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Thoughts on my unpublished, futuristic gridiron football game


Hi everyone! This is my first post on this site and my first public post about my game I have been working on for a bit now. I wanted to make a game journal but I can't for the life of me understand how that works, so I think writing blog posts will be good.

So quick pitch about my game:

IFL: The Game (tentative title) is a futuristic gridiron football game that pits two players head to head as the quarterback/coach of their respective teams in a battle of tactical thinking with each side selecting a playbook card and the result of the play is determined by dice rolls. The dice rolls can be modified by which player you choose to throw the ball to, run the ball with, and/or special items you can purchase to affect the outcomes of the play.

The initial inspiration for this game is Tecmo Super Bowl for the NES. To me that distilled football into it's most basic interesting choice. Choosing plays that you think the defender won't be in position to catch the player with the ball. The defense doesn't have a playbook like the Madden series in this game. The offense's playbook is on screen for everyone to see. The offense selects a play that they feel will catch the defense off guard, and the defense tries to select the play the offense has chosen. By selecting the same play or the same type like Pass or Run, the outcome of the play is more likely to go in the defense's favor, but that's not always so, such as in real football. I really liked this style of choosing plays, because most games you have to draw from a deck of cards for your playbook choice or lookup on charts. While the chart lookup is more thematic, I feel it's too slow for the kind of game I was making. Drawing random cards to determine play choices kills the theme for me because the coach and the players know all the plays. They don't forget certain plays at certain times, so they should be able to pick any play they want at any time.

So this is where I started. I literally just copied a bunch of plays from Tecmo Bowl, made playbooks for the Bears and the Vikings and played it with my wife. Each team's playbook has two copies of 10 cards, one for offense and one for the defense. This is to get the feel for Tecmo Bowl. Both sides know what the plays are. You can see my first two slapped together designs for the cards in the attached images.

Then I added dice and whomever had more successes (4s, 5s, and 6s) was the winner of the play. Ties went to the defender. If you were successful on offense you would roll some dice to determine yardage. Defense if you rolled any 6s and won the play, you would roll a die for each 6 to send them back yards.

So that was the core of the game and still is but I have since first prototype, there wasn't much of a reason to choose a pass or run over the other, other than hoping it's not what the defense picked.

I also had a flicking mechanic for the punts and field goals where the field goals you had to flick in a cup. I chose this because flicking through a field goal in a short board is pretty easy. I didn't want the game to be a flicking contest, I just wanted players to have that available to them when needed, so flicking into a cup was much harder but not impossible and still fun.

The very first play was somewhat fun even though it lacked so many things, some stated above. Testing out that inspiration quickly was one of the best decisions I have made designing this game. I have made many bad decisions and wrong turns as I will explain in future posts. I will also explain why I made it space themed, and it wasn't really for a selling standpoint. I had gameplay reasons I will go into, but this first prototype was just set in the present day.

Thanks for reading and feel free to ask me questions on anything. I will happy to answer and post more images of my early prototype. I'm on like 6 or 7 now, not sure.


Two Things

I absolutely LOVE that you admitted your inspiration was/is Tecmo Super Bowl, even as you admit some of its flaws. Dang it, that game is FUN. I think you chose an excellent starting point. Your pictures instantly took me back to that place.

Additionally, what also struck me was that you also commented that Defense primarily wins if they choose the same type of play. That is so completely true. It's another of that game's potential flaws, but I think of it as a compromise since that game leans toward more scoring anyway (I think because of the inclusion of individual player statistics being a strong factor in making or breaking plays).

Keep working on it, and please keep posting news about it. Thanks for the memories. :)

Glad I brought back some good

Glad I brought back some good memories! That was the intent to start although the graphic design is far from where it started, I hope people will still have that Tecmo Superbowl feeling with some fresh ideas added to the game of football for purposes of fun in a board game setting.

Thanks for the kind words! I will be posting some more of the history of my prototypes soon.

Definitely talk to...

If you have a chance, reach out to Gabe Barrett, the excellent member of this site and the individual who runs the Board Game Design Lab podcast. Not only is he quite conversant on all things board games, but he's creating his own "gridiron" game.

This type of game is

This type of game is definitely the kind of thing I wish there were more of in our hobby.

I did an episode on sports games that you might find helpful:

I'm working on a couple different football games, and I wish you luck with yours!

Thanks Gabe! I listened to

Thanks Gabe! I listened to that episode already and it was really insightful. I have been working on this in my spare time for a while. It's much further along in the process than what my blog states. I am just trying to journal my progress now. In a few posts, I will be posting a link to it on Tabletopia. I love that you are doing a football game too but your scope and theme are very different than mine which is a good thing. I focus on individual games with some season rules (sort of like legacy in that there can be a meta game from the individual games), and mine takes place far in the future so I can really bend the rules and throw some aliens in to help with rule bending.

Is your game available anywhere now? Do you still need play testers? If so you can count me in.

Thanks for all your hard work. You were the one that motivated me to write about my game in the first place. These last few weeks have been really busy but I hope to write some more posts within the next few days.

Thanks Professor, looks like

Thanks Professor, looks like Gabe beat me to it.

I played this when I was a

I played this when I was a kid (for realz)

You should do something like that.

(actually it wasn't bad.. offense and defense each had 8 choices of plays, and you tried to guess the opponent's choice. Was selected by movement of the joystick in one of the 8 cardinal directions, and then you had control over whoever had the ball (e.g. if your pass connected)

Odyssey 2 Football

...I wonder if the timer was limited to 2:55 per quarter because the timer would crash the game if it was set at 2:56. :)

Thanks for the suggestion!

Thanks for the suggestion! Never heard of our played that game. I'll have to check it out some more to see if I can initiate out on the cards better. The main feedback I'm getting is my playbook cards look intimidating.

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