Documentation – Ben Miller

Project 1 – Untitled

Shakti Mb & Ben Miller

Summary: This project was a conversational framework, wherein four people engage in a single conversation, each limited in some aspect of communication, and forced to compensate. The four people were split into two groups, two physically together, and the other 2 off in separate locations, but paired digitally in a chat interface with one of the physically present people. The goal was to apply constraints to how people communicate in order to explore how aspects of race, gender and personality are conveyed through non-verbal means such as body language, tone, pitch or word choice, and potentially more dynamic aspects such as the relationship of the speaker to what they’re saying (are they speaking as themselves, or as’ a third party). The ruleset for engaging with the interaction is as follows:


Project 2 – Untitled

Karen Mercado Campos, Qianjing Liu, & Ben Miller

Summary: This project went through several distinct phases, all focusing on exploring different roles and how these shape how a community relates to one another.

The design started initially as a board game taking the bronx neighborhood of Hunts Point as inspiration. Players would take on different roles in the community, including average citizens, police, or a criminal. Along with these roles, players would receive guidelines for how they can act and move along the game board, with players having to infer and make choices based off these rules. This version did not advance far, and after feedback in class we scrapped the highly representational aspect (both in board game theming and directly showing Hunts Point) and shifted towards a more ‘pick up & play’ card game approach.

This card game version went through two iterations, with the second being a much closer revision than the first board game. The first go at the card game took some inspiration from Mafia, focusing on the way information was selectively hidden or shared between players, and how these relationships could change dynamically over play. The ruleset for this version is as follows:

See Card Variant 1

We playtested this version and had a few promising moments, but the pacing and start were still rough. The key issues we found early on were the initial catalyst of distrust or a hint to get players questioning and accusing one another. Effectively the connection between questioning and who was the killer was not strong enough to get the game going, which drove us to once again revise the initial design. The most significant revision was giving players ‘trait cards’ that pair with a series of ‘suspected traits’ that match the killer, to give some information for players to work off of in the start of the game. This information was also partially held back, so players also had a short-term goal to work toward of revealing more information. The ruleset remains largely the same as the above, but with the following addition:

See Card Variant 2

Players would receive a hand of these binary trait cards, which would be publicly visible. At the start of the game, the one running it selects a player as the killer, and builds a set of hidden trait cards based on those held by the killer. As the game progresses, these killer traits are revealed, stoking the fire of suspicion between players as the option narrows down. This version worked far better, and seemed like it was enjoyed during each of our play tests. The traits added a welcome push to the start of the game, and provided more for players to latch onto and build off during the game for humor, asides and other remarks that added a dynamic quality to how relationships in each play session developed.

Project 2 Ruleset

Project 2 Cards

Project 3 – Coffeehouse Cahoots

Alex Dinsmore & Ben Miller

Summary: This project in a way combines aspects of both of our previous projects, exploring the potential mechanics we both explored previously. This project also went through several iterations, shifting in focus between mechanics that alternatively emphasized contained systems that players can infer and act off of, or open-ended verbal prompts that more flexibly played off of the players’ own projections or stories. The final iteration, which was also the one that we were both most satisfied with, uses a set of highly structured rules (similar to Poker hands) that were themed in such a way for players to be able to project onto them. The shifting tactics and playstyles players might enact would then interact with one another, and would often require revising accordingly, rewarding players who can think from the other player’s perspective to better equip them to make their own combos or block their opponent.

Here the core mechanic shifted to some degree across iterations, but often in some form touched on people’s personalities and traits, and how they are both often essential for engaging with others, but also potentially misleading if you rely only on them. The final iteration explored this in how these traits tie into the play tactics that must be leveraged to anticipate how your opponent will use the gameplay system strategically.

Project 3 Ruleset

Project 3 Cards

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