What do Prototypes Prototype?

For our first prototype, we aim to start simple and cheap so we can throw our work and restart easily. Specific to our game concept, here are some questions we’d like to answer:

  • Is there a healthy amount of interaction between the commanders on the field? (these are the players hopping between tiles vying for space)
    • Why this is important: One of the core pillars of fun in our game is the fun (of sensation?) that comes from each commander frantically running around trying to get to their next planet (tile) before the others. For this to occur the game must support a healthy amount of contested space so the teams aren’t just playing solitaire.
    • Type of prototype: Straight forward physical prototype with missions (cards with objectives) and planets (paper tiles) represented. We don’t need much visual fidelity for this.
    • Intuition: Honestly I’m a little worried. I believe in the concept, but I think we will need to tune the rules as 16 planets with 2 commanders might be too many.
  • How easy or challenging is the silent communication between the commander and the explorers?
    • Why this is important: The second pillar of fun in our game is the fun of fellowship that arises from the commander and explorer working together to complete their mission. Thus, the communication must be rich and complex enough to be interesting, but also not so difficult that new players wouldn’t know what to do.
    • Type of prototype: Again, a simple physical prototype is enough for our purpose. The key to answering this is playtesting with new players, and it’d be interesting to observe the different dynamics between two players that knew each other or two strangers.
    • Intuition: I feel pretty good about this one. I think we will have to use more complex objects than the card suites (spades, hearts…) we are using now, and maybe color is also too simple because you can just point to one, but I think the silent communication will be fun.
  • Do the commanders have enough tasks/actions to not be bored?
    • Why this is important: Because of the asymmetric nature of our game, it is important to make sure that players playing both roles are having fun. While I am confident in the gameplay of the explorers, I am a little hesitant about whether commanders, whose only duty is to describe each mission card with non-verbal communication and hope that the explorer gets it right, has enough to do.
    • Type of prototype: Same as above – simple physical prototype.
    • Intuition: As I mentioned, I am a little hesitant. My gut feeling says we will need to add additional actions for the commanders to perform.

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