1st prototype of 2nd game

Started on my 2nd game’s prototype yesterday, an area control game inspired by one of this site’s monthly challenges (which are having some technical challenges of their own). “Area” made me think of Area 51, and my pawns can be aliens or UFOs. I made a circle-ish hex grid with 51 spaces, but I didn’t want a typical fighting game, which is when I thought of a parking lot and fighting over parking spaces. Everything is electric and wireless in the future, right?–so maybe the best charging station is in the middle of the board and it’s a King of the Hill mechanic. I busted out the colored pencils and made a rainbow of concentric loops expanding out from the central space, got some tokens out to be UFOs, and grabbed some dice to try to work this puppy out! 

At first, I was just fooling around, rolling the dice and moving some spaceships around haphazardly. I don’t mind dice as a player, but their randomness often makes it feel like the game is playing me (a phrase I read lately which I love). Then I remembered the mechanic of flipping numbered tokens for movement, which still gives you 6 possibilities but the act of picking them at least feels strategic even if there’s no strategy yet (how could there be? There’s no rules or goals yet!). 

The melding of mechanics and theme is super-important, I think, so I brainstormed about UFOs for a bit, and the concepts of tractor beams and force fields sprang to mind. Tractor beams could pull enemy ships away from the middle, pull bonus items from the board (space junk? asteroids?) or perhaps pull your own ship toward something. Force fields are usually defensive, but what if I used them like bumper cars? I made some arbitrary choices, ignoring the tractor beam idea for now.

A couple of fakey two-handed playthroughs later, and I was able to write down some Rules. I was encouraged by their brevity. Only half a page this time, as opposed to my first game which took a entire page. Progress!

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Designer Diary, Prototyping
Design Theory
Carla Kopp

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