When I first began to think about designing a game I was interested in designing a game that would be played by a few players in a busy public space, a game without props that would blur the boundaries of game and life. I wanted to create a game that was capable of making a place feel better and capable of teaching good habits.
After a lot of thought I started my design process by choosing a core mechanic. The core mechanic I chose was smiling. From this point I developed a back story which explains how the city is having a epidemic of zombies, or people who can't smile, and needs our help to cure the zombies keeping our city beautiful and happy. That was basically all I went into the first play-testing with.
After getting feedback from the play-testing it was apparent that the game lacked a certain structure; so little was defined in terms of how players could achieve a 'cure' that the "lusory attitude" was suffering.
When I came back for beta testing I had sacrificed one of my initial goals to create a game without props. I brought back packets which contained a set of 96 zombie targets- cards with brief physical descriptions such as : wearing red shoes, smoking, taller than you, whose hair is a different texture than your own, who is unattractive, who crosses their legs in the same direction that you do etc. The packets also contained notebooks, maps, and stickers for players to record the stories of the zombies they cured.
Even though I sacrificed one of my original tenants I think it has helped the game to become more successful.
My main influence for the game comes from another bay area artist who also works in the medium of game design. Lee Walton's City System was incredibly valuable at helping me begin to design the cards, I even use several character descriptions similar to ones in his game. I was very methodical when I designed the cards for my game. I wanted players to have to interact with people they might not normally interact with. I wanted them to notice details about the people around them and to notice certain things about themselves.
After the first play-test, I also restricted the players behavior so that they could no longer use any means necessary to get a smile. Now players may only smile to get a smile. I think this design choice really helps the game because players it was the key to making the game challenging.
The final change I made to my game was that under no circumstances are players to reveal that they are playing a game. In this way to the outside world it just looks as though there are more friendly people around in the world.