Monday, October 15, 2012

Week 5 - Play Testing

This week we conducted a play test of our revised games from last week. Having new testers provided us with a fresh perspective on our game so that we could work out the last of the game's kinks. Our play test goals included figuring out what aspects of our game to test and asking players ample questions about those aspects. We were looking to find out which features players enjoyed most about the game and which features they did not enjoy or felt needed change. There were several new features of our game we were looking to test this week. We wanted to see how drafting the budget cards would affect game play. We were also curious about whether the new point system we created for the budget cards and changing the rules about how a player wins the game would change perspective on the game and it's replay ability overall. We wanted to know if the players felt the action cards helped or hindered his or her chances at obtaining budget cards. Lastly, one of the most important things we wanted be sure each card was equally powerful during game play. Many important points arose as the two play tests went on. We noticed that the players were having a difficult time obtaining budget cards; they were either a couple of dollars away from the exact price or way under. The players suggested lowering the budgets even more or creating even-numbered budgets that were easier to obtain. To fix this issue, we decided on creating budget cards with price ranges instead, so that as long as players had items that added up to a number within a particular budget card range, they could obtain that budget. The players also mentioned the trouble they were having "buying" items with uneven prices, such as seventeen dollars or forty-two dollars because of their lack of one dollar bills. To fix this issue, we doubled the amount of dollar bill cash cards in comparison to the rest of the cash cards we had in the cash card pile to evenly distribute the power of every cash card amount. We also realized that our change of drafting the budget cards and creating a point system to win the game definitely worked better in terms of the games likability. It created more chances and different ways to win the game, improving the game's replay ability like we had hoped. We also clarified and updated the games set of rules to make sure the players were not confused about how to play game. After conducting two play tests and hearing all the positives and negatives of our game, were hoping these changes resolve all the kinks and create an exciting and fun gaming experience for every player this week!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Week 4

This week we brought in our first prototype of the game, and as expected, we ran into more than just a few issues with it. From technical difficulties in finding matching fonts to problems in the mechanics and rules of the game, we encountered problems in almost every problem of our game. Luckily, we did not allow for there to be room for any groupthink, as we had breath along with depth, and overcame most of our issues rather quickly.
After test-playing the game and taking our Professor's input into consideration we came up with a better idea of how we wanted the game to be played. We took out any action cards that may create a negative playing experience for a player, and only left ones that would only allow a positive game playing experience in order to make the game as enjoyable as possible for every player. For example, we originally had an action card where you could switch your cash cards with any player, so one player could give 2 cash cards to a player and take their 6 cash cards forcing them to spend multiple turns rebuilding their cash card collection before having the ability to buy an item. To resolve that problem, we made it so you can only switch what you have, so you can give 4 cards in exchange for a different 4 cards from that players hand.
Another problem we ran into was that the draft of items was growing too large. Originally, if you could not buy the items in the draft, you could choose a card from the top of the pile in one last attempt to buy an item, and if you could not afford it, it would go into the draft. But we did not want to have a giant draft of items, so we resolved it by putting the randomly drawn card at the bottom of the item pile instead of the draft.
The game was taking too long with budget cards that had such high values, so we decided to make lower valued budget cards. With lowered valued budget cards you have the ability to make the game a little bit more complex because you can play it so the first person with 3 completed budgets wins, or if you want to make it easier the first to complete one budget can win. When you start playing with more than one budget, the items that make up completed budgets are untouchable, so other players cannot take an item from you to make that budget uncompleted.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In class this week we reviewed the formal and informal/dramatic elements of game design. Professor Parks used the analogy that the formal elements are the engine of car, what keeps it going, where as the informal elements are just the shell of the vehicle. This analogy stuck in my head and was a great analogy to understand the concept. We began to discuss about the readings which we read prior to class, which dealt with the two interactions you experience in a game. Direct interaction and indirect interaction are vital for a game designer to keep in mind while designing their game. When we broke off into our group discussions, our group dove right into trying to focus on challenges our game has.

With every game we had some early flaws that were easily fixed in our group discussions. Some of our problems were that we needed to make value to the lower amounts such as $1 cards and $5 cards, so our game will not rely heavily on who has the highest cards. We also incorporated action cards. These action cards will allow players to change budget cards, cut in line, "get robbed," discounts, etc. This factor really helped improve our game. We briefly began discussing our dilemmas before our time had expired in our group discussions. I am sure we will pickup where we left in our next class discussion, and it looks like we are on the right track!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


          This week we made some great progress on our game, "Shop Til' You Drop".  In class we were able to build upon our expanding base of knowledge of game design.  This week we learned core mechanics and the difference between formal and dramatic elements in games.  After we discussed the aforementioned terms we had a group discussion and tried to implement new elements and expand upon our game.
          The core mechanics of our game as of know are as follows;
1. Each player gets five cash cards to start.
2. 1 player draws a card to determine the spending budget prior to the game starting.
3. Each turn a player can draft a new cash card from a set of four or select a card at random from the pile of cash cards.
4.  Each player can purchase one item if they have the exact amount of cash that the item costs in some combination of the bills in their hand.
         The formal elements of the game are described in part by the core mechanics of the game.  The dramatic elements of the game were a main topic of discussion amongst our group today.  As a group we tried to decide what would be the best story for the players of our game to take part in.  The ideas we came up with include;
1. A shopping spree in which the winner is the only player that gets to keep the items they purchase
2. Shopping for gifts for the holidays.  There can be different people you need to buy gifts for.  Each player could have to draw from another pile to find out who they have to buy gifts for and maybe even what items these people want as gifts.
3.  The players are trying to buy stuff to furnish their college room or home.
The winner of our game is still the player who spends the exact amount their budget is before the other players.
          Our group meeting also saw the creation of a facebook group for our group members to discuss the game, and added a receipt style score sheet that would allow each player to keep track of how much money they have spent during the game.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


     The name of our card game is Shop Til' You Drop. The concept of the game is, as stated in the title, general shopping. Each player is “shopping” for a variety of items on a mutual budget. The first player to achieve spending all of their budget money is the winner of the game. There are three different piles of cards; cash cards, budget cards, and the item cards. The budget cards are what determine the budget for that game for every player. The items cards will be the items players are attempting to purchase in the game. The cash cards are cards with dollar values that players will be purchasing the items on the item cards with. Some cash cards will have "special offers and coupons" that will help players get ahead in the game. 
     We chose this game over the other games because we felt it had the most replay ability, very little downtime, and had the perfect amount of randomness and chaos to keep the game interesting, yet light and simple. Mike's card game about matching the country to it's correct continent was too simple and did not have much replay ability once the players caught on to where all the countries were located. Christian's game about trying to avoid sinking your boat had a great concept, but too chaotic to be a game you could relax and enjoy. Jeff's game about being a high school student trying to reach a particular goal had a great theme, but the mechanics would have required too much downtime. Therefore, we chose Shop Til' You Drop. 
     Today we discussed how we could change and improve on some aspects of the game. The parameters of the game are that a player can only win if he or she spends the EXACT budget; no more, no less. If a player has a five hundred dollar budget, and the player has "spent" four hundred and eighty dollars, the player cannot buy an item for twenty-five and must pass on buying that item. We have also decided to add more actions to the cash cards to improve on the variability and randomness of the game, such as percentage discounts (50% off) and money off ($10 off) on items. We also discussed adding actions that would hinder a player's performance in the game, such as trading items, or having to give your item cards to other players for holidays or birthdays. Hopefully we can evaluate and elaborate on these suggestions more next week!