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Game Chef 2013 – First ideas

May 23, 2013 Leave a comment

The Game Chef competition for 2013 started last weekend. This time, both the theme and the ingredients are pictures instead of words, which is a nice change for a while. The pictures are simple enough to be interpreted in various ways, yet interesting enough to give plenty of ideas. Pictures can also convey ideas that single words simply cannot, which makes them ideal as ingredients. I kinda hope to see something similar in the future.

The pictures must have been also quite effective way to get my creative process going since I almost immediately had a few ideas about the ingredients. After going through my initial ideas and thinking about what kind of a game I want to create this time, I ended up having a one solid idea that I can flesh out more as I progress.

Working title: The Parasite

The Parasite is a game of distrust for 4 to 8 players. The game is about a group of scientists coming back up from the depths of Earth where they were conducting a research. Unfortunately, they discover that someone in their group has been infected with a parasite. They only have a few hours before the rest of the team will pick them up, and they need to decide who to put into quarantine so that the parasite won’t spread any more. The backstory isn’t much, but most of the players probably won’t even care about it.

The game runs as follows:

  1. Each player is dealt an identity card. One of the players gets an identity of Parasite, others are identified as Safe.
  2. Make a separate deck with cards with all the cards from 1-10. Each player is then dealt 5 cards and the rest are put away.
  3. The players start discussing about who to test first. If they can’t come up with a unanimous decision, they need to have a majority of votes.
  4. Each player chooses one card from their hands and plays it face down in front of the person who is being tested.
  5. The cards are then shuffled and revealed. If the total sum of red cards is bigger than the sum of black cards, the identity card is revealed. If not, then the card is left as it is.
  6. If the revealed identity is Parasite, the other players win. If not, the identity is left open for everyone to see.
  7. The played cards are put aside the player who was being tested. Everyone can check them whenever they want.
  8. The game continues until the Parasite is found or the players run out of hand cards, in which case the Parasite player wins.

I haven’t tried out the game yet, but I think it works quite well at the moment. Some design questions I am facing at the moment:

  • Should there be other identities besides Parasite?
  • Should the game have a point system, or is it fun enough to be played as it is?
  • Are the game rounds too short?

I have a good feeling about this game, hopefully we’ll be playing it often after it’s done.

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NaGaDeMon – Redesigning Previous Cookings

November 7, 2012 Leave a comment

This month marked the beginning of the National Game Design Month 2012. Not actually a game design contest per se, but more like an event where people plan, design, create and play games, supported by other people going through the same process. Since there are no rules or guidelines, I decided to go back to my first Game Chef -game Psykhotherapy, and redesign the game to better fit my original vision.

Main idea

The game is about people who are seeking help for their mental disorders. The characters enter a new form of therapy where they try to help each other to get over their problems by investigating the subconsciousness and trying to find reasons for the problems. During each session, one character is put into a deep, coma-like sleep where the other patients then enter. The Dreamer is the game master of the session, and the others try to understand the Dreamers subconsciousness: The Dark Mind.

Game mechanics

Originally Psykhotherapy had a d12 based mechanic where the characters Abilities were used to calculate the difficulty of success. It was a decent mechanism, but I am not certain if it serves the game and the themes well enough. I have recently been thinking about using a more direct approach, giving the players a resource to use for solving problems they cannot solve otherwise.

Being a group therapy-based game, the game needs to be structured as such. Each session starts and ends with a therapy session where the characters discuss about their problems and share information to each other. This information should be relevant to the characters illness and to the eventual visits to the Dark Mind.

To measure their progress, each character is given their own patient sheet to fill out. The sheet functions both as a character sheet and as a tool for preparing the character’s own Dark Mind. The sheet contains a few questions intended to help the player to create interesting and entertaining characters and their backgrounds.

What’s next?

Since the main idea and some of the mechanics are already written, I don’t have to spend that much time working on them. Instead, I am going to refine the idea and mechanics, and also rewrite all the (poorly written) text of the previous version.

I’ll update once again after I have done some progress.