Playtest Day

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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.

Dramatis Personae:

Name: Nate

Superhero Identity: Handsy

Superpower: The ability to grow many long, elastic arms and appendages with incredible stretch ability

 

Name: Trip

Superhero Identity: Fred

Superpower: Invisibility and super speed

 

Name: Al G.

Superhero Identity: The Great Millenium

Superpower: Can stop time with his indecision

 

Name: Mac

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

 

Name: Ashby

Superhero Identity: Awesome Avenger

Superpower: Can cause laughter paroxysms by touching

 

Name: Samantha

Superhero Identity: Ladysplosion

Superpower: Can blow things up at the molecular level

 

Name: Marcus

Superhero Identity: Germ-Man

Superpower: Can teleport and take over territory

 

Name: Cinthia

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

 

Name: Tobin

Superhero Identity: Kharma Girl

Superpower: Can make instant kharma happen to people

 

Name: Megan

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.


BEST:

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

WORST:

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?

Might need a heavier hand from the host, depending on the group

IMG_2811

  • 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.

 

BEST:

Liked warming up in the little city before moving to the big city

The logic

Scaling up

Not too challenging

 

WORST:

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.

BEST:

Superhero figurines

WORST:

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.

BEST:

The concept

WORST:

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!

BEST:

It’s fun making stuff out of clay

Being part of a pair

High-fiving

Running

WORST:

Didn’t know what a lariat is

Down time

No winner

Outcome is too binary

Confusion over the question mark symbol

NEXT TIME:

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.

BEST:

Smashing

This game was fun

Wearing Hulk hands

WORST:

Chaotic (though in a good way)

Strategy unclear

Risk of injury

A back-and-forth build and smash might be better.
IMG_2808

  • FUNDAMENTALS OF PHILANTHROPY

Make a video care package that is sent to a child in the hospital along with a corresponding toy.

BEST:

Made you feel good

WORST:

Cue cards should be thicker, half the size, and with bigger writing

NEXT TIME: Allow players to make their own script

And finally, based on players’ rankings, here is the feedback for each of the 10 activities:
SA Rankings screen grab

If you’ve read this far, you must be interested in experiencing this game for yourself. Contact us today!

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