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Paradigm Stories - My Story-based Sandbox Card/Board Game

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Palindrome
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Joined: 04/14/2012

Well, seeing all the creative and enthusiastic minds on this site has pushed me to write about my own endeavors. Seeing as I'm not sure if I'm going to set up through the forum, game journal or blog, or if I'll even be able to post regularly, I'll post here for now.

As anyone who has read my posts here or on BBG (username: memora) knows, I'm designing a dating sim card game with board game components. However, I'm actually aiming to make a sandbox-style story game. More about the "sandbox" aspect later. I'm planning on dividing my game into 3 categories - social (which includes dating sims), investigative (exploring and escaping a "mysterious" haunted house, for example) and combative (like the majority of card games available right now). Certain cards, like characters and locations are category-free, meaning that they can be used in both a dating sim and a battle game scenario. Of course, sometimes that leads to strange gameplay combinations, but that's part of the design that I like, keeping it interesting. Certain types of cards cannot be ported over. For example, a bouquet of roses has no plausible use in a combat game, unless there is an additional negotiation aspect like in the first two Persona games.

Being someone who likes customization and variability, I opted for a sandbox-style design. This means that there isn't a single linear way to play the game, making it free-form, but of course, that's limited to what a card or board game can do (as opposed to a computer game). It's hard to explain, so I'll use a dating sim setup as an example. There will be a "paradigm" or framework, explaining which character is your starting character, love interests, main locations, etc. However, a player can reconfigure the game (through guidelines) however he/she likes. Possible setups could include a male main character with a female harem, a female main with a male harem, even all males or all females, for those with yaio and yuri inclinations. Reverse harem is another option where there are multiple players and 1 love interest, irregardless of gender.

The main driver of my game will be the event deck, which will offer challenges to the player. In a dating sim, this will include tasks to perform and/or conditions that hinder the player, while in a combat game the deck might be mainly physical threats like monsters or obstacles. As the event deck gets exhausted, a semblance of a story starts to develop. In a sense, I'm trying to capture a sort of RPG feel, but am limited by not having a gamemaster to direct the story. Think of the old choose-your-own adventure type books and the "visual novels" that comprise most of the Japanese dating sim games out there (maybe like Tales of the Arabian Nights). Something like that. However, I don't like the linear paths that those games take (X happens, then Y, then Z and you must do A first before B becomes available). That would just kill replayability, by just remembering what X, Y and Z are. I'm aiming for something like X, Y and Z can occur at any time, XYZ are helpful but not necessary and it's BETTER if you do A first then B, but not a requirement. I'm aiming for sort of a storytelling tool. If a player just plays my game to see how the story unfolds to the conclusion and not simply just to win, then I've succeeded in the goal that I intended for my game.

I have a lot of ideas in my head, so I have no shortage of inspiration. My main concern is trying to separate the different genres and streamlining the card designs so that a player can use those cards for that intended category (dating sim, investigative, combat) without getting overwhelmed and confused with all the extra information on the card. I'm not too concerned about making my game too complex, as it's not supposed to be a party-style game or rules-light. I'm aiming for a game with lots of RPG and simulation elements. Something that thinks it's a novel, but is not. Thinks it's a simulation but is not. That can be customized and/or personalized to the limits of the imagination (as I'm probably not going commercial, Kickstarter, etc) Play as Chuck Norris in an office romance? OooooooKAY.... if that's what you like. It's do-able.

Anyways, maybe I'm out to lunch or the idea is just garbage. I'm not sure. I just know that this is something that I can't buy or get right now. To be honest, I would never design something that I know someone else has done (like a great RPG board game). If that was the case, I would be spending my time playing that game instead of designing my own comparable game.

So, I guess that's it. Not sure how active I'll be in my own thread, but I'm passionate about my own game, as should every designer should be in their own works. Stating that, whether or not the game is any good, I can't say that it failed for lack of desire...

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