I’m trying a new process with my latest game. It’s quite a simple idea:
- Take something with a lot of elements.
- Duplicate each element.
- Modify each new element into something else.
- Test all elements.
- Delete the weakest half.
- Finish up with something that’s working even better.
Let’s talk about how that’s gone and the strengths and weaknesses of the approach.
When watching a set of new players try a game and comparing their experiences to advanced players, it seems apparent that they’re not really playing the same game. I’ve been playing a bit of Legendary Encounters: Predator recently. The experience of someone who’s worrying about deck thinning and average damage curves is having a very different experience to someone who just hits the biggest thing they can and then buys the biggest thing that they can. While one is obviously more effective in terms of winning the game, I don’t think that it’s necessarily more fun. Both seem like valid ways to enjoy the game.
I don’t really shy away from any particular type of content in my game design, I like to stick to whatever the game feels like it needs. In 404 and Wizard’s Academy that didn’t produce anything particularly out of place. Thematically they’re both funnier than they are dark. There are hints of bad things in them, of course, but ultimately I’ve had more comments that the dead monkey token is “cute” than people complaining about the objectives like turn a human into pie and feed it to another human (colloquially: The Sweeney Todd objective).
I wanted to update a few people on my progress on the Scandinavia and the World game, but realised it’d be easier if I could embed pictures of prototype cards into the email and eventually came to the conclusion that I’d do well to write a blog post instead and direct interested parties to that. If you’re reading this as someone who generally enjoys my thoughts on game design, welcome, I hope you enjoy any insight this offers into the process – but please be aware that this post isn’t really intended to be illustrative in the way that the others are.
This week I’ve been focusing on a problem that I’ve come to realise is a specific instance of a more general problem. What’s more, it’s a problem that a lot of games don’t have great solutions too, so it’s potentially a really interesting area to explore.
I’m up to prototype #6 for Scandinavia and the World and one of them has lead me into some interesting design terrain that I’d not been thinking about explicitly before: If a game relies on limited information, how should that information be controlled? What are the minimums and maximums of information that it is okay to release? What is the relative value of obtaining information to the player?
I have some hugely exciting news! My next game will be a Scandinavia and the World game. I backed the Animal Lives Kickstarter and got talking to Davey (who manages the site) and we’ve cooked up a deal to make a SatW game. If you’ve not come across it before it’s a webcomic about anthropomorphic countries interacting and reacting to things going on in the world. I’ve been a fan for years, so it’s a huge deal to me to get to work on this project 🙂