Balance. It’s something all game designers struggle with at one point or another. No one wants to create a game that’s broken or that has an easily exploited loophole. No one wants to play a game that is easily won by simply having the right piece or combo – it makes players feel as if they have no real agency within the game, that their decisions matter less, and that games are won and lost not by using good strategy, but by whomever grabs “the nuclear option” first. Continue reading
So here we are, a whole week into November, and therefore a whole week into NaGaDeMon. I am sad to report that very little has been done on my end to further the game I’m working on, but I hope to rectify that in the coming days. Never fear however, I do still feel that I will finish something by month’s end. Why? Well, I kind of have a head start. You see, I started working on a game a few years ago, and am using NaGaDeMon to motivate me to finish it. So for me, the month is more for follow through than it is for a start to finish development. I already have a rough rules set, some basic components designed, and have even done some light playtesting. It’s just not done. So what’s the game?
It’s a miniatures skirmish game aimed at 7-12 year olds called “Backyard Wars” and involves fighting bugs. Because the game is aimed at kids who have never played a skirmish game, the resolution mechanic is simple opposed rolls. Each bug has a card with a health value, an attack/defense die (same thing) and some special abilities. Each bug gets to move and act on its turn. The board is 1″ grid, with special features that players place (rocks, sticks, and water), making the board different every time.
So what are my goals for NaGaDeMon? I have a few things that I feel need to be ironed out in the game.
1. Game Balance. First and foremost, I want to make sure that no one or two bugs are so overpowered that they are an “obvious choice.” Some of the special abilities I have are always on, while some are situational. I need to offset these incomparables with varying health scores and attack dice. I also have attack dice assigned somewhat arbitrarily, and would like to be more methodical. I’ll probably make up a spreadsheet at some point just to get some side by side comparisons going. I also want to make some “starter teams” that new players can just pick up and play the first time out of the box. These teams need to be balanced as well.
2. Win conditions. “Destroy the other team” is a fine win condition…maybe. It’s a little obvious, and it doesn’t address a 3 or 4 player game. I don’t like games that eliminate players, exiling them to go sit around while the rest of the group finishes. It’s one of the things I hate about Monopoly. I have a few ideas to address this, and will probably write up a whole post about what the win conditions will be.
3. Components. I need to take some time to design good components,and maybe even price them, even if I don’t have plans to mass produce. I have some concrete ideas here; the time consuming part will be actually producing them. I’m no graphic designer.
Of these three things, I think that game balance will be most difficult, and component design has the potential to be the most time consuming. I’m hoping I get some sort of “aha” moment with win conditions; I have some ideas, but none that I’m totally thrilled about.
Hopefully, next week I’ll have an “Alpha Test” playtest document up.
Just this past week, I became aware of the National Game Design Month (NaGaDeMon). While I had heard plenty about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in past years, I had never been interested in taking part. NaGaDeMon, however, I can get on board with. In fact, I have a partially finished board game sitting in my filing cabinet right now. So, my goal for the month of November will be to complete the game. I will have more details in a few weeks, when the month actually starts including where the game is currently, and what my challenges are. I’m also hoping to post the rules and other bits so that you can playtest it. Yes, you. At this point, I have no real interest in board game production, so when the month is done, I’m hoping to release the game into the wild. Continue reading