What do Prototypes Prototype?

The premise for our game (Bottoms Up!) is that two teams compete against each other in guessing mystery drinks. Similar to Charades, one team will make a drink and the other team must attempt to guess what ingredients are inside it. A team’s goal is to make their drink as mysterious, elusive, and gross(!) as possible, while the other competition team attempts to guess it right in a reduced timeframe.

What is the minimum number of players/teams needed to create the ideal social environment? Both in increasing fellowship between team members, but also creating competitive dynamics across teams? 

  1. Fundamental for a social game is determining the upper/lower bounds on how many people should play. Our game breaks the teams into groups of 5 and the play style requires teams to spend significant amounts of time alone. Unlike Mafia, where there is a shared collective experience despite teams, our game requires the team experience to contribute significantly to the social experience. For example, is a team of size 3 too small; however, is a group of size 6 too big for a collaborative drink-making task.
  2. A prototype with different team sizes doing a block-building (simple, unrelated) task would be required to properly gauge how increased team size impacts the social elements of the game, drink creation process, and also friction to getting the minimum number of players
  3. My prediction is that 4 teams of size 2-3 will likely work well. Too many teams may lead to disorientation and loss of competition between specific teams. For example, rather than Team A vs. Team B vs. Team C vs. Team D, it would be Team A vs. The Rest.

How can we reduce the friction and learning curve for a player engaging with our game for the first time?

  1. Fundamental to our game are party drinks and mixing ingredients. We would need to figure out how to reduce the friction of this game and also how to standardize parts of the game. For example, do we expect players to pay with certain household items (salt, spices, stc), or do we leave the ingredients up to the players. How does that impact the learning curve?
  2. We could design a prototype that involves a fixed list of potential items vs. an open ended list. This could manifest itself in a block game where teams have to build a building out of blocks. We could design two different versions where teams first are able to use unlimited resources, vs a scenario where teams must choose from a standardized list. 
  3. I believe that given our game, it may be best to find a middle ground. For example, introduce structure by requiring some fundamental items (salt, salsa, etc), but also permitting house rules to determine the extent of other items.


How does time impact the social demand of the game? Fellowship?

  1. Again, considering that our game requires teams to spend significant time apart, how does the ratio of time teams spend making the drinks vs. socializing with the whole group impact the general social experience, but also fellowship within a team. 
  2. We could design a prototype where teams of ⅔ spend 15 minutes designing a simple block structure, allowing ample time for collaboration, socializing, and team bonding. Then compare that against a faster paced round, where teams only get 5 minutes to build something. This reduces times teams spend alone, but also the chaos may increase fellowship.
  3. My prediction is that the shorter rounds will lead to greater fellowship. Party games may benefit from chaos during rounds that lead to increased fellowship, funny anecdotes, then collective time together to reflect on their experience.

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