Saturday was an exciting day at Wise Guys labs: we broke the seal on a new team building offering that will be available starting in the spring. Most of our new products start like this: Greg and I design, tinker, try stuff on each other, but then we put it in the hands of volunteers who play the games and try to break them.
Since our games are supposed to be FUN above all, we scheduled the day with 10 (!) challenges and activities so we could determine which were the most popular and which ones were the crummiest. We invited an elite crew of our favorite play-testers or a few hours in Cheviot Hills Recreation Center near Century City.
Here are the notes I jotted down from our afternoon in the park, documenting the feedback of our 15 or so play-testers who bravely attempted an all-new batch of mental, physical, and creative challenges. After each game, I asked the participants to tell us what about the game was the best and what was the worst, and I also made some notes about what will be different for the next play test, before this game is available for the public.
- INTRODUCTION TO SUPERHEROISM
Determine your superhero and work together to craft a narrative about defeating the villain.
Superhero Identity: Handsy
Superpower: The ability to grow many long, elastic arms and appendages with incredible stretch ability
Superhero Identity: Fred
Superpower: Invisibility and super speed
Name: Al G.
Superhero Identity: The Great Millenium
Superpower: Can stop time with his indecision
Superhero Identity: Fermi the Fairly Accurate
Superpower: Can make guesses with 10-15% accuracy
Name: John Greg
Superhero Identity: Blinding Optimism
Superpower: Can shift the odds in the team’s favor
Superhero Identity: Awesome Avenger
Superpower: Can cause laughter paroxysms by touching
Superhero Identity: Ladysplosion
Superpower: Can blow things up at the molecular level
Superhero Identity: Germ-Man
Superpower: Can teleport and take over territory
Superhero Identity: Green Emu
Superpower: Get in the villain’s head and make him hallucinate
Name: Al D.
Superhero Identity: Meta Man
Superpower: Can take other people’s powers
Superhero Identity: Kharma Girl
Superpower: Can make instant kharma happen to people
Superhero Identity: Mega-Tasker
Superpower: Can split herself into 5 people
The super-team had to address a threat on the top of a notable building in downtown LA.
The Mega-Tasker split herself up to supervise the safe evacuation of the building. Fermi estimated the villain’s location and also height, for some reason.
Fred took the elevator to the roof, but it came to a mysterious stop on the 13th floor, trapping him.
Handsy lifted Kharma Girl to the roof, but a trap from the villain ensnared and threatened to drop her to the ground, but Great Millenium’s indecisiveness froze time and allowed an opportunity for Ladysplosion to release Kharma Girl from her bonds with the power of tiny explosions.
The Germ-Man warped into the elevator to collect Fred, while Awesome Avenger took the service elevator to the roof and dispatched he villain’s henchmen.
Green Emu caused the villain to have hallucinations and Meta Man used his own powers against him. With help from Handsy, Kharma Girl, and Blinding Optimism, the villain was removed to a safe place where he could do no more harm.
We get to pick our powers at the beginning (x3)
“Normally I hate things like this, but that was fun”
Structured role playing
Letting everyone hash out the problem
Wanted more info at the beginning
With a large group, hard to remember all the info: probably better to split into smaller groups
Add superhero nametags?
- AERODYNAMICS OF URBAN PLANNING
Learn how to safely and effectively leap over tall buildings while locating the villain’s lair. Build a victory tower to replace any buildings you may damage.
Liked warming up in the little city before moving to the big city
Not too challenging
Tower isn’t integrated enough
Needs a constraint: with a 100% success rate, no pressure to shave off turns
Some smarty will be the quarterback
It’s simple: the optimal strategy is easy to determine
FOR NEXT TIME:
The homing score represents how many blocks the architect must add to the victory tower, with a minimum of 1 block per jump. With each new homing score, blocks must be added at the next level up, i.e. tower gets taller with each round.
Players should always start on corners
Add a countdown clock to jump
Could be turn based
Enforce a silent round?
For big city round, put victory tower on center square to affect strategy?
- SOCIAL SCIENCES OF HEROES & VILLAINS
Turn-based strategy game representing the classic struggle between order and chaos in the realm of superheroes and their nemeses.
Red and blue chips/pieces confusing
Chaos has to make a mistake for Order to win the game
Easy to check out
Strategy talk gives away moves to the other team
Got mixed up about the rule
NEXT TIME: This game will not be returning
- HISTORY OF CRIME
Assemble shredded newspapers and read the clues to determine when the villain is going to strike next.
Answers should be better “pinned”
FOR NEXT TIME:
Have players solve it like you’re going to tell the police where to look for the next crime
Should have to write the whole headline
Add photos to the newspapers
- BASIC SHAPE-SHIFTING
Pairs of players run relay-style to a station where they must transmogrify an item to leave a clue for the next duo: like “Telephone” in a telephone booth!
It’s fun making stuff out of clay
Being part of a pair
Didn’t know what a lariat is
Outcome is too binary
Confusion over the question mark symbol
Clarify about destroying the previous item
Split the group in two and have them compete
Quotation marks around the question mark
- REMEDIAL SMASH-EMATICS
Four Hulks and their tutors study problem sets until they know enough to smash towers of boxes.
This game was fun
Wearing Hulk hands
Chaotic (though in a good way)
Risk of injury
- FUNDAMENTALS OF PHILANTHROPY
Make a video care package that is sent to a child in the hospital along with a corresponding toy.
Made you feel good
Cue cards should be thicker, half the size, and with bigger writing
NEXT TIME: Allow players to make their own script