What do Prototypes Prototype? – Jonathan Kula

  1. Do players have more fun creating and playing their own characters and roles, or using and twisting pre-existing/drawn characters and roles?
    1. This question is a big point of divergence for our game design and I think will have big ramifications for how the game is played. Is the kind of fun we’re trying to create in our game best facilitated by one or the other?
    2. We can answer this question using a paper prototype; all we need is a basic sketch of the rules and some paper (that players write on, for the first one) or some paper (that we cut up into cards we write roles on, then players draw, for the second one).
    3. I have an intuition that players more familiar with (TT)RPGs will prefer the former, but most will prefer the latter; and I’m guessing that in the context of a party game, the latter will probably lead to more laughs and ease people into it. The former could always be a house rule.
  2. How quickly can we push rounds to completion without killing some of the tension that makes the game fun / making the game feel so rushed that players are no longer having fun?
    1. Rapid rounds means that players get to have the rush of figuring out mysteries and feeling like they’re outwitting their opponents more often and with less waiting. But is this always a good thing? This is also an important question to answer for the rest of our design– do we focus on quick rounds and let the social aspects and cards hold everything up? Or do we need to build in more support systems and complex dynamics to keep a game interesting for the long haul?
    2. Since our game is socially focused, this could also take the form of a paper prototype. Perhaps we could take our prototype from question #1 and implement a timer with less and less time, and see how the player dynamic changes.
    3. My guess is that there will be a sweet spot around 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how serious the players are and the nature of the kinds of actions the players can take.
  3. How do players visualize/want to visualize the game?
    1. Right now we’re thinking of just having cards, that instruct players on how to interact, but would players be at all interested in other visualizations, e.g. manipulables to represent items, a board to represent location, etc?
    2. In addition to paper (and potentially origami?), we could also use game pieces from existing games/meeple, and we could draw and print out a board on paper for folks to play on.
    3. My guess is that more visualization will be better up until the point where players are thinking more about the physical representations in front of them rather than the social situation between them and the other players. This might mean the board is too much, for example, or that players won’t want to keep track of physical items.
      1. I wonder if there could be a component with physical items where players try to intentionally hide/search each other for them, maybe for players who are very close/comfortable with that…?

About the author

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.