Hello there, my name is Kojeco2, I'm a new user on the community and I have a few questions about a board game I would like to design.
Before I get started, I would just like to apologize in advance. Being new to the website, I understand how frustrating it can be for those of you who are veterans of these forums, to see someone like me absurdly posting a help thread in the wrong segment. So I would just like to apologize first in case this is against the rules to ask for help in such a context (which you will understand if you read further on) and I would like to thank those of you who will hopefully be accepting of this instinctive form of posting on a forum for the first time.
So, without further apology or adieu, my problem.
I would like a little bit of help coming up with ideas for a board game of my own. I had the idea after reading the book "Night Flight" by Antoine de Saint Exupery. I wanted to create a Board Game based off of that book. But, I have few (if any) ideas about what type of board game it will be and what kind of gameplay it will have. Before going into the design of the game, I would like to give you a brief synopsis of the book:
The main part of the book I would like to focus on is the climax which is near the end. A pilot named Fabien is flying through the Andes Mountains, caught in the middle of an enormous cyclone. This cyclone is shifting his course and throwing him off the main path so immensely that a normally 2 hour mundane flight had become a 6 hour intense struggle for survival.
There is also a character named Riviere, who is quite the military character. Demanding, and showing no pity to his workers, Riviere is the head of the industry of night flights. On an average day he would not feel sorrow for the loss of a worker as it happens on such a regular basis, and he would in no way show any pity for that lost worker, of any of the utterly senseless and irrational orders he gives his workers. He believes that this shapes a task force, subconsciously makes them work harder to earn bonuses for avoiding the unavoidable in their vocation. But Riviere is going through some complexities and torments in his life, he is questioning the meaning of things, questioning his morals that he had so obediently obeyed in the past, and thus feels a desolate sorrow in his mind for the young Fabien who had eventually been lost in the storm after running out of fuel.
So, now that you understand the basic premise of the book I would like to pose my ideas.
1. I had the idea to make this a sort of simple back and forth strategy game like a chess match, except one player were Fabien and one player were the cyclone. They would each take a turn to react and choose their next move. If Fabien does not make it to his destination in time, the player as Fabien looses. But, if Fabien's itinerary is completed before the cyclone can overtake him, the player as Fabien would win.
2. I am indecisive about how the game map would be laid out. Would it be composed of a completely open world map without spaces or fixed paths through the mountains to allow for optimal movement but more difficult strategy? Or would it include a large variety of set paths that the cyclone can take over at once that hinder the movement of path of the plane, and on these spaces there would exist special cards that would say things like (Riviere has started questioning the meaning of work, and has lost his focus, you have lost contact with him and you have lost your original route)? I am perplexed, I guess this will come with time.
Now, I also realize that to this, most of you will chuckle at its simplicity, I have already taken a look at some of the Mother's day contest winners and have decided to lessen my confidence on making an impact on the community with this board game. I have no past sagacity of board games, their creation or how to make them possess good replay value, but I am an amateur unemployed video game designer with plenty of knowledge on RPG game design and replay value in that form of game, so I guess the two are somewhat related.
Thank you to anyone who helps me with this project, it will be appreciated with immense passion.
Hi Kojeco, and welcome!
You have a neat idea for a game. You also have two strong design elements:
1) Your idea is simple (the best games usually are)
2) You know how you want your game to feel
These two forces can propel you to a great game.
There are many ways to approach making your game. When you want your game to have a particular feel, it's a good idea to think about which mechanics best capture that feeling.
In your case, I like the sense of the player struggling against the cyclone. Playing Fabien sounds fun and interesting.
I'm not sure that playing the cyclone would be as rewarding. As a force of nature, it doesn't have motivations or goals. Players usually need those in order to feel like they are part of the game.
You could make a solitaire game, with the player trying to survive his flight through the cyclone. You could represent Riviere's order as cards in a "command" deck from which Fabien must draw from time to time. In order to win, Fabien must not only survive the flight but complete a certain number of orders.
Alternatively, you could have the second player assume the role of Riviere. Maybe he controls the pilots *other* than Fabien and has to meet a certain number of goals in order to win. He can try to complete them with his other pilots, but some number must go to Fabien.
Your game sounds interesting and unusual. It reminds me of some of Brenda Brathwaite's work (http://www.ted.com/talks/brenda_brathwaite_gaming_for_understanding.html).
Good luck with your design -- I hope you'll keep posting about it!
Here's an idea for a different approach:
Game board (detailed description below)
20 Fuel Counters
21 Cyclone Counters (one center of storm, two 5s, three 4s, four 3s, five 2s, six 1s)
Place Fabien's plane in its starting place (lower left corner of board) and give Fabien's player the fuel counters. Place Riviere on his starting space (three moves away from Despondent, eight moves away from Resolute).
The cyclone player places the center of the storm marker somewhere on the board. He then places the two 5 counters adjacent to the center (although the cyclone counters move orthogonally, diagonals count for adjacency). Each of the three 4 counters must be adjacent to at least one 5 counter. The 3s must be adjacent to the 4s and so on until all of the cyclone counters are deployed. Cyclone counters can never be place on the mountaintop spaces.
Fabien's player spends a fuel counter and moves the plane either orthogonally or diagonally (either way counts the same). If there are no more fuel counters then the plane crashes and the cyclone player has won. If the plane enters a space with a numbered cyclone counter, two things happen:
1. The cyclone player rolls as many dice as the number on the marker indicates. Each roll of "1" is a damage point on Fabien's plane. If the plane ever has five damage counters on it, Fabien has died and the cyclone has won.
2. If Fabien survives, his player moves Riviere's pawn up by the number shown on the cyclone marker. Fabien's bravery has inspired Riviere. If Riviere ever reaches the Resolute space then he remains there for the remainder of the game (the cyclone player loses the option to move Riviere's pawn).
The cyclone player then must choose to either move Riviere's pawn down one space or to move part of the cyclone. If he moves Riviere into the Despondent space then Fabien must brave at least a cyclone marker of three or higher to move Riviere back up.
If the cyclone player moves part of the cyclone the following rules apply: each space (other than the mountain-top spaces) has a space in the middle for the cyclone marker and two or three arrows around the marker pointing in cardinal directions. (The available directions make sense... e.g. the ones around a mountaintop encourage swirling around it in a counterclockwise direction, the board edge spaces prevent the cyclone from being able to move off the board, etc.) The cyclone player nominates a piece and an available direction for that piece and moves that piece. Then any adjacent pieces of a lower value move in the same direction. If the space the counter of the lower value is in does not have that direction as a valid move, that counter stays put. If the cyclone player moved a 5 counter, the center of the cyclone moves as well.
After all relevant cyclone markers have been moved, if there any cyclone markers that are not in adjacency (remember diagonals count) to a higher value marker (or adjacent to the center in the case of a 5), any non-adjacent cyclone counters have been sheared off and are removed from the board.
If Fabien's plane reaches his goal (the upper right corner of the board) with at least one fuel token remaining and Riviere is not Despondent, Fabien's player has won. In any other case, the cyclone player has won.
Let me know what you think, feel free to borrow/modify.
Wow, thanks for such enthusiasm in the replies! I was never expecting to get a full game with all the pieces and gameplay elements laid out, it really would've just been fine if individual people gave me small ideas to work off of, but that is remarkable, both of you, so thank you!
I watched that video and I got a little inspiration actually, I see what she meant how you should be able to create a mood or a theme through the design of the game and the gameplay itself as opposed to the graphics or story. I decided to take into account the different moods I would like to express through the gameplay, and those are:
Fear (of the opponent)
Anxiety (since from the biplane there is no way for Fabien to augur the cyclone)
Anticipation (for what will come next)
Stress (for the anticipation)
Wonder (for the unknown)
Some of these might be extremely difficult to create through a Board Game (they are obviously easy to design in a Video Game), so I thought about what would cause the opponent to feel fear and anxiety. These two emotions are caused by the unknown, (for the most part), and what better way I thought would be to have the gameplay be similar to Battle-ship. You can't see your opponent, but when they start attacking you from beyond your range of sight (well, behind your range of sight I guess I could say) you feel anticipation and anxiety and fear to see if you will survive the oncoming attacks.
(I did read what you said Mark about how there may be no goal in the fact that the cyclone is a natural element and does not create any progression, but as a player wouldn't you be ambitious enough or competitive enough to create that sense of a goal, to capture Fabien and make him crash? From previous experience with game design, most of the elements I have discovered that create a good game/level/board game come subconsciously, the player isn't naturally going to think that a cyclone has no goal and therefore it would be boring, the player creates the mood that he wants through the gameplay, its confusing, even I admit, I thank you for the extensive amounts of advice and I did in fact take most of the advice, I just felt otherwise on this one point.)
So to sum it all up:
One player is Fabien, he controls one piece, which is the plane.
Another player is the Cyclone, he controls 6 pieces.
The game takes place on a Battleship-esque grid board with pegs going from A1 - 12L, with a vertical panel in between the two players' sides that also has a grid on it
Each grid has peg-holes on each grid intersection where pegs can be placed.
The game starts as so:
Fabien places his piece wherever he wants at the starting row (L). He must also place a piece on the opponent's vertical wall, before the cyclone pieces are placed.
The cyclone player places his pieces anywhere he wants on his starting row (L), but he does not place his pieces on the opponents vertical panel.
The players alternate turns.
If it is Fabien's turn, he can move one space orthogonally or diagonally, and each turn he uses a fuel tank, which he has 35 of (12 X 2 = 24, so 35 seems like a reasonable number with the extra strategy elements).
If it is the cyclones turn, he can move:
A: All his pieces, but only one square each and they all must be in the same direction.
B: 3 of his pieces, one to two squares each and only orthogonally different directions.
C: 2 of his pieces, one to three squares each in any direction.
D: 1 piece, one to four squares, in any direction.
The Cyclone player is allowed to know where Fabien is at all times, but Fabien is not.
The players progress forward, the cyclone player develops a strategy, and Fabien attempts to anticipate the direction of the cyclone.
If the cyclone player makes one of his pieces over to the opposing player's side, the piece is placed in sight of Fabien (on his side). But, if Fabien makes it to the cyclones side first, the vertical panel is taken off, and the cyclone's side is exposed.
NOW FOR THE STRATEGY:
The cyclone player has his six pieces that he can move in rapidly (and haphazardly) throughout the 12X24 map, imitating the unpredictability of the storm. If a cyclone piece lands on the same space as Fabien, Fabien is forced backwards a space. But the cyclone is not allowed Riviere Boosts.
Riviere Boosts is currently a temporary name for these cards the Fabien player can use. You have a limited amount of these and they are completely random. The way these works is that once the cyclone enters Fabien's side (or vice versa), each turn Fabien picks up a card, in an attempt to get lucky with a Riviere Boost.
When the player picks up a card, there is a small chance that they will find one of these Riviere Boosts, the other times the cards will say: "You have currently lost connection with the station." What you can do with these Riviere Boosts is you can either use them immediately on your turn (they are a one time use) or you can save them for later use. The Riviere Boosts give you 'confidence' as a pilot and can affect your movement, as in these example Riviere Boosts:
- You may move one, two, or three squares in one turn. (2x cards exist) You may also skip over cyclone pieces.
- Fuel Salvage: Take one turn without using a fuel container. (4x cards exist)
- You may remove a cyclone piece from the board entirely (1x cards exist)
- You may deprive a cyclone piece of its movement for three turns (1x cards exist)
There will probably be a good 50 cards in total.
To clarify, I actually thought of these ideas before any of you posted with such detailed ideas, and of course, I am not clairvoyant, so I was unable to see many of your responses. But, after reading through them, I actually did change my original plan a lot, so please don't think that I didn't take any of your works into consideration.
Also, two more things:
1. Thanks for the warm welcome!
2. I really like your enthusiasm in your post, and I really like the idea, I didn't want to exactly borrow/steal any of your ideas in fear of angering you (even if you did offer it) but I did take a lot of inspiration from it, and as I said before, what I have posted about the game design idea is actually very different from the original design on paper, and is very influenced from your ideas.
What does everyone think of this idea?
Welcome to the site! I think you have a very exciting idea - hopefully it will develop quickly!
What about a 4 player game where each player is trying to make deliveries as quickly and safely as possible while flying through the Andes mountain cyclone? Perhaps a grid or hex tile mountain map allows players to move their plane tokens across the map but each row or column of tiles has different/changing wind; players could burn fuel to increase control of the plane or could just let the wind blow them around. The game Formula De has a similar mechanic in which racing cars burn tires and brake pads to gain more control in tight turns.
Good luck with your design!
This probably isn't the direction you want to go, but I think it sounds like a cool idea for a cooperative game. Multiple players would all work together to get Fabien through the cyclone. One player would be Fabien. Another might be Reviere. You could also have 1 of the players control the cyclone or just have the cyclone controlled automatically by card draw or dice rolls.
You know you've got a good idea when some many of us kick in with ideas!
One thing I might worry about with your current game as written is that Fabien's player may not have a lot of decisions to make. If there's no reason to go into the cyclone, he just needs to steer away from it. If he's drawing cards and choosing the best to use each time, that's cool but beware accidently making it so that he's "choosing" to draw a card and then playing out that card. I put choosing in quotes there because if he can do it every turn and it's never a bad thing to do, then it's not really a choice at that point.
I think you should go for a semi-cooperative card + panel game.
Semi-cooperative because I think the camaraderie/antagonism between Fabien and Riviere is interesting. Cards because they're more immediate than looking down at a map (and believe me I like maps!). Cards with strong images can lend a lot of atmosphere (sorry, but it is the best word!) to a game like this.
The cyclone is represented by cards. Each turn three weather cards are drawn and placed to represent the conditions left, ahead, and right of the plane. They might include things like clear, gusts blowing one way or the other, mountains, storms, no visibility, etc.
The Fabien player has a panel plus an action deck he draws from. The panel contains his health, his plane's structural integrity, fuel, time, longitudinal distance remaining and deviation (left or right) from course. To land, he must have some health, integrity and fuel AND longitudinal distance remaining and deviation from course must both be 0. His actions represent pilot actions such as maneuvering. Fabien wins if he lands with reasonable health.
The Riviere player also has an action deck, representing controller actions as well as secrets from the past. Controller actions include aiding Fabien with navigational info or unscrupulously persuading him to take risks. Secrets from the past might include cutting costs on plane repair (-1 structural integrity) or using cheap fuel (-2 fuel) or maybe even the odd positive one. Riviere wins if Fabien lands on time.
That means you have a game where both players can win or one can win or both can lose (the plane doesn't land). The conflict will be between Fabien trying to keep his health intact and Riviere trying to get the plane landed as quickly as possible.