What is a Productivity Game?I define a Productivity Game as any game designed with the express intent of making a person more productive in their own life.
Most software designed with game elements, for the sake of productivity or self improvement, that exist today could be classified as Gamified Applications. Sometimes the line, between what is a game and what is an application, can be fuzzy. All games are technically applications, but not all applications are games. There are a number of good Gamified Applications in the world today, (Habitica and SuperBetter to name two) and more are being created every day.
Just as the line between what is and is not a game can be fuzzy, then also the line between what is a gamified application and what is a Productivity Game can be fuzzy as well. I believe there are elements of video games that make them addictive, and engaging and rewarding that are not being fully utilized by any current Gamified Applications, and I believe the potential to use games to empower people to do more and be more and accomplish more of their intrinsic desires and dreams has only barely been tapped.
What am I trying to accomplish?
One idea I like most is a virtual world that reacts to your real world tasks in interesting ways. There are three different kinds of events that can happen. Build events, Game Events, and Story events. With build events, things are being added or built. They can be anything. Trees, characters, bricks in a building... One interesting example of this being used in a game is SoulBlazer on the SNES. Game events are any event in which you interact directly with that world in any way that you can imagine. These events could be completing a room in a dungeon or a level in a platformer or interacting with a virtual pet... Story events could be a cutscene, either in-game or prerendered, or they could be text describing an event or even your environment as in text based gaming or interactive fiction. The possibility for these events is essentially limitless.
Implemented correctly, one would hope that unique and engaging gameplay and stories could emerge from the events themselves
Implementing such a project, to my knowledge the first of its kind, is a highly ambitious undertaking. Any highly complex program, especially a game, is a lot of work and typically requires a dedicated team of highly skilled and well paid individuals working for many years. I have worked toward this goal, mostly alone, since September 2013.
At first I worked on the Habit Engine. More info can be found at the link. My goal was to use Habitica(formerly HabitRPG), and then build upon that. In July 2015, I suspended work on the Habit Engine to create a new prototype using an existing 2d Roguelike game. I am calling this the Productivity Game Prototype: Roguelike or PGP Roguelike for short. The PGP Roguelike implements build and game events in a very simplistic way. Every time a real work task is completed, a new tile in the level is built, which represents the build event. When the level is complete, it can then be played, which represents the game event. Story events are missing entirely, thought I think they have the potential to be the most engaging.
The Prototype is out, and I'm not yet sure what I want to do next. I could continue working on the prototype, polishing it and adding story events. Or I could combine the Prototype with the Habit Engine. Or I could create an entirely new Prototype or some combination of those. I haven't yet decided.
Additionally, my ideal Productivity Game would include a Life Planner that marries elements of Productivity Applications, Calendar Applications, and Planning Applications with the elements I defined above, in a seamless and intuitive way. This could be accomplished using a single program, or a suite of programs.
In the planning stages a person could quickly and easily plan their time and their week.
First, the week planner would allow you to define a number of categories like work(both personal and employment), school/learning, chores, free time, and sleep for example. Those categories could then be selected, and you would be able to drag-select blocks of time on a calendar and that time would then change color to indicate that they are associated with those categories.
Use defined tasks could be created that define what a person wants to accomplish. Those tasks could then be dropped onto those blocks of time.
Another stage would ideally include some sort of tracking. Tracking devices such as fitbit could be used to automatically keep track of sleep and activity. Location could be automatically tracked using a phone application. Time and activities could be tracked using something like application toggl. There should be a widget available so the categories could be quickly toggled without opening a much a heavier application. Another widget or the same widget could contain a short list of tasks so they could be checked off.
What was planned and what actually happened should be tracked separately so they can be compared, allowing the user to plan better with more realistic goals. Planning should be easy and quick to change when needed.
Ideally, there would be applications on all mobile devices as well as the web and desktop all synced to a centralized server.
Since my education and experience is more related to Animation and Games, I have started with that. I know little about creating the Productivity, Planning and Calendar elements.
My name is Stewart Martin. I live in Arkansas, USA. I have a Bachelor of Science in Animation Technology, a love of video games, and a strong desire to make the world a better place. You can contact me at stewart at productivegamedev dot com.