Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Week 7

Today, we were introduced to various game testers and designers, all of whom were experienced in the field of various games. Our group was definitely excited to present our game to these professionals who were no doubt ready to play and even scrutinize our game. Our first round of game play involved the group playing in addition to two of Professor Parks' colleagues.
Kat and Chris were very optimistic about the game and soon the round commenced. As we explained the rules, it seemed much easier than last week considering we had made passports instead of a rule sheet. Everyone had the rules in front of them in a little booklet as opposed to reading a full page paper. The adjustments we had made were clearly advantageous this round to the smooth game play. There were noticeable improvements and the flow had clearly improved from last week. Although some of the small technicalities were explained as they emerged, the game seemed to flow quite smoothly. Kat and Chris seemed engaged in the game which was pleasant as the round put competition to a whole new level. Accusations were made and we played for 3 rounds. Although there was no winner by the time Professor Parks had called time, there was a tie for first place. As for feedback, Chris and Kat did provide some helpful tips and suggestions. It was interesting how they had input great suggestions that we did not notice. It is this aspect of play testing that emerged. We learned that one cannot simply play test once with one set of people and gather an accurate and reliable impression of the game. Some of the suggestions included to have a separate card where it delineates specific traits that the character was playing. This would eliminate the unnecessary questions and confusion over ambiguous questions. The topic of the fairly prevalent parallels between the languages one spoke, birth place, and favorite weapon emerged as well. It seemed moot that there were such parallels as one could simply answer a question with a trait that occurred within both CIA agents and double agents. This was definitely one of the most crucial suggestions. In addition, Chris had stated that the passports contained bland text which were not easy on the eyes, especially for those of older age. The suggestion was to bold or accentuate the headers and criteria for the traits in order for heightened visibility and quicker access. This was definitely something that should be changed and was something we should have realized. Aside from the critiques, both guest play testers stated that the game was very fun and a great project. We continued play testing with new play testers and some of us also got to experience other groups' games.
From our combined experiences, we noticed that the other games were nothing short of genius and hard work. It made us almost forget that this was a project for class and had been worked on for only a couple of weeks. We were exposed to the reality that group work can bring upon intricate and sophisticated projects success. As more play testers had played our games, we received more tips and suggestions to better the game. Nonetheless, everyone seemed to enjoy our game and we were exposed to greater excitement and a smoother game play compared to last week. We learned that we were able to improve greatly after play tests and our adjustments were successful. On our final round, we were able to experience a winner to a game and something we had not seen in other play tests; the rounds were going by at a faster rate which led to a winner before time was called. We were able to experience the various game play elements in this way. A suggestion was brought up to keep track of how many one times one lied by asking a question on the question card and then giving it to the player they ask in order to verify the amount of times they lied in the end of the round. This was a great suggestion that we implemented into succeeding rounds. As a summary, we had learned that our game was a success but also had its flaws. These flaws were nothing game-ruining, so further adjustment could have produced an even more smoother game.
Nonetheless, the game was agreed to be very fun by everyone, especially for it's deceptive elements. It was a great experience to have professional game designers critique our game. Many of Professor Parks' colleagues were hilarious and fun to play with. Much of what we learned from our game will definitely help us with the development and creation of our next board game. Finally, the game had brought a sense of bond and knowledge on group work that could have only been experienced by such a project.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Week 6

Today, we learned a very valuable lesson in terms of collaboration and group work: failure. Although not quite total failure, we experienced a valuable lesson after our playtesting with other members from the class. As Phil stayed behind to lead the game and reveal to everyone how great of a game we thought we had created, the rest of us were off to play other games. Upon playing other games, many of us were able to experience what the other groups had created. It was an interesting experience as we were able to play a variety of different styles of game just as we had done with the games that Professor Parks brought in. We were able to experience and notice new mechanics and gameplay. Some of the games were definitely better than others, but the uniqueness of certain games was something that could not be matched. As for our own game, after we had returned to the group to discuss how our game went, disaster struck. Phil revealed that playing our game with the other classmates was a trainwreck. This had brought a variety of emotions upon us as we had had a great experience and fun time when we played the game with ourselves. The main problem to the classmates was that it was hard to understand the cards and the basic themes of the game. Many of them struggled with the understanding of certain elements of the Cold War which we though to be apparent to everyone who had taken a basic history class. As for changes, we decided to omit the "Free Reveal Card". Many of the players felt that if there was no spy, it was boring. This is because we forgot to mention that if there is no spy then one can receive points for revealing the fact that there is no spy. We decided to make a template on expected information that a spy or agent would say in order to ease the game. In addition, we would implement a rule for unlimited lies as the effect card that made everyone or certain people tell the truth would emerge as valuable. We also decided that we would create a "passport" which would look and act as a real one which contained the roles of the agents and spies and would explain the rules. In addition, the beginning or first page will tell the player to "act their role!" in order to liven up the atmosphere and make the players take the game more seriously. This was a problem that we discussed as some people lacked vigor and enthusiasm which Professor Parks solved. The passports would also allow players to take time and familiarize themselves with their respective roles in order to have smoother gameplay. We were also going to have to change certain questions which had a direct or one answer to prevent memorization of certain items, especially those that would for sure give away the spy. We would have to create more answer possibilities as well. Many people also complained about the specificity of certain aspects such as weapons which we would have to simplify. For instance, instead of specific gun models being chosen as one's favorite weapon, it would be changed to something more simple such as "flame thrower" or "machine gun". This was another aspect that Professor Parks aided in a solution. We also learned to tell the players that CIA agents can lie and that it was expected to because everyone was playing every man for themselves in order to attain the most points. This was a concept that many had not realized because we did not explain it. Finally, we realized that we needed a method of keeping track of negative points and we decided to make the counters atomic explosions as positive points were bombs. The playtesting  with other students was extremely crucial as we had realize many new things that we did not in our own playtesting. It seemed we were in our own bubble as we thought that everything was fine and dandy. However, outside playtesting revealed the faults of our game at face value. As one of the themes for collaborative work, we learned that the possibility of failure existed and it was an interesting experience and something we could learn from.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Week 5

Today, we began the first round of play testing. Although many of us were apparently pessimistic about the play testing, the results were satisfactory to say the least. The beginning of the game revealed the fun and exciting aspect of the game that results from the accusing and secret nature of the game. We did not experience too many issues at the start of the game, however by the end of the first round, we realized minor problems. We decided to change certain aspects of the game such as the starting with 3 cards in the beginning of the round. One can draw a card if they reach less than three cards or simply use their turn to draw a card. After Professor Parks joined us for a round, it seemed that he enjoyed the round which included plenty of accusation and laughs. It was apparent that the game had a really prominent fun and comedic effect which seemed great for the game development. In addition, the  Professor gave his input and the tweaks we were encouraged to take. Some of these suggestions included more cross-overs between the KGB and CIA cards, new actions cards, and a limit on lying. These suggestions definitely will add to the game and were something we were impressed with. By the end of the class, we realized how successful we had become. Our pessimistic views were thwarted by the end of the period as we learned the playing value of our games were quite high. In addition, it was great that the group was able to meet together and successfully create a working card game. We plan to meet again to finalize our card game and to get official cards printed.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Week 4

Today, we decided on the main graphics used on the cards. This includes the back image of the character cards and the back image on the discovery cards. The main graphic for the cards will be a hybrid logo combining both the CIA and Soviet emblem. The character cards were decided to be larger than the other cards, probably of index card size. In addition, we may implement a character card stand to have the players place their character card in front of them. After much deliberation, it was decided that spies can be of both British or Soviet descent. This allows for more variation and possibilities when it comes to questions. Cecillia brought up an interesting point how one could tell the origin of a spy depending on the rusting condition of the staples on their passport. We discussed various questions that could be posed after much research on the topic of the Cold War and spies. In terms of the cards, we decided that we would either use card stock or card protecting sleeves after printing them in the correct size. Also, throughout the class, we ran into problems that we noticed and complications which we had not thought out. However, we decided to continue and figure the problems out during the play testing stage as we can see most of the problems easing along or fixing themselves hopefully.  The class concluded with us deciding on a meeting time and place to further gather ideas and work on a playable product for the next class. We will also continue to gather and create graphics for the cards to make them aesthetically pleasing.

Card Prototypes:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Week 3

Today, we played San Juan for about an hour. This game proved to be a beneficial experience as the group had attained a better grasp of game mechanics and structure. Specifically, San Juan involved many different mechanics and structure which resulted in occasional confusion among the players as to what the correct rules. Aside from that, the game was very engaging and allowed for all players to participate even during down time. The game was a new game to many and was an enjoyable experience.
After we had played San Juan for a good hour, we discussed the core mechanics and structure of our future Cold War game. After much deliberation, it was determined that the game's core mechanic would involve the drawing of one discovery card and choosing whether to ask a question or not. Although all of the mechanics are not all thought out, we had focused more on the structure. The player who goes first in the beginning of the game will be decided by whoever rolls the highest number on a six sided die. The structure of our proposed game involves two decks of cards. One is the character card deck and another the discovery card deck. It was also determined that if you guess the spy wrong, you lose a point and if you are correct, you gain two points. After gaining eight points,the game ends and whoever accumulated eight points wins. There are at most eight character cards and a max of two spy cards. Therefore, the maximum possibility for a full game would be six innocent players and two spies. The discovery cards will each have a question that will be used to gain intelligence on who is the spy. In addition, there will be a sheet of paper for each player that will contain information about what kind of person the spy is. Every player must pay attention to this as the spy(s) must answer the questions posed to them relevant to the biography. Other innocent players can trick other players into believing they are the spy by posing answers similar to the biography. It was also determined that if you want to call out who you believe a spy is, it must be done before the start of your turn. You can accuse someone anytime in the game but it must be before the start of your turn, adding to a catch-up mechanism. The point system is as follows:
+2 = if you are a spy and someone guesses wrong
-1 = if you guess wrong
+2 = if you guess correct
If a discovery card is used, it must be discarded. There will also be duplicate discovery cards containing the same questions.
Throughout the class period, we had accomplished a lot in terms of the progress of the game. We agreed to think of three traits of the spy for next week in addition to planning to meet outside of class.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Week 2

Today, we, The Cold War Kids, accomplished a variety of goals and tasks. During collaboration, we presented our card game proposals and came to a group consensus on which one we would pursue as the final project. During deliberation, we were introduced to Phil's proposition on a game which involved deception and a good poker face. The game was to involve the appointment of Cold War "spies" who were expected to deceive others by preventing them from guessing who they are. Ray's proposition involved a game which involved players to strategically use "effect" cards and "number" cards to quickly accumulate thirty points worth of number cards on the playing field. Cecilia's proposition involved a zombie themed card game which involved players attempting to survive by utilizing weapon cards to defend themselves against zombies. Matt's proposition involved a game in which players were attempting to overthrow a "king" by accumulating gold.
By the end of class, we had unanimously decided that Phil's Cold War Spies game had the most promise as, as it was interesting, seemed fun, contained theme and game elements, a solid set of mechanics, and seemed realistic to pursue. Although the game will need adjustments and more input, the foundation that was started today seems to hint at a successful collaborative card game project. Finally, the group had decided on a group name which they will now be known as: The Cold War Kids.