What do Prototypes Prototype?

What elements of the game should add to its challenge, and to what extent?

Our game involves blindfolding the primary player, who is guided by a partner. The sensory deprivation and the social interaction between the player and guide add to the challenge of the game. That leaves the actual task that the pair needs to complete – race along an obstacle course – and understanding how difficult this task should be, and exactly how we can design mechanisms that add to the challenge of the race, are important questions that need to be answered through prototypes. Through prototypes and playtesting, we will test different types (lengths, designs) of racetracks, with obstacles of varying styles (ex: static versus dynamic) and difficulties. The current hypothesis is that a relatively simple racetrack with a few tricky turns where players are prone to falling down, and where simple but frequent, dynamic obstacles, would create the best playing experience and deliver the right amount of challenge.

How can we make the game fun for the blindfolded player?

Video games are highly visual, so we need other mechanics to make the game enjoyable for the blindfolded player. Interaction with the guide would be a large component of this, and we can supplement this with additional sensory input, such as music and sound effects. To test this hypothesis, we will use a minimum viable product that allows us to observe players’ gameplay and the interaction between blindfolded players and their guides. This will help us understand which aspects of the game contribute the most towards creating an entertaining experience for pairs. To specifically test the use of audio cues, we can use prototypes with different kinds of sound effects, varying in their style, frequency, and relevance to the game, and study their impact on players’ experience.

How do multiple pairs interact with each other, and how does the social aspect change players’ experience?

With multiple pairs guiding their characters along a race, bumping into each other or knocking each other off the course, there is bound to be chaos on the track, especially since only half the players are allowed to see the game. So, it is important to validate that this creates a fun experience for players. Answering this question involves expanding on an MVP obstacle-course race by adding multiplayer capabilities, and playtesting with several pairs of players. Our hypothesis is that the added social interactions, and other racers acting as additional obstacles, will add to the challenge and make the game more fun. In case the chaos makes the game frustrating, we can iterate to reduce the challenge in other components, or to change the nature of interactions between different pairs, such as switching to a time trial race without collisions between different pairs’ characters.


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