Skip to Content

Any tips on designing real-time board games?

5 replies [Last post]
larienna
larienna's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008

I had new ideas lately for my haunted mansion dice game (like express dice games). In order to simulate fear, I thought that having a real time game where the players need to exit the house before the timer expires could be an interesting idea.

But I never designed and real time board game before, so I was wondering if anybody had tips and suggestion for designing or play testing such kind of games.

I also though of a traitor mechanic, but I don't think it would fit well since the traitor could slow down the rolling process voluntarily. It would only work if there is some sort of accusation mechanic (like shadow over Camelot) to put the traitor out of the game if he slow down the game too much.

radioactivemouse
radioactivemouse's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/08/2013
You have three big things you

You have three big things you need to consider: Real time, horror, and traitor.

With real time, there are several games you can draw inspiration from: Speed (card game), Uno, Space Alert, etc. even some simulated real time like Neuroshima Hex and The Ares Project (board games).

With horror, there are a bunch of horror-themed games: Mansions of Madness, Betrayal on House on the Hill, Arkham Horror, etc.

Then there's traitor: Battlestar Galactica, Shadows over Camelot, you know the deal.

If you haven't played any of these games, PLAY them. You'll learn more to help you with your game if you play lots of games.

As far as building a game...

I would focus more on a real-time horror mini game, then expand it to include the traitor mechanic. I believe the biggest challenge will be the time/horror "engine". Regardless, you will need to have a time where the player needs to prepare (whether at the beginning or as a pulse between rounds) so that they know what the players are getting themselves into. Having a time to prepare can really increase the tension when going into the next round...if you decide to got that way.

As far as playtesting, regardless of how you simulate real time (mini hourglass, digital timer or recorded)...just do it. Experiment, playtest, experiment some more. Most of your ironing out will be through trial and error, regardless of what hints or tricks you get from here.

Anyways, good luck!

Parthon
Offline
Joined: 07/08/2013
Interesting, do you have any

Interesting, do you have any more ideas about your board game? I think if there was more to work with, then the tips would be more valuable.

The first thing that came to mind from the other real-time board games I've played (Space Alert, Galaxy Trucker) is that even though it's real time, none of the players are waiting for each other. Taking a mythical rolling the die board game for example, I would have each player with their own dice, so they could accomplish what they needed to do at any time. The only downside is that it's hard to check to see if everyone is doing the right thing.

Another idea that came to mind is having 'timed segments', where there's a quick timer that determines the action phase of perhaps 2-3 minutes, and when it stops then that segment stops. The game is made up of a limited number of turns, so there's still the "can we get it done in time?" feel, but instead of being pressure under the whole game, it's intense pressure for a little bit, then a break. During that break, the players could scheme and plan and work out who will do what next.

Just thinking about the traitor mechanic combined with segments, I was thinking if people could vote for who they think the traitor is, and if half or more of the people vote for a single person, then that person is out of the game, traitor or not. If you got rid of a teammate, it would make the game harder. :P
Variant: If the player is not a traitor, they don't leave, and you are one step closer to finding out who the traitor really is. This makes it harder for the traitor to stay hidden each turn, so has to do as much 'damage' as possible while they are still alive.
Variant variant: Only one person gets to accuse the traitor each round, and gets to look at their 'traitor or not' card. Then the rest do a quick vote as to whether or not to kick the accused from the game. If the traitor is the accuser, this gets messy.

larienna
larienna's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/28/2008
On BGG, for the traitor

On BGG, for the traitor aspect, one person suggested managing it as a possession. For example, a bad roll could make you draw a "possession" card which tells you if you are a bad guy or not. The more possession cards you have, the more likely the people are going to suspect you as being the traitor. But only 1 card has the traitor.

bonsaigames
bonsaigames's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/20/2010
Possessed

larienna wrote:
On BGG, for the traitor aspect, one person suggested managing it as a possession. For example, a bad roll could make you draw a "possession" card which tells you if you are a bad guy or not. The more possession cards you have, the more likely the people are going to suspect you as being the traitor. But only 1 card has the traitor.

I like that one.

Despot9
Offline
Joined: 07/26/2008
I've never designed a board

I've never designed a board game with actual real time, and I've only played a few I actually like, but I have simulated real time. That basically comes down to having a mechanic that allows the player to choose what they are doing without revealing their choice to their opponents. Then, everyone reveals their choice at once and carries them out.

For example, I have an airplane combat game I'm working on called Dawgs of War (http://www.nathanhansengames.com/games-in-pipeline/dawgs-of-war/). In it each player has a hand of cards that can be used to indicate how their plane will move in the next round. Each player places their chosen cards face down in front of them. Once everyone has placed their cards down, everyone reveals them and moves there planes as appropriate, adjust speeds, etc. Then they can choose to fire on any planes in there arc of fire. It allows for fast play, and while not actually real time it has the same feel because the choices are made simultaneously.

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut