Throughout the entire process of game design, from choosing a proposal to making our final prototype, our group has gone through many ups and many downs. Paramount to all of these other learning experiences, the most significant thing we learned from our challenging journey is that no success can come without positive group flow. Today, the day of our final presentation to the professional game testers, we learned that even after a game seems to be completely finished, there is always room for collaborative improvement. As different groups of play testers, composed of professionals and experienced students, rotated through our game, we were able to fix some aspects that we, as the designers, were blind from seeing.
After tweaking certain mechanics of the game last week, like increasing the number of initially dealt Civilian Cards from five to ten and eliminating the unfair advantage of a player continuously flipping Faiths or Misfortunes by implementing an automatic change of fate for every four of each fate collected, our team thought we had worked out the final kinks of the game. Although, we, as a team, thought these changes perfected the playing experience, the new players felt that certain aspects could still be polished. So, after the first round of play testers suggested that four of one fate was too many to have to collect before getting the other fate, we tried a round of the game with three. The players who constantly flipped Misfortune enjoyed this change while the players who constantly flipped Faith loathed it. In between switching games, Joe and Christian, who had been observing our game being played, called Patrick and me over to discuss the issue. Patrick and I saw our other team members’ concerns, but we reminded them that we came up with the number four after play testing the game ourselves and concluding that three same fates, non-consecutive, was too frequent to warrant award or punishment. So, I suggested that we try going back to having fates be consecutive to warrant an automatic change on the next turn. Although we were unsure about this conclusion, Joe said he would try it on the next round of game testers and let us know how it went. Fortunately, the next group had positive feedback about the fixed mechanic.
Each time we played our own game and each time it was played last week, there was never even a thought about giving initial Resource Cards, but with new groups of play testers this past class, the suggestion arose. Initially, Christian was hesitant about giving more cards to start because such a decision would cause more cards to be on the table and more points to be doled out freely. However, after giving it a try, he realized that by giving only two Resource Cards at the start of the game, a lot of the Faith and Misfortune Cards worked more effectively since many of them have Resource Cards involved in the choices. When Joe, Patrick and I returned to the table, we were amazed that none of us had thought of such an idea earlier.
My group and I have agreed that collaboratively designing our very first game has been one of the most eye-opening group learning experiences that we have ever encountered. It is easy to learn about how to reach a good group flow, but it is much more difficult in practice. However, once we bypassed the short period of stubbornness and slight turmoil, we realized that moments of criticism and disagreement may seem negative but are actually the only way to arrive at the best, positive outcomes.