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 …

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A Game for Griefers (and why I think it’s hard to make a good one)

These are my notes for “Game Design Concepts” Level 8 assignment – we were tasked with outlining the concept for a game that appeals to the player type “Griefer” or “Killer”. I never quite completed the assignment by posting this to the forums, since the text was (& is) all a bit of a ramble while I organised my thoughts. Despite that, I think there are some useful insights here – and I might clean it up later into some kind of essay. It is written in the context of Richard Bartles article on player types in MUDs, but is generally applicable to pretty much any sufficiently open and complex multiplayer game whether played online, offline or on-tabletop. Read on below the fold .. if you dare …

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Game Design Concepts : My “Homeplay” Assignments

So, I’m doing Ian Schreibers online “Game Design Concepts” course. It’s been great so far, and I’m learning quite a lot. This is a post that I’ll keep updating throughout the Game Design Concepts course, just so I can keep track of my work easily. I may split it up into multiple posts or pages, if need be.

Main course links

Blog: http://gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com/

Forum: http://gamedesignconcepts.aceboard.com/index.php?login=336227

Wiki: http://gamedesignconcepts.pbworks.com/

Twitter hashtag: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23GDCU


My work

(These assignments are completed in a set time, and are generally early prototypes in need of further playtesting and development to become decent games. Some are experiments that are unlikely to ever become decent games … while others may be developed further in the future)

Level 1 Challenge: http://gamedesignconcepts.pbworks.com/Race-Game

Level 3 Challenge: http://gamedesignconcepts.aceboard.com/336227-2700-1245-0-Simpson-Abdul-thier-Donkeys.htm

Level 4 Challenge: http://gamedesignconcepts.aceboard.com/336227-3124-1566-0-Battle-board-game.htm

Level 5 Challenge: TBC. Make a rule change to the dice game Bluff to eliminate the positive feedback loop (which comes about due to the information assymetry between winning player and losing players).

Level 6 Challenge: TBC

Some ¬†notes on some ‘art game’ playings:

  • Passage: Mechanic reminds me of Ico (Playstation2) – your movement is restricted by your NPC partner which must follow you (potentially a dead weight, although one you aparrently don’t mind, indicated by the little love heart upon meeting). Aesthetic/Surface, despite being ‘lowfi’, reminds me of the feel of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”, particularly the track Breathe. Damn you artists for making use think about inevitable things we can’t change and don’t want think about !

Level 7 Challenge: Make a modification to the simple card game “War” to add some interesting decisions. http://gamedesignconcepts.aceboard.com/336227-4682-2357-0-Counter-attack.htm

Level 8 Challenge: Create a concept for a game that is built to appeal specifically to griefers (ie player killers in MUD terms, campers or teamkillers in FPS terms). My notes are here. I never posted these to the official forum since it’s still a bit of a ramble and needs refinement – I couldn’t bear to subject the other course participants to actually wading through the text, but it’s posted here anyhow just in case you have precious time to kill (yeh right :) ).

Level 9 Challenge: Create an embedded backstory for the game “Pente“. What is the setting? What do the pieces represent? Why are you placing them? Attempt to make the backstory that fit the mechanics. TBC.

Level 11 Challenge: Brainstorm ideas (over 48 hours) for a board game, post the best three. This is the beginning of a month long design project. At the “Easy” green circle level, the game ideas cannot include the overused roll-to-move mechanic, and cannot be a trivia game or trading card game (eg Magic: The Gathering style) due to the time consuming nature of producing content for those types of game. http://gamedesignconcepts.aceboard.com/336227-5708-2723-0-Commuter-Turn-based-tactics-mother-Seat-pants.htm .


Game Design Concepts : Vocabulary

This is a scratchpad for some game design analysis vocabulary from the Game Designs Concept course. I’ll continue to update it throughout the course … it’s simply a place I can go to remind myself of good terminology to use.

MDA

(from Hunicke, LeBlanc and Zubek, MDA: A Formal Approach To Game Design and Game Research)

Mechanics, Rules, “core mechanics”, (Struture in McCloud terminology).

Aethetics (Surface in McCloud terminology).

Dynamics (closest to “Craft” in McCloud terminology).

Other

Objectives, Goals

Genre (Idiom in McCloud terminology).

Setup / Progression (game loop) / Resolution (“Winning condition”)