We took these two questions and tried to answer them through our own research. To answer the question of "why AR?", we sought to explore what the future of games looked like with emerging technologies. How could we take the experience of traditional tabletop games in physical space and translate them into a digital one? We hoped to answer this through experimentation of our game with other people and get their thoughts.
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For the second question, we did desk research. We recruited one game developer and seven participants who play collaborative games and asked them what makes these games fun to them. At it's core, collaborative games are fun because it requires both players to put trust in each other and share a commitment in a constrained, fast-paced environment.
So we put this to the test. We wanted to design our game with the focus on delivering a fast-paced experience and commitment-based gameplay. We did this through first creating an analog version of our game and conducted different time-based tests with participants to gauge game pace, communication style, and difficulty.
We did one test where we gave them clues of where lasers would be and 10 seconds to talk to each other to place their balls in a safe zone, using any communication means necessary.
On the other hand, we did another test where we gave no time limit, but could only communicate verbally.
From these tests, we really enjoyed the time constrained tests because it promoted more fast-paced hecticness, communication, and level pacing.
The Design Process Moving Forward
Knowing the style of gameplay we wanted, my partner and I moved into development. Because we hoped for the game to be playable, our design process ended up being flipped. We had to design based on what we could build. We coded the game in Unity, and for every new part of the game we built, we had to test with participants to design the experience elements for them.