What I’m Playing – September 2009

Not a huge amount of gaming this month actually – been doing more coding and testing on my uber-secret-Android-project. Here’s what I’ve dabbled in:
  • The Gratuitous Space Battles beta – it’s currently undergoing lots of balance changes.
  • Dungeon Quest. It’s a braindead grind-RPG in the simplest sense. But it’s on my Android phone, and it’s on Facebook. It’s just there … so I play it.
  • Played just a little bit of Guitar Hero World Tour. I’m so out of practice now it’s pathetic :)

Game Design Concepts: post-mortem (although I’m not finished)

So, the Game Design Concepts course officially finished a little over two weeks ago. I followed along for the first half, but dropped the ball when it came to the month-long design project. Playtesting is time consuming, but essential – and finding a bunch of ‘randoms’ to act as testers for blind playtesting is tricky.

Rather than working on my Game Design Concepts project, I instead decided to focus my game development time in August on getting something ready for the “Android Developer Challenge 2“. While I didn’t actually make that deadline (I decided it was not worth submitting something unpolished), it helped to push my uber-secret-Android-project into the realms of playability, and I should be able to release it before the end of the year.

Here’s a summary of my Game Design Concepts project, as it stands.

The game board “pre-prototype”:

Public Transport Commuter Hero board design

“Commuter Hero” board design. Squares are stations, circles are points enroute between stations. Triangles are the destinations (“goals”). Lines are railroads, “roads” are bus routes, dotted lines are walking routes. The “piechart” thing represents the clock, which turns to the next colour each turn (representing 15 minute timesteps, I guess). It’s been rubbed off the whiteboard now, so this photo serves as a record of the design in case I want to reproduce it and continue.

Each player is given three destination cards, which are destinations they must visit during the game, as well as sharing two “shared destination” cards with two other players, which are destinations that each pair must meet at during the game. Once a player visits their five destinations, they win. Players move around the board one step each turn, but sometimes they must wait several turns at a station for a train to arrive (indicated by the “colour clock”). While they are waiting at a station, they must roll to possibly draw an “event card”, which can initiate things like rail strikes, or provide a “taxi ticket” to get them from A to B, pronto. The game forces players to determine the optimal route between their destinations, re-route as events occur, and negotiate their routes to be compatible with the players that they must meet.

I may finish designing this game at some point, including proper playtesting, but I also feel like the basic mechanic is a little tedious and there are not enough “interesting decisions”. I may be better off just scrapping it and starting with something entirely new. Below the fold are the rules as they stand, and my working notes …

Continue reading…