Sunday, April 14, 2013

Game Design Dorkshop Notes

On April 13th, 2013 an introduction to game design workshop was hosted by Clay Ewing and Lein Tran of the University of Miami Interactive Media Program at The Lab Miami.

Clay and Lein started the workshop by having us play a card game called Pit. It is a simulation of commodities trading. Next they did a brief presentation on the basics of game design. Slides are here:

The remainder of the workshop was spent creating board games. Participants formed groups of 3 or more people. Each group got a card with a word on it. The word determined the theme of the game. Each team got to pick any number of random raw materials from a near by table to to build their game. After each team designed their game they had to play test it. Then they invited another group to play test their game and critique it.

My group consisted of four people: me, Chris, Kim, and Vanessa. Our theme was "TRAINS". Our raw materials were: a set of white flash cards, some sharpie pens, a set of post-it notes, a large golden ball (to represent NYC), a couple colored x-shaped plastic pieces, some colored wooden pegs, and a six sided die (d6).

The first game we came up with was:


The objective of the game is to be the first player to connect their starting node with the last node (NYC). The first player to do so wins the game. The nodes represent the neighboring cities to NYC.

 Materials Used:
  • The post-it notes represent: when cut into small sqaures -- nodes (an abstraction of neighboring cities to NYC); and when folded into rectangles -- they represent rails.
  • The colored pegs were used to represent a player's train
  • The wooden blocks were used to represent "blocks" or "barriers" on a node
  • The orange ball was used to represent the goal (NYC)
  • The d6 was used to determine the action for each game turn
Game Play Rules:

Starting from the far left of the board. Players must lay down rails by connecting nodes on the board. Rails can only be placed from an adjacent node. Rails of different players could cross at the same node. The first player to form a complete line from their starting node to the end node (with the giant globe on it) wins.
  1. Players start at node row at far end of the board.
  2. Each player rolls a d6. Player with highest roll gets to place peg on any start node. Repeat until all start nodes filled.
  3. Each player rolls a d6. Highest score goes first. Keep rolling to determine order in which players will play (from highest to lowest roll).
  4. There are five available actions for each turn:
    • AIM TRACK - change the direction of any last laid track in any direction
    • BLOCK NODE - place "block"/"wooden peg" on node w/no edges going out of it. If node is blocked then no further tracks can go out of it.
    • CREATE TRACK - place track between two nodes
    • DESTROY TRACK - destroy any last laid track
    • WILD - perform any of the available actions: AIM, BLOCK, CREATE, and DESTROY.
  5. A roll of a d6 determines what action a play can take on his turn. Here is the mapping of die roll to action:
    4. AIM TRACK
    6. WILD
Start of "NYC EXPRESS". Players at starting positions.
Several turns into the game. Three play test players
Early play testing. Four players.
After the first round of game designs we were told to use our existing materials and create a second game around any theme. After some deliberation we built a second game which was an abstraction on "NYC EXPRESS" and combined elements of checkers.

2nd game "no name" in play. Four players.
The second game used a similar mechanic to the first game. Each action was determined by a roll of a d6. This time we decided to make more use of the blocking mechanic. We also introduced swapping and stunning.

2nd Game "NO NAME"

The objective of the 2nd game was to be the first player to reach the orange globe by what ever means necessary. Each player had one action per turn determined by a roll of a d6.

 Materials Used:

Same materials used a for "NYC EXPRESS" game.

Game Play Rules
  1. Each player starts on the far left of the board on a node numbered from 1 to 4. Each player rolls a d6 to determine their starting position.
  2. Player travels from node to node via edges connected to that node
  3. First player to reach orange globe wins.
  4. Each player gets two "block" power ups.  Represented by a colored wooden peg.
  5. Player order determined by roll of d6. Highest goes first and lowest goes last.
  6. "stunning" if a player moves on top of another player then the player on the bottom is stunned and can not move until the player on top moves off him. A player can also "stun" another player by placing a "block" peg on top of them. Only a swap or a roll of "unblock" by the stunned player can remove the block or if the player who placed the block wishes to remove it an place it on another player or on a node.
  7. Player rolls d6 at each turn to determine their action
    1. MOVE ONE NODE - move player one node away in any direction so long as an edge exists between the current player node and the adjacent node.
    2. BLOCK - place a block on any node or any player.
    3. MOVE TWO NODES - move player two nodes away in any direction so long as an edge exists between the current player node and the adjacent node.
    4. REMOVE BLOCK - remove block from board and keep in your possession. Players can remove blocks placed by other players.
    5. SWAP - swap position with any other player
    6. WILD - perform any of the actions above. Player's choice.
  8. There are six possible actions:
Everyone (including myself) seemed to like the 2nd game best. It played a lot faster and it sort of felt like a video game.

Overall it was a fun workshop. The pace was excellent and the participation was great. Three other groups each created three games: a card game, a seed farming game, and a hidden object/quest game. I only got to play the seed farming game which was based on beer pong. I look forward to the next Game Design Dorkshop. We need more of these types of events in Miami.