Color Tag is a fast-paced local multiplayer game of hide-and-seek tag where the characters need to hide in plain sight by camouflaging themselves amongst the environment.
I was brought on board for the level design but spent time in system design. Playtesting revealed some flaws in the original designs for the game, so the team worked together to rapidly prototype and solve some of the user experience issues we were having.
Our mechanics weren't creating the experience we were initially aiming for!
To help with this, I created an Action Chart for Hiders and Seekers. The graphs depict the decision tree players should be making from moment to moment - starting at the top and working their way to a VERB action!
The Hider's original mechanics just got players crouched in a bush waiting out of sight for most of the match. This did not encourage the "frantic" vibe we sought. A round ends when someone has been a Seeker for 60 seconds throughout the entire match. Then, we rank players. The player with the least amount of time as a Seeker wins first place, and the player who had been the Seeker the longest comes last.
We didn't want to deviate too much from the match rules. Instead, we armed our Hiders with bombs that stunned any Hider hit. This addition encouraged Hider vs. Hider gameplay. A stunned Hider would also lose their color, making them easy to spot for the Seeker. When a Hider is struck by a bomb, the player who threw the bomb saves 5 seconds off their timer. This addition encouraged Hiders to hunt for other players more aggressively.
This doubled the amount of VERBS in the Hider's Action Chart. Bombs created a lot of depth, with very little added complexity. Hiders were now given other options than to simply Run! and Hide! This addition was received well by our testers!
Seekers have a much simpler Action Chart. The addition of the bomb actually solved a lot of the issues the Seeker was having. The noticeably large explosion effect and the off-color character running through the environment reduced the average time when a Seeker couldn't find a Hider.
Nice and frantic!
I hope you've enjoyed a brief look at how iterated on our system design. If we weren't on such a tight time frame, we would likely spend some time doing some rapid prototyping for potential solutions for issues we spot. These quick solutions though are filling in the gaps well enough to take to PAX Melbourne!
See you at the NSI Booth!