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Urban Birding game

Hello Nomads!

I would love to have some feedback on the BirdsEyeU game, a game inspired by urban birding.

I already know some weak aspects of the game, but since playtesting is quite limited at the moment, I would love to have more opinions, especially the opinion of more experienced game-designers. Your comments on the previous version of my Rules Sheet really helped me move forward!

Here you can find the Rules Sheet and the List of Materials

If someone would like to contribute with playtesting the puzzle solving, I created here a list of alternative materials for a home playtest

Hope you are all well and you keep yourselves in a creative mode!
@matteo_uguzzoni @soly @Highfather @KyrAvram @BagelandBalloon @awhitney @LeaLeroy @jyow @LizzieH

Thank you!!!

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Hey I think I will be able to test this game using the first floor window of my apartment and the street below (the street is closed for building works so there’s no one in it). There’s just me and Christiano here though, so won’t be able to test the team working part of it.

Or is there a particular part of the game you’d like us to test?

Do you want to try to watch using a video call, or should we just record it and send you the recording?
L xx

Hi Lizzie, thank you for being willing to test this! I truly appreciate it! You could use the materials of the Home Playtest and test the communication rules on solving the puzzles.

  • In your case there won’t be a team cooperation aspect and one of you will be the Birder and the other one will be the Bird…you could also switch roles after completing every puzzle so that it is not boring for you.
  • Use only the Roof Cards (the Street Cards are for the team version).
  • What materials do you have available in your house to use as the puzzle pieces? If you don’t have big boxes or cubes to create the tetrominoes then there is no need to use the window/street situation. The height difference is only interesting and necessary when the blocks are big enough.
    If you manage to test the puzzle solving part could you give me some feedback on your experience on using signs/objects to give directions on the movement VS using body language. Remember that in both cases you don’t use verbal communication. If you have some feedback on the puzzles themselves on how easy/difficult they are or what do they remind you of, I would also appreciate it.

You can record it and send it to me :slight_smile: Let me know if you need more clarifications.

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@LizzieH you can try to use this online version of the puzzle pieces that I made on this platform that I just discovered…you must register to be able to move the pieces around but It will simplify the playtest.

Hey @MarinaKy14 we finally got around to testing your game :smiley:
We played inside with just two people, using small paper polyominoes, but tried to follow as closely as possible the rules for the outdoor game.

Here’s how it went… :bird:

The game worked surprisingly well with just the two of us. We improvised a couple of things to feel more like birds (a parrot earring and standing on a chair :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: ), and although of course that’s not the same as a group working together on a roof, we got really into the narrative of the game.

We played through to envelope 7, but by this point with just the two of us, the puzzle solving started to get a little repetitive (and we didn’t have so much time), so we then skipped ahead, just doing the street card challenges until the end of the game.

I didn’t find it any harder to communicate with the body instead of the signs, which made me feel like maybe the signs weren’t necessary in the first place? I like the idea of the communication getting progressively harder/more inventive each round, but in our experience the difficulty level remained the same. One thing we found impossible though was to point to buildings to try to solve the shape.

Liked:

  • the different elements/mechanisms of the game fit together well. I think the bird thematic running through everything helps with this.
  • the street challenge mini games that really made us think about birds (e.g. who can make the most realistic bird noise, tell a bird related poem etc. felt more successful to me than the bird version of rock paper scissors, or counting 10 things that begin with the letter ‘S’)
  • solving the polyominoes (however after 7 of them it became less exciting/challenging to solve them)
  • the dynamic between people in different places and at different heights
  • non-verbal communication

Possible area to improve:

  • the mechanism which causes the “birders” to become “birds”. At the moment the situation is that the people who are left at the bottom (less and less people until it’s eventually just one person) are having harder and harder work to do moving around the polyominoes. They don’t have any agency, they are just following orders. I think this could be physically tiring and also upsetting/demotivating as the reason why they are left is because they have lost every mini game so far. This creates a system where the “winners” are on top and the “loser(s)” at the bottom, like a kind of meritocracy. I love the idea of members of the public getting involved and helping, but having the person left on the bottom go up to strangers to ask for their help, with quite a high possibility of them saying no, also seems like it could be demotivating. Is there a way that communication and puzzle solving can be more of a two-way process?

Question:

  • Is there a set age range for this game? It seems like some of the mini puzzles would be suitable for all ages, whilst others would be particularly good for children or particularly good for adults. Perhaps you could have different variants of the game for different age groups?

We took some photos and short video clips, which I’ll send to you by wetransfer as they’re a bit too big to email.

xx L

@LizzieH Thank you sooooooooo much! This feedback is very very valuable!!!

I totally get all your points, which I guess is a good thing that I had already identified the weaknesses of the game, as well as the engaging aspects.

  • Maybe 12 puzzles are indeed too many, but since the game is destined to be played with a bigger group I am hoping that players will not get tired from the 7th one! This is definitely one of the first things to playtest with a bigger group as soon as the social distancing measures stop.

  • I find it interesting that for you it was not more difficult to communicate with body signs vs the signs. The point of the signs is to delegate the “work” of communicating every step among the birds. To push them to cooperate and synchronise in order to help the birders understand which polyomino to move and how to move it. But it’s interesting! I will try to get more feedback on that!

  • What do you mean by this?

Do you mean it was difficult to show which one of the polyominoes to move when you couldn’t show the colours? So you had to somehow invent a new way to show the L-shaped, or T-shaped or Z-shaped polyomino?

  • Thank you for the suggestion on improving the mechanism of making birders to become birds. It’s true that it does create a winner/loser situation even though the mini games are more fun than competitive. I was also thinking of the option of an arbitrary rule to set the order of becoming a bird (age, height, alphabetical order)…but that would be less fun. The best way is to improve the interaction/dynamic between the birds and the birders and balance their relationship so that it is not disproportionate!

  • I noted your question regarding age! It’s true that I think young players / children would be more engaged and enjoy more the physical aspect of the game. I will explore the option of having an adult version and a children version or maybe simply choose one and re-adjust the game!

Thank you so much!!! :slight_smile: :heart::parrot::bird::parrot::dove::bird:

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Glad the test was useful :slight_smile: Thanks for the game!

The thing I said about not being able to communicate using the buildings was about this instruction: “Collaborate with the other Urban Birds to give instructions to the Birders to move the polyominoes in order to solve the puzzle below!!! You can use the binoculars you brought from the Street and find clues to solving this specific puzzle in the buildings surrounding you.” (one of the last envelopes) Neither of us could think of a way to use the buildings around us to solve or communicate the polyomino puzzle, so we just used the rest of the body language that we had already been using (mainly hand symbols/pointing).
x

aaaaaah right!!!

Well I apologize about that one…It is unclear because normally the facilitator of the game will put a couple of posters or other elements which will be the clues…That card is basically unfinished! Thanks for reminding me!

Thank you again! :slight_smile: