The Board Game Project

11 11 2007

Back of card design.

My first experience in any sort of real game design was with making a board game for my Intro to Game Development class. Working in groups can be a bit daunting sometimes, but in this industry, it’s what you gotta do! So when our group of five first got together everyone was a little shy and no one had ideas, except for one. He really had a story idea than a gameplay one. It was about Irish history pirates, based on fact. When hearing the word “pirates”, it made me cringe, because as my professor said, “Everyone does pirates, zombies, and ninjas.” But the story was very intriguing and so we ran with it. During our time off, I sat at my desk trying to think of a way to make a game around that. After several hours of solitaire…I decided that maybe I was looking at it the wrong way. So I thought, what makes the games I’ve played growing up fun? I immediately thought of the game “Weapons and Warriors”. Having that kind of interactivity was something I really enjoyed and it was what I’ve enjoyed in most games like Pictionary or even an old Lion King game I had as a child. These games all involved the players doing other things besides moving pieces on a board.

I wanted to combine this interactivity with something that would add in telling the story of this pirate woman taking over different areas of Ireland. I needed some sort of basis that anyone could pick it up and get it. That’s wear Monopoly came in. I thought, “That game can be rather boring sometimes…what can I do to make it better?” And so in combining the two games, I realized that this could be something that would take skill, strategy, and at least an hour of fun gameplay! Keyword being “fun”.

I became the sort of “producer” of our project after presenting the idea and the group had agreed to it. I told command and really did my best to direct the group on how I envisioned the gameplay and design. I sorted out jobs for everyone. The guy who came up with the story focused on the design of the game…really, the aesthetics of it. I gave the other members jobs of making the pieces of the game and the rule book. I worked on tweaking the game mechanics and balancing of the game. It was a little nerve racking because it was my first game design project and some how I had ended up being the leader.

Over the course of the project, out of the five members, only three were actually working on the game. I did everything I could to get these guys to help us out, but I don’t know what else I could have done. So the three of us carried on and worked our hardest to make this project and make it work. Luckily, one of those absent members helped us play test it and it was fun right there on the first run through! Only a few minor tweaks here and there and we had it! I was so happy and so proud, knowing that my ideas came to life and worked! It was a very validating feeling and I felt like, no matter what grade we got, I would know that I had made my absolute best effort and worked my hardest on something I will always be proud of.

The day the board game was due, the member in charge of the rules forgot to spell-check his rule book and also forgot to send us a copy beforehand to check it for errors and make sure it could make sense for everyone. And unfortunately, that became our downfall. I suppose, I should have pursued him more that night before when he said not to worry about it. But you know what? It was a great learning experience. I would still want to work with that member because he was a hard worker. It was just this one thing that he slacked off on, but we all have those moments in life.

We ended up getting a B on the project, but other great news followed about it (which I’ll perhaps mention in later posts) that really made up for the B. I’m still so proud of it and would love to make a copy of that board one day and re-write the rules and play it with friends in my spare time. Everyone in our class did a really great job with their games and I’d love to work on another board game one day!

I think the project was a great way to learn about game design even for the digital format. By learning how to make something “fun” and “balanced” in a non-digital format, where there is no forgiveness, really teaches you so much of the fundamentals to making a good, fun game for all who play it.

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