Monday, December 20, 2004

Design statement

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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

response to feedback

Thanks for the feedback
I have decided that:
The length of the game will be however long it takes
You will know you have won when you have completed healing the zombies on your list
The scope of the field is everywhere you go
The quantifiable goal will be the completion of your target list of zombies
I will create a document for the game that will help players keep track of their progress
I will aid the lusory attitude by stating that you can only use your face, and you can not talk to or touch zombies
I want to make a small pamphlet to present the game to future players.

Formal Feedback

SFAI Balance Challenge by Elliot was a kind of mini triathalon. The different stages had different core mechanics- mostly answering questions and skating skillfully.The game was exciting to watch and stimulating to play. I think the Balance Challenge has enough formal elements to be considered a game, a clearly defined goal- cross finish line first, rules constraining player behavior- i don't think you were allowed knock someone off their board, players can choose to complete the math test affecting the game result, the 'lusory attitude' is present- players adhered to the course rather than just race over the finish line, a magic circle was present, it was easier for players who might be more hesitant at other times to skate on the quad.The best thing about the game is the juxtaposition of intellect (math questions) and skateboarding- challenge eachother challenge stereotypes challenge yourself! I think it might be good to interpose other activities such as still life drawing, poetry writing, dancing, singing as well. The rules were well presented but the technical aspects like how much the math factors in were a little hazy. I think they should count for more. I didn't play but it seemed like jacob's strategy was to skip the math and head straight for the finish line- he won but I think that breaks the lusory attitude in a way because players will just never do the math unless you make them.The group IQ test was a neat way for fans to get invested in a player and somehow bet on them. It's a really neat aspect.Good Job

Formal Feedback

Jacob's game "The Cafe" is a social game in which players complete a series of activities-in teams of two for five minutes before swithching tables and pairing up with a new partner for the next activity.I don't think that there was a singular core mechanic people are: talking-&sharing stories, bartering, drawing, mimicing etc.. just completeing the activities. The play experience was exciting to begin with sitting down with someone, knowing that the two of you would be completing a mysterious task together; it was fun to watch other players and guess what activity they were completing; and it became confusing when it seemed like finding both a table and player that were new was impossible. Jacob gave clear enough instructions as to how to play, the cafe was a good defining game space, and I felt comfortable- and within the magic circle- completing even the most silly of the actions. The best developed element to me was the collaborative aspect of the concept- I feel like the game made collabortaters out of everyone and that collaberation reinforced the magic circle because of a kind of safety in numbers thing. The rules and instructions I would give an 8 out of 10 they were pretty explicit, however, I feel like the rules failed the structure at certain points when I was unable to correctly participate because the only tables available were occupied by people who i had already played... but that shouldn't be hard to fix- i am imagining a kind of script where on the activity sheet, players have a direction to there next destination like player one- go to table six...?? Strategy was impossible because there wasn't a goal. I would like for there to be a goal to the game even if it is just a reveal of how all of the activities relate to one another.The game had all of the oppertunity for and produced emergent play- that's cool.
I would like a mod : if the first activity for all tables was to think of an activity- and then the players ended up at there own activity station last- I think that might be interesting because it would be more specific to the individuals who were playing and it would mean no matter how many times you played you wouldn't get bored because the activities would always be changing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Formal Feedback

Cihan's Zilchmaster is a democratic mod on trivial pursuit. It is a board game and the core mechanic is voting. Watching the game was entertaining, it seemed as if the questions really mattered a lot less to the players than coming up with strategies for managing their true and false tokens, and strategizing on what players thought the other players might vote true to rather than voting how they honestly felt, which is also neat because players would run out of one answer and have to play another answer even if it was contrary to how they felt- kind of like a real world democracy. Zilchmaster has all of the physical elements: a board, pieces, question cards, tokens, etc. of a game but I did feel like the magic circle was not very defined- I think a fine tuning of the small rules like how you lay down tokens and when etc. will clear a lot of those problems up, also keep in mind that it did seem as though the last team to roll, lost out because they didn't have tokens by the time it was their turn. Clarity of the rules 6.

Formal Feedback

Grey's Frisco Wars is a strategy boardgame played on a map of San Francisco. Players are designated areas on the map, cards that correspond to those areas, and a number of pieces to represent their gang members. Players distribute their pieces throughout their territories, then on their turn they invade another players turf using the connecting bus routes and try to take it over by playing their cards against the other players cards. In terms of 'verbs' I would say that players move pieces and set down cards. Even as the game stands now, it is an interesting game - the weapon combinations that come up are creative and entertaing, the board and the pieces are aestheticly pleasing- they leave enough to the imagination of the players that there is space for casual role playing, it would be good if players could name their gangs. I would say that the prototype definately had enough structure to be formally considered a game. The game has a clearly defined goal- though I think a longer play testing would reveal that the more territory a gang inhabits the more thinly it is inhabited leaving the possibility of other players coming back and making the play last longer- although i'm not entirely convinced that this is a game that would need to be played in only one sitting. The rules are verey simple and elegant. The ability for players to make decisions that effect the game result is definately a high point of this game. Resource management is the central theme of Frisco wars. We didn't enconter any confusion with the presentation of the rules, 10. It was definately possible to develop a strategy- I didn't invade any of Elliot's strong holds because he had all of the guns, i focused on territories with few pieces that bordered on at least two of my territories like Chihan's Castro. I would say the experience was more than I would have expected especially since the prototype was so complete. The only specific mods that I can think of would be things like a police pressence could bring something more to the game- like each game gets a dirty cop on their side as a special card, who can bust members of other gangs or like in monopoly send them to jail for a round. It's a pretty straight forward game and I like that about it, but I also think that at some points it might get a little to predictable which is where an outside element like the police might come through. Or if gangs were given a specific business and could form partnerships with other gangs- stolen cars, drugs, weapons etc.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Red Rover

Two teams of at least... oh say five people line up holding hands across from one another at a distance of roughly twenty-five feet. The team going first decides on a member of the opposing team and calls out "Red Rover Red Rover send [person's name] right over." The person called leaves their team and runs toward the opposing team as hard and fast as they can in order to try and break through the line of the other team. If they are sucessful they return to their home team taking with them a member from the opposition of their choice who will now serve their team. If they are unsucessful they are incorperated into the opposing teams force. The game is played until the last link of one team is broken.

I remembered Red Rover as a fairly tame school yard game.
The game changes a lot when a ragingly drunk two-hundred and fifty pound transsexual is hurling all of their genderbending fury at you in a die to win speed pace*.

For it's simplicity, Red Rover is a really fun and engaging game. To win you need a strategy to manage your resources [people] in the best way; you want the strongest people on your team but if you call them over and they break your ranks you may have to sacrifice your strongest player. Loyalty also became an interesting element of the game to follow- where there wasn't supposed to be lingering team loyalty, players developed ways of manipulating the game by 'wimping out' in order to be reclaimed by their original team.

A good game modification could be to turn it into a drinking game where instead of calling someone over order that the other team have a shot.

*don't play grown-up Red Rover without insurance, we sustained a number of injuries.