Week 10: Goodbye, Hollywood (Playtesting and Farewell)

Inevitably, we come to the very last blog post I will write for this subject – and what a ride it has been.

For someone who avoided card and board games like the plague before the course, I have been exposed to more board/card games than a hotel room without a TV. For the most part, I think that this has been a good thing. It has broadened my horizons as a gamer, and has shown me that there is more to the gaming world than digital games.

Ah, Master’s of Hollywood: Director Face-Off. You were absolute hell to put together, but I enjoyed making you.

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My sincere apologies to all the rainforests around the world.

What began as an homage to Top Trump cards (and it’s gameplay mechanics) has ended, as it’s own fully-fledged game. After conducting a few solo and group playtests, I have worked on iterating and transforming my game over the past few weeks. These tests identified three key areas that needed work.

Balance

Oh boy. The original iteration of this game was near impossible to beat.

Originally, my “Event” card deck was implemented to stop players from winning early, particularly when playing in groups. These on-set disasters (inspired by real life set disasters), were brutal when implemented and often powerful enough to cause a stalemate between all players. In some cases each player would hit a certain amount of points, until there was absolutely no way for them to earn anymore, and the game would repeatedly take away points until they were back at zero.

To break this stalemate, I have since mixed in a few positive Event cards and tweaked a few character abilities that (at this stage) have prevented any game-breaking moments from occurring. This has been a direct response to the research I have undertaken regarding this:

“If the player is given a sense of incremental advancement against reasonably challenging obstacles, then the game will probably be enjoyable.” (Ham, 2010)

Character Effects/Strategy play

As this is such a huge part of my game, playtests have helped identify the strengths and weaknesses of implementing character effects. In the early iterations of my game, each character only had one generalised effect, which could be used ONCE per game during one of their turns. I quickly realised that no matter which character each player used, they may as well have all been the same. I have since added additional effects which reward players for achieving certain combinations, and punish them for achieving poor ones.

This benefit/hinder system will encourage players (especially those returning for another playthrough) to plan each game strategically, and seek certain card combinations to ensure their victory.

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A closer look at the Director cards and their effects.

EXPANSIONS?!

One thing I have noticed over the last week or so is that my game is extensively expansion-friendly. While my base game includes only the core aspects of filmmaking (I.e. Director, Actor, Composer, Studio cards etc.) future expansions could include Producer, Theatre or Marketing cards which might build on the overall meta-narrative of the game, perhaps even extending the end-game state.

These would feed seamlessly into the gameplay of my main game, and would only have minor impacts, but would appeal to veteran players who want to change up the experience a bit. The fact that the game is “mod-friendly” might also encourage players to create their own expansions to work into the main game as well.

The Dossier

So how do I intend to represent all of this in my game dossier? Very simply I hope to elaborate on the expansive research I have undertaken before and during this project and how it has helped my key gameplay elements evolve and refine. As my game is also a satirical representation of filmmaking, my dossier will go into detail about the inextricable connection between my game and the real life perceptions of filmmaking in games, and how my game represents somewhat of a reform for the film-game genre.

This will be elaborated upon within my dossier.

I look forward to completing my game and dossier, and having the final product ready to go. Wish me luck!

Tom.

 

References:

 1. Ham, E. (2010). Game Studies – Rarity and Power: Balance in Collectible Object Games. [online] Gamestudies.org. Available at: http://gamestudies.org/1001/articles/ham [Accessed 10 May 2016].

7 thoughts on “Week 10: Goodbye, Hollywood (Playtesting and Farewell)

  1. I totally agree with your comment on balance – I think that’s why I have a problem with ‘hard’ games like Dark Souls (well, hard to me!). I’m all for a challenge but if it feels unbeatable you are going to get frustrated and quit. I also love your idea of expansion packs – sometimes board games can feel a bit stale, you don’t want to play the same thing over and over again, an expansion packs are good for making money! Which in turn is good for your business, marketing, developing new games etc. etc. You might be interested in this http://www.amherstlodge.com/games/reference/gameinvented.htm which has an awesome summary of everything you need to successfully make your board game come to life. Perhaps it’d be helpful for your dossier research?

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  2. It’s always amazing to read your posts, I can’t get enough of your game and the photos that you put along with the text really make me wanting to get my hands on it and play this game! The fact that you made your game cater so well to being expandable and having such a deep well of content that you can draw from lends yourself to a game that would have such a long lifespan that would never get boring.

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  3. So weird that card and board games exist, right? Who’da thunk it? I thought I may have already commented on this post but I think I just read it before because I genuinely really enjoy reading about your game, it’s such a great concept and I’d really like to give it a try one day. I love the puns on the names- also bonus points for adding more women! Sad how a game can have more women directors than I can name from real life… but that’s a conversation for twitter! Expansions are always a good idea and will totally help to keep the game fresh and interesting, which is appreciated!

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  4. The concept of expansions is, in my opinion, going to be incredibly invaluable for this game mechanic. That is really going to give the game an almost immeasurable lifespan. Too often, DLC’s and expansion packs feel like an un necessary shoehorned in money maker but the beauty of this game is that it really requires these add ons to keep relevant. Another thing to consider might be to keep the game updated as it sells? would this be a requirement in order to not let the game either outdate or be unplayable without buying 10 plus add ons? How will you keep the game relevant without breaking the bank?

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  5. I really like the ideas you have for your expansions and having producers, marketing, and theatre cards that could come in later editions would add to the great replay value that this game already has. Everything about this game is very appealing to me, the ultimate dream would be to become a director/writer even though I know that chances of that are very slim to none. Just being able to get my fix out of your game is something that would quell this aspiration that I have. Can’t wait to see the final product and actually play it!!

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  6. I think it’s very exciting that there seems to be opportunities for expansions with this game, and opportunities to add new rules and new director and actor cards. It would stop the game from becoming stale and add to the replay value.
    I also enjoy the director parody names as a way to bypass copyright and lawsuits and all of those things that uni students really don’t need. It is actually better, in my opinion, to have the parodies because they add a sense of humour and fun to the game, as well as maybe a conversation point for people when the game is done. For example, if there is a parody name that people can’t figure out who is being parodied, maybe the film buff friend can enlighten everyone and educate them about that director’s films and so on.
    I’m wondering what you would do in regards to the art for this game. You may not have an opportunity to create any art now, but maybe if you were to sell this game in the future, would you pay an artist to make characactures of famous directors, or would you be looking at a more serious tone?

    I have to say that I am in full understanding of the pains of completing the game. Trust me, I don’t think anyone realized how hard this was going to be at the beginning of the semester! It’s encouraging to see that you’ve pushed past the obstacles that you have been presented with and managed to create a game that seems like it will be fun to play

    Good luck over the next couple of weeks with the completion and compilation of your game and dossier 🙂

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  7. ‘Balance’ is a word that can send any game designer into a stress induced panic attack. Nothing roadblocks a fun, creative idea like trying to balance it to not break the game. I personally think it’s fantastic that you’ve been able to troubleshoot this by implementing other cool ideas (positive events to balance the negative) rather than having to remove game elements altogether. The progress of Masters of Hollywood is clearly visible and it’s a testament to the amount of work you’ve put in. Good work, Tom!

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