I’ve started playing Blades in the Dark recently and it’s amazing! So I thought I’d dedicate some time to dissecting the most inconsequential part of my experience, because it happens to be of the most relevant to writing board games.
Sorry there was no post last week – I was launching the Scandinavia and the World Kickstarter. If you enjoy this blog then please take a look and see if it looks like your sort of game. In return I promise not to talk about it for the rest of the post and tackle a game design issue instead. Today’s topic: Special abilities for characters in cooperative games.
I find that more games would benefit from being shorter, than from being longer. It’s very rare to hit the end of a game and think “I wish this’d go on for another dozen turns”. Sometimes “I wish this’d go on for one more turn” but I think that’s intentional on the part of a designer who’s hoping to transmute that into “lets play again.” So, since we’re more likely to want to make a game shorter rather than longer, let’s talk about how to do that!
Most games don’t care very much about who you are outside of the context of the game. We’ll not be talking about those games today. Today is all about games that ask “Who are you?”
Today’s post is a thought experiment: Can we take a game that includes a degree of randomness and remove all luck? Does doing so improve it? What does this mean for game design?
A question for this week: If a game is going to have infinite expansions and you’re not going to simply forbid the use of earlier material – is it possible to prevent power creep?
I had an interesting design challenge thrown at me a few weeks ago.
My boss came to me and said “We’re releasing a magazine soon. We’re interested in having a free game to go with it. Since it’s a freebie alongside the magazine it’s not got a lot of budget behind it and since it’s being published soon there’s not a lot of time either. On the plus side we can use art assets from the magazine. Here are 31 images of monsters. You have three weeks to design, prototype, playtest, improve and write the rules – whatever comes out of that process is getting published ready or not. Go!”
“Games are a series of meaningful choices.” – Sid Meier
Today I’d like to think about games that give a player a card (or other component) and the opportunity to play it in two qualitatively different ways. Under what circumstances is this a strong mechanic? Where does it fail to carry its weight?
Today I am preparing the Scandinavia and the World card game files for printing reviewer copies. Looking for spelling errors, instances of “player” that should say “opponent” and other such grist. In doing so I’m re-experiencing how the mechanics and theme interact. It’s particularly important in a game that is based on a webcomic, as it needs to carry the theme of the existing material strongly enough that existing fans recognise and enjoy it, introduce that material to people who have shown up for a game but don’t read the comic and not to let that get in the way of the game itself.
So today we’re going to talk about how mechanics and theme interact in card games, both in this game and in others, to deliver the best possible effect.
An exciting point during a game is the moment after each player has had some opportunity to make strategic choices and build up their position, but before a decisive conflict that will reveal which of the approaches that the players have taken will triumph.