This board game was one of the two projects we had done in our first trimester [the other being our UDK FPS Maps]. I had the pleasure of working with Arnaud Bru and Finn Teague-Moore. The brief was to design a board game as an excercise in game design metrics and balancing.
The original concept was by Arnaud and is basically a laymen’s RPG. The basic core concepts were there from the beginning:
- Dungeons that increased in difficulty by requiring higher attack rolls
- Dungeons each have 1 piece of gear that add points to your roll.
- Different types of terrain
- 6 players that leave “The Village” at the center of the board to collect enough gear to be able to face the “Dragon” [read final dungeon] at The Village.
In short, we had brainstormed as to how we can make the original concept even more compelling yet easily accesible to those that may not be hardcore RPG players. We then passed through many iterations adding, testing, and throwing away many ideas. We tweaked metrics such as the size of the board, the shape of the board, buffs gained from the acquired gear, number of dice required for rolls, and dice required for attacks.
Some of the milestones of note during the design process were:
- Finally switching to Action Points [AP] instead of dice rolls for player movement in order to make the ability to access dungeons and “leveling up” more equitable.
- Adding fixed enemies on specific map locations to provide more chance to gain what was essentially 2nd tier loot, and help balance the intense skew of highly geared players to low geared players.
- Discovering through testing that players highly enjoyed our PvP design [similar to the every-day card game “War”] through the feeling of Schadenfreude.
- Introducing funnelling of players into choke points to encourage more PvP.
- Rewarding PvP winners with a chance to choose a piece of loot of choice from the defeated player.
- Strengthening the feeling of gathering and personalization that testers had enjoyed by providing a character sheet to place gear tokens and potion cards.
Below are some of the iterations of the board:
Below is an alternative to the board version 5 [on the right]. We explored the idea of being able to skin the game in various secondary world themes to easily cater for different demographics. This one took the hex imagery and ran with it basically converting the world into a hive and the dragon to a Dragonbee. A first iteration of the character sheet can also be seen.
Below is another example of other skins [themes] that can be applied. In this 8-Bit Hero theme the hexes are now seen as pixels with simple colors giving it a retro-gaming look.
The final board once again. Further exploring the pixelated theme, we settled on a Minecraft-ish look. Here each hex is composed of pixels. Old school RPG art was also used further reinforcing the nostalgic feel of the game.
Some photos of the board set up.