Attempted Design – Update #2

Satin Bowerbird

Satin Bowerbird and nest [BBC]

After sharing my last update, I got great feedback and responses from friends. In particular, my friend Ace gave me thoughtful questions to ask myself as a designer creating a new game. So, figuring this will be the next great step in me thinking more about the game before starting to put it to paper/cardboard, here we go! And a note more to myself than anything else – this isn’t how the game will be forever. This is brainstorming and throwing stuff down to see what sticks. It’s always going to be changeable, malleable.

  • What would be the basic turn structure?

My basic idea would be for players to spend (x) time (on the track) foraging for food (sort of the currency of the game) until each player passes. Then, spending food values, players can bid on a selection of treasure (nest) tiles – once a player wins a bid to pick a tile, they pay and the auction round goes to the other players (or once one player is left they pay minimum bid of one food for the tile left).

  • What, if any, ways could a player interact or affect another player?

Bidding highest to get the first take of a tile, mostly. And making it to a public bonus goal first.

  • Why are the objectives secret if you’re fighting over the same mate?

Each player would have a unique mate hidden in their hand – possibly more, if it would work out like tickets in Ticket to Ride where you could possibly take more mates and score some of their points later in the game? But yeah, there’d be a chance to have different mates each time you play, anyhow.

  • How can you use the secret objectives to create tension?

This is a tough one. Tension in the auction, and the race to succeed at the public goals? (i.e. who makes X shape first, who hits 7×7 filled nest spots first, for example?)

  • What information is hidden?

The goals you’re aiming at for your mates to successfully lure them.

  • How does that hidden information inform game play?

Definitely directs what tiles you’re bidding for, and also the patterns/size of the nest you’re decorating.

  • Can you move tiles/remove tiles after being played?

Perhaps if I allowed during-game scoring of mates? But that doesn’t seem quite as thematic (that also leads to the thought of does having multiple mates to score mean it isn’t as thematic? But the male birds have many females come by to inspect their nests before one chooses, so…) So I’m guessing most likely no, once they’re played they stay.

  • Are/is the tile pool/s singular or player specific?

The tile pool (nest treasures) would be shared – drawn from a bag (perhaps each auction round would have player number +2 tiles as a range to bid on?).

  • Where, if any, would you incorporate randomness?

The bag draw for the nest treasure tiles for sure, and I suppose the allocation of the hidden mates (even if they’re drafted to start the game, and especially if more come out during the game). I know a game like Patchwork has everything visible to start the game, but I think that might be a bit much for this? Maybe to mitigate the randomness of the bag draw, the tiles would be visible during the food collection phase.

  • Where would you say the interesting decisions are?

This is the tough part as I don’t have the game quite fully realized. I want the public and hidden goals to be challenging, but not so random they’re not obtainable. I want players to take their goals and use those as their guide on how to bid, when to let other players win certain phases and the like in order to most efficiently gather together what you need.

  • What type of experience would you like this game to invoke?

A feeling of making the best puzzle, collecting sets to maximize points and having fun making something pretty!

-::-

Following on from this, I need to make a firm decision on the structure of the game, most importantly:

  • Will players draft mate cards?
  • Will there be opportunities to partially score mate cards throughout the game? (Or in drawing new ones, perhaps take 3, keep 1 for instance)
  • How the timing track/food collection will affect the phases/progress/length of the game, and if that makes a difference for player turn order
  • How many treasure tiles, what their shapes and types will be, as well as point values if that’s necessary (for public goals perhaps?)
  • Draft up some shared goals for shapes, sizes, and set collections for treasure types

I’m sure more will come up, but I believe this little brainstorm and following up on those particular points will help direct me further into this game and the process.

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2 responses to “Attempted Design – Update #2”

  1. Gil Hova says :

    Hi Nicole, well, you’re a designer now! Good to see you join our ranks.

    I really suggest getting this thing to the table as soon as you can. It’s probably not going to be good, but don’t let that stop you; first drafts are *rarely* good. And don’t sweat the art or presentation too much; assume that *everything* will change in the first bunch of tests.

    Play it with another designer (there’s plenty of them where you’re from) or a really patient player who knows it’s not completely cooked. In the first few tests, don’t worry about balance or mechanisms. Instead, consider the experience as a whole. Might be that the theme needs a totally different mechanism. Or that the mechanisms are interesting, but would be more engaging with a different theme. (I’m not saying that’s the case specifically with your game, but those are examples of high-level analysis you should be considering right now.)

    Balance and mechanisms are important, but you should approach those questions once you know that your overall approach to the game is sound.

    Do you think you’ll have a prototype by BGG.CON?

    • nicolehoye says :

      Thank you! I think once I come up with a structure based on the last list of questions here I think it’ll be ready to mock something up for. I’ll try to get together with some of the folks here in Toronto, there are pretty regular meetups but I know enough folks I could reach out to for impromptu get togethers too 🙂

      I might have a prototype by BGGcon, but I don’t know if it’ll be something fully formed enough that I’d want to bring it. We’ll see! Thanks for the response 🙂

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