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If papers please was in a medical department.

You are the doctor and have to take the decision on patients illnesses based on limited information about their symptoms. By gathering informations form questions and test within the time limit of each patient, you hold the endless lines of affected at bay.

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Started with reference instead of core game play loop – The day I decided to run with this game concept, I started doing research on the toping, common illness. I found a lot of information, and managed do filter a lot of it, but it took some days until I eventually made the first prototype. I think this is generally a problem, mostly because of the short time available, and because its impotent to have some thing to, a core to add things on top. If there is no core there is nothing to play and if I would have managed to put it all together, it would still have no play test. I think that reference is important, or rather: the feel of the game, but it just didn’t work out this time.

Chicken or the egg? /Content or form? – So I wanted to have a playable version fast, so eventually I realized that I had to make a prototype with placeholder variables, (a, b, c, d), so I did it. But then when I had made more research and wanted to add the next version of variables (different illness), it was a mess. So I actually wanted all of the variable names, and how they should interact, before I make the first prototype, to not have to rebuild the program, but then I don’t actually know how the game are suppose to work… I don’t know, the only solution I can think of is paper prototype, which I was thinking of, but it was kind of a mess to have a lot of variables and hidden information in paper prototype. But in hindsight I think that would have been the best alternative. Mostly because most of the time, if you make a action game, its going to be just more fun in the computer then on paper, but because this game is more board game like, if it wasn’t fun as a paper version, the computer tech wouldn’t add anything to the experience. Next time: Paper prototypes!

Is the simplest version really that fun? – This is one problem I have encountered before. I have this super cool idea with a lot of things interacting, creating a interesting coherent experience. The I make the one week version, and shave away a lot of the fluff, and end up with a super slim version. But is this version really fun? I mean, its great if it is, but if it isn’t, does it mean that the first idea is proven to not work? Is does it just mean that it needs more stuffs? Because this game, I was like, what if you was the doctor and had to manage all patients, on asking about their symptoms, deciding on what/when to test and when to make the call with in a time limit and with limited resources. The first version ended up just being you taking the illness with most symptoms that the person had, a lot of the time very was, without asking almost any questions. And the scoring didn’t work.

Filter symptoms and illnesses – One of the things I had a big problem with was to deiced where to draw the line. I wanted to have a couple of symptoms, which would overlap between the different illnesses. Like: illness 1: A-B-C, 2: A-C-D, 3: D-B-C etc. But in reality you would have some symptoms on a lot of illnesses, like headache, and some which only occurred one illness, which basically would give it away, “the key symptom”. Which is okay, but what if one illness have like 5 key symptoms, should I include all of them: which feels super redundant from a game play perspective, or just include one: then the only difference between a lot of illnesses are one tiny symptom, which is very far from how it works in reality. Because I wanted the game to have some positive effect on learning connected to the real world concept. I’d rather not make the game at all if it gives a false model of the world. So it was hard, but at least game design decisions is interesting, but hard in short period of time.

Scoring realistic or tight feedback loop? – In reality you hardly get any feedback as a doctor if you have made the right decision. You meet a patient, they tell you about their symptoms, you take some tests, give some medicine, wait some time. And it also depends on that kind of illness. If some one has some thing thats temporarily you can just give some medicine and it should be okay, or if you have to make a operation, either you succeeded or that person gets worse. But most of the common illnesses are more long term, like depression or heart deceases. You cannot give some one a pill and be fine. And that what my game tried to do, which just got silly with the long term deceases. Because you really have no feedback loop. You could have a objective scale, but wheres the decision then, if some one already but a lot of values into a scoring system you should follow. Etc. Then its the alternative to not have a scoring system, which makes it less of a game. But then you can just sit there and make super silly decisions with out any consequences. One of the ideas I had was to have external goals, like not spending more time then x on each patient (ask questions took time), and not using to much resources (take tests takes resources), but if you would do it badly patients would switch to other clinics. And it all got to complicated :)

What I want to add:

– Make a call on which few symptoms and illnesses are to be included.

– Each patient randomly get a illness, some random symptoms from that illness, then another illness and symptoms, or just random noise symptoms. (Right now each patient gets random symptoms, without any connection)

– Make a paper prototype to test which illnesses and symptoms are interesting and complement each other well.

– Add tests and a long term perspective, where patients return and have a change of health conditions. (Or just make a version with only short term illnesses)

– Have a mix between long terms illnesses (requires multiple meetings to improve the patients health) and short term illnesses (gets improved by a one off meeting).

– And narrative.


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  1. Game a Week summary 2016 | U Shall Play

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