Week 10 – Discord in the Court

As mentioned during halves, our goal for the remainder of the semester is to produce and test one prototype a week featuring a new user interaction.  Various roadblocks happened this week that gave us some insight on how this will go. Regardless, we managed to make and playtest our Courtroom game by Sunday.

The game’s main idea was to get audience members to call in over Discord and become star witnesses in a trial.  Two improvisors would act as prosecutor and defendant respectively. The former would draw and guide information from the guest witnesses, while the latter would take the accusations and weave a narrative from them.

We wanted to investigate two things with this game: a) the willingness of audience members to contribute on a greater level and b) bypassing video delay by calling in directly.  The delay bypass worked out great, and seems to be an effective form of direct communication. We further had animated characters on a green screen behind the actors to ease their communication with someone who wasn’t there.  The generic model for each guest facilitated variety. We puppeted it via preset animations and keybindings, bypassing delay further and letting us have more control of the scene’s feel.

Audience willingness and the barrier of entry was another challenge, and one we didn’t succeed at.  Only one person attempted to call in, and they abandoned the game before they were even on the line.  Our team filled in the gaps as callers, and that flow was fine in the game, albeit a bit underdeveloped due to not practicing much with our actors beforehand.  We believe this will go better in communities where there are established Discord back-channels to ease tech use or larger groups of friends to encourage involvement on this scale.

We also managed to retest two of our previous games, Whose Bag? and Freeze Tag.

Whose Bag? went near flawlessly, and was a lot of fun for everyone involved.  Our production value could be improved a bit, but this was the most satisfying game.

We moved away from any non-green screen background to ease shifting between games.  This nice, neutral brick wall “comedy club” background seemed to work fine. However, Freeze Tag had a major bug that prevented us from testing much with it.  We fixed it quickly, but felt it better to move on to our other games with the time we had.

Overall, it was nice to get back to work this week after spring break and GDC19.  We pushed out a prototype in time to test and learned a lot from it. We’ll have more reflections on it after getting all of our user feedback in order, and another prototype done by next weekend as well.

Our chaotic stream set-up