What do Prototypes Prototype?

For the following questions I focused on:

  • Why is this an important question to answer
  • What type of prototype will you make to answer this question?
  • What is your guess about how it will turn out? (the practice of prediction grows your intuition)

What is the optimal number of players?

It is important to know the optimal number of players for the game to optimize the fun every player obtains. To prototype this, we can have a different number of test players play the same game and ask for feedback. Alternately, we can increase the rate hints are being given out when the number of players increases. It is also important to consider this question because we don’t want to make the game too easy if the number of players increases. My guess is that for most social games 5-8 players are the optimal number.  

What is the optimal number of rounds?

The duration of the game is also very important to consider. For games where hints are revealed each round the number of rounds affects the difficulty of the game. To ensure the fun of the game last throughout playtime we want to find the optimal number of rounds. To prototype this we can have the same test players playing the same game but with varied rounds and ask for their feedback. My prediction for this prototype is that people would enjoy 3-5 rounds. This was also a question we test played for my project 1 game (murder mystery). Relating to the previous question, we give the players the choice to vote the murder at the end of each round so that if they are certain they would not be “forced” to continue playing.

How intuitive are the game mechanics?

As we learned in week 1 if the game is too easy or too hard people can lose interest. Thus it is very important to teach the player how to play the game before the player stops playing. The prototype we can make to answer this question is trying out different methods of giving out instructions. If it is an online game a video demonstration would be suitable as well. Personally, I am a huge visual learner thus I always found instructions with visual explanations easier to understand. This is also an issue we need to figure out with our project 1 game because there are a lot of instructions and we need to figure out the best way to relay that information to first-time players. 

How many cards should there be in each round? 

Possible prototype variations include distributing a fixed number of cards for each round or letting players draw from the entire full deck. The former players have more freedom in choosing what cards to put down. For the latter, they have less freedom but that could add to the fun of the game where players need to work with what they get. I predict that both versions could be fun in their own ways.

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