What do Prototypes Prototype?

Will players be able to draw cards and spin the spinner themselves while playing Twister? Is it more fun to do it themselves?

In Twister, which our game is based on, there is typically a player that does not physically engage in the game. Their role is to spin the spinner for the players on the Twister mat to tell them their next move. This is because, often times the players on the mat have their hands occupied on the mat. We decided to eliminate this spinner role in our prototype because we wanted each player to be engaged in the game play. This means every player will have to spin the spinner and draw the cards themselves, while keeping their hands and feet in the twister positions, which might not be possible.

To test this we can use our first rough prototype, which we already made, as an implementation prototype to quickly test if gameplay is possible without a designated spinner. We can observe if the players find it impossible or enjoy the challenge of having to take their turn while tied up in twister. I personally think using the spinner will be possible but drawing a card might be difficult. This is because spinning the spinner could be done with any number of unoccupied body parts like noses, toes, knees, etc, however drawing a card requires more of the dexterity specific to our hands. 

Is touching body parts comfortable for players who don’t know each other well?

I personally think this question is critical to our game since because touching body parts is inherent to our version of twister which uses the other players as the “twister mat”. If unfamiliar players are not comfortable with that part of the game it might mean we have to reconsider that mechanism all together, offer a non-body parts alternative, or only design this game specifically for close friend groups. This also lends the question, are close friends comfortable touching each other’s body parts?

Again we can use our first rough prototype on a group of strangers/acquaintances as a look & feel prototype to test players reaction to the body parts portion of the game. Testing this question will mostly take the form of  listening for verbal reactions and watching the body language and facial reactions of players as they play the game. We can also ask them debriefing questions about their comfort levels during play. I predict that it will be a little uncomfortable for people who don’t know each other at all but I don’t think players will hate it since we used fairly innocuous body parts as part of the mat and gave players the option to not put themselves as an option to be touched.

How personal should the “Truth” questions be?

This question is important because it helps define the game’s function. Will it work better as a more surface level, fun, get-to-know-you style game? Or should the truth cards ask more deeply personal questions similar to “We’re Not Really Strangers”? To prototype the game we can make two decks of truth cards: one that is more surface level and one that asks deeper questions. We can then run two rounds of playtests with the same group of testers to test the different decks and get player feedback on which they prefer. This would function more as a role prototype because it would answer questions about what role this game should function in the player’s lives. Will it be a fun ice breaker or an opportunity to deepen relationships? I predict that players will prefer the more fun, surface level cards since the game design is already so goofy. I think having super personal questions would feel disconnected from the rest of the game.

Should the game have a winner?

We currently don’t have a procedure for winning the game, only a mechanism for players to get out – falling or refusing a truth/dare. We have debated whether it is necessary for this game to have a winner since it is mostly a game of fellowship not competition. To prototype this, we could run the first prototype we already have without having a winner and have testers play as many rounds as they prefer. Then we can speak to them afterwards about how they feel about the lack of a winner in the game and how they would have expected someone to win. I predict that players won’t necessary need a single defined winner since the game is mostly about the experience playing. However, I predict that players will want a defined number of rounds for game play so that they understand how long the game play lasts, and perhaps the “winner” will just be the last players standing at the end of all the rounds.

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