Over the past four years the authors have developed an online version of the Delta Design game, a board game which was developed by Bucciarelli (1) to teach students design collaboration skills. In the online version, players move tiles on a shared virtual board and communicate only through text chat. In addition, the objective functions are computed automatically each time a tile is moved, so the focus of the game changes from rapid number-crunching to negotiation. Since every state of the board, along with micro-level team performance and chat data, are captured, the resulting corpus from 38 four-player team games provides a rich resource to explore different aspects of collaborative team practices.

This paper gives an overview of the online implementation of Delta Design and discusses the findings from user studies including several undergraduate capstone design classes. Observations of the board-moving tactics show that teams planning a strategy before starting the game or players sharing details about their role’s constraints with other team members do not have much effect on the game’s outcome. Finally, this paper demonstrates that the complex rules of the Delta Design game make it a suitable candidate for analyzing collaboration strategies in team-based design projects.

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