Week #3: Emergent Rules

Prototype Prompt: Emergent Rulesets

This week we’re going to try all being in groups (2-3) 

Gone Viral

Week 3: Emergent Rules

Andrew Win

Chereen Tam

An unforgiving survival game where players must manage resources and maintain their sanity and survive for seven days.

Design Waypoint

Create a game that was reminiscent of hardcore coop survival games while having rules that were simple enough to understand through text.

Mechanics and Play Design Elements

Concept Phase

When thinking of a board game that could be played with a larger player size, we thought of a cooperative board game. We examined the games and genres that we both liked to play and realized that cooperation came from high stakes and working towards the same goal, which in the games we played, was survival. We took inspiration from Don’t Starve Together and created unique Character cards as well as resources for a daily upkeep. 

Prototyping and Internal Playtest

Because there’s no real “win state” in DST, we decided to make our win state surviving for seven days. The sanity bar was also added to create the “lose condition”. We wanted the game to pick up in difficulty the closer the players got to day 7. Therefore, we adjusted the resources and ways to get resources as well as how punishing sanity depletion should be after a few playtests. Chereen and I playtested the game a few times each playing as different characters. We play tested as a party of 2 as well as a party of 4 (each of us playing as two separate players).

Class Playtest and Observed Dynamics

During the class playtests we noticed a lot of confusion. Being a game with different characters and resources, the rules were lengthy and we realized we could’ve worded certain rules and phrases more clearly. Players also thought the action card they drew only applied to them and didn’t know that it could be shared with the entire group. They also were confused on if the sanity was shared or not. One other thing I noticed was that they did not notice the markings on the board for the “resolved action cards” pile. There also was not a lot of trading between players. Something we observed was the confusion of fire, players thought fire was used to revive a dead player and did not understand that fire was a secondary win state.

Aesthetics and Feedback

One feedback we heard a lot was that the game was difficult. Players also mentioned that the game felt like it was mostly left up to luck whether they survived or not. Because of this, the players felt that they weren't really in control for most of the game. 

We also had a second playtest with August, another set of players, and one of us. The feedback from this was similar in that it felt like the players didn’t have much agency in the game. Suggested solutions were to add choices on each action card so that players could choose between two actions. Another was to be a little more generous when players went “insane”. August also suggested having secret objectives for each character to make playstyles more interesting.

Evaluation and Ideas for Next Iteration

For the next iteration, using the feedback we’ll definitely adjust the cards and add in more choices to the action cards so that players have more agency. We were thinking of cards that proposed two options for players, whether to restore sanity or take more resources for example. Also adding in secret objectives for different characters is something we would like to add for our next iteration.