Short Exercise: What do Prototypes Prototype?

Our group is making an island survival game, where players are given items and roles and are tasked with escaping from a deserted island. The play will be driven additionally by events, which cause global effects on all players and may potentially impact the landscape as well.

Q1: How can we motivate players to interact with each other if their individual success is not tied to the success of the group?

This is important because it determines how we would specifically structure the game. Because it’s a party game, the interactions between players is a crucial driving force in the enjoyability. We should decide if we want the game to be cooperative or antagonistic between players, and if it’s cooperative how to maintain a sense of individuality as opposed to a hive mind style game. The best way to test this would be to AB test two versions, one where success is tied to the success of the group and all actions are taken as a group, and one where success is more individual but still promotes interactions between players. I imagine that the individuality style game, with a team aspect, will be more successful than the one that is purely team based due to the fact that it can be boring to just go with a large group for every aspect of the game.

Q2: Where is the proper balance of luck and skill in a party style game like this?

When balancing luck and skill, you have to be careful with the audience and what is too much or too little. When someone makes a decision and suffers a consequence, their actions should be a strong decider in what results. However, this raises the barrier of entry because players need to have a strong understanding of the game to make the better decision. However, skewing too much towards luck means that the users actions could become inconsequential and takes the autonomy away from the player. We should test various levels of randomness and chance and see what is most effective, although because it is a party game I imaging a slight skew towards luck will be most optimal and accessible for players.

Q3: How significant is replayability and variety for a game that would be played only in larger settings?

Because party games are not played frequently, given the need for large groups, replayability is not usually a priority. However, given that our game can support 4 players which makes it viable for normal play, how we balance for replayability might become a factor. The easiest way to test this would likely be to have multiple users play the game in repeated instances over the course of a period of time and gauging satisfaction levels at different times. I think that having enough variety to prevent the game from being stale after 5 playthroughs will be the ideal target.

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