Prototyping and Play-testing: Méirén

For the prototyping of my board game Méirén, I decided it would be of greater use to create detailed cards, board game, playing chips and player pieces in order to receive more accurate feedback about my game during the play-testing phase.

I have a green folder, titled Méirén that contains essentially my ‘gaming journal’.  It consists of A4 hand written notes of my progressive ideas as seen below.

Méirén Green Folder which contained all hand written game development notes
Idea 1
Idea 1
Idea 2
Card Development and Discussion of Mechanics
Notes of Mechanics that I liked from the game Tokaido

Although this part of the game was time consuming, it was definitely worthwhile, as I tried to portray one of the key elements that I find the most important thing with any game: presentation. If a board game packaging and its gaming pieces do not appeal to me, I won’t buy it. Simple. So ensuring that I had an aesthetically pleasing prototype was important.

I got all of the images I used in my prototype off creative commons. I then used the blank cards that Chris had and stuck the images onto the cards, placing them inside protective clear sleeves. I then ensured that each set of playing cards had their retrospective colour dot on the white side of the card. This made it easier to sort out the card decks. For the playing chips I used white poker chips, and then used black poker chips with the relevant colour dot on them for the bonus chips.

Box Images


I hand drew the first board, as this was the element I was most unsure about heading into the play testing phase – I wasn’t sure if I like the concept or if it would work.

Board Game Design 21.jpg
Board Game Design 1

The image below is from the first play test I did, followed by the notes I made in terms of the suggestions and feedback given to me.

Play Test 1
First Play Test Notes
Notes from Play Test 1

I actually implemented most of them, through the creation of the lucky cricket bonus card which would be given to the first player to purchase all their clothing cards, and the bonus chips which correlated with the food cards. I also created a new playing board which was used in the second play test below.

Play Test 2
Play Test 2
Play Test 2 Notes.jpg
Notes from Play Test 2

However, it was discovered that the theme of my board game was lost, with the focus being on the guardians rather than the actual process seen in the matchmaker scene in Mulan.

This then resulted in returning to the original idea of having one board, however developing a design that encapsulates the process that a Chinese women would go through when getting ready to meet the match maker.

In terms of the genre, I would like to think that my game is epitomised by the Chinese cultural theme of getting ready to meet the matchmaker. It will be a game that can be played by families and friends, with a clear competitive element. It will have a similar feel as Tokaido, in the sense that you are travelling through a board that has different elements of ‘getting ready’, which are represented by the different types of playing cards: Fashion/Accessories, Food, Guardians and Flowers. In order to be deemed ready for the matchmaker you have to travel across the board and acquire as many of these cards as you can.

As mentioned above, the design and brand of the actual game is very important to me, which I would hope would act as a positive marketing method in itself.  I know that getting the actual design of the board game right will come at a substantial cost. As I am not equipped with appropriate design skills myself, I would employ someone to do this for me. I have specific ideas of what I would want for example the physical player figurines to look like (see below). However, getting these printed in a 3D sense rather than on card like they currently are would evidentially cost more.

I think to begin with, a more appropriate printing and production method would be ‘print on demand’. This would mean that I would provide the design had I have had created for me, print it once and then see if any changes need to be made before going ahead and printing 1000s of copies.

It is also important to take into consideration that considering my board game is Chinese culture inspired, that I may need to have several different versions, i.e. an English version and a Chinese version. This would involve costs of reprinting in a different language, employing an interpreter to help me with the translation issues that I would not be able to assist with, and then looking at other elements such as shipping and tax costs. If I was to sell the game on sites such as Amazon I would also need to take into account the service fees that would act as another cost in relation to distribution of the game.

Based on this, to start with I would focus on debuting an English version first. This was similarly done with the board Game Lotus, which has been quite a success and is set to release its Japanese version later this year.

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