The Work This Week:
Week eight was spent iterating and playtesting.
Capitalizing off of the momentum of last week’s breakthroughs, we aimed to get our initial version of the game in to as many hands as possible. This included several ETC groups, our project mentors, and one group of students from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. The play testing helped us confirm a few design ideas that had mostly been hunches, and also brought a few issues into clearer focus.
Also worth noting: We had our Quarters Sit-Downs, a chance for our advisers to speak with team members one-on-one, and check in regarding how we’re doing so far.
The first positive that we were able to confirm was that our target audience was exactly where it should be. By aiming for a target audience of players that have a solid sense of familiarity with each other, we were able to break through some of the initial barriers to conversation before the game even began. While it was observed in most of our playtests, it was confirmed in one playtest where the guests did not know each other well. Conversation quickly diverged from the game, and there was a good deal of posturing as people tried to not look week in front of strangers and classmates.
We also started to see direct effects of how emotionally grounding the text was. Every time the text was played, the game became both more personal on an emotional level, and less personal intellectual level. This always gave a solid boost to investment in the game, and conversation in general.
One fear we had confirmed was that our questions, and the current interaction of the game, was too intellectual. We were offering the players safe options to think their way out of situations we want to be visceral and emotional. This meant that we were back to the drawing board on the questions we wanted to ask our players.
We ended the week with a client call, running all the progress we had made past Ms. Goldsmith. She was a huge help in focusing our art direction, confirming mechanics, and helping us find the emotional core of the text. More than anything, she was a reminder that our client had already developed a process that worked.
Theater of War Productions has been working towards these sorts of emotional engagements for the last ten years. Going back to our original task of adapting their live performance, we need to understand that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Drawing from their lessons and successes will help us to avoid making mistakes they have already solved, and allow us more time to explore the new areas we hope to take their performance in to.
With next week being Spring Break, the team will be taking a small hiatus. Afterwards, we’ll be getting right back to iteration, and preparing for our Halves presentation.