What Do Prototypes Prototype?

Does our game facilitate social interaction?

One of our main concerns is the fact that our strategic team version of War benefits from limited interaction across teams, and thus becomes the antithesis of a social game. To test this out, a possible prototype would entail playing the base game normally and observing the amount and quality of conversation (quality in this case referring to how off-topic the conversation gets, since being off-topic could indicate that players are trying new strategies to interact with one another that are not facilitated by the game). I predict that there would be a lot of off-topic conversation, and that the game becomes a secondary activity that they partake in rather than serving the role of facilitating and creating conversation topics. In the role, look and feel, and implementation prototype triangle described in the paper, this prototype would fall closer to the role vertex of the triangle as this prototype is mainly designed to test the role of this game in social interaction.

Does our game have a good balance of player agency, randomness, and automated decisions?

War is a deterministic game, where given a deck state and player count, it is technically possible to compute the entire game through, albeit tediously. Thus, it is important for us to know if the mechanics that we plan to add give the dish enough flavor, or if we went too overboard and overspiced it with an intoxicating amount of decisions or too much frustrating RNG. To test this concern, a possible prototype could be to let players play a game with our current mechanics while distracting them with something else (conversation, math worksheet, etc.) that really test if the game takes up too much of their mental capacity. Since this is a social game, the most important aspect is that the game can be used to socialize with others, not to encourage tryharding. Given our current ruleset, I predict that it would be hard to multitask, and would cause a breakdown of the game due to the complicated rules that we have instantiated. This prototype would fall closer to implementation, as it tests the efficacy of the implementation of the game.

Does the game have replayability?

I would argue that some social card games have limited replayability (like 24, or even Apples to Apples/Cards Against Humanity if the deck gets exhausted completely because it loses an element of freshness to the pairings if all the cards are comprehensively known), and with the the base game being IRL Automaton Simulator(TM), a big concern is that even with our added rules if the game would be replayable. This could be achieved in two ways: high skill ceiling (such as Egyptian Ratscrew with honing pattern recognition, reflex time, and pain tolerance) or high strategy content (like Hearts, Poker). To test this, a possible prototype would be to have players collectively brainstorm possible strategies, tactics, and metas for the game to see if there would be a high ceiling for the game. I predict that there would be, given the amount of new mechanics that we added. At a glance, it’s vastly different than the base game that it would be logical to conclude that there would be infinitely more strategy (a finite coefficient of more strategy would be a disservice, since 0x=0). This would be more of a look and feel prototype, since it hinges on if the players enjoy the feel of playing the game.

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