The Perfect Game Ch. 02byTx Tall Tales©
Chapter 2 – Playtesting
* * * *
Part II of the Perfect Game
Wherein we give the game a second try.
* * * *
If you've read the first part of this story, you know how I went about inventing my "Perfect Party Game", and the initial overwhelming success we experienced with it.
Plans were going ahead to try it in a group of 7, instead of the original 5, and all the original participants were eager to see if we could corrupt two more friends.
We knew Frank and Delara casually. He was a bit older, in his mid 30's and she was foreign, though I'm not sure from where, maybe Greece or Turkey.
We had been seated next to them at a company function, and I was afraid the grey haired guy next to me was some corporate stick-in-the-mud, with a trophy wife. We were pleasantly surprised to find they were a fun, talkative, and irreverant couple and ended up having a really good time. Frank was charming and worldly, and his prematurely gray hair gave him a look of maturity far beyond his actual age. He flirted brazenly with both Cheryl and Denise, but never quite overstepped the boundaries of good taste. Delara was a quiet young mediterranean beauty, but friendly, and very touchy-feely, which I thought was a good thing, and Dave didn't disagree. She was a tiny brunette with long dark hair, which she wore down to great effect. A few weeks later they had invited us to an event at their home where once again we'd had a terrific time. The wine had flowed easily and the conversation was all over the place. We owed them a social invitation, and this seemed like as good a time as any.
* * * *
During it's first trial, the game play seemed to have been effective. More than I would have ever possibly dreamed. But I was confident it could be improved.
A brief recap of the game might be in order.
The object of the game (nominally) was to collect seven different colored Reward cards for successfully completing a variety of Challenges.
During play we used two decks of cards, one containing challenges, the other containing penalties/rewards. Each person would pre-select which type of Challenge they wished to perform, either knowledge based (trivia, word meanings, obscure questions), or activity based (charades, celebrity improv, pictionary).
After selecting the Challenge type, they pulled a Challenge card and performed the challenge. If they were successful, they received a Reward card which had a colored border, one of seven colors they were trying to collect. If they failed the challenge, there was a Penalty on the card that had to be peformed, then the card was discarded.
There were several supplemental rules, involving avoiding penalties, reassigning penalties, selecting partners for the activity challenges, and other small rules, but the basic game was pretty simple:
Pick the challenge type, draw a challenge card, perform the challenge. Succeed, get a color. Fail, perform a penalty. Collect 7 different colors and win.
The trick was that the questions and activities got tougher, and the penalties got more personal, intimate, and then downright naughty, as the game advanced.
The concerns I had from the first game were several.
1) I thought the game had taken too long. We didn't get into the action until almost 3 hours into the game.
2) The specials were not used at all in the beginning, and were used a lot at the end where it seemed like people had either forgotten about them or were hordeing them.
3) I still wondered what would have happened if Denise had gotten her last color earlier. Would everything have ended abrubtly?
4) The wording on the cards was awkward for some, trying to generalize a card so that it was good for men or women was very tough for some of the activities. In some cases I had even forgotten to generalize.
5) Impersonations were the least used, and Charades was used early but not much later. Maybe that wasn't a problem, it certainly pulled the ladies into the game.
6) The Pictionary questions went well, but needed bigger paper.
* * * *
My first pass at tuning the game including postponing some of the specials until the later play, and adding fewer specials early. For the next pass I was planning on adding only 2 additional chicken-outs and proxies for the first two decks. I created and added several more specific proxies, and some new specials that could change the game dynamics some.
I realized that the game would end sooner with smaller groups, without really advancing to the naughtiest rounds, and may not have a chance to get very far with bigger groups. So I played with a lot of ideas for adding cards in groups, fixed numbers, or per player. I finally decided on making many smaller decks of ten cards and adding those as needed. This accomplished two things. First, it allowed fine tuning of the game during play, and secondly, it allowed adding gender specific cards.
If a card face was printed in Pink with the female symbol in the corner, it was for women only. If a card face was printed in Blue with the male symbol in the corner, it was for men. Printed in black, with the joined male/female symbol, the card was for anyone. This had the added benefit of chewing through more cards in the later rounds, when gender specific activities were more common.
The seven colors were possibly too attainable. I did the math, figuring it would average 16 correctly answered challenges to pull the 7 colors. They would typically get three colors in the first 4-5 correct turns, the next two in 4-5 correct turns, the next one in 4-5 turns, and the last one was a one in 7 chance. Then I had my brainstorm; I would make two of the colors harder to get, and not let anyone know. By reducing their frequency just a little, I could make the game last about 30% longer on average. Then, my evil mind delved a little deeper. I would make the gender specific cards carry shortages of different cards. There would be 5 colors of about 16% commonality each, and two colors with about 10 percent commonality. To make things worse, the 7 percent for two of the colors would be distributed only between the common cards and one of the gender's cards. On a whim I decided to make orange rare and not available in the male-only Challenge cards, and green rare and not available in the female-only Challenge cards.
Finally I eliminated the Mystery category, and the Impersonation category and added a Potpouri, which was listed under the activity group.
With the game play dynamics worked out, I rewrote many of the cards to be gender specific, added some new ideas into the card play, and got everything ready. I playtested it myself with some imaginary scenarios, and then recruited Denise and Dave to give the game another go with us, just two weeks after we'd had our first game, and a week before our scheduled dinner with the Shaws.
* * * *
Denise and Dave showed up on Saturday in the late afternoon, and we caught a movie and dinner before heading back to our place for a little R&R.
We all knew exactly where the evening was going, but for some reason the conversation steered away from any reference to our previous game play or our intentions for that night.
As we settled down, I decanted a large bottle of wine for the girls, and a couple of beers for Dave and I. Cheryl suggested I get the game out, which I eagerly did.
"Well I sent in my feedback, without going into details, and they took ours as well as several others, incorporated some changes, and sent me back a modified version of the game." My original claim that I was play-testing the game for someone else was now coming back to haunt me. I had to stick with the storyline.
"I've looked over the changes to the game play, and they seem minor, but I thought I'd let you see what they were as we played. The only obvious one is that there are only six challenge categories now, impersonations and mystery are gone, and they've added Potpouri." I informed the crowd.
"The only other change is there may be some cards that are for girls or guys only. They are easy to recognize, Pink for girls, Blue for boys. If you pull one and it's not for you, you discard freely and draw again."
It seemed like everyone was at least a little nervous, as I shuffled together the first packs. This time I was only using 40 combined cards for "Funny" and "Embarassing" (level 1) penalties, and that included 4 specials.
Play moved along quickly, with some joking and lots of drinking, and again we each had about 3 colors by the time it was time to shuffle in the next deck. I shuffled in about 40 more level 2 penalties, which I personally nicknamed 'Friendly'. These were meant to have more physical contact, yet nothing beyond a very basic kiss, and some light touching. Nothing personal.
The play seemed a little slow, and I wondered if it was because of the fewer players, or because we were anticipating the game heating up. It was fun, but not nearly as much as the previous time we'd played. I decided that when you already know the game, you should shuffle in the "Friendly" with the first two decks, and use less cards.
When the second deck was mostly used up, we'd killed the first bottle of wine. Denise wanted to continue with wine, so I opened a Chardonnay for her, while Cheryl moved on to beer with Dave and me. The game play was flying along, and a second problem arose in that we were all familiar with several of the questions, and were getting too many right, and not enough penalties. I noted to myself that I needed a large supply of cards to draw from, so they would stay varied.
The natives were getting a little restless.
"This seems a lot easier this time," Denise told us after drawing her 5th color.
"I know, I'm sorry, it's my fault." I admitted. "There's not enough variation in the card selection, and we probably had too many of the innocent card penalties, I should probably have used about a third less."
"How is it your fault?" Cheryl asked. "It's not like you made up the game. Whoever designed it needs to work on it."
I could practically hear the gears working in the minds of both Denise and Cheryl after that comment. I could see the realization that maybe I was more involved then I had previously let on was sinking in.
"Wait a second," Denise said finally. "Where did this game come from?"
"I think I have the same question," Cheryl said. "Where did you say you got this? I thought you got it from the guy at work?"
Damn. "Ok, I have a confession. Don't get mad, but I did invent it." Oh man, oh man, oh man, was I in trouble.
"Are you kidding me? This is something you made up to get into Denise's pants, and to get me to let Dave do what he wanted? Are you sick? I can't believe you did this." Cheryl was fuming, but I don't think Denise was too upset yet.
Time to start back-pedaling. I had thought about getting caught and had a backup plan in mind. I probably should have stuck with the truth, but I didn't cherish the thought of waking up a eunuch.
"I had almost completely forgotten about the game." I improvised. "I made it a couple of years ago in college, and never even got a chance to play it. It was the result of too much frustration and time on my hands. When I was cleaning out my closet I found it in a box of old school stuff, and thought what the hell, maybe it was worth trying. I probably should have told you, but I had no idea it was going to go anywhere NEAR as far as it did, and if it was really bad, or pissed anyone off, I was looking for an excuse to cast the blame elsewhere."
"You could've told me." Cheryl told me, in a tone that was both cross and disappointed.
"I could have and I should have. I'm sorry. There is no excuse for not being honest with you about it." I think I sounded suitably repentant.
"Damn, Alex, you have one devious mind. And pretty warped. I mean some of those penalties were wicked." Denise told me, her grin taking the sting of her words away.
Denise suddenly had an inspiration and turned to Dave. "How much did you know about this, you bastard." She asked him heatedly.
Before he could open his mouth, I spoke up. "Nothing. I did tell him I had a new game I wanted to play, but I told him nothing about it, or where it came from. The only thing I did ask him was what your favorite drink was, so I could have a little liquid moral lubricant to knock down your defenses."
"You planned everything didn't you?" Cheryl asked me. "The whole evening was about trying to get into our pants. I'm so mad I could spit." She was turning red, and looked about as angry as I'd ever seen her.
"No, it was about getting us a litte more intimate. I honestly thought it would get no further than some kissing and grabass at the most. I was sure that when the clothing started going the game would get called. I didn't even remember what some of those advanced penalties were about."
"And you were trying to nail my sister too! That's sick." Cheryl was working herself into a tizzy.
"No, I swear. I didn't know she was coming, remember?" I reminded her. "It was for just the four of us. Beth was completely unexpected. I figured if anything, her presence would make things less likely to happen."
"I can't believe you." She told me, getting up and walking away from the table.
I was about to get up and follow her, when Denise decided to intervene. "You just stay there. I'll talk to her for a bit."
Dave commiserated with me, saying it was too bad, things were going so well, but hey, it had been worth it.
"Maybe." I said. "I swear I didn't think we'd get anywhere as far as we did that first time. At best I figured we might get to play a few times and see some naked flesh; it surpassed all my expectations."
"Buddy, you're a fucking genius. It was the perfect game for loosening inhibitions. If we can get past this hurdle, we'll be golden." Dave reassured me.
We chatted about the game, and why it wasn't playing as well, when the girls finally returned.
Cheryl came over and sat next to me. "Against my better judgment, and largely due to Denise's arguments, I'm going to give you a bye on this one. I can accept that you were just trying to loosen us up, and it got carried away. Even if I had know about the game, I wouldn't have believed it would ever have gone as far as it did.
"And you were right about Beth. That was my idea, but I still think you should have postponed playing for a better time." She sounded a lot less angry. I owed Denise big time. "I guess that's why hindsight is 20/20."
Denise jumped in. "The good news is you now have three willing assistants to work out some of the bugs here. I don't know about you guys, but I still get wet just thinking about that night, and I'm dying to get there again." She blushed a deep red, turning her face away.
"The sex these last two weeks has been incredible for us. I don't know about you, but you guys set off a bonfire in Denise." Dave told us, going to Denise and putting his arm around here.
"I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy that weekend, and have enjoyed the results of it ever since," Cheryl added with an almost shy smile. "And I've certainly been looking forward to tonight."
"So now what?" Dave asked.
"Let's play." Denise said softly.
"Let's start over, and see if we can make it a little better this time, it was moving pretty slow." Cheryl said.
"I think I know why," I told them. "Two things: we already knew too many of the challenges, and we played at too innocent a level for too long."
"That sounds reasonable, but how do we fix it?" Dave said.
"For now, I'll rebuild the penalty decks, a little leaner. And we'll use the cards from some games we have, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, and Charades, to supplement our challenges. How's that sound?"
"Set it up, and let's pretend that we'd never played this before." Cheryl said.
"Why don't we set two extra places and take turns playing for Frank and Delara, and see how it goes." Dave suggested.
"It might take longer that way." I told him.
"It's a good dry run for next week." Denise said, "And we can even discuss why we make some choices, and what would be best for getting them deeply involved."
"I like it," Cheryl said. "Set things up and I'll be back in a second."
I went back to more cards, keeping the 'Intimate' deck out until the first shuffle. I intended to shuffle them in with about a third of the deck left.
My darling Cheryl, naughty devious Cheryl, returned with two pillows she had dressed in our clothing. Panties, bra, t-shirt and shorts on one, shirt, shorts and boxers on the other. We applauded her effort.
"I don't suppose in your college stuff you have an inflatable doll hidden away?" She asked me, half teasing, half challenging.
"Nope. I was frustrated, yes, desperate, no."
With everyone settled back down we started play again, a little more buzzed, and with Dave doing a Frank imitation that was eerily close to Martin Short in Father of the Bride. It was pretty humorous. Cheryl caught the spirit, and put on a bad accent for 'Delara' somewhere between an Italian diva and the Swedish Chef from the Muppets.
"Before we start, everyone gets two colors, and I'm getting rid of half this deck. Just assume we had a mix of play, some drinking and some silly penalties. As a matter of fact I'll deal out two penalties to each person here, and we'll assume they've been done." I passed out the cards and we read our penalties out loud, including Delara's and Franks.
"Ok, let's go." I told them, passing the spinner to Cheryl on my left. The Virtual Delara was actually to my immediate left, with Cheryl next to her.
Cheryl placed the 'Delara' pillow in her lap, her head resting on the top of the pillow, as she held if vertically. "Oh yaah, ees my turnink? I am so, how you say, 'vyorndefordeyvard'!" Cheryl did her comedy bit, and pulled a card.
Play moved around the table with some drinking when Denise got the first 'personal' penalty. It was a kissing card. I think there were 4-6 of them in this deck.
"Kiss someone, not your partner." She read aloud. "So what do you think, if this was the real game, should I kiss Alex, or Frank?"
"Alex, definitely Alex." I answered.
"No really," she laughed. "Will kissing Frank chase them away, or reel them in?"
We discussed it, and thought that we should try to get Delara involved as early as possible and let Frank fend for himself. That way he'd want to start hitting penalties on purpose, and Delara couldn't avoid getting involved. We were developing a strategy. I liked it.
Denise, teasingly stood up, and walked all the way around the table, past 'Frank', past Dave, past Cheryl and 'Delara' to me. She then bent over and gave me a small peck on the lips. Before she pulled away she gave a quick tongue swipe across my lips.
"Oh, you are tricky," I told her, as she laughingly took her seat.
We played through a couple of massages, a few drinks, and another kiss, this one from Dave to 'Delara' who Cheryl was kind enough to accept the kiss for. Just before it was time to shuffle, we had the raciest thing yet: Denise showing the person to her left, yours truly, the color of her bra, black. She unbuttoned her shirt, straddled my legs, leaned in, and opened her shirt wide, so her hands were about even with my head. Her breasts were mere inches away. I tried to lean forward for a small kiss, but she backed off with a teasing laugh, closing her shirt.
At the next shuffle, we were adding the "Intimate" deck. This was where things really got hot quickly last time.
We were having a blast now, much more so than earlier, with the tougher questions and the sideplay of Frank and Delara. Dave was talking about getting into Delara's pillowcase, and we were just generally having fun.
We had a 'whisper' card and a lying down back massage, when we got our first chug-or-strip card.