Home Front: Week Twelve

The Work This Week:

Week Twelve was a week of turning ideas into something physical.


Coming off of Playtest Day, we realized our design was in a very good place. The audience reacted exactly how we hoped they would, interactions were consistent, rules were understood, and design intentions came through clearly.  Looking at scope, scale, and what we would like for our final deliverable, we realized that we should stop modifying major mechanics. This put us at feature lock a full week earlier than we had intended.

Because work on design has shifted into iteration and polishing, our focus has turned to detail work. This included figuring out the best way to present our instructions. While our written instructions were clear, they did come across as a fairly imposing block of text. They also read as more intellectual and less emotional, which is a problem we’ve been trying to address across all aspects of design. Our artist, Qiqi, undertook the challenge. Working through the layout as a graphic design problem, she’s been able to help maintain the clarity of the instructions while making them significantly more approachable.

On Tuesday, we had a visit from John Comes, the CTO of tinyBuild and a game developer of over seventeen years. With his guidance, we were able to talk about refining mechanics, an discuss possible end product design.

The team also worked on finalizing our game board. The biggest change involved shifting from a circular board to a simi-circular, amphitheater inspired half-circle game board. In addition to adding thematic resonance the art, the semi-circular board also solved a design problem. Our idea of how to show the text to all six players at the same time had hit a small road-block: physics didn’t work the way we wanted it to. To be able see the projection, players would need to have the phone at eye level. This meant that we either had to raise the phone two feet and still risk not having it at the eye-level of all players, or ask guests to lean down and see it at the level of the table. Neither seemed like good ideas. By getting all players on one side of the table, we’re now able to use a larger font and single line of text for our our caption. We can also use the physical closeness this forces on the players to ease passing physical pieces, like our newly implemented hour glass time, and to encourage actual emotional and physical connections.

With finalized mechanics and an understanding of what the game board will look like, we also started fabricating our game pieces. We had to approach this creatively; our client has asked us not to use plastic.  Our answer came in the form of 1/8″ birch plywood. Using the ETC’s laser cutter, we are able to produce vividly detailed, physically engaging, and aesthetically pleasing wooden game pieces. Our current plan is to make the game board out of the same laser cut birch. The pieces players will use to interact with the board and with each other will be raw crystal, with quartz and citrine matching the established color pallet of the board.

Even though we found feature lock ahead of schedule, our work is far from done. Looking ahead, we now aim to playtest as much as we can in the time we have left, learning from what works, and figuring out how to adjust what does not.