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Look upon my [game design] ye Mighty, and despair!

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Posts

  • ToothyToothy Registered User regular
    edited June 26
    I'm currently at an impasse in the design of a card game I'm trying to make. It's a hand-building PvP game at its base: You have a base set of cards in your hand based on class. One of those cards is an irreplaceable card that returns your discard pile to your hand. Part of the gameplay loop is replacing the base hand with cards you draw from a deck that allows you to pursue particular kinds of attacks/defenses. Permanent effect cards lower your maximum hand size to place an upper limit on shenanigans.

    Other than that, there is a loose set of locations players can move between based on the arena chosen for the fight. It is sort of steam-punk western themed, and I like the idea of modeling loose firefights rather than a shot for shot style of fight.

    I've currently been thinking expanding each round into a planning phase followed by a combat phase instead of just a combat phase. The planning phase would determine who is fighting in the case of multiple combatants, allowing a built-in multiplayer, as well as determining who goes first in those combats. I was thinking that it could be done by a system of points each player gets that are spent to prepare for the combats: playing permanents (instead of the max hand size limit,) adding/removing cards from your hand, moving around the battlefield, or regaining guard points (the hit points a player has before their health is removed by attacks.) The remaining points determine who goes first in the fight. Too much prep puts you on the back foot, and your opponent gets the initiative in the coming fight. The restocking card in the base hand would turn into a card that ends fights when you no longer have cards to play.

    The real question I can't figure out is if it's worth the additional complexity, since it pretty much changes the entire game. I feel like I'd need an option cheat sheet instead of just a deck + hand.

    I'm curious if you all have any thoughts.

    Edit: Someone just mentioned Gloomhaven to me, and some of this is so flipping cool and where I thought of things going in my head.

    Secret Double Edit: I'm looking at some basic game design processes and realizing I need to iron out the basics instead of having too many fanciful ideas. I keep going back and changing the core of the game every time I get a new idea instead of just fleshing out the ones I have. Getting myself set up with a process of doing this might keep me on track better than flailing at it.

    Toothy on
  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    Keep at it. The only way I’ve been able to simplify the main game I’m working on is having a separate ‘random game mechanics’ document that I throw things at rather than sticking them onto my current one.

    If you’ve got anything you don’t mind posting I’d happily have a look through it and get back to you. Hell, I’ll talk about anyone’s game.

    Keep it up!

    JustTee
  • The SauceThe Sauce Fleur de Alys Registered User regular
    It's good to have those things in mind at an earlier stage. For instance, you might have a simple 1v1 base game, but as long as you implement stuff with the more complex version in mind, you can add the complex version as an optional multiplayer mode afterward. But if you tried to tack it on later without having planned for it, you might find it awkward or even impossible to get right without overhauling the base game.

    Triptycho: A card-and-dice tabletop indie RPG currently in development and playtesting
    Endless_SerpentsJustTeeFuselage
  • JustTeeJustTee Registered User regular
    There's two "main" ways to start designing a "full" game. Keep in mind that neither is better than the other, nor am I saying there's *no other way*, but just that from my discussions with designers and my own designs, most games arise from one of these two things.

    First: Addition:
    You start with something super basic. Like - one mechanic basic. Or with like "This game, BUT". Then, as you build your prototype and play test, you find it lacking. So, you start to add on mechanics, and play test those, until you find the "core" of the game, plus most of the extra stuff (if there's any extra stuff). You mostly start with an idea that's cool, but NOT ENOUGH, and end up adding more things unitl it

    Second: Subtraction:
    You start with a crazy idea with tons of mechanics and tons of ideas and everything is a giant mess. Then, as you start to play test, you figure out what works, and start to cull the things that don't. You might find that you have to add stuff back in, or change things as you go, but you mostly start with an idea that's TOO BIG, and pare it down until it works.


    There's no right or wrong method. There's no right or wrong amount of complexity. The question to ask yourself when adding complexity is: "Is the added complexity interesting enough to be worth adding?" and the answer to that question is always subjective and up to you.

    The only way to answer that question is to try. I've had lots of ideas that sound great when I'm speaking, but as soon as I try to actually figure out how to playtest it, I realize 30 things I didn't think of.



    The most important thing when designing a game is to play it as much as you can. And sometimes, to step away a bit when you're puzzled. Your subconscious has a way of working through things when you're not actively thinking about them that I think is pretty helpful.

    Diagnosed with AML on 6/1/12. Read about it: www.effleukemia.com
  • JonBobJonBob Registered User regular
    That is all very correct, but I don't think it's right to say that the two methods are equivalent. They come with baggage.

    I see most first-time designers in the "way too much stuff" camp, which means they are going to be sculpting rather than painting, removing parts. This is difficult when you are starting out because you just don't yet have the intuition for what to try removing, or you are wedded to all of this stuff because it's your first baby. You have to be ruthless, and that's hard. I firmly believe that painting is an easier strategy for budding designers.

    But for the sculptors: a question I ask lots of designers when I am playtesting is, "What is the core of this game?" Or to think about it concretely, "If I removed one thing from your game, which thing would hurt you the most?" Think about that question hard, and come up with an answer. This is now what you have to build around.

    Once the core is identified, you have a lens to hold up against all your other decisions. Every other mechanism and feature of your game should support that core in some way. If it doesn't, throw it out.

    jswidget.php?username=JonBob&numitems=10&header=1&text=none&images=small&show=recentplays&imagesonly=1&imagepos=right&inline=1&domains%5B%5D=boardgame&imagewidget=1
    JustTee
  • JustTeeJustTee Registered User regular
    JonBob wrote: »
    That is all very correct, but I don't think it's right to say that the two methods are equivalent. They come with baggage.

    I see most first-time designers in the "way too much stuff" camp, which means they are going to be sculpting rather than painting, removing parts. This is difficult when you are starting out because you just don't yet have the intuition for what to try removing, or you are wedded to all of this stuff because it's your first baby. You have to be ruthless, and that's hard. I firmly believe that painting is an easier strategy for budding designers.

    But for the sculptors: a question I ask lots of designers when I am playtesting is, "What is the core of this game?" Or to think about it concretely, "If I removed one thing from your game, which thing would hurt you the most?" Think about that question hard, and come up with an answer. This is now what you have to build around.

    Once the core is identified, you have a lens to hold up against all your other decisions. Every other mechanism and feature of your game should support that core in some way. If it doesn't, throw it out.

    Yeah - I was trying to just convey the message I've garnered over my learning. I have no published designs, so take anything I say with a grain of salt. I also tried to caveat more or less that entire post.

    For me personally, I tend to design at the 2 extreme ends.

    My brainstorms and general ideas for games are sprawling, huge, and filled with "stuff". Like my current main prototype that I've mentioned here before is like...bigger in scale than KDM or Gloomhaven, if you viewed the sum total of all the bits and pieces.

    But the things I actually play test are *tiny*. The current state prototype has ~3 things I'm testing.

    Test 1 - Monster Targeting
    For this, I just have a small deck of cards. On each one, I just write a short qualifying statement, like "Nearest player unit" or "Furthest Player unit" or w/e. Then I shuffle the deck, arrange a couple of "player pieces" around the board and then move them into different configurations and pull cards to see how the monster would move. Currently this is the bit of the game that needs the most thought / re-design, as trying to figure out targeting without tying it to just straight distance calculations is a bit tough.

    Test 2 - Player Action Selection
    I gave each "player" a deck of ~9 cards to test out action selection and rotation. This is the core player-side gameplay loop. It's the most solid part of the design so far, and is satisfying. It also has several spots where I can hook on additional mini-mechanics, and it's basically waiting for me to figure out Test 1 to nail down specific numbers / abilities / extras. The cards as is are super simple and basic, don't include much (if any) special effects, other than just a couple cards per player that have some ideas to mess around with.

    Test 3 - Damage / Hit Resolution
    I've played with a couple of ideas here, mostly running variants with a new deck of cards, while playing with the combined Test 1 and Test 2 cards.


    I'm iterating on these ideas and designs over and over until these things are tight and fun. After that, I'll start to see how many *unique* ideas I can tie into these core loops, and see if there's enough there to come close to even 1/3 of the "total" vision of the design. And from there, I'll see what else I've got in the brain for ideas.

    Diagnosed with AML on 6/1/12. Read about it: www.effleukemia.com
  • ToothyToothy Registered User regular
    Hey thanks for the process notes, guys. I'm currently going to try to fatten the idea out enough for a playtest beyond just myself. Then I'll trim and iterate! I've got something here, but the execution is the hard part of nailing how I want it to feel. I'll keep trying, and let you fellas know how it goes!

    JustTee
  • ToothyToothy Registered User regular
    I've done a bit of iterating on the idea, and I've decided to keep the maneuvering phase as a counterpart to the combat phase. I really, really like the idea of players having pre-fight tension build up by moving around the board, laying traps, setting up their combat hands, and then having a combat phase where the prep turns into effect. That said, I've had to change the way I've structured the cards in the game.

    Each player starts a deck with a class card with base stats on it and a base hand based on that class. They then get to choose additional action cards to fill out the deck along with a couple of strategy cards that are permanent effects that get turned on in various ways depending on the classes. Ideally, the strategies will add momentum to games and either create opportunities for combos or distinctions in playstyles. (These are going to be built after I figure the rest out, but I want the structure in place now.) Every action card has either a combat action or a tactics action, but most of them will have both. The combat actions will be ways of hurting opponents/defending yourself limited by three energy and one reaction to spend. Each combat will go in initiative order, which is determined by a stat on the class card and influenced by the tactics phase. The kicker is you don't have to fight and bide your time.

    The tactics actions will all gain or cost you initiative. Their effects will range from temporary bonuses (either limited by turns or last through next fight,) moving around the battlefield, managing how you add cards to your hand from your deck, or activating your strategy cards for longer term bonuses. In the interest of forward thinking, this is where I will put cards that change how fights are started, including having other players join in a fight for optional multiplayer down the road. There are always basic options for the tactics phase that include: picking a fight with an opponent (initiative ties go to the aggressor,) moving location, drawing a card, or gaining an initiative. At the end of their turns, players will draw a card and either add it to their hand or discard it to gain initiative.

    I'm in the process of getting one deck transitioned from how the game was played before, and I'm excited to try it out. I might (read: am going to,) just duplicate the deck to speed that up. Once I get that rolling, I'll post how I feel about it and some of the cards so you guys can see what I'm working with.

    JustTeeEndless_Serpents
  • Anon the FelonAnon the Felon In bat country.Registered User regular
    I had an epiphany the other day about this small scale miniature rpg board game I've been slowly writing up.

    Pretty sure I'm actually gonna start something? I've hit a nice pause point with my video game project. I should probably start another game project, right?

    Elvenshaewebguy20JustTeeFry
  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    edited July 19
    I’m so glad to come back to this thread with people working on their games.

    My job has had me on the ropes for a while, but during summer leave I intent to finish my game Sector Control, in so much as I’ll have cardboard artless print-outs and the rules will be complete. As for making the project a reality for others to buy? Not this year, as after autumn I’ll be at sea and X locations for many months.

    I’ve really enjoying making it, and even the finishing touching in terminology and rulings have been fun to implement.

    It began as a collectible card game with various factions, but now it’s a much simpler deck builder from a limited set of cards. No expansions, no extras. The factions remain as naming fluff and a few particular mechanics (cards with Zillion in the title are all about playing more cards), and I think it’s for the best.

    jceg6dgvi1gb.jpeg

    ^^^Just some work in progress.

    Endless_Serpents on
    ToothyJustTee
  • Anon the FelonAnon the Felon In bat country.Registered User regular
    edited July 24
    A bunch of 6mm miniatures arrived today. Personally, I like them. But they might be a touch on the small side. Originally I was between wood tokens and these small minis, the minis are the same size as the tokens I had in mind as far as volume on the board, but provide an opportunity for paint and just a bit of detail to help launch player imagination.

    Anon the Felon on
    Elvenshae
  • Dark080matterDark080matter CrateriaRegistered User regular
    Hey folks! I was in this thread awhile back with a one-page RPG I threw together for a game jam. Now I've got a tabletop rpg I've been designing for a few months, one that uses the Forged in the Dark system. If you're unaware about FitD, it has a free System Resource Document (follow the previous link). It's pretty rad.

    hello, world is set in a post-scarcity digital utopia where 'Users' like yourself hoard the last true commodity: precious Memories. It's an ancient place, populated by native creatures (Daemons), angelic guardians of the upper sphere (Administrators), and a procedurally-generated 'worker' class (the Process).

    Some quick hits about mechanical features of the game (only noting deviations from Blades in the Dark):
    - Wield the ultimate power of the setting: Authority functions that rejigger the Ritual rules from Blades. Kill, Compile, and Format to remake the World in your image.
    - Nobody dies in World, they just get deresolved and go to the Stack to await rebirth. Deresolution unifies several systems in Blades (Harm, Trauma, Incarceration) and
    - New downtime mechanics emphasize the fluidity of factions in the setting and give incentives to your User to express themselves through the Memories that they dwell on.

    I've playtested it in person at GoPlayNW and online via Roll20 (couple of ongoing campaigns), will be taking it to BigBadCon in a few month's time, and also hope to bring it to PAX Unplugged (if I go this year???). Anyway I'd be honored if any of you were to check it out at umbralaeronaut.itch.io/hello-world.

    Also I learned vector illustration so I could make this logo:al34p2t1ocul.png

    MNC DoverMarshmallowElvenshaeFuselageAustinP0027IanatorJustTeeThe Sauce
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