In the last couple of weeks Ben, Sean, Leo and I have prototyped a tabletop war-game for our class BCM300; Game Experience Design. Each of us contributed to the assessment by formulating ideas, presenting background research and experiencing playtesting.
Here is our video:
The design process was a tricky one to get around in my opinion. I missed out on the first week where the class was put into groups. When I came back, the boys had an idea of creating a war-based game starring America vs Japan. There were no characters in mind just yet, but there was the idea of a tabletop war-game that involved two sides. Upon further reflection I felt that the America vs Japan idea may not be the best route as we thought of the complications that came with this which may include lack of cultural understanding, cultural appropriation and bias character traits.
With the help of our tutor, we as a group came up with the idea of incorporating some futuristic elements that will deter us away from making any politically incorrect decisions. Initial character inspiration by the boys was the total warfare videos games franchise. I had no idea what they were talking about initially as I do not regularly play video games, so I thought of the sci-fi films that we have been watching in another class, and took inspiration from The Matrix, Blade Runner and Westworld. I thought of the idea of a futuristic setting, so we eventually agreed Androids vs Mutants; with a futuristic dystopian society where the two battle against each other to win. I am a very visual person who loves to be aesthetically creative. I found it was a lot easier for me to draw everything out as we discussed the potential for our game. All the drawing and prototypes were (messily) created by me and it really helped to feed out any ideas I had.
Character development was always in the forefront of our minds but I think that made us struggle a bit when it came to figuring out how the game was actually played. We paid this price when designing the board.
We first started with the idea that the board would be split into two sections, and within the two there would be multiple bases that would have an effect on how the game was played. I thought of the idea to have 3 players on each side of the board with the goal to dismantle their side and remove players from the board, kind of like chess. Our game, despite being on teams, is individualist – and the players are able to move their characters to wherever they please. This would make the player feel in control of his character and his side of the board.
My main contribution to the groups video was to explore background research and argue our games potential in the marketplace. I thoroughly investigated our lectures and reading materials that we were given to give our game proper depth with an understanding on what our game is and why people would choose to play it.
I mentioned the idea that our game was a gateway game. I thought that this would be an interesting perspective to introduce as we knew we wanted this game to be simple to set up, appealing enough to hold the attention of the players and brief enough not to feel as if they have dragged on (Small, M. 2018). I should have elaborated on this by saying that we could look at it not as a general gateway game; but a gateway game to other warfare games. That’s because this project has technical character elements that people can invest in yet the game itself is not complex.
Another point that I took from our lectures was the idea of the magic circle first theorised by Johan Huizinga. Because our world was based in a science fiction fantasy, I knew that theme, setting and characters were so important. When someone plays a game they are “surrendering to a system that has no effect on anything which lies beyond the circle.” (Simon Egenfeldt-Nielson et. al. 2008) and when “Earth’s cultures dominate, the game will be over; the fantasy will be punctured; the illusion will be ended for good” (Simon Egenfeldt-Nielson et. al. 2008). This however defeats the idea of our project being a gateway game, as it allows for a lot more complex character growth and the ability for the players to be immersed in the new world that we created.
When creating a prototype for our game our biggest struggle was to figure out how the characters would move and how they would attack. I suggested to the group that our characters should have different traits and abilities represented through item cards. I was initially thinking of Pokémon cards and how each character has their own unique capabilities and wanted to incorporate that somehow into our project. The picture below shows our initial basic model of the strengths and weaknesses our characters have. Our components included the use of paper, cards and character pieces (we use poker chips).
Our initial idea before we play tested was to move freely on the board where each character, just like in chess, had their own special way of moving. For example, Nok could only move forwards and backwards but the Exterminator could move one stop only in any direction. Upon playtesting we decided to simplify this by only allowing the characters to move one spot each round anywhere. Before playtesting, I gave each character a star rating in defence, attack and movement. Post-playtesting we had to adjust this in order for it to be more fair for some characters that were at a disadvantage. Additionally, the item cards that were used for specific characters in the beginning were now randomised as to allow for a different gameplay experience each time. After all these changes we were quite satisfied with the final product and am happy to say that we all made an amazing collaborative effort.
I also made this pretty cool logo design, hope you like it!
Ben’s Blog – Click Here
Leo’s Blog – Click Here
Sean’s Blog – Click Here
Barbara, J., 2015. Measuring User Experience in Multiplayer Board Games. Games and Culture. Volume: 12 issue: 7-8, 623-649. Available at: https://journals-sagepub-com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/doi/10.1177/1555412015593419 [Accessed 12 May 2021].
Big Boss Battles. 2018. HomeLatestTabletopTabletop FeaturesIntroducing your friends to tabletop — Which games are best for new players? TABLETOP FEATURES Introducing Your Friends To Tabletop — Which Games Are Best For New Players?. Available at: https://bigbossbattle.com/introducing-your-friends-to-tabletop-which-games-are-best-for-new-players/. [Accessed 6 May 2021].
Peterson, J., 2016. A Game Out Of All Proportions. Zones Of Control Perspectives On Wargaming. 1, 1-29. Available at: https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/2643927/course/section/389574/Peterson%20Zones%20Of%20Control%20Perspectives%20On%20Wargaming%20by%20Pat%20Harrigan%2C%20Matthew%20G.%20Kirschenbaum%20%28z-lib.org%29.pdf?time=1614678155523 [Accessed 12 May 2021].
Simon Egenfeldt-Nielson, Jonas Heide Smith, Susana Pajarest Tosca 2008. Chapter 3 “What is a Game?” Taylor and Francis. 22-40. Available at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/8o6njz7xzbpnrkj/What%20is%20a%20game.pdf?dl=0 . [Accessed 10 May 2021].