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Designer's Block..HELP!

7 replies [Last post]
Joined: 12/06/2016

Hi there!

I am currently taking a course in game design and we are required to create our own, organic boardgame. There are mechanic restrictions in that we cannot use dice to dictate movement around the board.
My ideas thus far:

Theme: (Co-Op) Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. 3-4 Players, players work together to collect items around the board and save Earth from being demolished by the Vogon for their Hyperspeed Expressway. I will have certain items for collection that will benefit players and their success. There will also be items that could harm players and their movement/capabilities.

I am not anything close to an experienced game player so I am having a very hard time creating a set of rules that makes this game flow well and fairly balanced between luck and skill. Do I create a deck of cards that players draw from to decide where they can move to next? Board layout ideas? I'm just so lost and probably should have dropped this course but I like to challenge myself so I held on and am trying to work through it successfully. I just need help coming up with ideas for mechanics. I am extremely grateful for any and all advice and input.

BHFuturist's picture
Joined: 11/01/2008

Well, I don't think this is designer's block... more like a case of information overload.

My advice is to take a deep breath and then do some research on google and You Tube for board game reviews. Read about and Watch how games are played and see what sorts of mechanics are used.

There are countless ways of having players move around a board, and just as many ways of laying out the board shapes. (See below)

You are in the right place to learn what you don't know, the last thing you should do is drop out of the course!

Go talk to the professor and ask for help.

Normally I would give a brain dump of suggestions... but in this case I see that as helping you cheat on your homework.

Some links... (yes... deep breath... this is also helping you "cheat") mmmwwwahahaha!!!

Quick Start Blogs

Watch It Played

The Dice Tower

Board Games With Scott

Board Designs

Movement Ideas

AI in Board Games

Joined: 12/06/2016
Thank you!

I have indeed spoken with the instructor of the course and she advised me to reach out in this way so...any tips or a "brain dump of ideas" would not be seen as cheating. I am just very inexperienced and new to the area in which I live so I am lacking people to playtest and discuss with in person.

Thank you for the help thus far!

Tedthebug's picture
Joined: 01/17/2016
Re: movement

You mention that you are under restrictions & cite that not using dice for movement around the board is one of them. My questions are:

Can you use dice for other things e.g. Resolving conflict?
Do you have to make a game involving movement?
Do you even have to use a board e.g. Could it be a card game?

Not having seen what you've been given I could be way wrong, but maybe by giving you that example they have locked you into thinking that you have to use a board & that your game must have movement when it doesn't actually need to have either. If it must use those then you could skate close by using a spinner, a deck of dice cards (each card just has a number on it, you balance the quantitities of each number as you need, & players shuffle the deck then draw from the top)

mindspike's picture
Joined: 09/06/2011
Hail and well met.

@GigsWasHere, welcome to the forum and I hope you find the help you need!

In addition to the suggestions that have already been given, I'd like to chime in my $0.02.

Remember that your board game design does not need to be revolutionary and brilliant. It just needs to work in the way it was designed to. With that in mind, I think it's perfectly reasonable to read the rulebooks to other games and lift out elements that you like.

For example:

*Sorry lets players bump pawns back to the start by landing on their board space.

*Backgammon lets players block a section of the board, preventing their opponent from advancing.

*Go Fish requires players to match pairs by asking for cards from their opponents.

Taking these elements, it's easy to envision a scenario where players move around the board by asking for cards from the other players. If players contribute their cards without knowing what the others intend to do, it could result in a player moving too far or not far enough.

If players are working together "against the clock" the best of intentions just might yield the worst of results! Hilarity ensues....

My advice is to pick a single mechanism and run with that. Make it work very well and add just enough other elements to support it. For instance, if you focus on a dynamic moving mechanism, the "pick up and deliver" element of collecting items doesn't need to be innovative or complicated, just thematic.

Best of luck and don't be afraid to speak up!

lewpuls's picture
Joined: 04/04/2009
Don't know if this will help

Don't know if this will help (from my "Game Design" channel):
Overcoming "designer's block"

Supafrieke's picture
Joined: 02/22/2015
I agree with exploring the

I agree with exploring the resources listed above, but can you give a bit of your gaming experience? Favorite games? Just trying to get an idea of where to start.

It sounds like the teacher is attempting to avoid a pile of monopoly clones with the no dice for movement rule. Is this a first project or are you just getting a head start on a course long project. If it's ok, can you post the projects description and grading rubric?

BHFuturist's picture
Joined: 11/01/2008
One Type of Movement

This game has a wonderful "Dynamic Pairing" mechanic for movement.

No roll & move to be found there!

"Always remember to think outside the box so your games will fit inside!"


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