Short Exercise: What do Prototypes Prototype? – Jake

Our game is a sort of combination between Telestrations and Mafia. Each player will be given a character to play. One character will be the killer. A dead player will write a hint as to who killed them, and this hint will be passed around to each player in a game of Telestrations. Once it has passed through each player, the final image or interpretation of the image will be given to a player designated as the detective. The detective can then guess who the killer is based on the clue. Note that the killer could sabotage the telestration, but if they are too obvious, they could get exposed.

  • How long should each player get to draw/interpret a drawing?
    • This question is important because this element will determine how accurate the drawers are able to make their clues to the detective, as well as how long the killer gets to sabotage drawings. In other words, this could be essential to balancing games. It is also possible that designating too much time could result in non-drawing players becoming bored and spending too much game time doing nothing.
    • We can make several prototypes, one with a long draw time, one with a medium draw time, and one with a short draw time. We could then experiment to determine which time limit provides the right balance of chaos and drawing accuracy.
    • I predict that we will want to lean towards using a shorter draw time, as longer time limits could cause the game to stall, with too much time being spent on each round.
  • Should the characters assigned to each player be pre-determined, or generated by the players themselves?
    • This question is important because players will need to provide hints to the detective that point toward a certain character. Thus, characters descriptions will need to include characteristics that are not too easy to draw, but not too hard to draw either. Allowing players to generate characters could disturb this balance, but using pre-made characters could remove some humor and creativity from the gameplay experience.
    • We could create two different prototypes, one with predetermined character roles, and one with player-generated characters. We could then experiment and determine whether the humor of player-generated content should take precedence over the security of pre-defined characters.
    • I predict that player-generated content will ultimately be more enjoyable, as this could lead to much more amusing drawings, one of the strongest appeals of our idea.
  • Should the game end after a single round, or should the killer be allowed to kill again if the detective is unable to guess their identity.
    • This question is important because each round could take a long time, with each player needing to draw. It might be more exciting for players if multiple people get to experience being the killer/detective.
    • We could test out different prototypes, one where the game is played until the detective guesses correctly/all players are killed, and another where the game ends after a single round where the detective gets one chance to guess.
    • I predict that we would need to have the game play out until the detective guesses correctly/all players are killed, similar to Mafia. However, we may need to add in new elements that would make the game more exciting for players that are not currently the detective/killer.

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