Don't Kill the College Student is dead - long live Self-Love: The Thrivening!
The PRIMARY UPDATE is that we have undergone a Powerful Pivot. After last week's playtesting session, we realized the goals and mission we started out with for our game were not being met. After revisiting our research games, analyzing our players' reactions so far, and many deep discussions, we moved away from the body metaphors and redoubled our focus on player communication.
- Self-Love simplifies the game from three stats (social, grades, and health) to one: the eponymous self-love.
- Self-Love features a new type of gameplay: The body has needs which arise. The heart player must communicate these needs (conveyed only by images they must describe) to the student player. The student player must then find these items in a map of many zany resources.
- The title screen now features Art™.
Re:pivot: The number one thing that was not present in our playtesting for Don't Kill the College Student was players consistently communicating about actual gameplay decisions. We heard a lot of fun gameplay stories, and these were a huge highlight ("Well, time to go study... but not before slamming another brewski"). However, they were rarely actually trying to strategize or really approach gameplay - these stories were mostly a delightful byproduct of our theming.
A comment we heard many times was "the game was fun once I figured out how to play." Unfortunately, figuring out how to play often only came on the second or third play through. Not only was our tutorial on the weaker side, but our mechanics were complex and opaque. We wanted to make mechanics that would tie the asymmetric gameplay and the three stats together, but, to put it simply, we got lost in the sauce.
This week, we took a hard look at all our complexity. And came to the hard decision that it was not working.
So we stripped it all away and asked ourselves: How can we force players to communicate? How can we keep those fun interpretations that arose and gave so much heart to our players' experiences? How can we stop confusing people about where the liver is and what it looks like?
- The needs of the heart can clearly and obviously only be fulfilled by actions by the student. The student must learn what they’re looking for by asking the heart.
- The resources at play range from concrete to abstract - how players choose to describe these icons will create the fun of the story.
- No one knows where the liver is. Doctors don’t even know. They’re all mystery organs now.
With these exciting changes, we’re hoping that the time between players picking up the controllers and them starting to have fun will be much shorter.
- Double Monitor Trouble True informational asymmetry needs players to see different things - so we're taking the dive!
- Rad New Maps Four buildings are still not enough to live out an intellectually stimulating, socially fulfilled, healthy life.
- More Interaction Nuance After getting some feedback playtesting this new model of gameplay, we have some ideas for how we can make searching even more frenetic...!
Thanks for tuning in!!