Tag Archives: Game Design

Kings Favor

Story: You are one of several jesters performing at the King’s week long banquet. Jesters got bills to pay so earn the most before the banquet ends!

Platform: Physical | Time: 2 weeks | Role: Designer | Team Size: 1

Design Challenge: Design and develop a game featuring the use of one or more dice.

My Contributions: I designed, and developed this project. This involved brainstorming, conducting playtesting and iterating the game several times.

Development

Analysis & Brainstorming

Problem Statement

First I considered some of the problems with dice:

  1. Dice don’t hold their state, when rolled they change.
  2. Rolling one small dice alone sucks.
  3. Traditional dice are 6 sided symmetric.
  4. Rolling two equal dice together causes predictable regression to the mean.
  5. Dice are solid state probability elements, they are the same throughout the game.
  6. When dice are rolled they are visible to everyone.

Ideas

During Brainstorming I read through a number of Dice Games:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dice_games

Then came up with a few ideas:

  1. Dice that determine a persona in a social situation
  2. Team based game where there are fixed resource which each collects
  3. Game has a number of chips, and a dice is thrown that has on it a number of concepts e.g fruit, country. Whatever comes up the first person to name something in that category wins that chip.
  4. Game where two players roll together to score points, matching dice score a point mismatching lose points, single winner to 6 points win – problem is that probabilities are ⅙ of scoring so losing happens a lot more.
  5. Game where players throw dice and winner takes chips
  6. What about a game that you roll and everyone but you can see your dice

From these ideas I developed some candidates.

Candidates

Candidate 1

Taking idea two and the game LCR I developed a prototype. In this prototype players would hold three cards they kept hidden. Each would initially be one of each color card R,G, or B. The mechanic was two dice were rolled and based on the number you had to pass one card to the person opposite, left or right to you. The goal of the game was to collect all of a certain color.

Playtest

Date: February 1 – 14:00

Playtesters: Me

Time: 10 minutes

The game felt too random, and didn’t feel good having three cards and having to hand away two every turn. It destroyed a player’s strategy of trying to collect all of them.

I tried a team version of this game, and had trouble at end when judging if you had won or not. This was because players had no good way of guessing whether their team mate had the last card that they didn’t have. Finally I moved on to another candidate.

Candidate 2

Considering idea 5 I found a dice game called Mexican. I liked the idea of dice battling against each other for lives. I modified this idea to instead use numerically increasing value gains with chips.

Initial Rules

  • Each player has two dice and 10 chips
  • Players throw 1 chip on the first turn and one more every turn
  • Each turn a player trolls two of their dice and the winning player takes double what they bet
  • In the case of draws players reroll till a winner emerges

Playtesting

Playtest 1

In this playtest I did not have any prepared materials and so used a mish mash of dice and tokens.

Date: February 1 – 20:00

Playtesters:

  1. Male, 24, semi novice dice player
  2. Female, 22, novice dice player,
  3. Me

Time: 5-6 minutes

Playtester Comments:

  • Token added a lot, nice glass smooth
  • Didn’t like how dice were different in any other way than color, felt like some dice were better than others
  • Would make for a nice drinking game
  • Enjoyed it, and didn’t bet extra at all
  • Intense, short experience with very little strategy, but fun
  • Playtesters thought 6-6 should be a special case
  • Draw cases not well defined

Observations:

  • Playtesters had trouble counting tokens

Revisions

# Description Purpose
1  Changed rule set now when a round of players have been completed only then is the minimum amount increased  Slow down the game to try encourage strategic thinking.
2  Draws split the pot evenly  Handling of draw cases
3 Bought chips Made counting easier
4 Made 6-6 a special case as an automatic win Reward for special case

Playtest 2 - 1

Date: February 2 – 21:00

Playtesters:

  1. Male, 24, semi novice dice player
  2. Male, 30, advanced player
  3. Me

Time: 15 minutes

Playtester Comments:

  • Casual players enjoyed it less because of slow down of pace
  • More experienced players played the strategy of making slightly bigger bets at the beginning, but still lost and felt frustrated because the game requires little skill

Observations:

  • Special case of 6-6 never occurred
  • Increasing the bet by one per round added a lot of tension quickly, might make it after a whole round of players to encourage strategic thinking

Revisions

# Description Purpose
1 Added 1-1 special case Increase the probability of a special roll

Playtest 2 - 2

Date: February 3 – 21:00

Playtesters:

  1. Male, 24, semi novice dice player
  2. Female, 22, novice dice player
  3. Male, 25, experienced player
  4. Me

Time: 8 minutes

Playtester Comments:

  • Casual players still had fun
  • Hardcore player still didn’t have fun at all because they interpreted the game to have little or no strategy which did not appeal to him
  • I played with the casual players from Playtest 2-1 who preferred that version

Observations:

  • Game snowballed if player initially won, because they would continually bet minimum and people initially lost tended to keep losing chips.
  • Game became a more fun for remaining players who started betting all in or big bets to end quickly but was boring for people who got out early.

Revision

I wanted to add an element of skill so I overhauled the rule set and added a thematic element to the game.

Thematically I imagined a king setting a standard somewhere on a bell curve and a bunch of jesters trying to out do each other with displays to Please The King!

# Description Purpose
1 Made each dice the same size Eliminate 'feeling; of difference between dices
2 Added a public non player controlled dice to control probability calculations Added more strategy to the betting system with a fixed value judgement
3 Added a mechanic called King's favor  A method to addressing stalemates. First consideration of numeric difference to consider many cases of non matching rolls. Next is consideration of matching rolls based on numerical matching. Design moves towards kings exact preference
4  Rethemed game to call it Please the King!  Wanted to create a motivation and story around the game to add to experience
5 New Rule Sheet  Wanted to start working on a written rule sheet so I didn’t have to explain it every time

Playtest 3

Date: February 4 – 17:30

Playtesters:

  1. Female, 22, average player
  2. Male, 33, experienced
  3. Me

Time: 15 minutes

Playtester Comments:

  • One play tester didn’t like the idea of being able to go all in
  • Needed more clearly defined value judgement, maybe a card with rules on how to interpret the values
  • Wondered what it would be like if the reroll could involve, re rolling meant ability to choose either to re roll one or two
  • Wondered if king had more than two dice if it would be more interesting
  • Liked the idea of pleasing the king, gave a motivation, said it made sense thematically

Observations:

  • Playtesters understood game pretty fast
  • Three players, one got out early, who got bored
  • Winner and second place came close, leading to a climax where losing meant sudden death
  • No complaints about increasing of 1 tax per turn
  • Playtesters said only one minimum bet reroll is better

Revision

# Description Purpose
1  Added rule for only one reroll per turn  Stop the person with the most money winning by rerolling a lot
2  Created a physical board for the game  Reinforce thematic element
3  Used a royal seal in the king's box to signify royalty  Reinforce thematic element
4  Used a raised platform to show king is above all others  Reinforce thematic element
5  Made the Jester money boxes to remind Jesters that their death is at the bottom of the box  Reinforce thematic element
6  Changed pay theme to instead of all in instead have it so that Jesters must collect money to pay by the end of the season or be beheaded!  Added a survival motivation
7  Made a railing on the platform to help with dice from falling off the platform  Dice fell off the table
8  Reduced the number of chips  Shorten the experience so a player who got out early is less likely to be bored

Playtest 4

Date: February 6 – 20:00

Playtesters:

  1. Female, 22, novice player
  2. Female 23, noice player
  3. Male, 33, experienced
  4. Me

Time: 15 – 20 minutes

Playtester Comments:

  • Playtesters liked the theming
  • Started to feel tedious at end
  • Felt great till end
  • First person to get out felt helpless and frustrating cause they got out early
  • Felt long
  • Losing playtester liked Last Chance feature (roll without paying tax, winning didn’t so much)

Observations:

  • First player out at round 5
  • Second at round 9
  • Third at round 12

Average score: 3 – 3.5

# Description Purpose
1 Changed to 10 chips Shorten the game

Playtest 5

Date: February 7 – 13:30

Playtesters:

  1. Male, 50, super hardcore player
  2. Me
  3. Male, 23, novice player
  4. Male 21, experienced player

Time: 15 minutes

Playtester Comments:

  • Playtesters suggested changing to D10 instead of d6
  • Players found matching system super confusing
  • Match system is fussy
  • Interesting ideas

Observations:

  • 10 chips was good
  • Nobody was too bored
  • People didn’t roll on the board
  • People would often forget to pay in

Revision

# Description Purpose
1  Changed matching system to have it by value comparison rather than number comparisons by dice  Realized odd calculation was what was important so wanted to simplify the experience so players could focus on that

Playtest 6 - 1

Date: February 7 – 14:30

Playtesters:

  1. Female 21, semi novice player
  2. Male 23, semi novice player
  3. Me

Time: 10 – 15 minutes

Playtester Comments:

  • Playtesters found it frustrating that one player would be a clear obvious winner around the middle of the game

Observations:

  • Comparing and rolling went much more smoothly and playtesters due to simplified comparison system
  • Playtesters would again forgot to pay in

Playtest 6 - 2

Date: February 10 – 20:00

Playtesters:

  1. Male 23, semi novice player
  2. Me

Time: 15 minutes

Playtester Comments:

  • Had fun
  • Found three dice a little difficult to calculate

Revision

# Description Purpose
1  Changed Jesters 2D6 to a D4-D8-D12 Wanted to make choice of probability choice more interesting
2  Tiered payout system instead of payout to only one player  Tried to solve problem of winner being too apparent early
3  Updated rule sheet  Add structure in to make experience easier to absorb
4  Changed king's dice from 2D6 to 5D6  Wanted to create cases where players have to maximise and thought adding more dice would be fun to roll

Playtest 7

Date: Friday 11 – 17:50

Playtesters:

  1. 21 male, hardcore player
  2. 30 male, hardcore player
  3. 23 male, experienced player
  4. 24 male, experienced player

Time: 15 minutes long

Playtester Comments:

  • Felt like it took 30 minutes when it took 15 minutes
  • Told to consider probability distribution more
  • Found counting the Kings 5D6 a slow tedious task 
  • Players didn’t think it was fun to roll King’s dice because the King’s dice is not their dice
  • Suggested rephrasing the rules to make it easier to understand

Observations:

  • One playtester didn’t like maths, and used his phone to keep track of numbers

  • Playtesters used their fingers to record differences
  • Playtesters arranged payouts in advance of the round to make it faster

Revision

# Description Purpose
1  Modified the rule sheet to include terms and bullet points with breakdowns as well as more explicit details  Make the game easier to understand
2  Included a method of keeping track of your difference  Take the mental load off the player
3  Changed players D4-D8-D12 to D8-D10-D12 Due to analysis of probability curve and number distribution (refer to Anything Else section)
4  King’s Dice changed from 5D6 with pips on them to a D20 and D10 with numbers TO make it easier to read and I preferred the more flat probability curve (refer to Anything Else section)

Playtest 8

Date: February 13 – 20:35

Playtesters:

  1. Male 21, hardcore player
  2. Male 24, semi novice player
  3. Me
  4. Male 23, experienced player

Time: 15 minutes

Playtester Comments:

  • Found rules difficult to understand
  • Figuring out people’s dice roll most difficult

Observations:

  • Understood rules quickly and game was resolved with payouts = 21,22,15,10

Revision

# Description Purpose
1  Introduced a sheet of numbers and player use a token to mark what their difference from the king's favor is.  Make figuring out players difference easier

Playtest 9

Date: February 13 – 23:00

Playtesters:

  1. Male
  2. Me
  3. Male

Time: 15 minutes

Playtester Comments:

  • As soon as one playtesters heard about terms then they switched off
  • Instead of difference players put down the number they got so they could visualize the difference easily

Observations:

  • Using the new scoreboard worked well.

Revision

# Description Purpose
1  Added a day counter row as well  Get another unnecessary detail out of the player's head

Final Set of Rules

You are one of several jesters performing at the King’s week long banquet. Jesters got bills to pay so to win you must earn the most money before the banquet ends!

Rules

Jesters earn money by gaining the Favor of the crowd who pays them based on the day’s performance. The Favor a Jester receives is judged by the difference from the King’s Favor to a Jester’s Dice roll in terms of numerical value. The different Favors are as follows:

Lowest Difference

  1. King’s – 4
  2. Queen’s – 3
  3. Prince’s – 2
  4. Duke’s – 1

Highest Difference

Money is paid out to each Jester from lowest to highest difference from the King’s Favor.

Turn Structure

The game takes place over 7 days (turns). Each day has four phases:

Perform

All Jesters Perform by rolling their dice.

Kings Favor

The Kings Dice are rolled setting the King’s Favor.

Improvise

  • A Jester can choose to Improvise. This can be done only once per Improvise phase.
  • If multiple Jesters wish to Improvise, rolling must occur at the same time.

Payday

Jesters receive their payout based on the difference from their Dice to the Kings Favor.

In the case of draws:

  • Non drawing players first receive their payout depending on their difference
  • Drawing players must Improvise until there is a difference
  • The loser(s) of the draw receive the lesser payouts

The following are examples of payday payouts.

Example 1: If the King’s Favor was 20, then a Jester at 19 is one closer than a Jester at 18. Therefore the Jester at 19 wins the King’s Favour and the Jester at 18 wins the Queen’s Favor.

Example 2: If the King’s Favor was 20, then a Jester at 19 draws with a Jester at 21 as both are one away from the King’s Favor. Both players must Improvise until there is a difference. The lower Jester gets the Queen’s Favor and the higher the King’s Favor.

Terms

  1. Kings Dice – The D20 & D10
  2. Jesters Dice – A set of D8, D10, D12 given to each player
  3. King’s Favor – The number rolled by the Kings Dice the center of the board
  4. Perform – Jesters rolling all their dice
  5. Improvise – Jesters rerolling one or more of their dice

Additional

The Day & Difference sheet is a useful tool for keeping track of what day of the banquet it is, and what the King’s and each Jester dice rolls are. Place recognizable tokens for each Jester and King on the values from 1-28, and move a token along the Day row to keep track of what day it is.

Estimate of Cost

I estimate per item cost at:

  1. Dice – 16.99 for 36 dice, making it 0.47 per dice, 14 are required so = $6.5
  2. Board & Boxes = $10
  3. Day & Difference Sheet (Multiple) =  $2
  4. Tokens for recording day and value = $1
  5. 70 chips = $7.5
  6. Post It Note Sheet = 50 cents
  7. Pen – 0.5 dollar = 50 cents

This comes to $28, but I can likely get discounts on many of these items buying in bulk.

So I say approximately $20-25 estimated cost.

Anything Else

In Playtest 7 I did some probability analysis using anydice.com

Kings Dice

The bell shaped curve is 5D6’s and the more flat curve is the D20 and D10. I went with the more flat curve because I preferred having a distribution with more equal probabilities over a large range of values for the King since this would be the number players would aim to get.

Jesters Dice

With the King’s new probability curve in mind I analyzed the Jesters Dice. The previous player’s probability distribution which had a max value of 24 was skewed towards the lower spectrum of possible ranges. Looking at bell curve that touches up to 30 it was more fairly distributed and given the three dice of D8,10,D12 it would make for a less obvious choice instead of D4,D8,D12 (roll D4 for least change, and 12 for most) which I would consider more interesting.

Dominate – Freestyle

As part of the Game Design course taught by Jesse Schell at Carnegie Mellons Entertainment Technology Center, we were required to create whatever game experience we wished. The one requirement we had for this experience was that it was to be excellent! So I created Dominate, a tablet top strategy game!

In addition to creating the experience we prepared a marketing and rule sheet, as well as a written record of our iterative playtest driven process. The following is materials from my playtest notes.

Playtest Notes

Playtest 1

  • Date: March 29th 2017
  • Purpose: Playtesting initial concept
  • Playtesters:
    • Me
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Playtester Comments:
    • A significant number of broken rules
    • Two resources for construction, sheep and wood were unnecessary
    • Need a method of counting the different resources, can’t keep track of it mentally
    • How do I know when I won?
  • Observations:
    • Playtesters had trouble counting tokens
    • Giving players the choice of resource location made resource placement polarized and clumped
    • Since no restrictions of village placement players would build lots of villages around themselves making the game drag out longer

Revisions

# Description  Purpose
1 Removed wood Was unnecessary
2 Bought chips Made counting easier
3 Made rule about connecting villages  Limit the construction of villages and temples to speed up the game
4  Gave temples life  Made possible a lose condition (all enemy temples hp goes to zero)
5  Wrote up rule set  Needed a document to playtest rules with

Playtest 2

  • Date: March 30th 2017
  • Purpose: First playtest with largely functioning game
  • Playtesters:
    • Me
    • Male – 21
    • Male – 23
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Playtester Comments:
    • Fireball need chance on hit, I didn’t like knowing I would lose for sure
    • Who casts first should be based on a dice roll, again I didn’t liked knowing I would lose for sure
    • The rules for village placement are confusing
    • Found resource collection rate difficult to count
    • Liked the strategic element in fireballing then converting enemy villages
    • Observations:
    • Players had a good time
    • Players wasted a lot of time counting resources
    • Found an issue when a player placed their temple in a certain pattern, they became blocked from building
    • Both my playtesters were programmers

Revisions

# Description  Purpose
1 Allowed world to wrap around itself Avoid issue of limitation of three building connections per building
2 Fixed in rule sheet to clarify village placement Clarification based on request
3 Added initiative system to allow the spell phase not be a guaranteed thing Stop the feeling that you were guaranteed to lose
4 Add a conversion of resources to belief 2:1 People seemed to enjoy the spell phase more than the build phase so I wanted to charge up the spell phase. Also it was one method of increasing the utility of resources making investing in resource growth more useful.

Playtest 3

  • Date: March 30th 2017
  • Purpose: First iteration of rule sheet, introduction of game to more ‘casual players’
  • Playtesters:
    • Me
    • Male – 28
    • Female – 30
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Playtester Comments:
    • Make the game board bigger!
    • Color code the villages!
    • Board is so cluttered, can’t see anything!
    • Don’t need initiative rolls every time, just do contest rolls on build if wanting to build in the same spot (everyone declares where they are planning to build then builds)
    • Clarify rules
  • Observations:
    • Playtesters got bored waiting for their turn
    • Playtesters didn’t read the rules at all
    • Playtesters had great difficulty counting belief and resources
    • Playtesters found the world wrap rule super hard to visualize
    • Both my playtesters were more artistic individuals, casual game players – from the previous playtest it seems that my game is more suited to strategy game fans
    • Playtesters converted all their resources in belief as they found that part most fun
    • Playtester though the strategy of high belief would work. but lost because had no base of resources to sustain that burst of belief

Revisions

# Description  Purpose
1 Made game board bigger Reduce clutter
2 Made color coded tiles and villages Made one's own villages easier to see
3 Introduced contest rolls on build Way to allow free for all building while allowing to resolve two players wanting to build on the same place
4 Touched up rule page Added more pictures in case people didn't want to read

Playtest 4

  • Date: 5th April 2017
  • Purpose: Second iteration of rule sheet and 1v1v1 setting
  • Playtesters:
    • Me
    • Male – 26
    • Male – 30+
  • Time:
    • 10 minutes to understand rules
    • 40 minutes to play game
  • Playtester Comments:
    • Include pictures of tiles on instructions
    • So what is the victory condition?
    • Mention influence earlier
    • Use the word adjacent, its more clear
    • Clarify construction rules, they are not clear
    • Mention that villages at 1 development level cannot be destroyed
    • Typo on spells, town not village
  • Observations:
    • Watching these playtesters reading the rules showed that I needed to change the information order to make the document easier to process
    • Playtesters were confused that they needed to select separate colors
    • Playtesters placed tiles on top of each other which I needed to verbally clarify
    • Playtesters found the phrasing of various parts of the rules confusing, and had to jump back and forward in the rule book to understand the rules
    • Players found the overlap rule confusing
    • Players found counting the resources wasnt too bad
    • Player suggested using higher value counters to make collection of resources faster
    • Players suggested a counting tool to keep track of how much you need to collect
    • Players suggested bidding resources to win the spell phase
    • Players suggested building should not be simultaneous but instead be one after another like before
    • Players suggested a thematic change to lighting bolt
    • Player had difficulty understanding the rules at first but then got into the game
    • Players felt the counting of belief and resources was most tedious

Revisions

# Description  Purpose
1 Reduce cost of fireball to 1 but introduced a probability of it missing (intention is to create more tension when attacking) Create a balanced fireball spell with an element of chance
2 Added image of village and temple to rule set Wanted a visual indicator of what was what for easier understanding
3 Made a resource/belief tracker for easier counting Wanted players to focus on the game rather than counting chips
4 Added 2-1 conversion to rule sheet Improve the rulesheet
5  Made variety of fixes to rule sheet e.g reordered sections – clarified victory conditions – made explicit mention that tiles dont stack – clarified construction rules – explicitly said players are assigned colors  Improve the rulesheet

Playtest 5

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  • Date: 8th April 2017
  • Purpose: Third iteration of rule sheet and 1v1v1 setting
  • Playtesters:
    • Me
    • Male 32
    • Male 26
  • Time:
    • 10 minutes to understand the rules
    • 1 hr 20 minutes to play game
  • Playtester Comments:
    • Playtester complained that reading the rules felt like studying
    • Very interesting moment when players said no need for chips use the income tracker to keep a track of how much you have instead
    • Playtesters mentioned income tracker could use a zero
    • Playtesters suggested having some visual indicator for turn order
    • Players wanted the resource and belief tokens on the income tracker to be more obvious
    • Playtesters found the income tracker awkward to use, and instead wanted more numbers on it instead of having to do arithmetic
    • Playtesters wanted a more efficient way of removing and adding villages to the board, and suggested making color coded physical representations of the village which could be placed and removed from the board
    • Playtesters suggested carefully considering how to manage the player who would lose the game early – either give them incentives to stay after losing, design it so they can continue and have an incentive to stay, or accelerate the game to end quickly
    • Playtesters suggested trying 1v1 or 2v2 game format.
  • Observations:
    • First time I explained as little as possible and had playtesters read the rules and play, had to explain income tracker.
    • Playtesters understood how to generate the board, and do the initial game setup
    • Had to explain the income tracker
    • I needed to explain both how to represent development levels, how to use the income tracker, and using d6 to represent hp on the temple
    • Players never used the offering mechanic
    • With three playtesters the maximum amount of belief/resources reached around 15-16
    • What happened was a Mexican standoff moment where each player had direct access to attack the other players temple, and it turns out that based on chance of spell phase the weakest player actually won the game because one player destroyed one other player and the weakest won the spell phase of the next turn and killed the other player before they could retaliate

Revisions

# Description  Purpose
1 Changed the income tracker to the warchest a tool for keeping account of how much resource and belief a player has Completely eliminate the need to use chips for keeping track of a player's belief and resources
2 Kept the offering mechanic Wanted to test how it would affect a game when used properly and it was designed reduce the power of the spell phase and also mess with the power that a guarantee of casting spells first gave
3 Changed the income tracker to warchest also added a zero on it Completely removed the need to use chips to represent the amount of resources you had allowing players to focus even more on the core experience

Playtest 6

  • Date: 9th April 2017
  • Purpose: Wanted to test what 1v1 was like
  • Playtesters:
    • Me
    • Male – 21
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Playtester Comments:
    • Playtester got upset and felt cheated by the game because didn’t fully understand the rule of only allowed to connect to three adjacent buildings
    • Observations:
    • Playtest was short, and other player lost very quickly, playtester wasn’t happy at all, felt cheated by the game
    • Problem was they were in a situation where they could not build anything anywhere – I think a solution that would be in the 1v1 game mode give players two temples rather than one to add more skill to it
    • Used the offering mechanic to spell first

Revisions

# Description  Purpose
1 Made three game modes – 1v1v1 – 2v2 – two players with two temples each – 1v1 – each player has two temples  Avoid the disastrous playtest happening again with giving a single player two temples

Playtest 7

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  • Date: 9th April 2017
  • Purpose: Wanted to test out what the 1v1 with two temples was like
  • Playtesters:
    • Me
  • Time: 33 minutes
  • Observations:
    • The dynamic was certainly different, two allied temples were placed back to back
    • Other two were on sides of map
    • What ended up happening was that middle two gained lots of resources and that built up over time, eventually the aggressive village tactic was overcome by resource snowballing and the central allied players eventually won, and the two outer players forfeited before the end of the game
    • Found that placing resource chips (chips that represent the resource income of a tile) made counting of resources so much faster, will do it in future playtests

Revisions

# Description  Purpose
1 Added resource tokens onto village and temple tiles Making counting of resource income much faster

Playtest 8

  • Date: 10th April 2017
  • Playtesters:
    • Me
    • Male – 24
  • Time: 42 minutes
  • Playtester Comments:
    • Initially I was doing well then the playtester converted a critical village and I lost
    • Playtester liked the idea of converting resource to belief
    • Told me that playing required multidimensional thinking, resource gain, blocking, and long term growth
    • Resources became so important because of offering system
    • Required finding critical villages and capturing them, anticipating your enemies offering
    • Playtester commented that warchest system was good, but they didn’t mind the old system of counting chips one by one
    • Playtester appreciated new method of displaying village and resources on map
  • Observations:
    • Found it hard to find resource tiles since tiles were in a pile

Revision

# Description  Purpose
1 Playtester found better way of arranging belief and resource tokens on warchest. Keep it by the side as to not obstruct the numbers. Will update that in the rule set Improve warchest by having tokens not obscure the warchest
2  Made a box with compartments to make it much easier to find the piece you needed  Reduce the hassle in finding game pieces
3  Added the resource and belief token representations to the rules  Speed up the process of counting resources and belief

Playtest 9

  • Date: 10th April 2017
  • Playtesters:
    • Me
    • Male – 21
    • Male – 21
    • Male – 22
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Playtester Comments:
    • Asked if resources were generic
    • Couldnt find use for belief
    • Confused about building only within area of influence
    • Found village upgrade table super confusing they thought it cost one to upgrade to level 2
    • Got confused by a line that said build first cast spell last
    • Highly disliked the whole 3 adjacent village thing
    • 6×6 feels small for 4 players
    • Game suffers from same problem as RISK where one player clearly snowballs to victory
    • Feels like you know who is going to win from the start based on the position
    • Playtesters said consider a large map and multiple temples
    • Playtesters suggested giving temples some resistance to fireballs
  • Observations:
    • Read the rules in 6 minutes – skimmed it
    • Allied players placed their temple in a resource rich but locationally disadvantaged position, and were unable to get lucky enough to break out of their bad positioning and so lost the game
    • Playtesters did not know the rule of adjacent first and so placed thinking they could place anywhere and that they said messed up the game for them

Revision

# Description  Purpose
1 Remove the rule of adjacent to three Players were not liking this rule and often players including myself forgot about keeping to this rule
2 Change the phrase resource cost to construction cost and phrasing around construction and upgrade of villages To clarify this
3 Added new rule for temple damage Made temples resistant to fireballs to reduce likelihood of player losing in one turn
4  Made changes to rule set based on confusions from playtest  Improve the ruleset

Playtest 10

  • Date: 11th April 2017
  • Playtesters:
    • Me
    • Male – 28
  • Time: 42 minutes
  • Playtester Comments:
    • Destroyed temple should become empty
    • Board still needs to be bigger, still feels cluttered but is improved from before
    • Fun game, liked the warchest system
    • Moving around map, places hard to reach
    • Didn’t want to place 1 belief villages as it was suboptimal
    • Inert villages seem weird in 1v1 didnt think to convert own because it felt you already owned it
    • I would play again
    • Real time strategy board game
    • Wished there was another dimension to movement
  • Observations:
    • Player went crazy in converting to belief to try and take me out quickly
    • I invested in building up resources and eventually snowballed to victory

Revisions

# Description  Purpose
1 When a temple is destroyed is becomes empty More sensical outcome and reward for the player who destroyed the temple
2 Clarified offering rules in rule sheet Improve the rule sheet

What Went Right

  1. Warchest system was a marked improvement over the old system of counting chips. The warchest cleared up the playspace and created an easy way for players to keep track of their resources without fussing around with chips. This allowed them to focus on the game.
  2. New method for representing income and belief made collecting resources at the start of the turn much easier, before a significant amount of time was wasted counting, and this was a marked improvement.
  3. Adding dice rolls to attacking heightened the tension in the game and had a positive effect on gameplay.
  4. Once players got over learning the rules they had generally positive feedback about the experience, particularly that throughout the game players had the option of several interesting choices.
  5. Adding the resource to belief conversion rule was highly appreciated. By doing so it created a good reason to invest in growing one’s village network so that a player had more resources to convert to belief. Now players would avoid wasting placing villages that weren’t connected to a resource. This helped address the problem I had seen in my first playtest of arbitrarily building villages.
  6. The way the game was designed allowed it to be very easily scalable in terms of grid size, number of players, temples per player, resource tiles per column. This design supported a wide variety of game modes 1v1/2v2 which felt distinct, and so the game was more accommodating to different numbers of players.
  7. Procedural generation of the board helped make the board experience fresh each time, increasing replayability.

What Went Wrong

  1. Playtesters didn’t spend much time reading the rules, and so made suboptimal choices in the game and got upset, and felt cheated by the game. What was particularly bad was placement of temples and villages. If placed incorrectly could mean the game was lost if players didn’t get lucky with die rolls.
  2. As one playtester pointed out my game suffers from the problem in RISK where one player will snowball to victory and this is apparent. This caused forfeiting to occur multiple times to save time because the odds were clearly stacked against the player. RISK attempted to address this problem with country cards that gave bonus armies, perhaps something equivalent would help my game.
  3. Procedural generation of the board acted as a double edged blade. If in the case the board was generated in a manner that made blocking of a players progress easy, new players felt upset and cheated (in tandem with point 1)

Gladiator Rumble – Story Citadel

As part of our Game Design course taught by Jesse Schell at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center we were required to create a tabletop RPG. The following is an adaptation of the document detailed Gladiator Rumble, the game I submitted for this assignment.

A brief description of the process you used to create your adventure. Include any brainstorming notes, etc.

I begun the process of creating my adventure with a theme/fantasy. I had a number of ideas including:

  • A sports adventure theme
  • A wild west themed game
  • A game with vampires

I settled on doing something set in the time period of the Roman Civilization. In particular I loved the setting of the movie Gladiator so my intention was to recreate a similar storytelling experience.

Next I searched for an interest curve that roughly mapped onto what I wanted to create.

Next, based on the five point on the interest curve I imagined the main scenes of the story with a brief description of what I wanted to achieve in that scene, and the main story beats.

  1. Capture – I wanted the player to be captured.
  2. Training Ground – A scene in the gladiator house of them learning skills and familiarizing themselves with their new world
  3. Gladiator Battle 1 – First gladiator battle, high intensity
  4. Villanus Mansion – A more social situation, with a puzzle
  5. Gladiator Battle 2 – Last gladiator fight, high intensity, kill the boss to win one’s freedom, or kill each other.

I was inspired by the game Shadow of Rome, and wanted to find a system that support combat and social situations. I could have used the roleplaying 101, but I instead chose to use a system from a tabletop RPG game I had played before called Vampire The Masquerade (VTM). More specifically I used Vampire: Dark Ages (medieval setting) for their armour, and weapons.

To flesh out my world of I needed to perform significant research, namely:

  • Be aware of the different types of gladiators to give my players and generated enemies some grounding in the world
  • I also wanted to include animals at one points so I found applicable stats.
  • Made a list of important characters and some of their traits to help me roleplay them.
  • Each scene needed a map so I drew one, including details about who was in each scene.
  • Refamiliarize myself with VTM’s leveling scheme, social and combat systems.
  • Found example stats to base my NPC’s on.

There were also a number of things I did not do:

  • Also thought of adding in some currency and letting players by equipment but thought this might add too much added complexity.
  • Thought of adding special sections such as chariot racing but left it out due to the added complexity.

All of this I compiled into a long supporting document I used whilst DM’ing that I will include in the following section.

Continue reading Gladiator Rumble – Story Citadel

Building Trust

How can we build trust as game designers? This is a question I’ve been asking myself, and in doing so came across an awesome video by James Everett, Lead Game Designer at Magic Leap (talking at Game Connect Asia Pacific).

In the above video James discusses the following.

Saruman vs Hobbit

Don’t be a Saruman, someone who ‘dispenses wisdom’ from an ivory tower. Instead be a hobbit. Be a comrade, a facilitator, filter, and collaborator for the people around you.

Trust

Everett breaks down trust into two components.

Logical

The logical component is based on the societal structure that we expect from normal, rational human beings, comprised of:

  1. Contractual obligations
  2. Past behavior
  3. Following social norms
  4. Following the law

Emotional

Emotional trust is:

  • The default in healthy teams
  • Reciprocal
  • Pleasant and efficient

Everett then discusses three ways in which designers can build or break trust.

Continue reading Building Trust

Hopscotch Hamlet

As part of Jesse Schell’s Game Design course at The Entertainment Technology Center we required to analyze and ‘improve’ the game of Hopscotch.

The goal of the game is to complete Hopscotch Toss the fastest.

  1. In Hopscotch toss there are two teams which compete against each other on a standard Hopscotch board.
  2. Both teams have two players, a jumper and a catcher.
    1. The catcher stands at the final safe square on the Hopscotch board
    2. The jumper at the start of the Hopscotch board
  3. The jumper throws out three markers:
    1. When a marker is thrown the timer begins
    2. If a marker misses a square the marker is placed on the first square
  4. The jumper begins playing hopscotch with the aim of collecting and throwing markers to the catcher one at a time.
    1. If the catcher drops the marker the jumper must return to the start
  5. Once the jumper reaches the catcher who must have three markers in hand, the jumper turns round and continues playing Hopscotch.
  6. When the jumper reaches the start position reverse jumper and catcher roles. Now the second round of Hopscotch Toss starts.
  7. First team to complete two rounds wins.

Development

Part 1 - Analysis & Brainstorming

What makes a hopscotch a good game?

  • Simple to understand rules
  • Requires little equipment
  • Trains limb coordination
  • Easily extensible to multiplayer
  • Clear win state
  • Gamifies natural hopping movement
  • Low skill entry barrier
  • Immediate feedback on game state

Problems with the game your design might try to solve.

  1. Not friendly those with physical disabilities
  2. Can become boring due to its simple rule set
  3. Primary mechanic is jumps
  4. A static game space
  5. Minimalist Aesthetics
  6. Has no story
  7. Does not incorporate elements of modern technology
  8. Tests the body but not the mind e.g recall of facts, events etc.

Brainstorm 50 ideas on how you could improve Hopscotch

  1. Blindfolded
  2. With someone on your back while playing
  3. Jumping only when music is playing
  4. During a handstand
  5. On a climbing wall
  6. With multiple tokens
  7. Whilst singing
  8. Where you start with no squares and draw one turn by turn
  9. Three legged
  10. On stairs
  11. Backwards
  12. Eating icecream
  13. With two people at once
  14. With only one square
  15. On a board with tiles that turn in a pool
  16. Played using your fingers
  17. On a trampoline
  18. Interplanetary
  19. Over Skype in different countries
  20. Where you cant jump in squares based on a coloured dice, or coin?
  21. Story based, and where marker was thrown player has to participate in a story event and if they lose they dont get to score a point by playing a round of hopscotch
  22. Edible, where a player can eat one square but has to make another one with provided food
  23. Where the game space drawn from star constellations
  24. Meta – smaller hopscotch games feed in a larger one. Two people play against each other in each mini game, and the winner moves forward on one square on the board till they reach the meta game marker and return as in a normal game
  25. Color coded special square events which if a person steps in they have to do like shout a word, if they fail they have to go back to the start
  26. Place the marker not by a throw but by a dice roll
  27. People are put into teams based on costumes
  28. The person has to do a dance move when spinning round at the end
  29. The person has to do karate punches on each jump
  30. Throw the marker again when it is picked up
  31. Two people have to mirror each other on different games
  32. It is attached to another game that based on your speed gives you more points/ progresses more in the level
  33. In VR with rivers of lava
  34. Where each item rotates round and one has to jump from square to square
  35. One player throws the marker and stops at that position. Then throws the marker forward again. The next player jumps to the position of the last player who jumps to the next place the marker is now at. The process continues until the marker has been returns to the beginning.
  36. Competitive, two games of hopscotch, the marker can be thrown onto another hopscotch game to make it harder for them to complete the round
  37. On a dart board. Objective is to hit the center of squares avoiding the one other player threw the marker dart at.
  38. Three legged – two people tied together play
  39. Relay, where the marker has to passed from game to game.
  40. Players stand in Hopscotch squares and pass the marker to other players to complete the game.
  41. Where the panels light up and one must jump only on lit panels
  42. On the moon
  43. On a single wheel cycle
  44. With sword fighting battle rounds per block, losing sends you back to the start
  45. Complete Hopscotch in a tiger cage before the tiger is let loose in it
  46. With a slide at the end of the game
  47. There are two markers and those are the only ones that can be jumped in
  48. There are markers on every square and winning is jumping and picking up as many as possible in a given time.
  49. One person is continuously jumping and another person throws a marker and tries to have the player jumping fall on that marker.
  50. On a keyboard one has to press the 1-9 keys in the same pattern, and avoid the marker square set by the computer.

Part 2 - Selection

From your list of ideas select three and describe them in more detail

Based on number 25, 39 and 48

  1. Picto Hopscotch – Hopscotch is played in the traditional American school yard manner except for one difference. Each row has a picture associated with it. When the player jumps on any square of the row they must shout out the picture. If they do not the player has to go back to the beginning again.
  2. Relay Hopscotch – Two hopscotch play spaces are set up. One person from each hopscotch space begins playing, and completes a game and gives the marker to an awaiting second player who plays a game of Hopscotch. First team to complete both hopscotch games win.
  3. Hopscotch Toss – Two teams play Hopscotch competitively. Both teams have a jumper, and catcher. The jumper plays hopscotch and collects the markers and throws them to the catcher. The team with all the markers in the catchers hand and jumper at the end win.

Part 3 - Improvement

Hopscotch Toss

An Attempt at solving problem 3 by introducing throws

The goal of the game is to complete Hopscotch Toss the fastest.

  1. In Hopscotch Toss there are two teams which compete against each other on a standard Hopscotch board.
  2. Both teams have two players, a jumper and a catcher.
    1. The catcher stands at the final safe square on the Hopscotch board
    2. The jumper at the start of the Hopscotch board
  3. The jumper throws out three markers:
    1. If a marker misses then the player rethrows
    2. When the last marker is thrown the timer begins
  4. The jumper begin playing hopscotch with the aim of collecting and throwing markers to the catcher one at a time.
  5. The team is fastest to get all the markers in the catcher’s hand and the jumper at the end wins.

First Loop

The first iteration of gameplay showed me various areas that needed more detail and consideration. Useful moments that occurring during my playtests were:

  • Instructions should be short and concise otherwise they bore playtesters. So I should better prepare my rule for fast and easy digestion.
  • Great design moments had laughs or confusion which immediately drew my attention to areas of the game I needed to work on.
  • Playing the game exposed rules that I needed to clarify such as how to handle drops, fumbles of the jumper, missed throws.

Bad

  • I did not consider adding the throw to the timed phase of the game. Doing so might add tension to that part of the game.
  • The catcher reported wanting to do more.
  • I had only one game setup at a time, it would have been more enjoyable to have both games occurring simultaneously.

Good

  • Players clearly enjoyed throwing markers and catching them.
  • The game was picked up very quickly due to its rule set

Second Loop

With the second iteration I intend to adjust the rule set to include new cases for when the jumper and catcher fumbles.

  1. The jumper throw phase is included in timing.
  2. If the marker is thrown out of boundaries it is placed on the first Hopscotch square.
  3. If the catcher drops the marker the jumper stops moving until the catcher picks up the marker and returns to the safe zone.

Playtested with the above changes had the following effects:

  1. Heightened the tension during the beginning of the game.
  2. Made jumpers more careful with their throw. They would take safer shots, but those who successfully made riskier shots got greater rewards.
  3. Heightened the tension during drops, particularly on the catcher as they scrambled to get the marker..

Playtesters reported having an enjoyable more fluid experience. They also made two suggestions:

  1. The experience be ‘circular’. When the jumper reaches the catcher who has three markers in hand, the jumper turns round and continues their Hopscotch game (without the markers) instead of ending the game. On reaching the beginning of the Hopscotch board the Catcher now switches roles and becomes the Jumper, and the game continues.
  2. The jumper returns to the start if the catcher drops the marker.

DinoRancher – Build Virtual Worlds, Round 5

Introduction: Developed on the Oculus Rift with PS Move, DinoRancher had guests play atop a Triceratops armed with an electric lasso. The goal of the guest was to shepherd a herd of Stegosaurus to safety, protecting them from danger.

Platform: Oculus & PS Move | Time: 2 weeks | Role: Programmer – Designer – Producer | Team Size: 5

Story:  You are a DinoRancher armed with your electro lasso and trusty trike. Travel across the desolate wasteland, and protect your herd from those nasty predators!

Design Challenges:

  • Herd behavior
  • Enemy types
  • Environment design
  • Integration of the PS move into Virtual Reality
  • Trike movement system

Design Goal: To create an experience that made the guest feel like a cowboy travelling through the desert protecting a herd of dinosaur from predators.

My Contributions: As producer I arranged meetings, delegated pending tasks, and contributed creatively. In addition as a programmer I was responsible for setting up the games environment which included, asset preparation, level design and developing agent behavior.

DinoRancher was featured at The Forbidden Forest in The Entertainment Technology Centers end of semester festival!

Festival Footage