Creating a game is hard. Creating a game as a fun hobby with no game-design experience is harder.
So over the past month we’ve taken a step back and started to research game design to help with the pitfalls we keep running into. 90% of this research is reading through a blog referenced earlier, https://danfelder.net/. I expect it’ll be referenced (along with the Remaking Magic Podcast) a lot in upcoming posts. And a big thanks to Dan if he’s reading this, the information you’ve provided online is incredibly helpful.
First and foremost, we have come up with our design goal. We’ve always had it in our head, but it’s easy to lose sight of a goal if it’s not written down.
Design Goal: Create a fun tactical points-based card game that is quick paced and can be completed in 20 minutes or less.
Complexity & Depth
Secondly, and extremely helpful, we’ve learned about complexity and depth: https://danfelder.net/2015/05/21/design-101-complexity-vs-depth/. We quickly realized the complexity of our game far outweighed the depth it provided, and we’ve made some pretty radical design changes. It’s now top of mind when testing new mechanics to see how they play out. Specifically, when we have to make a decision, we go with the lowest complexity possible that achieves our design goal.
Here are a few examples on how it’s shaped the game:
- Combat consisted of adding up attack and defense values and calculating damage. There was a lot of addition and memory with little tactical fun. Now units just do damage.
- Notes/rules that read things like “if attack value is 2x defense value, deal 4 damage, if attack value is greater than defense value deal 2 damage, if attack value is less than defense value deal one damage, if you are the attacker and not the defender… except on Tuesdays” were burned.
- Simply card design. Cards like “+1 defense vs mounted units” sounded great. But the complexity of tracking who gets bonus defense when, versus the strategic decisions it led to while playing, was out-of-balance.
The game is now the best it has been since we started this project, and we look forward to upcoming improvements!