I decided to try my hand at a non-digital game this week. Because I rely so heavy on technology in my daily life, I figured it would be a fun challenge. And, as I was in Las Vegas for DICE, I decided that the only logical course of action would be to make a game using a deck of cards. There were a lot of constraints with using only a deck of cards to create a new game, but I ultimately settled on a two player game where you had to get your token from point A to point B. Each card in the deck would represent a distance and direction that you had to move and each player would attempt to reach their opponent’s joker card first.
I used the value of the card for the distance you could go (dividing the value by 2 since the movement value would be way bigger than the playing area size otherwise) and the suite of card as the direction you moved.
Playing off of the theme of the Global Game Jam a few weeks ago, the direction of movement is relative to the player’s viewpoint. This means that if player 1 is told to move left, then that player moves left relative to his or herself – not in respect to the playing area’s orientation.
I ended up making a custom deck for the game, as the rules were incredibly confusing when told in the context of playing cards. This means that I actually ended up making a card game that works much better NOT as a card game, but at least it’s non-digital as originally intended.
What went right
I set out to create a non-digital game, and I did so.
What went wrong
Again, I learn the lesson of playtesting. I had been working on this game on and off all week while at DICE (in between meeting with people and writing emails), but by the time I got it to a playable state, DICE was over and I was alone in a hotel room in Denver. I tried to play the game on my own, but it’s borderline impossible to play a two player game (which relies on strategy involving hidden cards from your opponent) all alone. I’m still not even sure if this truly works as a two player game – even after reaching out to the all-mighty internet for playtesting help.
What I learned
The more constraints I have on my tools, the more I’m forced to be creative with a mechanic. I’m not saying that technology is bad (I would NEVER), but it’s nice to put various constraints on yourself to see what you can come up with.
Also, writing the rules to a non-digital game is incredibly difficult. I had it all worked out in my head, and on paper, how it would work. However, creating a text that would explain to someone NOT in my head how to play this game was very VERY difficult. I have a new found respect for people who write the instructions for non-digital games.