Archive for March, 2014

Manufacturing as a Design Tool

I’m going to make a bold statement: All game designers should think about manufacturing. This doesn’t just apply to designers interested in self-publishing, who obviously need to understand it. If you’re designing a game, and you aren’t thinking about manufacturing, you are missing out.

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Legacy Elements in a Euro Game

A few weeks ago, I was listening to yet another podcast that mentioned Risk Legacy, and I had a though: why hasn’t anybody tried adding legacy elements to a more traditional Euro game? Read the rest of this entry »

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Print-and-Plays Available

I’ve decided to post a few Print and Play files.

First up, Human Resources. There is a complete HumanResourcesPnP version with rules and cards. To assemble, either print 2-sided, or print backs separately. Pages 3-5 all get dark backs on page 9, and Pages 6-8 get light backs on page 10. You can also use the bonus cards on page 10-11.

The second is the mining game I worked up. It’s still in beta, but I’m calling it “Mine Your Own Business”. I’ve entered it into the 2-player PnP Contest on BoardGameGeek, and created a Work in Progress thread.

The Rules and the Components are still on Google Docs, but open for comments.

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Board Gamer Personality Types

Anna and I are both notoriously risk averse in games. (And in almost anything we do in life, but that’s an entirely different subject) We wondered if grouping everyone we know into those categories would tell us something about the games we enjoyed, but we quickly realized that there are a lot of other factors. We already think of ourselves in terms of social gamers versus individual players, and so the seed of an idea started to develop into a more complicated theory.

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Logical Completeness and Consistency in Game Design

Another overly complex look at games. First, some history of logic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Design Progress – March 2014

I feel like I haven’t made any progress on games lately, except for coming up with more ideas than I have time to develop them.

I got a second and third test of the first part of my 3-part game, and it has definitely gotten more interesting. Players are competing mine owners and must balance working the mines with running the company. Players have boards to track the levels of fresh air, labor unrest, and danger of collapse. The game is worker placement based, but the board is split into two parts: management and mining. On the management side, players can buy machinery to make mining more efficient, negotiate with workers to keep costs down, and run the fans to keep the miners happy. Or steal from the workers and ignore the fans to run more profitably. At the end of the day, they always return home. But workers can also be sent down the elevator into the mines, where their only options are to build reinforcements (if management has provided wood), mine, or return up the elevator with resources. In mining, resources are pulled from a bag, but their quality degrades with every mining action. Players can drill safely, cut rock which is more efficient but carries the risk of a cave-in, or blast which is the most profitable but greatly increases the risk of disaster. Each cutting or blasting action can cause a cave-in if the die roll isn’t more than the current danger level. And each time there is a cave in, the risk of total collapse increases and labor gets closer to unionization, either of which can end the game. And every mining action uses up precious fresh air, and fans are expensive to run. Players must choose how safely they run their mines to make the most profit.

There are some neat mechanics at work that allow for clever gameplay, but the depth is lacking, even after improvement. I was already planning on eliminating the second part of the game, and the third part hasn’t really left the concept stage, so I’m looking at making the first part a standalone game. It has a few too many components to be a micro-game, but it might make a decent small-box game if I can improve the depth. It also only works with 2-players at the moment. For now, I will probably try to enter it into the BoardGameGeek 2-player Print and Play contest. In the mean-time, I still plan to develop the portion of the game that incorporates a route-building game with a betting and bluffing aspect. But I want to be able to tie them together thematically.

Where are my other projects? My bigger-box sequel to New Bedford, Titusville,  is ready for some more testing. I need to continue development on some extra buildings for New Bedford, too. I have a few small game ideas that are progressing. The first is a micro card game that uses the concept of non-transitive dice. The second is inspired by Love Letter, but with more strategic choices and a larger deck. I can see why micro games are so popular now, because the development cycle is shorter and easier. I don’t know if you have to give up strategic depth for a micro game, but I think that is usually the second casualty. The first is thematic depth, because you just don’t have enough components to provide the same amount of theme as a larger game.

After 10 Acres and my 3-part game, I want to change how I present my games on this site. With New Bedford, I had a game that was mechanically and thematically complete when I started showing it off. In other words, it had a fixed identity–something that my mining game and 10 Acres didn’t have. The current version and original version of New Bedford would still be easily recognizable as the same game. So I’m still going to share my ideas and my development work, but I won’t give it a page until it has a real identity. I keep alluding to a role selection game with 100 unique roles, but the theme isn’t fixed yet. For now, it’s called Terracotta Warriors.

I’ve got a lot of testing ahead on a lot of games, so I’m looking forward to sharing more progress over the next several months.

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Game Theory: Make Boring Stuff Hard

While working on some game designs, I always try to figure out what the boring or easy route is through a game. This is an important step in the process because once people start playing a lot of games, someone will  happen across the simplest method to win. Some people, in fact, make this their goal–to find the game breaking strategy. There are two reasons to avoid this behavior. The first is that it gives the game more longevity, because people can’t play the game the same way every time, which gives them motivation to play again. The second is that players get an incomplete experience. You can create all of the interesting mechanics you want, but you need to motivate players to explore them. Read the rest of this entry »

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