards immediately before a match can give the player a significant advantage during the match.
  • If an enemy pilot goes invisible, look for their jet exhaust, that, never disappears completely.


  • Because titans come down from the sky they can be used to crush enemies or other titans.
  • Players cannot leave the designated combat area, if they do, they will die after 10 seconds. But, players can sit on the edge of the map and move in and out without dying as long as they are back in the combat area before the timer runs out. This allows for some cheesy gameplay tactics.
  • Because players must wait the same amount of time to call down a titan, almost every player receives their titan at the same time resulting in a sort of pilot heavy – titan heavy – pilot heavy – titan heavy feel to the flow of the game.
  • Because of how powerful titans are if one is called in early (burn cards) it has the capability to heavily skew the balance of the battle toward the team with the titan.


The game campaign is non-existent. The campaign consists of regular multiplayer games with some added dialogue between rounds. This is extremely disappointing considering that most FPS games have a decent campaign as well as multiplayer combat. Additionally the game is lacking significant dynamic content. There is no destruction in the levels, which makes no sense considering we have titans. There are no dynamic events or scripted events that alter the level or even give the players a sensation that a dynamic event might be locked away somewhere. Some scripting in the campaign intentionally misleads players to believe that there may be some dynamic event that can happen, but it is a farce. The game could use some dynamic mobs, events, or terrain and an actual campaign wouldn’t hurt either.


Similar Games


Mech Warrior

Mirrors Edge


Design Ideas

  • A RTS style game with unit call-downs like titans.
  • Mech Warrior vs. World of Tanks
  • Terminator style military shooter where people and mechs have to face off against a technologically superior conscience (like a supercomputer hive mind). Think ridiculously advanced AI making gameplay extremely difficult.

Game Journal – Half Minute Hero

Designer/Developer: Opus

Platform: PC (Controller Support), Xbox 360, PSP

Date: May 20, 2014



Time Management

Puzzle Solving

Twitch Reaction (healing)



Half Minute Hero Gameplay







Level up -> Reset Time -> Level Up -> Buy Upgrades -> Level Up -> Reset Time -> Level Up -> Kill Boss



  • Time management forces players to make rash decisions.
  • Because the reset cost increases on each use the player may end up being unable to complete the mission because they would not be able to earn enough $$ to reset if necessary.
  • Players can only carry one healing item, because of this they may not be able to complete a mission due to random encounters forcing them to heal before they reach the level boss.


Additional Notes

Similar Games

Design Ideas

Game Journal – Papers Please

Designer/Developer: Lucas Pope
Platform: PC
Date: May 20, 2014
Game Location:

Papers Please is listed as a “dystopian document thriller”. In the game players attempt to verify immigration documents based on rules set by the governing country Arstotska. Players must race against the clock in order to earn as much money as possible. One cardinal game mechanic in Papers Please is time management. As the game progresses players are forced to deal with an increasing amount of documents forcing the player to begin dealing with not only time but space. Spatial Management quickly becomes another issue for players as the table top they are able to work on has a limited amount of space. Additionally the player begins having to deal with increasingly complex information and Data Verification. Finally, at set points throughout the game the player is forced to make decisions regarding the subversion of Arstotska by allowing insurgents through the border. This is an important decision for the player because allowing the insurgents through the checkpoint increases the player’s income significantly, but not allowing them through could put the player at risk. This is an obvious form of triangularity.

During gameplay the player receives documents from NPCs and verifies them for accuracy. After checking the data players have the ability to allow or deny the NPC access into Arstotzka. If the player finds discrepancies in the documents they are able to check them with a system that either confirms or denies that the discrepancy is legitimate. If the discrepancy is legitimate the player is furnished with additional options to either detain/deny or confirm the NPC’s identity. Eventually players are able to detain and even scan the NPCs in order to verify increasingly complex information. Players must verify the height, weight, names, serial-numbers, issuing cities, seals, countries, appearance, and much more before they can allow an NPC through the checkpoint. Additionally players are forced to take care of their family between work days. This is simply a matter of making enough money during the work day to provide their family members with shelter, food, heating, and medication. Finally players are able to upgrade the checkpoint booth in which they work which provides keyboard shortcuts to the most commonly used actions like verification and stamping.

Papers Please Gameplay
Notice the arrow that the cursor is hovering over on the right side of the screen. This arrow is the tab that allows the player to access the “Denied” and “Approved” stamps that are used on the entry visas like the one in the center of the screen. The Entry Permit to the right of the Entry Visa is an example of a supplemental document that the player must verify. On the left of the screen you can see the NPC in question. The Entry Visa has a picture on it that must match the NPC on the left, as well as the country of issue, the sex of the NPC, the issuing city, and the expiration date of the Visa. In the bottom right corner there is a small exclamation mark in a red diamond. This is the tab that allows players to enter verification mode. The bottom left corner of the screen contains (from left to right) the current in game date/time, current ID requirements, communication/recording device, Information book, and the NPC’s weight. Directly above those things is a desktop that the player can use to place documents they do not need access to. When documents are on this table they are not readable and are significantly reduced in size rendering them useless. The documents explode when they are dragged to the workstation, which is the large area in the bottom right side of the screen. The top of the screen shows the exterior of the checkpoint. The black characters are NPC’s waiting in line to enter the checkpoint booth (small brown building with the megaphones on top). The light blue characters are security guards working at the checkpoint.

• Look at obvious data first like photos before dates that require more investigation.

• Because screen space is limited certain pieces of data can be easily overlooked.
• The player must hand all documents back to the NPC before they will continue on; this can short the player time critical to getting a paycheck.
• Players are only paid for immigrants processed before 6PM game time. This can result in lost playtime if the player feels they do not have time to process an additional immigrant when the end of day is near.
• Because of the time dynamic players may feel rushed to process immigrants resulting in simple errors.
Additional Notes

Similar Games

Design Ideas