Challenges These Boardgame Designers Faced | FOURTATO GAMES
Many thanks to Ross designer of 1Survives, Jordan designer of DON’TGETSTABBED!, and Stephen designer of SteamPunk Arena, for helping me with this article!
Designing board games is very fun… until it’s not. When you are thinking about themes, game mechanics, characters, and all the other good stuff, it is so exciting. And then the hard part comes, when you have to deal with the details of getting everything to work cohesively. There are only two things that will happen at this point. You either put the game on the back burner or tackle the challenges head on.
In this article, I have 3 board game designers who are looking to launch their Kickstarter campaign in 2019. They are here to talk about the biggest challenge they have faced when designing their board game and how they’ve found a solution to their problem.
is a fast-paced game of strategy and skill. It is every player for themselves, as you try to find a way to escape while evading and fending off the killer’s attacks. Of course, sending the killer to attack your “friends” might be another way to make sure you are the one who survives.
A high school boat trip goes gravely wrong when the engine dies and the vessel drifts onto the rocky shoreline, of a seemingly deserted island. However, all is not as it seems as the island has one lone inhabitant, who has removed themselves from society to avoid the temptation of taking the lives of more innocent victims. The disturbance has reignited the killer’s bloodlust and every soul who remains on the island is their next potential victim.
The goal for 1 Survives was to make an easy to play, accessible and portable card game. We wanted to design a layered game with several win conditions without adding additional components, or mechanics requiring dice, tokens or printed character sheets — nothing complicated or heavy weight.
Throughout the design and testing phase, we’ve been given a lot of great feedback ranging from gameplay balancing ideas, rule suggestions, to how we could include add-ons to expand on the theme.
Our biggest challenge was making sure we listened to the feedback that made positive changes to the pace and balance of the game (which we have) but also avoided making those that added bulk and complexity. Keeping focused on the core idea has helped us progress the development of the game quickly and so far we haven’t broken gameplay or strayed too far from the original concept, which has at times been a tough call. Some ideas were very interesting however would have changed a card game into a board game, and once you cross that line, where do you stop?!
1Survives Kickstarter campaign will be launching in April 2019.
DON’T GET STABBED!
DON’T GET STABBED! is an easy to play, party card game for 3–5 players. In this game you get to kill your friends and family (for pretend)!
DON’T GET STABBED’s theme is inspired by the old slasher flicks, but it is incorporated in a lighthearted twist to make it fun for everyone. One player is the killer and the rest are victims. The victims can work together to escape (or not). The killer wins by getting all the victims STABBED!
Since my game is “one versus all”, I was faced with the challenge of making sure cards were balanced so that it works in 1vs2, 1vs3, and 1vs4 situations. I also didn’t want to add many different instructions to change the setup because I wanted to make the game as simple as possible to avoid intimidating the casual gamers.
My biggest challenge was to balance the game without compromising fun. And how I did this was by playtesting. Lots and lots of playtesting. I determined what worked for the game by trying to measure how much fun the players had while playing it. It was a hard thing to measure. Spreadsheets may tell you the probability of a certain card being drawn, but it doesn’t tell you if it’s fun when drawn.
I remember early play tests, when the game was completely unbalanced towards the killer. I wanted to test it anyways to get some early impressions. Even though the game was basically broken at that point, the play testers still laughed and had a great time. That’s when I knew I was on to something. Now, I just had to make it work.
When I was play testing, I didn’t just look at the mechanics and balancing. I looked at the players. Gaming is an experience and as game designers it’s our job to give players the best experience we can. So I took the time to look at how players react to the experience of playing my game. Through playtesting, I was able to have balance in my game without compromising the player experience.
DON’T GET STABBED! will be on Kickstarter late March 2019.
SteamPunk Arena is a 4X (unit) turn-based game built within a (player) turn-based game that takes place in a period not yet known to Humankind. It is a time of hope and despair, of discovery and destruction, of rust and smoke.
Somewhere in the future, all of humankind is fighting for survival in its longest war against its greatest threat, Climate Change. The polar ice caps have melted and entire civilizations have been swallowed whole by the ocean tides. The surviving scavengers, desperate, and willing to do anything for even the faintest glimmer of hope, have found said hope on a plot of sea resting high off a peninsula simply known as the Arena.
This board game started off as a pencil and paper game that my brother had invented and played with me in middle school called “STAB”. The concept was that two opponents would navigate through islands and attempt to destroy each other’s bases. In later years, when I became a graphic designer and brand consultant, this gave me the outlet to share my nostalgic memories in a creative and meaningful way.
The plan had always been to create a game that was more than what I remembered but still retained some core principles: It had to be easy to set up, easy to get into, evenly balanced, and expandable. Our design and testing phase was extremely long and we were able to extrapolate a lot of data from these playtests that affected these elements. For me, the challenge has always been about where I should draw the line and when I considered the game ready for release. I can spend years playtesting this game and I would get a ton of feedback to change certain values or certain attributes, but I knew I had to deem the game ready for release at some point. When I felt that I could not add anymore to the core mechanics without compromising the core principles, I was comfortable with my product.
SteamPunk Arena plans to launch their Kickstarter campaign end of the first quarter. Sign Up for SteamPunk Arena
Thanks to these awesome game designers!
Credits to Ross designer of 1Survives, Jordan designer of DON’TGETSTABBED!, and Stephen designer of SteamPunk Arena, for all the help they provided for me to put together this article!
Article published on www.fourtato.com.