Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hell Week

The worst part of making a game that has functioning mechanics, creative graphic designs, and variety, is when the game is missing the fun aspect. That is what happened to me today when the class play tested our Harry Potter game.

This is the third set of cards we created, the fourth board design we developed, and there are still flaws. After hearing everyones analysis and feedback, I finally figured out the issue. It wasn't that there wasn't enough, it was that there was too much. I realized that people like winning, and they like winning fast. When you make winning a tedious task, people tend to take the easier route; make others lose.

While play testing the first round, the unexpected had occurred. I was presented with four chaos players, who all immediately looked towards quickly ending the game before anyone could obtain points. I had everyone running through the Room of Requirement their first turn! End of round one, only three cards away from ending the game. Something was going terribly wrong.

I waited for a few rounds to pass, thinking people would get the hang of the game, but I was wrong. The players still found no incentive to ask people questions, or to even collect cards for a matter of fact. They all just went to another player's house, and started picking up every card, knowing that they might get sent to the forbidden forest. Vishesh told me this was because he had to pay 3 to get a 4 point card, and that wasn't worth it for him.

When Isaac came to the next round to play, I presented Vishesh's perspective to him and asked him for feedback. With the help of Isaac, who was my partner for the first game, I realized the issue came in how many points it takes to collect the cards, and how easily you lose them, only to gain four points. I tried increasing the value of the House cards to 12, but realized instead of increasing points, I should downsize everything!

So now with all these new ideas, I have a brand new board to create, cards I need to revalue, and new mechanics to end the game. My goal: in the midst of developing all the physical elements of the game, I need to find the most important element, fun. Hopefully, I can use a spell or two to locate it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Wizarding and Stuff

It's interesting to see how an influx of ideas can spark creativity and collaboration in order to reach a greater goal. This past week, our Harry Potter board game really reached a new peak as we grouped together in Kilmer library in order to finally start working on the prototype of our game. Trisha, Payal and I spent some time on the computers creating all of the cards necessary for our game to function. Christina did a great job of designing a prototype game board. She sketched out all of the important  elements we felt were necessary to make the game feel as close to Hogwarts as possible. One of our main focuses while designing this game was to make sure the players feel the connection to the Harry Potter books and movies. While we were creating a blueprint for the game rules and design earlier in the day, we had agreed that each corner of the board would represent each of the different houses present in Harry Potter. The color coordination of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin added a dynamic to the game that would allow players to feel they are actually at Hogwarts.

Once the prototype of the game was created and ready for play testing, we quickly realized that we had some issues on our hands. For starters, after one round of play testing, we realized that our game needed more purpose. When we played it felt that our game was relying too much on random drawing of cards in order to win and not enough strategy. In class on Wednesday, we consulted Professor Parks and he immediately gave us some insight on how to fix some of the flaws in our game. Professor Parks recommended that each player should place their object cards that others are trying to find in a strategic manner so it doesn't give away where all the cards are to other players every time someone asks for a clue. We also decided to implement a payment system for clues. Depending on the question a player may ask in his or her attempt to gain a clue, the price will vary. Professor Parks also advised us to have the object cards separated facing down to make it easier for players to see how many cards were in certain rooms. This also enhanced the game because players can ask clues about certain cards which would give neighboring players hints, sparking more interaction between all players of the game. I noticed while play testing that object cards and spell cards really added a dimension to the game which brought memories of the movies and books back to me. I think that so far in our objectives, we have succeeded in creating a functional prototype game that is fun, competitive, and a game that stays true to the Harry Potter creed. 

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, Trisha mentioned that we should try to meet a few times over break in order to complete the final version of our game. Christina and Payal mentioned that we should finalize the board first because we are drawing it by hand as opposed to getting it printed. A project such as this one requires detail and creativity that we felt a computer couldn't express in a realistic manner. Christina brought up that we can have the cards printed at her Aunt's work which would save us broke college students some money. Overall, our group is doing a great job of working together and constantly bringing new ideas to the table in order to complete a much larger task at hand. I really like this groups effort so far. As we approach the finish line, I really hope we can continue the progress and success we've had as a group thus far.

Ram Patel

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Learning Wizardry must be easier than this

Remind me to never complain when asked to make a card game again, please.

It has been two weeks since my proposal for a Harry Potter theme board game became the chosen one, and that is about as far as it has gone. Week one, our group tried to approach the game development by first choosing the characters and objects most well known to a Harry Potter fan. Still holding on to that plan, this week Christina, Ram and I tried to develop the mechanics. I'm pretty sure it was easier for Harry to kill a horcrux than it is for us to create this game.

We had to abandon the idea of rolling a dice and moving along a board after Professor Parks pointed out how cliche and boring that approach is. Instead, we decided to keep with our second idea, using "goal cards" for each character. Professor Parks helped us with this idea by inspiring us to use an interactive mechanic and have the players hide their opponents cards within the castle. We agreed that this was the perfect way to fulfill two requirements, mobility and interaction.

Christina magically found a map of Hogwarts that easily exemplifies the type of design we want, with a few extra rooms that we would replace as common areas. I made prototype Goal, Object, and Spell cards, and asked Ram to make the official version since my version looked like a six year old made it. So now we have the following things done: a rough design of the board, cards, and thats about it. As I mentioned, Harry would have killed two horcruxes by now.

Again with the guidance of Professor Parks, we got the idea of using clues around the castle to guide a player in the direction of his hidden cards. I realized that written clues would only work if the cards were set up the same way each time. There after, I came up with the idea of verbal clues. We have four players to a game, four corners of a board, and of course four Houses! Each player could take charge of one corner of the board that represents one House (the House doesn't have to be the same as the player's character).

To incorporate the clues, I suggested that when a player enters a room in another player's House, they can receive a clue as to the whereabouts of their cards, given they reward the House keeper.  For example, if Payal enters my Huggle Puff House, she has the following options:

a) give me a one point object card and I will answer YES or NO to: is my card in this house?
b) give me a three point object card and I will answer which room the card is in
c) give me the object card that I need myself: I will give you your card

This idea obviously needs more work and developement, but it is a good start. It sets a path for how to move around the board, how to interact with other players, and how to discover your cards without simply walking into a room and picking up a card.

I also suggested the idea of a hand limit. Ram and Christina agreed that 7-10 would be appropriate for this game.

Tomorrow is our meeting to finish up the prototype, hopefully Ram can write a post filled with good news next week!

Trisha Patel

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Blog 2

            My group and I worked on the core mechanics and the goal of our game. To begin, we thought of what the main goal for the players should be. Trisha, the creator of our game, suggested that the goal for each player should be to complete his or her tasks. In other words, each player will randomly select a character. Each character card will have their own tasks that they need to complete. As a group, we believed that no character should be more powerful than another; therefore, we made sure each character has equal tasks. The tasks include finding objects. However, each character has assigned objects. We made sure the objects assigned to the characters matched the original story of the book and movie. For example, Hermione would have to find a wand and a time turner. In the movie she uses a timer turner to save Sirius. Also, she was quick at learning spells with her wand. More specifically, each character has three objects that they need to find through out this game.
            At first, we did not know how to set up the game. We were unsure about whether having the objects in each specific location on the board or to have the objects on the side. Christina suggested that it would make more sense if we put the cards in the rooms on the board. However, Trisha believed this would be too random because plays will never know where to go to find their objects. Then, I came up with the idea that we should start off the game by splitting the cards of each player’s character. For example, if I was Harry Potter, my tasks will say to find a Horcrux, a pensieve and the mirror of Erised. These objects will be picked out of the pile and given out to the other three players of the game. We will do this for each player’s character. After all the objects of the characters are given out, each player will take the objects they collected of other characters and place them in any location on the board. The rest of my group liked this idea.
            Unfortunately, we were still unsure about how a character can win. We did not want to make the goal to only be completing your given task because we believed that would make the game too simple. Therefore, I came up with the idea that we should have three copies of each object that are worth 1, 2 or 3 points. If I complete my task first by finding all three of my objects, I still have the chance of losing because another character could have two of their three objects that are worth 3 points each, whereas, the three objects that I found were only worth 1 point each. Therefore, the goal would be to try to get the object you need of the highest value.
            Throughout the discussion, we realized that we have another error in our game. Not only will people collect cards that they do not need, but there will also be locations where the cards run out. I suggested that since Trisha came up with a Lost Room as one of the locations, that can be assigned as the room that people can discard the cards they do not need. In other words, if I, Harry Potter, visit the Chamber of Secret and draw an object card of a motorbike, I can discard it and place it in the Lost Room because it is not included in my task. Additionally, each time a room runs out of objects, there will be a list that will say in which locations to split the objects in the lost room in. While the rooms are still full, people can visit the Lost Room also to find their objects, however, they must discard a card in order to search in this location.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week One -- Platform 9 and 3/4

In class last week, our group was decided and put together. We had all chosen to bring Trisha’s board game to life. It is a Harry Potter based board game where you play a character and you are given a task to complete to win the game. We introduced ourselves within the group and Trisha started us off with a summary of what she wanted for her game. One thing she really wanted was for the players to have the freedom to move through the board and not be stuck on one path throughout the game, an idea brought up by Professor Parks. We decided that having action points for each player would give players this freedom and a series of options to use for each turn. For example, you would be able to move your character to a different room in the castle or surrounding grounds, or cast a spell. I thought that we could include curses in the game to encourage player interaction with one another. Ram came up with the idea that each player could have a special power to use in the game one time, similar to Trisha’s Gold Rush card game. Players will know who everyone is playing as, but they won’t know which task we are all assigned. Hogwarts is full of secrets and Trisha thought it would be a great idea that all our choices and actions would be based off our individual secrets. Players will be able to help or hurt each other in this game, and synergy will be a big part of play. 
As a group, we decided to come up with five characters each, along with the task that they should be given for the game. They do not have to be main characters, but they should all be related to the characters that show up in Harry Potter. Trisha said that she wanted the tasks to have a matching element where you must find a certain object in the castle to complete your task. She came up with Harry Potter looking for Gryffindor's sword to destroy the horcrux. Payal wanted us all to be able to contact each other and she said we should have a group chat or Facebook group so that we could all share our ideas even when we were not in class.
It seems that we will work well together in creating this game. We all share a common interest in Harry Potter and we want players to feel like they go to Hogwarts. We are already pretty open about our ideas and were not shy in presenting them in the group during our first day together. All of us have interesting ideas to add to the game, and we’re all bringing our previous experiences from the card games we already created. Hopefully this game will turn out as amazing as we want it to.