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A board game about making video games

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twotwozombie
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Joined: 11/02/2011

Recently, I was inspired by the iOS game Game Dev Story, and thought it would be interesting to see if I could recreate the feel of that game in a board game.

In Game Dev Story you run a video game company. You can hire employees, advertise for your games, promote yourself at trade shows, etc. Over the course of the game your company releases several games with a variety of genres and on multiple gaming platforms.

I thought a lot about it and decided that the worker placement category might be a good place to start. However, I really want to avoid making "just another worker placement game," so hopefully my final design will bring some new ideas.

So here are my ideas so far. All of this is subject to change, and I am not particularly attached to any of it yet. I basically just tried to describe the game I was imagining, without getting into the details (which of course don't exist yet). I would appreciate any input. Is there a better way to accomplish this theme? Does this sound like it has the potential for fun or would it feel like work? Is this a theme worth pursuing? Would the theme be improved by running a different kind of company, like a movie studio?

Setup

Players start with 1 employee in each department:

  • development
  • art/design
  • music/audio
  • management/administration/hr (?)
  • advertising
  • ideas/innovation (?)

The board consists of "action areas" that represent the different departments of the companies.

Turns

Employees (workers) can only take actions within their departments.

Ideas

  • Employees collaborate for bigger actions. Advertising+Design to create billboard ad.

Narrative

Game plays over 3 rounds. In each round the players are working to produce 1 video game. At the end of each round the games are "released" and scoring takes place. Scoring involves making money to pay salaries, and other benefits involving marketing (buzz, publicity, etc.).

Rounds 2 and 3 should allow players to benefit from the success of previously released games. This should include not only monetary profits, but also bonuses generated from the popularity and overall success of the previously released game(s). This could possibly involve the ability to create a sequel, which could change some of the strategies that the player uses.

Later rounds could also bring improvements in game design technology, such as 3d graphics, motion controls, etc.

Winning should basically be about making the most profits.

Departments

Development

  • Writing code
  • Debugging

Art/Design

  • Creating artwork

Music/Audio

  • Composing music
  • Sound fx

Management/Advertising/HR

  • Hiring new employees
  • Promoting employees (possibly creating hybrid employees?)
  • Company policies (effect employee productivity somehow? maybe create unique "powers" for the players?)

Advertising

  • Generating money/buzz

Ideas/Innovation

  • Writing storylines
  • Developing gaming innovations
  • Strategies (genres, platforms, etc.)
  • Research

Concerns

  • Blocking actions might not hold up thematically. One company composing music should not necessarily get in the way of another company doing the same. A possible solution could be inspired by Alien Frontiers, where a limited number of other players could take the same action. Or perhaps the first player to take a particular action each turn could receive some bonus.
Kroz1776
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Joined: 10/09/2013
Departmental Flaw

There is one flaw that I noticed while going through your post. This has to do with the departments that the workers work in. First off, some of your departments only have one job to do. If everyone has one worker to put there...then there is no choice for the player. He will put his worker there. The whole purpose of worker placement games is to have a wide variety of places to put your workers. You don't want to restrict people into having no choice in the matter.

Other departments have two choices. While this is better than one, if you're going to go with your idea of having department specific workers, then you need at least 3 if not more choices in each department. The art department for example could be combined with the sound department. This gives you now three options.

Sabash
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Joined: 10/21/2013
Your departments and lists of

Your departments and lists of available actions in those departments would likely benefit from research into how videogame companies are actually structured, but here is some info from my own experience in the industry.

Ideas/Innovation may be better named as Creative Direction.
Advertising would be better named Marketing/PR.

Many developers don't have in-house Marketing/PR as it is often handled by the publisher.

You need a QA department.
You need producers.

The basic breakdown of the creative groups within a videogame company:
Creative Director/Writing Team - Outlines the high level plan for the story, writes the story and dialogue.
Programmers - Make the game work.
Artists - Make the game pretty.
Designers - Make the game fun.

Audio could fall under art or design, or it could be its own thing. Additional audio tasks include working with actors to record dialogue.

The basic management/other groups:
Producers - Create a development plan, make sure everyone is doing their jobs to get everything done according to plan, coordination with platform holders (ex: Microsoft, Sony, Steam).
QA - Make sure everything is bug free and functioning as intended
Marketing/PR - Interact with fans (via social media, advertising, forums, etc), Interact with Press
HR - Hiring, studio policies

Hope some of that info helps, but as to how to game-ify any of that, I'll leave that to you. :)

twotwozombie
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Kroz1776 wrote:There is one

Kroz1776 wrote:
There is one flaw that I noticed while going through your post. This has to do with the departments that the workers work in. First off, some of your departments only have one job to do. If everyone has one worker to put there...then there is no choice for the player. He will put his worker there. The whole purpose of worker placement games is to have a wide variety of places to put your workers. You don't want to restrict people into having no choice in the matter.

Other departments have two choices. While this is better than one, if you're going to go with your idea of having department specific workers, then you need at least 3 if not more choices in each department. The art department for example could be combined with the sound department. This gives you now three options.

I probably should have been more clear about the format of some of my notes. The listed "actions" are not actually actions, but thematic ideas that would be used as a basis for designing the actual actions. So for example, "debugging" could involve an action that "removes X bug tokens" or something like that. I agree that there will need to be a variety of actions for every department.

twotwozombie
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Sabash wrote:Your departments

Sabash wrote:
Your departments and lists of available actions in those departments would likely benefit from research into how videogame companies are actually structured, but here is some info from my own experience in the industry.

Ideas/Innovation may be better named as Creative Direction.
Advertising would be better named Marketing/PR.

Many developers don't have in-house Marketing/PR as it is often handled by the publisher.

You need a QA department.
You need producers.

The basic breakdown of the creative groups within a videogame company:
Creative Director/Writing Team - Outlines the high level plan for the story, writes the story and dialogue.
Programmers - Make the game work.
Artists - Make the game pretty.
Designers - Make the game fun.

Audio could fall under art or design, or it could be its own thing. Additional audio tasks include working with actors to record dialogue.

The basic management/other groups:
Producers - Create a development plan, make sure everyone is doing their jobs to get everything done according to plan, coordination with platform holders (ex: Microsoft, Sony, Steam).
QA - Make sure everything is bug free and functioning as intended
Marketing/PR - Interact with fans (via social media, advertising, forums, etc), Interact with Press
HR - Hiring, studio policies

Hope some of that info helps, but as to how to game-ify any of that, I'll leave that to you. :)

Thanks for the input! The advice for proper naming of these departments is definitely appreciated. As far as Marketing/PR goes, I think the reason that I might include it is because it seems like it might be one of the easier aspects to "game-ify," and it could easily have a very direct result on the $$ produced in the game.

Maybe the player should take on the role of "creative director?"

QA is a very good one that I didn't think of. Also, I think way you described producers is kind of what I was imagining when I said "ideas/innovation" so I think I'll just go with producers instead for now.

I think what I'm getting from your comments also is that they need to be streamlined. Too many different areas could add unnecessary complexity. So something like combining art and audio into a more general "creative" department, might make more sense as far as a game goes.

Thanks for all the suggestions, definitely gives me a lot to think about.

saiyanslayer
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Joined: 10/08/2013
Some Suggestions

Here's a few things that popped into my head:

What if the workers each had a profile like Game Dev Story? They could have modifiers to Programming, Art, Audio, Producing and/or Design. Maybe these are dice used for that task? Add up all of the worker's stats for that task and roll that many dice?

Rivals could pilfer employees, taking your good ones. They would have to pay a higher salary though.

QA could be a fun addition! Maybe the more you spend on QA, the better the game quality is? The amount you invest into QA would determine how much dice you'd roll to remove bugs.

Game Bugs! Every one rolled one a die adds a Game Bug? Some event cards or risky ventures could add bugs as well. They lower your overall score if present at the end of the game? QA could then become very important. A buggy game is always terrible, right?

Kroz1776
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Joined: 10/09/2013
Ninjas!

saiyanslayer wrote:
Here's a few things that popped into my head:

What if the workers each had a profile like Game Dev Story? They could have modifiers to Programming, Art, Audio, Producing and/or Design. Maybe these are dice used for that task? Add up all of the worker's stats for that task and roll that many dice?

Rivals could pilfer employees, taking your good ones. They would have to pay a higher salary though.

QA could be a fun addition! Maybe the more you spend on QA, the better the game quality is? The amount you invest into QA would determine how much dice you'd roll to remove bugs.

Game Bugs! Every one rolled one a die adds a Game Bug? Some event cards or risky ventures could add bugs as well. They lower your overall score if present at the end of the game? QA could then become very important. A buggy game is always terrible, right?

Ok, I've got a pitch for you...Ninjas! Corporate Ninjas!

Ok, so maybe not Ninjas, but you could have something where you could "ruin" their game or their image. Thus they need to get their PR team on it to give it all a nice spin to save their butts.

Or going on your bug idea, you could make it so that depending on how many bugs there are, you have to draw a certain card or amount of cards to determine the PR side effect.

saiyanslayer
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Joined: 10/08/2013
Kroz1776 wrote:saiyanslayer

Kroz1776 wrote:
saiyanslayer wrote:
Here's a few things that popped into my head:

What if the workers each had a profile like Game Dev Story? They could have modifiers to Programming, Art, Audio, Producing and/or Design. Maybe these are dice used for that task? Add up all of the worker's stats for that task and roll that many dice?

Rivals could pilfer employees, taking your good ones. They would have to pay a higher salary though.

QA could be a fun addition! Maybe the more you spend on QA, the better the game quality is? The amount you invest into QA would determine how much dice you'd roll to remove bugs.

Game Bugs! Every one rolled one a die adds a Game Bug? Some event cards or risky ventures could add bugs as well. They lower your overall score if present at the end of the game? QA could then become very important. A buggy game is always terrible, right?

Ok, I've got a pitch for you...Ninjas! Corporate Ninjas!

Ok, so maybe not Ninjas, but you could have something where you could "ruin" their game or their image. Thus they need to get their PR team on it to give it all a nice spin to save their butts.

Or going on your bug idea, you could make it so that depending on how many bugs there are, you have to draw a certain card or amount of cards to determine the PR side effect.

If PR results were on a chart (good PR < 3, No PR 4-8, Bad PR 8-11, Catastrophe 12+), add a d6 per bug, add the results. A few bugs could go unnoticed, or could big cause problems. Depends if you want to risk it. Maybe certain workers could allow rerolling bug dice?

Corsaire
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Joined: 06/27/2013
hmm

One question is is it too insular/appealing to other designer/developers but not a wide audience? I think "slipping into the shoes of" has more appeal.

So, if I were approaching a similar theme, I would focus on the programming development staff and have it as a tactical warfare game against the other departments :)

Hmmm, actually, yea that's where I'd go; looking at the independent 5-7 person development shop competing with other independents for resources while under contract to "Mega Game Corp" to generate the best pre-sales numbers and miss your target date less worse than everyone else. That's the shiz.

Probably the better and more exciting simulation and wouldn't look like too many other things out there. So theoretically some worker placement, but maybe retooled better as project time chunks (maybe even a gantt chart for the board . Actions like "If you include bikinis in your game, then you can reserve two resource-days of marketing."

perfectimperfection
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Joined: 11/10/2013
Diversification

Following on a little from the 'ninja' idea, you could also put in a mechanic whereby two people creating something too similar actually enter a product war (so if x% of worker points in opposing players' games was the same, the two suffer for splitting the market) thus encouraging diversification of games, and maybe a forced redeployment of some workers to individualise their product?

I agree that focussing too much on mimicking Game Dev will likely water the specific areas down a little too much, and create something where it is difficult to focus on more than one thing. Perhaps compress the idea down into 'design', 'story', 'gameplay' and 'aesthetic', or some such. That way you could give a real focus to something and have it be meaningful.

For your evolution idea, perhaps automatically have an upgrade in all areas (2d to 3d graphics, for example, 8-bit soundtracks to orchestral scores), but give bonuses to players who invested workers in the design area that they would be included in. If you don't do much work in design, your understanding of graphics is not as advanced as someone who did, so the latter person gets a +1 bonus to design this turn.

Just some initial thoughts, but I like the concept.

lewpuls
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Joined: 04/04/2009
What are you modeling?

I'm not familiar with Game Dev Story. Evidently your game is primarily about hiring employees, and marketing, because there's nothing about choosing platform or business plan (F2P, digital distribution, consoles, etc.). Furthermore, the biggest problem, perhaps, for a game dev studio is funding, and then the fact that most *funded* games are never published. Internal rather than external problems, I suppose. Is the studio supposed to be the publisher as well?

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