Sad news everyone, I’m dying. Or I have a cold and will get better in a few days. One of those. Probably the second one. I guess I’m still not immortal though, so the first statement is technically true. My point is that today is going to be a little more disjointed than usual, because I feel like I’m thinking through some sort of cloud of cotton wool which is making me somewhat inconsistent. I just saw this art for one of the Artiste cards, isn’t it cute:
It’s a very different style to the sort of things I get out of the 3DTotal artists, but I think that a set of cards with this sort of art are going to be cute and fun in a way that helps signal that the game is approachable. That’s good, this is aiming to be something that people who’ve never played games before can get into, but that’s still fun for the established gamer, so it needs this kind of signalling.
That’s probably about where this is going to stop being relevant to the project, because I can feel my mind wandering again. On the other hand maybe I should note down some half delirious thoughts on game design and come back to them while in my right mind. It could be that I unleash some sort of creativity that I’d usually discard for being too bad an idea.
I played Tragedy Looper earlier this week, it was amazing. I’ve always loved the idea of time travel games and wanted to capture the essence of one and I think this game finally does it. In essence you play through the same day over and over doing different things and trying to figure out who’s killing who why in order to orchestrate the perfect day and ensure that everyone is saved. Excellent stuff.
They handle time travel by having you reset the board to some predefined state, which works pretty well because there aren’t too many components in the game. I’ve got a prototype somewhere with even simpler components that works by replicating the board four times so that you can see t-1, t-2 and t-3 at all times and change stuff back then with it all flowing forward. That works pretty well but it hurts people’s brains to play it. I wonder if there’s a more elegant solution.
Like would there by some way to do it with magnets so that you could shake the board and have the pieces “stick” in their starting spaces? Or could you use the digital game piece thingies that were on Kickstarter a while back and have some way of sending out a signal that reverts them all to their start game state? It might just be easier as a computer game but the physicality of pieces is lovely dammit.
Physicality is a big thing in board game design. It’s our one edge, the pieces being physically there and touchable is what we can do that a computer game can’t. Perhaps there are more ways to make use of that, I heard of a game that had vampire pieces made of wax that melted in the “sun” and used shadow as part of the active game design, that’s a pretty sweet idea.
Poor melting vampire, that looks uncomfortable. He’s not going anywhere soon. Dexterity games seem to come out of physicality, I enjoy Cube Quest. In that one you flick dice and other dice trying to defeat them with positioning and special abilities, it’s a neat implementation. I wonder if you could do a much more tactical version of something like that.
Suppose you had it such that pieces couldn’t move through other pieces and could gain benefits based on their spatial relations, what they’re on top of or next to or inbetween or whatever. Then you take away the dexterity element and instead say that the player is free to slowly move the piece to wherever they fancy, by placing their finger on it and pushing it slowly around the table, but that if it moves too far or contacts another piece the turn is over. It wouldn’t depend so much on dexterity skill but the physicality of the pieces would still generate tactical options in a dynamic way.
I like the word dynamic and I try to use it correctly, it’s so easy for it to feel like you’re falling into some sort of business speak pit where you have to synergise your paradigms to leverage your core priorities in achieving your mission. It might just be the brain cloud talking but that almost makes sense, you probably should try to have ways of doing things that work together for mutual benefit. Perhaps business speaky people are just ill all of the time. I’ve certainly heard corporate behaviour described as ‘sick’.
I wonder if you could make a game about being sick, in which your fundemental ability to play the game diminished somehow based on your game state. Perhaps the rules are on cards and these get turned face down and sometimes randomised so you’re not quite sure which rules govern things. Or you start applying restrictions to automatic actions that make them harder – you can only roll dice with your ears.
Why would that be a disadvantage though, it’d be difficult to pick them up with your ears and roll them sure, but you wouldn’t average lower numbers. I guess you’d need to be rolling them onto some sort of target where their face and position mattered maybe? Or other ways of simulating not being able to think clearly. In psychology we gave people three digit numbers and got them to count backwards as an interference task to stop them doing stuff like repeating a string to themselves over and over to cheat on memory tests. Well, not cheat, but not do it in a way different to the way we wanted to study.
Or perhaps a game about study? Are most games about study? You look at the game and form a hypothesis about the best series of moves and then test it and then see a result. Science is delicious, I learned all of the probability maths I needed for my a levels playing D&D. Now I’m thinking about games and learning and education but I’m sure that I wrote about that topic in detail before. That’s somewhat derailed my already tenuous train of thought.
I think I’ll stop here, it’s soft and I need a nap. I hope that the first image and an insight into the art direction was useful and that the other thoughts say something interesting about game design or gaming ideas. I’m going to collapse onto a bed and get some medicine, probably the other way around, seeya.