Game Design | Card Design | Rules & Documentation
A competitive co-op card game featuring horrible spouses.
Players sit side-by-side, hiding their cards from each other.
During each round, players play cards and try to amass a target amount of
Sex, Money and Power points; each card has an effect on shared reputation.
Shared reputation must remain above 0, otherwise the game ends without a winner.
Sabotage cards are available to turn the tides of the game.
Relationship Goals was inspired by the drama and tropes within soap operas.
We wanted our theme and systems to compel players to distrust,
deceive and manipulate each other similar to a soap opea.
As such, we decided on a competitive co-op framework, to propel a
unique dynamic and roleplay between partners / opponents.
During our alpha playtest, our notable problems regarding point calculation. In turn, users had difficulty comprehending shared and personal assets within the game.
Our team spent a significant amount of time redesigning the cards,
in service of legibility and playability.
During development, I proposed that players sit beside each other, rather than across from each other to solve several problems within our current iteration (orientation of numbers made cards difficult to read) while physically
enforcing the roleplay and themes of our game.
With this new physical dynamic, players would be close together yet have to hide their cards, promoting a sense of unease between pseudo-spouses. In turn cards could be aligned differently and numbers more easily tracked.
Players responded to the system very differently, depending on
their prior relationship. Interestingly, players strongly resisted the urge to win, instead deciding to work together to instigate a tied state or even helping their opponent.
As such, our system was not entirely successful in creating a rivalry
between partners. The narrative and moral ambiguity prescribed through
the cards had an overwhelming affect on the participants' play experience.
Relationship Goals was an enlightening project as prior to this experience,
I never would have anticipated how strongly empathy or
thin narratives could effect players within a card game context).
Creating player avatars for roleplay purposes could drastically alter
the play experience, delineating the necessity of a emotional distance
when dealing with morally ambiguous subject matter.
I learned a lot regarding player psychology during this project, as well as
keeping extensive documentation between iterations.