Game a Week: Week 40


Idea: Due to a lot of traveling, events, and other things occurring in the industry, I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated to make a game this week.  To sooth a lot of feelings I was having, I decided to spend a portion of my week doodling pictures. With these pictures, I thought it would be fun to create a game where the player would be presented with a series of random pictures and tasked with the goal of creating a story which would connect all of them (much like the children’s game Tell Me A Story).

However, after my laptop charger broke, I was left without a device that would allow me to easily make this game.

In order to continue making any game this week, I sat down with a deck of cards and made a non-digital game. My goal officially changed to creating a card game that was a single player game, and did not rely on the mechanic of separating the cards into piles (such as Solitaire or FreeCell).

What went right: This week’s game was designed with a lot of help from Rami. As we were on a long (looooong) road trip, we had plenty of time to sit without the distraction of technology and work through a solid design together. He started me out with just a few cards (I believe it was all four of the 2 cards from the deck) and we sat through all of the different ways we could create a game from them. We slowly removed constraints and added cards until we started designing a one-player fighting game.

It was incredibly fun to design a game with a completely different set of tools and constraints than I work with most weeks, and it was refreshing to work through a design with a fellow designer.  Sometimes with the Game a Week project, I find myself burrowing into a little design hole that doesn’t allow me to gain any insight from anyone else.  People will occasionally poke into my design hole, but I tend to only allow them in after the fact instead of during the critical parts of the design process.  Having other voices in your design is so incredibly helpful for you to see things in a different way. Everyone has their own experiences in life, and allowing yourself to listen to those other voices really fosters creativity and new ideas.

What went wrong: There’s not a lot that I would deem as having ‘gone wrong’ this week. Technically, losing access to my computer for an entire week could be seen as something that went wrong, but it was actually a wonderful thing. It was nice to get away from technology for a little bit and design a game outside of my comfort zone.

What I learned: Writing rules for a card game (or any non-digital game) is very VERY hard.  Without a digital presence showing the player how the game works, I had to rely on words to explain the entire thing.

Words are funny, because a lot of words mean a lot of different things to a lot of people. Even saying something as simple as “Place these four cards in front of you” is incredibly ambiguous.  Does that mean to place them horizontally? Vertically? In a pile? Face up? Face down? In a circle? What? If they’re horizontal and you say to look at the “first” card, what does that mean? The left most card? The right most card?

It was a very enlightening experience to rely on words to show how the game works.

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