Designing Games: A Couple's Perspective

This blog chronicles the game designing journey of husband and wife team Will and Sarah. Mostly written by Sarah, this blog is meant to be informative, interesting and fun. Oh, and a historical account so we can come back in the future and laugh at our naive selves. ;-D
 Thumb up

Designer Diary 4 for Project Dreamscape: Unexpected Group Think

Sarah Reed
United States
Rancho Cordova
flag msg tools
Written by Will Reed

Finally the game was ready for play-testing. I had a quick couple runs with my wife and the results were very promising. Generally, I wanted the game to fit a particular time frame, which it did surprisingly well at no matter the number of players. However, what I was interested in was whether or not players would pick up on different play styles. What I found out was rather interesting.

Play the way you think

No matter which play-test group we put this in front of, we had consistent reports of how smoothly the game played. It was easy enough to learn and many reported wanting the game to last longer. However, since I was looking for a particular time for it to last, I couldn’t fully address this issue. However, we are looking at what happens when we combine two copies of the game together.

The real interesting observation is that some people thought certain cards were too powerful while other ones were not strong enough. I was, of course, concerned since I was striving for an equal balance of all types of strategies. That’s when I discovered something interesting.

The issues people had reflected that player’s play style. No one play-test group matched any other play-test group in their opinion of which ability was stronger than another. One said Floating Free was overpowered. However, a single ability is easily countered, shared, or eliminated by other abilities. Others said Night Terror was not strong enough while another group absolutely loved the ability. Still others said Lucid Dreaming was too powerful and suggested changes to make it even more powerful.

The end result was a null outcome. All the abilities had their moment of glory but it was all dependent on how that group played. Some suggestions that came from this were helpful when they pointed out aspects that better fit my design goals, while others I couldn’t use for similar reasons. Even though these latter suggestions were interesting, they often focused the game in a single direction.

Through all this the most interesting factor that emerged was Group Think. Sure, thematically everyone is connected into a Dreamscape, but there is nothing saying you have to play like everyone else. However, that is often what happens.

Group Think

So if you are unfamiliar with the term, Group Think generally means that as a group, decisions are made and everyone seems to follow along with those ideas. Every time we heard from a group, certain opinions were formed based on the group. This is both a blessing and a curse with this game.

As a curse, if the group believes that a certain mechanism is unfair, it often remains as the dominate opinion for that group. This leads to a lack of effort in figuring out how this seeming imbalance can be exploited (and believe me there are lots of ways to exploit abilities).

However, as a blessing if a group thinks an ability is too powerful then everyone fights for it and its effectiveness is diminished. In this way, Group Think naturally helps balance a certain play style within a group’s dynamics no matter what the prevailing thought happens to be.

Next Time

I will talk about dealing with differing player counts and the timing involved.
Twitter Facebook
Subscribe sub options Wed Dec 24, 2014 6:05 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}