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My first game idea - now what ?

13 replies [Last post]
Joined: 04/11/2012


I'm new to this forum and new to the board game design hobby.
I've come up with an idea for a game - but now I'm stuck.

What I have:
- the game is a dive game
- players dive under water for a couple of turns looking for treasures but need to return after a while to take a breath
- they can push there luck by waiting a bit longer before taking a breath, in the hope of finding more treasures
- a small board with (for example) 6 levels of depth under water, the players' meeples are on these levels
- on your turn you can spend action points / cards / .. to dive deeper
- the deeper your meeple is, the better the chance for finding treasures and the bigger they can be
- the deeper your meeple is, the longer it will take you to get to the surface
- returning to the surface is done by a D6, the deeper you are - the higher you need to roll
- each turn you are out of breath, you loose half of the treasures you have on you
- when you are on the surface, you can put your treasures in your boat to keep them save

That's what I have for now - and I'm pretty much stuck.
So any further ideas are more than welcome.
Or if you have some other hints / methodologies on developing a board game after the initial idea ?

Joined: 04/10/2012
Once I have an idea this

Once I have an idea this thought out I build it out of stuff around the house and try it out. More ideas and inspiration come when I actually try to play it. I think you can only go so far thinking about it, you gotta take action and build it.

Cogentesque's picture
Joined: 08/17/2011
Heya buddy! I agree with

Heya buddy!

I agree with syele - its a good start to actually make a super super early prototype and then just mess around with it until something happens really!

I like the idea, it should be a fun game. I will echo advice I have just given to another new designer in another thread:

Start with a Theme
Gangsters? SciFi shooter? Dungeon Crawler? High Fantasy? Modern corporation? Historical?

Start with a mechanic
Worker Placement? Deck builder? Bidding mechanic? Dice fest? Non-tradiitonal? Abstract elements?

these are the two main popular ways to start a game. Once you have one, the other one needs to nestle around it, then once you have that main idea and the theme and mechanics to go with it - you can start fleshing it out.

Things that help after the idea
How many players does the game play? How long is a game? What do you want the players to feel as they play the game? What options do players have? What is the win condition?

So what might help you at this stage is deciding how many players, how logn the game will last, the kind of feelings you want players to experience in your game. Then write them down then think to yourself "How do I make X,Y and Z happen in this game?" and the answer will come to you :)

As far as your main game goes, it would probably fit quite well (as it stands) into an action point type system.

So each player has say 5 actions. An action can be
1) "dive" (move your meeple up or down the value of a dice roll)
2) Explore (choose any one of the face-down treasures on your level and flip it face up)
3) Use a special action

There are many treasures, (randomly select 12 out of 30) and they are placed on the board in the correct level (some treasures will have "dive level 2" or "dive level 4" written on them, these can only be placed in the correct levels)

Some list straight forward VP, but some have some clever abilities. Some could be like "spare oxygen tank" and that would allow (if used as a special action) a player to make 2 dive rolls instead of 1 for a dive action. Another could be "sonar" which will let the player flip up his choice of any single treasure at level 4 or less. Perhaps a special treasure could be "deep tectonic shift" which wold allow the player to choose any single treasure and either leave it or replace it.

If you wanted to be clever, you could also have some specific treasure worth more to some players than others - eg "yellow treasure" for the yellow player - this gives them a +1 to the treasure worth. Perhaps you could have a set collection thing as well, special treasure could be worth more if combined with other treasure eg: sunken propeller / sunken fuesalage and / sunken landing gear could be worth 9 points all together, but only a few points on their own.

Perhaps you could have some player powers or some sneaky moves that allow players to board and steal treasures from eachother as long as the other player was in the water at the time.

Players could throw some treasures overboard - perhaps some of these could be fake treasures that count negatively to the final score if another player picks it up.

there's quite a lot you could do with this idea :)

First thing is first: make a prototype!

hope ive helped

Joined: 04/11/2012
Cogentesque wrote:I will echo

Cogentesque wrote:
I will echo advice I have just given to another new designer in another thread

thanks - but that was me too in the other thread :)

Joined: 04/11/2012
I'm going to try some things

I'm going to try some things out later this evening

the hidden treasure tokens combined with the set collection seems interesting
this way - some tokens might be interesting to you but not to another player

I also will try to incorporate some push your luck dice mechanic
let's say you have 5-6 dice, and can do 2 re-rolls
the final result tells you what you can do
- dive deeper
- go up
- explore
- ..

MarkKreitler's picture
Joined: 11/12/2008

Hey Com,

Love the idea! Sounds like you've got some good mechanics in there, too.

I was wondering about the set collection -- if all the tiles are hidden, it's hard to collect sets. Maybe the "lose a treasure" mechanic can work in there, too. For instance, if you lose a treasure, you show it to everyone, then replace it face down on your current level or any lower level. Now there's a memory game component for those who want to collect sets.

Really interested to hear how the prototyping goes. Hope you'll post again.


Joined: 04/11/2012
I haven't started prototyping

I haven't started prototyping yet
But came up with an extra idea yesterday:

Each 'round' 6 random cards are placed - these are the 6 depth levels of the sea
On each card it tells you what treasure you can find on that level.
Now on your turn, you roll and re-roll your dice.
You try to:
- get to the level where you want to get (push your luck for set collection)
- roll enough to be able to explore and 'find' the treasure
- roll enough air to get back up

Problem is - you can't do this in 1 turn. So either:
- your turn is split up in 2 fases ('dive/explore' and 'get back up')
- or a dive is split up in more turns

MarkKreitler's picture
Joined: 11/12/2008

Sounds like a good idea: simple but not easy.

One thing I don't yet understand is the dicing mechanic for reaching the various depths. Are there progressively harder combinations to roll at lower depths? For example, a pair will get you to level 1, but you need a long straight to reach level 6.


Joined: 04/11/2012
I was thinking about having a

I was thinking about having a diver icon on one side of the dice
for each diver rolled - you can dive one level

the other sides of the die can have for example:
- $$$: for a certain amount of $ you can buy goods/cards (to dive faster, extra air, ..)
- UP: needed to go up a level
- malfunction
- air
- ...

MarkKreitler's picture
Joined: 11/12/2008

Sounds great. Wish I could play a few rounds of it right now!

Joined: 04/15/2012
just chiming in

This sounds like a nice approach to push your luck! I'm not much of a designer, but I have been diving and perhaps a few thematic additions might help out in some way.

I was thinking that when diving you need to:
- consider how long you can stay under: normally you calculate your dive in advance. If you go deeper, the pressure will cause you to use more air: Perhaps the game play could reflect this in that the action points represent your air reserves. If you dive deeper, you use more air. This could lead to strategic choices such as explore the surface longer, or take a lucky shot in the deep?

- weighing down a diver: to stabilize in the water, you need additional weight. When picking up a lot of treasure, you weigh down your diver, so he'll take longer to reach the surface. But perhaps you can shed some weights on your way up?

- pressurizing: you can't dive, nor rise too fast. You need to allow the pressure in your head to equalize with the water pressure. You could require a diver to spend a certain amount of time/turns to get to the surface, penalizing if he doesn't.

On mechanics: I was thinking Pergamon: you draw some tiles, arrange them according to worth: more expensive tiles are deeper down, harder to reach.

It's not much, and you certainly shouldn't add all of it (the game would become too convoluted), but it might inspire in some way :)

I think you've got a pretty good idea of how to move forward, so grab a piece of paper, nick some dice from another game and try some things out!

Good luck and keep us updated!!!

Joined: 01/20/2011
You may want to check out the

You may want to check out the game K2 for some ideas. Instead of diving, you are climbing a mountain but also have to contend with running out of oxygen. Here's a pic of the "acclimization" board.

Joined: 04/11/2012
thanks for the extra tips and

thanks for the extra tips and ideas !
they are much appreciated

I really need to schedule me some free time so I can start to prototype and test it
hopefully somewhere this week

anchesstree's picture
Joined: 03/14/2012

Not on a computer, tho perhaps considering 'levels' in your game, have a think about 3d levels? like an unfinished building? Allows the adaptability of more 'ideas'..sometimes games are good being 'basic' tho sometimes, even this day and age as young children get a little bit smarter, adding in a few more 'parts' keeps their attention span a little bit longer for playability of a game..sounds like a cool idea you have anyway! prototype is allways good for like knowing how big the board is going to be or shape, once determined, the rest falls into place ;)

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