CyberRisk: The Game of Cyber Conquest (Prototype + Play Testing)

CyberRisk’s initial steps of prototyping was undertaken through the playing of Risk. My fascination with the games conflicting nature, and capacity for dynamic strategies was the starting point for the creation of a new play experience. In conducting a process of modding, I opted to utilise the core mechanics of Risk as the basis of CyberRisk. From here I began innovating the game experience through research, prototyping, and play testing of the early stages of the game.

Prototyping 

Prototyping has been a crucial step in the creation of CyberRisk; helping bring the game to a playable state. In the initial steps of prototyping, I decided to craft all the elements of the game using basic materials. The following are prototype developments I made:

  • Hexagon tiles – the decision of using hexagon tiles to make up the board itself was inspired by Japanese game ‘Takenoko’. The use of these tiles ensures that the game is different each time the game is played depending on play types of participants. As a means of developing this aspect of the game, I created 42 cardboard hexagons that I stylised with digital images. This process helped me understand the sizes of the hexagon tiles so that they would comfortably fit together on a standard table.
  • Commander Cards – the addition of commander cards became useful in distinguishing and personalising the different intelligence agencies; allowing for players to assume the roles of the commander they receive. Using a creative commons template for cards, I explored different designs for the commander and chief cards. These were printed out on cardboard paper.
  • Star Cards – In the original Risk, the games inability to finish in a reasonable time was an issue. The incorporation of these cards allowed for a quicker game time. Using a template from previous risk, I played around with the design of the cards. These were printed out on cardboard paper.
  • Military Tokens – due to the complexity of creating hundreds of intricate tokens, I opted to use the tokens from Risk for my play testing.

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* Prototype components of CyberRisk

Play Testing

In undertaking play testing for CyberRisk, I had 6 players trial its gameplay. I made sure that the individuals playing the game had not all played Risk prior this play test to ensure that the rules were clear, concise and easily understood. After a brief explanation of the game, the players begun following the beginning instructions of selecting and distributing all components of the game. When it came to the placing of tiles to make the board, it was interesting to see the variety of strategies different players would use. A prominent strategy of tile placement was to aggregate own territories together avoiding all isolation; where some other players would attempt a more offensive strategy of surround individual’s territories in hope of strangling them. From viewpoint, the use of tiles was a big success, creating a whole new element of strategy.

As the game progressed, the speed of gameplay severely slowed as individuals who had not played Risk before, had to ask for continual reminders of rules and strategic advice. This however, can be seen commonly in Risk due to the complexity of the game.

A prominent issue that was experienced by all players was the inability for them to complete the objectives cards. The objectives appeared too hard, subsequently, all the players opted to trade them in for units instead. The difficulty of these missions need to be addressed in order for gameplay to improve.

One aspect of the game I noticed when watching the trial was the improved pace at which the game could end. The game went for roughly 2 hours, which was a massive reduction compared to the 1 week completion time of previous risk.

The addition of the headquarters proved to add another element of strategy. Most players would use the headquarters as a stronghold for a lot of their troops. The headquarters ended up being massive target, however, due to the bonus military units trained. An issue with the headquarters was the ease attackers had in conquering them. The use of an 8-sided die didn’t offer much of an advantage in the end. In fixing this, the addition of another 8-sided die should be employed.

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