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Which Theme? Please Help Me Choose!

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tuscansun
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Joined: 02/11/2015

Hi there!

I'm currently having what a lot of people would think is the opposite of a problem. I can't pick a theme for my game.

Here's what the game is like, in roundabout terms...

-Short, 10-15 filler card game, co-operative set collection (that's the important bit, join me at the "###" if you don't want/need to know more)
-40 card deck, 5 suits; 4 useful, 1 not useful
-Set collection game, collect 2 of the 4 useful suits and avoid the one not useful suit
-4 turns per round, 1 action per turn, max hand size of 3
-Rounds end after the forth turn
-A second part of the game happens after each four-turn round, which gives a second chance to players who couldn't collect their suits
-A new round begins with all cards in the discard pile remaining there
-The game ends when the deck is gone

I know that's not a very good way to describe it, and gives you no handle on what's going on, but I figure it's better than nothing.

So the issue I'm having is that I can't figure out what theme I want to use for this game. I've essentially found a handful that fit nicely, but I would like an outside opinion on each.

### I'll list the theme, why I like it, and why I DON'T like it. Please tell me which of these themes YOU like the most for a 10-15 minute cooperative filler card game with set collection... (pros/cons also skippable to another "###" at the end of the post)

1) Zombies (Heavy Theme)

Pros
-The set collection aspect lends itself to survival items, which gives players the "we need to survive" motivation while playing
-The 4 suits are Food, Water, Weapons, and Medicine; easy to rationalize

Cons
-Zombies are played out, and the game does nothing to stand out in a saturated market
-The artwork would look bland and like every other game
-Age restricting
-Zombies

2) Castaways Sailing Home (Heavy Theme)

Pros
-Deep DEEP role-playing and lore that I developed for the game. Complete with player cards that had family, friends, and enemies which altered how truly co-op the co-op was each game
-The set collection aspect lends itself to survival items, which gives players the "we need to survive" motivation while playing
-Could have really hella cool artwork

Cons
-Nobody will want to get deep into role-playing in a filler game
-The re-playability stands artificially on the back of the role-playing (as compared to the other types. It's still the same game, but the alliance system wears a little thin. It feels like it replays FOR the role-playing, not WITH it)
-The set collecting items are the same as the zombie theme, except the weapons are replaced by clothing. And clothing never sat right with me as an essential to collect when stranded
-Age restricting

3) Stranded Astronauts (Heavy / Medium Theme)

Pros
-Sci-fi theme of astronauts skipping from abandoned colony to abandoned colony, picking up the supplies to make it back to the only colony left standing
-The set collection aspect lends itself to survival items, which gives players the "we need to survive" motivation while playing
-Neat "Dead Space-esque" aesthetic
-Possible role play

Cons
-Literally everything from the castaway one
-Because it's the castaway one
-In space

4) Flower Growing (Light Theme)

Pros
-Open to most ages
-Cool artwork potential
-Set collecting seems natural as choosing flowers to grow
-Very filler-ish style to it, unoffensive and light

Cons
-There's nothing to be earned by running the deck out; lacks an end goal
-It's not very co-operative, or even semi-cooperative; lends itself to competition
-Kind of bland. I could definitely see people going "ah yes, a game where I grow flowers with my friends. That sounds about as exciting as actually doing that."
-Not much in terms of conflict to keep you going

5) Monks in Training (Light / Abstract Theme)

Pros
-Open to most ages
-Cool artwork potential
-The collection of sets would be things like "Truth" and "Honor"; feelings as sets rather than items
-End goal after finishing the deck is Enlightenment, which is hella satisfying as a concept, and keeps you playing
-Light, unoffensive theme that is only present if you want it to be (and I would make sure it was actually unoffensive as well. I'll do research to make sure I'm not putting ignorant bullshit into the world)

Cons
-The second part of the game makes little to no sense in this version (I can explain that in another post if anyone wants to know about it. I haven't nailed down exactly how it works yet, so that's why I'm not saying much about it)
-The maximum hand size in this feels completely arbitrary, wherein all other versions, it has a thematic reason
-If the theme ends up being offensive to some people, I'm kinda stranded

### So there ya go. The themes are...

Zombies
Castaways
Space Castaways
Flowers
Monks

...in case this was too long and you didn't read. Which would you like more in a 10-15 minute co-op card game with set collection?

Thanks for reading!! And sorry for the disaster of a formatting job. The lack of bold, italics, and line breaks is awful.

kos
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Joined: 01/17/2011
Themes

tuscansun wrote:
Zombies

No. Because... zombies.

tuscansun wrote:
Castaways

Could work, if you had an interesting backstory/setting which it sounds like you do.

tuscansun wrote:
Space Castaways

As noted, it's just a subset of Castaways. With the right setting/artwork it would work fine.

tuscansun wrote:
Flowers

I get your hestitation on this one, but I wouldn't discount it immediately. For example, I would never have thought, "Let's make a coop pattern matching game about fireworks." But somebody did.

Coop games are best when they have a hook to make the players want to participate/care. The action of making a garden is fine, it just needs a hook to explain why making this garden is important. Maybe it's the Celestial Garden of Harmony which has fallen into disrepair because of the incessant squabbling of the human race. Maybe it's the Rose Gardens of Wintersbrook, which have been a haven of tranquility for generations but are now threatened to be bulldozed to make way for a 6 lane highway.

tuscansun wrote:
Monks

Could work, especially if it expounds on actual monk-ish principles.

I hope you have fun choosing your theme.

Regards,
kos

Bunnyhunter
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Joined: 03/11/2015
Space Monk Castaways?

Space Monk Castaways?

MarkD1733
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Joined: 07/05/2014
Zombies growing flowers?

Bunnyhunter has something there...

Zombies growing flowers?

Zombie Castaways

Growing Flowers in Space?

The combination of ideas is the path you might consider taking..

Soulfinger
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Joined: 01/06/2015
I like growing flowers in

I like growing flowers in space. You can have a cool The Little Prince vibe to it.

Definitely, no zombies though. Flopping limbless animal torsos are the new zombie.

tuscansun
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Joined: 02/11/2015
kos wrote:I get your

kos wrote:
I get your hestitation on this one, but I wouldn't discount it immediately. For example, I would never have thought, "Let's make a coop pattern matching game about fireworks." But somebody did.

Coop games are best when they have a hook to make the players want to participate/care. The action of making a garden is fine, it just needs a hook to explain why making this garden is important. Maybe it's the Celestial Garden of Harmony which has fallen into disrepair because of the incessant squabbling of the human race. Maybe it's the Rose Gardens of Wintersbrook, which have been a haven of tranquility for generations but are now threatened to be bulldozed to make way for a 6 lane highway.


I kinda like it. I'd need to rework some stuff to make it work. The theme does have its issues though. It's not really super compatible with what's going on. Each player needs to collect their two suits that are decided at random. If they can't, they run the risk of being out at the end of the round.

So the problem is each player would have to tend their own patch of the garden I guess. But if they're out, that part of the garden dies? Then the question becomes "why couldn't I just do that?" It doesn't make sense because at the end of each round, the players can swap the cards they collected to get the right suits. How do I explain that thematically? Should the suits be flowers or gardening needs like weeding and watering?

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Oooh...

How about the "Hanging Gardens of Babylon"! It's floweresque and is quite the mystery...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanging_Gardens_of_Babylon

Not sure how you would make this work with your game - BUT I think it's a pretty COOL theme!

Update: Damn it! Somebody has developed a game about it already =
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/34707/hanging-gardens

But you can say "Hanging Gardens of Babylon" and you're safe!!!

tuscansun
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Joined: 02/11/2015
questccg wrote:How about the

questccg wrote:
How about the "Hanging Gardens of Babylon"! It's floweresque and is quite the mystery...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanging_Gardens_of_Babylon

Not sure how you would make this work with your game - BUT I think it's a pretty COOL theme!

Update: Damn it! Somebody has developed a game about it already =
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/34707/hanging-gardens

But you can say "Hanging Gardens of Babylon" and you're safe!!!


lol of course one already exists, just my luck. It's a cool idea, I still like it. Thanks for doing a lot of work for me all, I appreciate it :)

Flowers was actually the one theme I wrote off in brainstorming, but seeing all the positive feedback from it is reassuring! I'll find a way to make it work. Maybe I could go the opposite way and I could have the players plant weeds to ruin the garden? Who knows. All I know is I'm excited about the feedback.

I'll be posting full rules and a print and play (just icons in b&w) once I nail this down. Keep the ideas coming if you have them :)

Word Nerd
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Joined: 02/02/2012
What? No wizards?

Just kidding. I like the garden theme; indeed, I've got my own garden-themed filler card game on a drawing board somewhere around here. Here are a few concepts I've been cultivating. There could be some cooperation in the form of trading needed resources, such as surplus compost, better quality seed, or a permit required to apply beneficial garden chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers). Competition might take the form of trying to grow the largest pumpkin by Hallowe'en, or the most strawberries for Wimbeldon, or any other arbitrarily chosen crop for any arbitrary purpose. Alternately, players might generate cash by selling some produce at the weekend Farmers' Market in town, or generate community goodwill by donating produce to the local food bank. There might be a few wild cards in the deck to trigger natural calamities affecting one or more players. Events might include high winds, drought (requiring supplementary watering), flooding, a late (or early) killing frost, pests (insects, rodents) and trespassers (neighbour's cat or dog or rabbit), and errant objects (fallen trees, overthrown Frisbees). There might also be some minor, unfortunate irritants, such as watering restrictions, broken or lost tools, cloudy weather, or a shortage of pollinators (e.g. bees) for your flowering crops. Species diversity is yet another metric you might include in your scoring method. Different growing season lengths provide a rationale for devising both short- and long-game formats, which may have other limitations or alternate goals.

tuscansun
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Joined: 02/11/2015
Thanks Word Nerd, those ideas

Thanks Word Nerd, those ideas got me thinking. And as far as the theme goes, I feel like I want to try monks. Because at its best, it's a relaxing theme that can encourage role-play. And at its worst, it's an abstract matching game. The theme can float into the background if you want it to, whereas the other themes are really in your face.

And when I want a filler game, especially after playing a rough theme and/or role-play heavy game, I like the abstract, easy, relaxing game. Recently, when I played Lost Woods with my friends for about two hours, we reached immediately for Uno afterwards. Wasn't even a question. We didn't want to think too hard, we didn't want to concern ourselves with theme or roles. We just wanted to match colors and numbers. Sometimes you just need that.

However, the things Word Nerd brought up got me TOO excited about flowers to let the idea go. So I've brainstormed all day about mechanics and how to make a little game about growing flowers in your garden. Or a garden. I've got an idea for a traitor element game and a build your own garden game.

Anybody know of any games where you grow a garden? If you do, let me know! At least now I know what I'm doing after this game :)

Denniskam
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Joined: 08/07/2015
Garden theme on GDS

Hi Tuscansun, a little late but I'm not sure if you've seen the June entry for GDS by Hook, it has a garden theme.

http://www.bgdf.com/forum/game-design/game-design-showdown/gds-june-2015...

Congrats on your previous win on GDS as well!

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