Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Project Prototype: Avatar Game

1. Name/desiger: Avatar Drawing Game by Jessica
2. Platform/category: The genre of this game is almost like either a party game, ice breaker, or even a board game
3. Core mechanic: The Core Mechanic of the game is drawing and looking
4. Adjectives describing the play experience: Funny, confusing, sneaky, tricky, and revealing
5. Structural elements: The time limits involved in the structure of Jessicas game worked to keep pressure on players and make sure the game didn't become hectic. People who draw at differen't levels have to coordinate themselves to the time limits. The same goes for levels of analytical thinkers. But, the times also allow for enough durations for strategy and gameplay. The rules are very clear and the win scenario, although it really needs a payoff is clear.
6. Best developed element: The game is fun. I know that Jessica intends the game to be played by people who don't know each other but I think it works best how it is playtested. The use of strategy to subvert preconceptions players might have of those on trial. It was fun because everyone regardless of their levels of skill to draw were able to incorporate an obstacle for players.
7. Rules: I give the rules a 9 out of 10 only because they weren't presented formally enough.
8. Strategy: The strategy players make can effect the whole mood of the game. The game is all about strategy. I think that the beauty is all the opportunity there is for emergent strategy. For example nothing in the rules says players can form a collective strategy when drawing. How players attempt their drawings could also jeapordize the strategy another player had developed independently.
9. There are still ways to propel the game even with how succesfull it already is. I think that there could be a backstory to why players should identify all of these people. Maybe these avatars are camoflauge for hacker identities or political spies and the CIA or FBI is out to catch them all. The detective to capture them all gets promoted. Basically a pay-off would help the game.

Prototype Reflection: working titles...Tableaux or The Cafe

I learned a great deal from the playtesting of my project. It was a bit disappointing to see the loss of interest in some players from frustration at the design. But, I know that this only helps me to know where the fixes could be made. Just like every project there is a dramatic change from idea to conception to execution and it is those who can be sensitive to these changes and not merely hold onto the idea or fantasy that will succeed in realizing the projects true form. I realize now that the setting of the game although it worked also added to the confusion. I am not so sure how much players need to observe each other in order to acheive the more successful expressions of the game. I don't want to take this element out altogether. Rather I want to add more structure to it as opposed to the emergent chaos it played out in testing. I am thinking that by having players the ability to work together in more isolated environments and then work together in the cafe will help.

It seemed as though investment in completing the game must be more evident. Some players out of their nature kept trying to complete the game but others in their frustration seemed to work against that. I developed the game so that if one person fucks up it will throw off the whole game. It showed. But, also the instructions had to be carefully understood in order for them not to fuck up so delivery of rules is also antoher flaw.

And finally time became to evident in gamelay. Players who completed their tasks earlier than others had too much time to kill, this brought them out of the game. Players who didn't complete task on time sometimes threw off the game for other players. This must be corrected.

Thanks everyone for giving it your best and look forward to a wholly improved game next time around. Thanks also for those who have given me ideas for improvement they have helped (especially Roger, thanks dood).

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Project Prototype: Divided Attention

1. Name/desiger: Divided Attention by Roger
2. Platform/category: The genre of this game is either ice-breaker, analytical puzzle, or choose your own adventure.
3. Core mechanic: The Core Mechanic of the game is looking.
4. Adjectives describing the play experience: Dramatic, Isolating, Disconcerting, Stressful, Dividing
5. Structural elements: The best part of Rogers game was how digestible the structure of the game was. Most notibly was its effectiveness in delivery. By introducting the rules of the game in a precise, coloquial, and concise manner how to play was very clear. But, more importantly, Rogers editing of the rules in a way to make the Game seem less calculated and structured that it really is was key to play. The game reveals its structure slowly and carefully as to not expose its limits or possibilities. Seriously, one of the best structured games we have seen yet in that it is so focused on this element.
6. Best developed element: As I have already praised its structure, the most effective element of Rogers gane was its mystique and originality. Everything about the game, its cinematic intensity, its subversion of the normally static un-interactive medium of powerpoint, and most of all its completness. The game feels complete whether it is or not just form it unifying elements of color, action, medium, and interaction. Not to mention the more it revealed itself the more evident how much work went into developing the game showed.
7. Rules: I give the rules a 10 out of 10 in delivery, consicion, and execution.
8. Strategy: The strategy for the game seems to be emergent. It also seems to come from the second playing of the game. The structure of the game allows for it but players must first understand the game before disecting its possibilities. Strategy is a concern I have for the game in what could be its one major downfall, repeatability. How playable is this game after its intial experince. Just like a good film you should be able to watch it more than one and in so learn something new all the time.

9. Emergent play: The rigidity of the course of the game seems to not leave much room for strategic emergence for Rogers game. But, the more I think about its intended setting and the way in which the game can become recieved the more I think about how the game supports emergent play not necessary to indside the game. And actually the static nature of the game actually makes it easier for players to quicky get used to its functions and be able to spend time working around it or within it. My best image of the game in this way is audiences vocal participation.

10. Further development: My one concern for the final version is multiple playings, or repeatability. Can the game funtion more that once without giving away its predetermined discourse or should there be mutliple rotating versions to keep information in flux. Is there further rewards for continued/repeat players? If the game is played by the same group more than once should those teams they end up in the end of the first game stay in that color for the start of the next. Although the game is pretty much in its stages of completion now it is a matter of fine tuning, nothng drastic.

Roger this game tottally rocks and I think can become much more than a class project.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Project Prototypes: Frisco Wars

I Thoroughly enjoyed Grey’s game of Frisco Wars. I enjoyed it on many levels most of them stemming from the role-play, setting, and back story of the game. I am not normally one to enjoy a “risk” type of game and especially not one for role-playing board games but the fact that it was set in San Francisco made all of those elements come alive for me. The use of the bus-lines showed me that Grey was paying attention to the affordances of the setting he was using to play his game.

The core mechanic of the game seems to be picking up cards, putting down cards, and placing pieces. There isn’t much need for verbal communication in the game except for the declaration of war on a place and the deployment of war. Observing the board and its pieces as well as strategizing your next move as well as other players are key. Also memory is involved.
When playing the game the suspense of what cards will come into play becomes heated as well as the suspense of what areas will be hit next. There is also the elements of revenge and defense.

The structure for the game is pretty much developed. I think that it is all a matter of fine-tuning from here. There is a clearly defined goal of gaining the territory of San Fran, and eliminating rival gangs. There are checks and balances on players movement through the bus systems and not being able to use certain cards more than once in a round. There are resources for management and there are goals for gaining and maintaining your resources. Definitely this is the best developed element of the game is its structured resource system and attack cards. The only concern I have is the stress the game put on this system.
I think that when writing out a system of rules on paper a lot of the kinks will work out for the game. I know that when players have a clear introduction before playing the game and have solid rules to go on the semantics of the game will become less important than strategy and involvement. I would say on a scale of 1-10 the rules were a 6 for understandable only because there wasn’t any formal presentation. The use of the bus system in real life is complicated so naturally it will be one of the more complicated elements to Frisco Wars. I think maybe a map of the board and the bus-system for reference would help players. Or anything that helps them get familiar with the routes. Movement on the board needs to become less hectic and I’m sure that will come with a larger board and different pieces. Also clear markers for placing game pieces will help eliminate confusion.

We observed strategy from the game from the fluke that one player got more gun cards then others. But, this exposed a flaw in the game in how coveted the gun card becomes and how it must be balanced out somehow. Even if the gun cards are equally distributed, it will still become the primary card for each war round. The whole game is about strategy, how and who do you hit next and come out on top especially with the information you have gathered about players so far.

I think that the restrictive nature of the rules of the game keep emergent play from happening. But, emergent play isn’t necessary for the game to be successful. Getting players more into their roles and attached to their territories is key. This is the best aspect of the game which keeps players interested and will make for a successful final version. I know I will want a version of the game to play with friends from this element alone. There is a lot that comes with a player to the game before it has started when you live in San Francisco. Maybe that is where emergent play will arise, in the preferences and experiences players have as San Franciscans, for example: players who live in certain places want to hold those territories or players who want all of the parts of the city that attach themselves to a role they are playing etc…
Since the point system is pretty much developed you have the opportunity to get creative with the story. That is where I know the game will shine.