Before I designed any computer games I designed board games, card games, and party games as a passionate hobby. Here are some synopses of games I’ve designed and some of the problems I had to address.
Mutiny: The Pirate Party Game
Made in 2006
Style: Party Game
Inspiration: The Prisoner’s Dilemma
Description: Ever wanted to be a pirate? Well, join the crew of the Lecherous Seagull and find your fortunes! In this party game, crew members are all trying to steal the treasure from the hold while the captain sails the ship and its cargo safely to port. The Captain’s position is a tenuous one though as the crew regularly mutinies against him and try to take control.
The crew’s main challenge is to balance the need for money with the need to make sure the ship gets safely from island to island, successfully overcoming obstacles such as other pirate ships, storms, and the dreaded Kraken!
Challenge: My biggest challenge has been that while everyone enjoys the mini-game challenges (based off of kid games I learned when growing up). It seems everyone over 18 gets hurt playing them.
Solution: I’m still searching for other active games that aren’t risky and have plans to add a digital element so that digital mini-games could be a part of the fun!
Challenge: A host is required to guide players through the three phases of each round.
Solution: see the above solution – I’m looking into creating a digital host to lead the game. (i.e. a video)
Made in 2005
Style: Tile Game
Inspiration: Encryption + Dancing + Bees
Description: A game about communication. Each team of two is a pair of bees: a scout bee and a worker bee. The Scout bee peeks under the tiles during their turn and then must communicate to their partner what tiles to move the bees to to collect pollen from the flowers and what tiles to avoid (such as the bear or beekeeper). The Scout, however, must communicate the way that bees do – through dance! Players can either play dance move cards or – if they’re comfortable – dance out their message in 20 seconds or less.
The real twist – your opponents get to move before your worker has a chance to move so you have to encrypt your message somehow so that they don’t steal the flower out from under your partner!
Challenge: Not everyone is comfortable with dancing.
Solution: I foresaw this and included the cards with arrows which are dance moves.
Challenge: The Dance move cards had too much information and were hard to see the arrows from a distance. (I had the actual dance footsteps on the card, plus arrows, plus information about bees)
Solution: Simplify the cards to a small quote about bees plus BIG arrows on the cards.
Made in 2000 – Redesigned in 2005 with Mission Booklet
Style: Board Game
Ages: 8+(includes simple variant for ages 5-8)
Inspiration: Trying to Design a Flight Game.
Description: Project Quasar is a deadly project that creates black holes. It has created one which is threatening to suck in all the planets and destroy them! The four planets each have a space station which could pull their planet to safety, but the races are worried that using all their power to pull the planet will leave them defenseless to the other races. Because they won’t cooperate you need to take command. You will fly your three ships into the opponents’ bases and take control. By doing so, you will pull the planets to safely and save the day!
A Mission Booklet is included which tells of how you rise from a Space Racer to a Flight Leader in the S.T.A.R. Defense Army. The Mission booklet and redone board were made in 2005.
Challenge: The original game I tested on some kids I babysat. The 8 year old got it pretty quick while the 5 year old had a hard time understanding it.
Solution: The first mission booklet starts with missions that are simpler than the game and build up to the full game.
Challenge: I wanted to have some educational value in the game.
Solution: The story in the missions talks about forces (action and reaction) and wormholes. Which I think may be a bit above their comprehension level. I figured it would work because I remembered a friend who at that age talked to me about wormholes. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but he was fascinated by them. So I figured that it would hit that kind of kid just right.