The Agency: Prototyping & Play testing

Throughout the entire game design process I kept a journal and a design file, where I would write down and collect all my thoughts, sketch out any designs and write down notes during prototyping, testing and development.

 

Houde and Hill define prototyping as a “physical representation of an idea”, and can be used to better understand 4 principles, ‘integration, role, look and feel and implementation’ (2008, p.11) Their model was used during game development to enable me to focus on specific questions of the game regarding the look and feel and overall user experience. Due to the materialistic nature and design of my game, initial prototyping relied on ‘mixed-fidelity prototyping’, which combined low (paper-based) and high (interactive and almost complete representation) prototyping (Verhamme, 2009, p. 15) to better understand both the gameplay process and the interaction with game elements (product design).

I printed off my skill cards, development cards and money with my home computer, cut and laminated the elements for protection and long-term play testing. Whilst sketching up and painting my game board, whilst using rubber bands, and an old ipad box to carry my prototype around.

Regarding the game theme not much changed as I spent a lot of time during initial ideation stages to ensure that the visual identity would be well considered. During the first few playtest I had worked through the material considerations of the game elements, below I aligned my game elements with their material inspiration (paper size and printing process) which I used my design sampling book to make final paper and printing decisions.

Next, I started play testing or ‘Exploratory prototyping’ (Robertson & Robertson 2006, p.15) by eliciting user participation through game play demonstration, the game prototype a complete representation of the game, and combined horizontal (specific layer) and vertical (complete part of the system) elements of my game (Kelley & Kelley 2013).

Play testing enabled me to initiate the participation of other users, and get feedback, which was instrumental in identifying any design shortcomings, misunderstandings, ambiguity and inconsistencies.

Play testing findings:

  • Suggestion to use the writing of reward allocation on the card as a representation of the reward (top right corner) rather than collecting an associated token (skill, money, worker tiles). Most agreed with me that this would remove the materiality and decrease the aesthetics elements of the game, but could be considered if the game was to become a purely card based game.
  • Playtest 20 was the first to introducing an element of debt during gameplay which wasn’t present in previous gameplays and not considered and will need to be addressed in further iterations.
  • Drafting intern cards – pick up 3 and choose 1
  • Just having 1st or last player compete for benefit or consequence of the chance card, however this would mean the creation of a grading metric.
  • Just adding a rule to pick up each card obtain their rewards and putting it back – increase skill tokens, and introducing a corporate token to represent the reward on the director cards.

References:

Dam, R.F & Siang, T.Y 2017, Design Thinking: Get started with Protyping, accessed 11/05/2017, https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/design-thinking-get-started-with-prototyping

Dennis Verhamme. Effective prototyping in embedded systems – comparison of high- and low-fidelity prototyping. Master’s thesis, University of Amsterdam, 2009. pp.1- 40

Kelley, T & Kelley, D 2013, Creative Confidence: Unleasing the Creative Potential Within Us All, accessed 20/05/2017, https://www.creativeconfidence.com/CreativeConfidence_preandintro.pdf

Stephanie Houde and Charles Hill. What do prototypes prototype?Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction, 2008, p. 1 – 16

Suzanne Robertson, S & Robertson J, 2006,  Mastering the Requirements Process (2nd Edition), Addison-Wesley Professional

 

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