Saturday, November 30, 2013

Class #4

The last day our class met, our group decided to hammer out a lot of problems. Our last class meeting was our first play-testing session in class! It was really exciting to see all of our ideas fall into place. It was also a relief to see what things were inappropriate for our game. Our problems ranged from the mechanism of moving from each location to how does each player receive a disguise. Our group did our best to whittle out each problem.

We decided to have an auction after each round. However, after each auction there will always be a new person to start. Whoever started the round before the auction will be the last person for the new round and the person to the left of them will be the starter for the next round. Our group also decided that at the beginning of each game everyone will start off with a disguise. If each player wishes to get another disguise, they must wait until their turn comes around to buy another disguise. We thought of creating a maximum number of disguises to keep, such as a maximum of 3 disguises. If anyone reaches higher than 3 disguises one must exchange their lowest disguise for the new one they recently purchased to maintain the 3 disguise maximum. We decided each additional disguise would be priced at $100. Everyone must enter the auction and must have one disguise at all times because of this reason.

Thanks to the input of Dr. Parks, we decided to have more interaction between players during play. We accomplished this by making only 2 or 3 paintings available for stealing at one time. This gave a player an opportunity to case one painting, but someone else could steal their cased painting. This would create frustration and more interactive game play. This lead us to the conclusion that our board must be larger in order to fit a certain amount of  paintings on the board. We wish to fit the number of museums for each continent represented by one painting at a time for each museum.

There were some other minor details that needed to be included for the next time we play-test our game. Some of the minor details included playing with money, pawns for each player, ticket stubs, casing pawns, combining character cards with assignments, and a $500 bonus for completing a ticket.

Overall, I would say our group has great way of collaborating and working together. We may not always agree with each other but we find a way to work with our problems. One idea that does not work may eventually spark or lead to another idea that leads us to a successful concept to implement in our game.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Class #3

This past class was a huge success for my group and I. We got a lot of the fundamentals of our game down pact, and are going to soon attempt to play it to see its fluidity. The class started with us talking over what all we had established for our game so far. Nick decided to create assignment cards for each profile, which are different for each player and country. Each player would receive a profile card that contained the above-mentioned checklist, a fictionalized name and the country they were from. Every painting that they steal from their designated country would receive a monetary bonus. This provides objectives to the players for the entire duration of the game, and the game only ends when one player turns in his or her completed checklist of countries to steal a painting from (for a bonus of money). This created an extra element of strategy and excitement to the game, as players can now impact other players significantly.
Also, I thought up with an idea to implement a penalty for attempting to steal a painting unsuccessfully. This would prevent players for automatically going for the highest value paintings, thus creating planning and strategic choosing of the paintings players wish to steal. Isaac also decided that every player receives one free disguise card per turn, which they draw up from a face-down pile in the middle. Players could also buy disguises if they wished, but can keep no more than 3 disguise cards in their hand at all times. I also decided that different paintings would have different levels of difficulty, with the more difficult paintings to steal had a higher reward of selling them. After Professor Parks came up with the idea, we decided that players could also "case" the joint, which makes them skip their current turn; however, the painting they are attempting to steal loses a difficulty "star" (Ex. Mona Lisa goes from 5-star difficulty to 4-star). This would enable an additional level of strategy and thinking into our game.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Session 2

The previous class session was the first time that our group was really able to sketch out some more fundamental details for our board game. Nick re-familiarized us with the basic principles of his game concept and we got underway.

The premise of our game is that each player assumes the identity of a thief of art pieces, specifically paintings. Consequently, players travel around the world, represented by the board, stealing valuable paintings from different museums and locations. Each continent or landmass (the distinction of which will be made later on in our development) is divided into regions and partitions. One of the first problems that we encountered was how to incorporate player movement in the game. I suggested that we stray away from randomized movement, e.g. tossing dice, and the others agreed as well. If players did not have enough decision in how they could move about in the world, then our game would not be nearly as fun. At the time, and until now, we did not have any sort of mechanic for how paintings could be stolen. Instead, players can steal paintings simply if they are currently located at a museum. Therefore, if movement on the board was not the direct result of player choice, then paintings would essentially be stolen based on what a player rolled from a pair of die.

Nick originally had an idea that included the rolling of die while decreasing the role and importance of randomized chance. He suggested that players would roll a die and, based on the resulting value, travel to a set of available locations. Lower die values meant the player would only be able to travel to closer locations while higher value meant they could travel further away. While this was a good idea, the issue of "rolling die" still bothered the group as whole. We wanted to go in a direction where player decision was the primary influence in the game.

In the end, we developed a unique system of in-game travel. Movement on the board was divided into two types: domestic and international. Players may travel freely to any region or partition within the current continent that they are on. For instance, if a player is in North America, he or she may travel from New York to San Francisco without consequence or penalty. However, the same is not true for international travel. To travel abroad, players must purchase "tickets". Each ticket allows the player to travel along a predetermined route on the board. Each route costs one ticket. Therefore, if a player desires to travel a particularly long distance that is covered by two routes, they must purchase two tickets. This idea of "hopping" to one's destination was first suggested by Cindy. She believed that incorporating layovers in our game, similar to what airline passengers experience at airports, would make our game more interesting.

Although the primary mechanic of our game is to steal and acquire high-value art paintings, the player with the most cash holdings ultimately wins the game. Therefore, it is important to be able to sell paintings off since they are only worth half their monetary value at the conclusion of the game. After paintings are sold, they are not re-circulated back into the game and are permanently taken out. Nick's idea, which was part of his original concept design, was that players who needed to sell their paintings for cash would enter an auction. There are several important rules to the auction. First, players who wish to join the auction must purchase a disguise which masks their identity. Each disguise has a value to it. The player with the lowest disguise value is unfortunately turned away from the auction while all other players who had higher-valued disguises can join. In the event of a tie, the current implementation is to allow the player with the lowest cash holdings to join. We decided upon this feature believing that it will work to balance the game and allow players who may be behind to catch up.

Much of our game requires a lot of testing to understand what kind of economy should be implemented. Our tentative decision at the moment is to have six major continents in the world that players can travel to. We will also have a total of 21 locations worldwide; each location holds a museum that will contain the same number of paintings as players. Therefore, the New York Met would hold four paintings if there were four players.

Finally, we found that Tickets to Ride was very enjoyable and fun partially because it fostered great player-to-player interaction. The fact that all players had to share the United States in such a claustrophobic way was one reason for its success. To engineer the same experience in our game, we decided that some kind of law enforcement system should be added. While the exact details have not yet been finalized, the general direction suggests that we will have a randomized system which places a "police officer" on a continent or region. This bans players from visiting that region. Again though, this idea needs refinement so that it players will actually experience the danger of getting caught in the game.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A New Game, A New Group

When I first created the idea for Master of the Arts I had no idea that it would be such a popular pick amongst the class. I initially wanted to work on others games because I feel like I am a good contributor and can often give better criticism to others than myself. I guess this would attributed to my business background and management style. In the end I did not have a choice as my game was one of the ones that were picked. I did like my previous group, however in a way I felt as though everyone had got comfortable with their group and it is good that Professor Parks moved us around to a degree.

I think my group will be a good one. Overall on our first meeting everyone seemed willing to contribute. I had talked to Isaac and Cindy before as we had play tested different games together. Vishesh, I had met for the first time at this group meeting. When explaining the game it seemed like everyone caught on to the game quickly and all of the members expressed that they had picked this game because they loved the concept. I thought the concept of stealing paintings and selling them would appeal to most and luckily it did. Isaac and Cindy had some trouble understanding my initial movement system, however I believe that is because they were on the same page as Prof. Parks in trying to maintain that movement was fair. I too am now on the same page and am looking for an innovation to make the way people can move on our board more fair. I feel as though the ability for players to move not only in one direction is definitely a good start. Vishesh seemed to like the idea of disguises battling other disguises, but brought up a good point about how we needed to refine the system for enjoyment and so that people would not be discouraged to play lesser valued disguise cards. I proposed we just made a lot of lower value and fewer higher value cards. This could be a problem again because we would have to come up with a solution for ties.

Another problem our group has to solve is deciding how many museums and museum paintings we should keep within the game. Too many could drag the game on too long, and too little would make the game run too fast. I am hoping to keep the game very interactive as I see that as the key to success in any game. Overall it seems like we have a lot to solve and a lot of solutions to employ. I am confident that we all will be able to work together to provide ourselves with a very fun and exciting game.