Saturday, November 16, 2013

I'd like to do something new... but what?

A few weeks ago I had some game design thoughts, but I never finished the post. Here it is now... I probably meant to write more, but I haven't really thought about it since.

It's been a while since I really did any new game design - with an exception being the game design retreat I hosted last July. Today I thought I'd like to do something new... but what? In general my M.O. is to put tried and true concepts together in new or unique ways, but I kind of want to do something more unique. Something that won't be derided as "derivative" on BGG.

I started thinking about that a little bit today, and so far all I've got is the beginnings of an idea. Imagine a game where you do well by helping an opponent do well. There have been games in which players must cooperate against the game system (lest they all lose), and yet are in competition with each other. One major issue with games like that is that if a player finds they are out of the running to win, they no longer have incentive to cooperate vs the game. In some cases a losing player can decide to bring their opponents down with them, so to speak. My thought is a bit different, more like a game where players are out to better their own position, but also score points based on the ranking of their opponents in various aspects of the game.

For this to work, there would have to be several different aspects of the game at which players could compete or excel. As a player, your score would be the combination of your own performance at each of these, and the performance of specific other players as well. For example, if I were playing a game with Russell, Michael, and Mandy, I might score for Russell's performance in one particular aspect, Michael's performance in another particular aspect, and Mandy's performance in a third aspect.

Civ games tend to have various different aspects, such as Military, Civics, Agriculture, Technology, etc. So maybe that is the way to go. I had mentioned before wanting to re-use the main mechanism from Eminent Domain, possibly with a historical civ type of game. Maybe this is a good fit. I realize I just said I wanted to do something "new" - but the Eminent Domain's "deck learning" mechanism is original, and therefore maybe acceptable to use. I think the desire to help your opponents might be novel and new - I don't think I've seen it done before.

I like the deck management aspect of the Deck Learning mechanism, and maybe there's a way to entangle that with an interactive trading mechanism. Suppose in addition to the cards in your deck/hand, there is some kind of income you receive, or rather resources you get access to via trade. Like Settlers, suppose you could offer to trade a card in hand for a card in an opponents' hand - but rather than exchange actual cards, each of those players would take the card from their hand and place it on their board (face down probably) on a space in their tableau matching the card they're trading for. So you lose the card from your deck, representing a constant export of that thing, and you gain permanent access to whatever you just traded for. Thus you need not fill your deck with that thing in order to use it.

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