As indicated in the above video, my contribution to the group game and presentation is the design, development and playtesting of our game, “Big Rip”.
The experience we want players to have whilst engaging with this game is one that emphasises interaction; with banter encouraged as a core element of the experience- for instance, the game states that the “player who is most likely to die first, goes first in turn order”. The game aims to provide a forum for a bit of dark humour and corporates death as a key element of the narrative. Designed to be enjoyed by both the casual tabletop player and the most die-hard (get it?) expert, I like to think that Big Rip would be a great game to crack open and play (or spectate) at parties and gatherings.
Below are some photos of early playtesting; upon reflection, I realise that I really only had an idea for the game that we had talked about as a group and had little idea of where or how it would work, that is, until I play tested it. What I thought would work turned out to be rather boring and the friend I was playtesting with was looking like she was losing interest (hence the pizza that I cracked out while I was making changes to the game in real time, as seen in the below pictures).
I attribute this lack of enjoyable gameplay to the fact that it had no incentive to take any action at all. There was no impoteus that spurred on strategy or tactical manouvers. At this point, I hadn’t added ‘powerup’ cards to the deck, so the ‘game’ that I had made was literally just taking turns stacking cards, and the lack of interest shown by my friend made that clear. However, after several iterations with the addition of powerups and stealing mechanics, the game began to gain momentum.
Throughout the process, I met online with my other group members regularly (as mentioned in the contribution overview video) and thus attempted to integrate their feedback as much as possible. James and I discussed the game theme and narrative at length and this in turn directed how I continued to develop the game. One of the main sources that we both drew upon in this regard was Holcomb’s ‘Story or Mechanics’ from the ‘White Box Essays’, which I personally found helpful in unlearning my belief that the concepts of mechanics and story are seperate and unrelated components of games.
I have used generic playing cards and permanent markers to playtest the game and its mechanics thus far, which has proven to be highly successful in allowing rapid iterations to be made on the fly. I went through several decks of playing cards by folding and writing on them to experiment with balancing the gameplay. Photos from another playtesting session can be seen below:
I also met with an experienced game developer via Discord to garner more feedback and get his thoughts on how gameplay with more than two people would work (because unfortunately I haven’t yet been able to playtest with more than two people due to strict social distancing rules and group gathering guidelines). In addition to validating my efforts so far (up to the point of my meeting, I wasn’t sure if our game would even work), this was very helpful in directing some of the next steps we will take with the development of our game and presentation.
Some of the future avenues and areas that we aim to explore more in preparation for our presentation in week 10 include death positivity, ‘Ask a Mortician’ and Ozymandias (by Percy Bysshe Shelley). Furthermore, it is our plan to finalise our group presentation by mid week 10 to allow for adequate preparation prior to the actual presentation scheduled for Friday the 22nd. Individually, in addition to working together with my group members to develop a run-sheet, I will need to finalise the rules and instructions for the game itself and develop some concept art and scripted material which will form part of the presentation.