Good Luck is a semi-cooperative alternative controller game where players move a planchette across a spirit board to decipher messages from the beyond and escape a haunted house. Each player communicates with their own spirit to interpret their instructions and complete hidden goals that helps them escape. Some spirits will be more helpful than others and it is up to the players to either work with their entities or with the other players.
To start the game, players must place the center of the planchette over the center of the star on the board. The NeoPixel ring will light up and guide players to letters using a compass mechanic. There are two modes: an input and output mode which both work mechanically the same. When the ring is yellow that indicates the spirit is talking to the player. If it is purple then the players can hover over letters to input questions. Paper and pencils are provided to help players keep track of what is being said as well as a hand out to help players start. When they are freed, or want to leave, players can move the planchette over “Goodbye” and that will cease the communication with no harm to the other players. The player goals are to communicate with their spirit and connect with them by asking them questions. They are encouraged to talk to one another about their unique spirit and help each other figure out how to connect to them. When a connection is made and the mystery of who they are talking to is solved, the spirit will let them go. Who can get out first, or even alive?
Our game design goals were to create a spooky experience without the need for a screen. We wanted to touch on communication and cooperation in tandem with competitive aspects among players. We were inspired by games like Town of Salem and Betrayal at House on the Hill. Good Luck utilizes near field communication (NFC) tags on the boards and an NFC scanner in each planchette. The planchettes are plugged into an Arduino board that is then connected to a laptop so that we can see player data. We both worked out the mechanics and goals first. I specifically focused on the board layout, planchette design and narratives. I wrote out the narrative loops and tested them in Twine and created multiple characters based on archetypes and how they would answer and react to questions. I also researched spirit boards since we knew from the start there would be people who would have an issue with the subject matter. To combat this we felt the best thing to do was to know as much as possible on spirit boards and the history of them. With more information that we can bring to the players about the history and the technology, the better they may feel. However, we would never force or argue with anyone who came to us with opposition.
We were initially worried that players would not have the patience to sit long enough to complete the game. The output options and input options were condensed as much as possible to make the interactions quicker. The average gameplay time was over thirty minutes and while some did not stay long, most people were determined and willing to complete it. We learned that because people were mostly aware of how spirit boards worked, they were more patient with the process. We received feedback on more implementations such as including vibrations in the planchette and more colors in the NeoPixel ring. We are continuing to iterate on the game to include more unique interactions as well as expanding the narrative aspects and characters.