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Something a little different - Online board game

2 replies [Last post]
Joined: 05/08/2013

Not sure if this is the correct forum, so please forgive me if it's not (and let me know where to go!)

Now, a bit of context: I work at an organisation that offers long-distance online learning to people (not just secondary or tertiary students but people of all ages) all over the country (and apparently some overseas) and it provides courses in everything from business to horticulture to real estate to art to science to IT.

I've been tasked to help create a networked/multiplayer/online educational/training board game. The basic idea is that it's a project management-oriented one, with a story that is:

You (the player) is the owner of a small website development company, and you've been given a project to do, a budget to do it with, a timeframe to do it in and a selection of a team to help you do it.

The aim of the game is to train students with knowledge of both project management and, in this particular case, work through building a website in a fun, engaging and interactive way. Note that the game itself won't be creating a website, the game will be more similar to Monopoly in terms of board layout.

What I'm thinking currently is using a certain number of action points (instead of the normal dice roll) to move the player along the board. My client wants the game to be online & multiplayer (so that everyone in the class, or a certain number, can play the game together) but I'm actually not sure about the logistics of having this kind of educational game as multiplayer, or if it will work, how to do it?
Another important part will be the choosing of the project team (I was thinking a drafting style, or you get say 5 options and can only choose 3 of them), and allocating the budget you get given at the start of the game.

So I came here to ask for helpful resources, feedback on the idea & ideas about how to approach the elements and mechanics of the game. Also how I can talk about this with my workmates (who are definitively not board gamers) so that they can understand how beautiful games work.

Thank you all :)

Word Nerd
Word Nerd's picture
Joined: 02/02/2012
Your Project--My Two Cents

I believe if you ask folks around here, many will tell you they thought of game mechanics first, then worked on the theme, or the other way around. So, I'm curious...

Why, exactly, is a "board" necessary? Or "action points", for that matter? These may end up in your final design, but I don't understand the rationale for requiring, or even suggesting them at this early stage.

I suggest you consider the objectives of your game (learning, among others perhaps), as they relate to the content of your theme (project management), and then work on finding the game mechanics and game space best suited to achieving your objectives. When you have a working model of your system, consider how you will translate it all into an online experience.

In my opinion, "online boardgame" is an oxymoron. Players may have a virtual track or paths to follow--perhaps represented graphically on a display--but there is no "board". Many other tactile features of real board games (holding cards, rolling dice, moving tokens) are lost online; this is commonly viewed by board game players as an inherent shortcoming of online gaming. Your challenge will be to replace the natural game engagement that physical elements support in a synthetic, digital environment.

Good luck with that.

JackBurton's picture
Joined: 04/16/2013
I think you should initially

I think you should initially focus on how to develop the concept of project management in a multiplayer game: is there a unique boss (i.e. project manager) with many teams of designers, coders, ... (other players) or has every player the project manager role?

The first case will bring to more cooperative mechanics with only one person with a priviledged role (like a master-players gdr typical game), while the second one takes the shape of a competitive game, in my opinion.

Probably the latter is easier to design and implement and is what you are thinking of; on the other hand the first idea introduces an interesting and cooperative theme which is very difficult to conceive but represents a fascinating challenge.

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