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Questions Regarding New Card Game Design

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drknuth
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Sample Prototype Cards

I am a physics professor and former NASA scientist, and I am working on designing my first game. The idea is to develop a game that promotes real science and scientists.

It is a cooperative game where players race to form teams of scientists to allay threats and complete missions. Each player has his/her own deck of scientist cards, each featuring a real scientist along with his/her areas of expertise. An additional deck placed on the table has Event Cards, which consist of Funding Cards, Threat Cards and Mission Cards.

The players take turns. On each turn the player draws a card from the Event Card deck. Funding Cards can be used to place a Scientist (your choice from your deck) on the Science Team. The aim is for the players to cooperatively create science teams that have the necessary expertise to complete Missions (drawn from the Event Deck) and allay Threats (also drawn from the Event Deck). The players all win when three missions have been successfully completed. The players all lose when three-of-a-kind of one of the Threat Cards have been drawn.

I plan on having the game be expandable with additional Scientist Cards being added, as well as new Missions and Threats.

I have a few questions, which I will number:

1. Some people have commented that games such as these are more fun when dice are involved. Is this something I should consider beforehand, or discover through playtesting?

2. From my reading up on TCGs and CCGs, I have learned about LCGs (Living Card Games), which seem to be copyrighted. Is this process of designing a card game that can be expanded upon patented or copyrighted? Would this prevent me from creating or publishing the game?

3. I am having some trouble coming up with a name for this game. 'Science' or 'Scientists' sounds too boring. 'Science to the Rescue' sounds too self aggrandizing.

4. I have some cool Missions, but I fear that the Threats (which are chosen to be realistic) are rather boring:
Giant Asteroid Threatens Earth
Global Pandemic
Climate Change
Artificial Intelligence Takeover
Mineral Resource Depletion
I need to think these over more carefully and consider new possibilities. I have a batch for a "Fantasy Expansion" which includes Zombie Apocalypse, Alien Invasion, ...

Thanks for any advice or suggestions!

polyobsessive
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Some possible answers

drknuth wrote:
1. Some people have commented that games such as these are more fun when dice are involved. Is this something I should consider beforehand, or discover through playtesting?

I wouldn't worry about it yet. Adding dice may add excitement for some players, but may turn others off. Adding an additional layer of randomness on top of card draws sometimes works, but often just removes focus from the game. I'd just go and test the game as you have designed it, and if you feel another level of chance would help then you can consider dice, but don't go making that sort of change without testing first. My hunch is you probably won't need them, but you never know...

drknuth wrote:
2. From my reading up on TCGs and CCGs, I have learned about LCGs (Living Card Games), which seem to be copyrighted. Is this process of designing a card game that can be expanded upon patented or copyrighted? Would this prevent me from creating or publishing the game?

As I understand it the term "Living Card Game" is a trademark, but that mechanism for card distribution is not protected, so you could do it yourself. But before you worry too much about how to distribute and expand your game I would recommend just concentrating on making a good game.

drknuth wrote:
3. I am having some trouble coming up with a name for this game. 'Science' or 'Scientists' sounds too boring. 'Science to the Rescue' sounds too self aggrandizing.

Just pick a working title that you like the sound of. You can change it later if you think of something better. I have a friend who initially names all her games with the year and a letter, so for example her 5th game for this year is 2017E, and if the game turns out to be good it'll be given a proper name later.

drknuth wrote:
4. I have some cool Missions, but I fear that the Threats (which are chosen to be realistic) are rather boring:
Giant Asteroid Threatens Earth
Global Pandemic
Climate Change
Artificial Intelligence Takeover
Mineral Resource Depletion
I need to think these over more carefully and consider new possibilities. I have a batch for a "Fantasy Expansion" which includes Zombie Apocalypse, Alien Invasion, ...

Start with something like those and inspiration for things you like more will probably come later. You'll probably find that playtesters will start suggesting all sorts of stuff, some of which might be great.

Overall though, don't over-think it, just get the game in some form in front of playtesters. Once you see the game in play and start getting feedback you should be finding problems you never thought of but also getting close to solutions that you would have not dreamed of while sitting at your computer.

Best of luck with your game.

Rob

drknuth
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Thank you for your helpful

Thank you for your helpful suggestions Rob!

ssm
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#4. Those are not boring,

#4.
Those are not boring, just talked about a lot, but most people still don't know much about them.

It sounds educational. It should be. The threats listed can be great building blocks to figure out how to handle a zombie infection later, or alien threat.

But I also feel that some teams need to fail in a way. Hopefully you really do need to learn to keep playing.
Asteroid scenario can be gone about in a number of ways, but which could actually work & which couldn't?

Personally, I would not tackle AI Takeover. But I have my own theories about AI & the future, and it doesn't include a takeover, just us messing things up like we do so well.

drknuth
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Thank you SSM! I am glad that

Thank you SSM!
I am glad that you do not think that the threats are boring.

In playing the game, I have found that you really have to know who your scientists are and what they can do to efficiently choose them for a mission or a threat.

I have also considered to have some missions unlock new threats, which is realistic. It would add and element of complexity to the game since you need to accomplish missions to win, but you also need to allay threats.

ssm
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drknuth wrote:In playing the

drknuth wrote:
In playing the game, I have found that you really have to know who your scientists are and what they can do to efficiently choose them for a mission or a threat..

If you need to show up to the game knowing scientists & what they have done, then the threats may be boring. I saw it as a fun game that would teach. Now I am confused.

To clarify/streamline what I was trying to say up there- If it is aimed at non-science people (general public), I feel the base game should be heavy on what most would call 'science fact (asteroid, mineral depletion, pandemic, nuc meltdown, climate), and expansions deal more with what has not yet happened (AI, zombie, alien).

FrankM
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Game setup step 1: Earn a PhD

ssm wrote:
If you need to show up to the game knowing scientists & what they have done, then the threats may be boring. I saw it as a fun game that would teach. Now I am confused.

I read this a bit more charitably, as if it were any other game with differentiated player-character abilities.

If you can expect your player to remember that Zog the Barbarian has no use for a mana potion, you can expect your player to remember that Marie Curie is not a botanist.

radioactivemouse
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Answers?

drknuth wrote:

1. Some people have commented that games such as these are more fun when dice are involved. Is this something I should consider beforehand, or discover through playtesting?

Adding dice to a game should be considered at the start. It doesn't mean that adding dice in the middle of production isn't the best idea (if this happens, then it should be seriously considered). Since game design is more fluid if anything, things can change, but it's more efficient if you plan ahead. It really comes down to play testing and whether or not your playtesters think it's fun. If the issue comes up, consider a version with dice and a version without dice for your play testers and compare the results.

drknuth wrote:

2. From my reading up on TCGs and CCGs, I have learned about LCGs (Living Card Games), which seem to be copyrighted. Is this process of designing a card game that can be expanded upon patented or copyrighted? Would this prevent me from creating or publishing the game?

To be honest, if you're planning to create a card game at the level of a LCG, then your best bet is to start creating small games, learn from them, then create larger games. Remember, LCGs utilize established IPs and are designed by industry experts. The game industry is different than any other industry because the copyright is more connected to the EXPRESSION of the idea rather than the mechanics, which are "borrowed" by designers all the time.

drknuth wrote:

3. I am having some trouble coming up with a name for this game. 'Science' or 'Scientists' sounds too boring. 'Science to the Rescue' sounds too self aggrandizing.

You could open a thread for that, though I think there's a lot of value in naming your game yourself. Take some time, hit a thesaurus...it's more rewarding when you know you came up with the name.

drknuth wrote:

4. I have some cool Missions, but I fear that the Threats (which are chosen to be realistic) are rather boring:
Giant Asteroid Threatens Earth
Global Pandemic
Climate Change
Artificial Intelligence Takeover
Mineral Resource Depletion
I need to think these over more carefully and consider new possibilities. I have a batch for a "Fantasy Expansion" which includes Zombie Apocalypse, Alien Invasion, ...

This is something that needs to come out in testing. There's only so much you can do technically before you send it to the wolves (play testers). In fact, it's best if you create a prototype as soon as possible instead of building this grand game with art and mechanics and giving it to play testers.

drknuth
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Hi SSM, It is more like

Hi SSM,

It is more like FrankM notes below that when playing one becomes familiar with your cards (the scientists) and you get to know their areas of expertise. This familiarity makes the game more fun since you aren't spending five minutes searching through your deck for a computer scientist.

drknuth
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Thanks FrankM. That is what I

Thanks FrankM.
That is what I meant.

drknuth
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Thanks radioactivemouse! I

Thanks radioactivemouse!
I appreciate your advice.

kilmor81
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My 10 cents

1. Some people have commented that games such as these are more fun when dice are involved. Is this something I should consider beforehand, or discover through playtesting?
Not knowing what each player would draw should be all the randomness you need to keep it from being repetitive. Have you decided the ratio for the cards yet?

2. From my reading up on TCGs and CCGs, I have learned about LCGs (Living Card Games), which seem to be copyrighted. Is this process of designing a card game that can be expanded upon patented or copyrighted? Would this prevent me from creating or publishing the game?
First you gotta come up with a award winning game before you consider this.

3. I am having some trouble coming up with a name for this game. 'Science' or 'Scientists' sounds too boring. 'Science to the Rescue' sounds too self aggrandizing.
Science Heroes?

4. I have some cool Missions, but I fear that the Threats (which are chosen to be realistic) are rather boring:
Giant Asteroid Threatens Earth
Global Pandemic
Climate Change
Artificial Intelligence Takeover
Mineral Resource Depletion
I need to think these over more carefully and consider new possibilities. I have a batch for a "Fantasy Expansion" which includes Zombie Apocalypse, Alien Invasion, ...

Give the threats gradiose names instead of generic ones.

Giant Asteroid Threatens Earth - Maybe use name of the asteroids instead?

Global Pandemic - T-Virus Outbreak, H1N1 Influenza, ALZ-113

Climate change - Hole in the Ozone, Earth's Core Meltdown, Dying Sun

AI Takeover - Skynet, LMD, Ultron, The Machines, H.A.L 9000

Resource Depletion - Dying Sun(it fits, go figure), The last gallon of oil, Reckless Logging

Maybe some Threats could belong to multiple categories, giving it more importance.
Some threats might require certain missions to be completed first

Zeto
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drknuth wrote:It is a

drknuth wrote:
It is a cooperative game where players race to form teams of scientists to allay threats and complete missions. Each player has his/her own deck of scientist cards, each featuring a real scientist along with his/her areas of expertise. An additional deck placed on the table has Event Cards, which consist of Funding Cards, Threat Cards and Mission Cards.

I like the idea of cooperative games! It is interesting.

drknuth wrote:
1. Some people have commented that games such as these are more fun when dice are involved. Is this something I should consider beforehand, or discover through playtesting?

I think the major concern with this type of game is that the better players can play for the weaker players, so it becomes boring for these players, especially when there is one person who likes to win at all costs. Also the "enemy" cannot get any smarter from game to game, so there is a high chance that the game gets figured out after a few matches (a specific group of scientists is best to deal against certain threat). I agree with adding some more element of randomness, but not only to the certainty of triggering an effect (flip a coin, if heads this funding card works), but also a way to boost the threat level of a card (for example, roll a dice, if it is = 6, the threat becomes way more important even if it has just been drawn). It makes the game fun and the "enemy" more interactive.

drknuth wrote:
3. I am having some trouble coming up with a name for this game. 'Science' or 'Scientists' sounds too boring. 'Science to the Rescue' sounds too self aggrandizing.

I like names that defines an aspect of the game. For example, some word that emphasizes the team cooperation aspect of the game. Or maybe explains the goal of the game, like "Saving Earth" (ok not as generic).

drknuth wrote:
4. I have some cool Missions, but I fear that the Threats (which are chosen to be realistic) are rather boring...

I don't think they are boring. They are fictional, but relatable enough to the theme of the game.

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