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"Debt Freaks!" - WIP (The Design Process)

"Debt Freaks!" is my first ever board game design. I want to use this blog to ask for your feedback and to provide some progress updates throughout the design process. I am really excited about this, but I need your help!
I would LOVE your feedback as I go through this process to make this game. Seriously, ANY & ALL constructive criticism, advice, questions, thoughts, corrections or anything else are most welcome!!!

I will start with a brief summary of the game idea:
Currently, I am farther along than the concept stage, but I just wanted to begin this blog to see what everyone thinks about this idea so far.

"Debt Freaks!" is a crazy, fun and educational card game where teams compete against each other to see who can be the first to become Debt Free. During the game, teams budget for expenses and incomes and may experience crazy situations when Life Happens that can either hinder or boost their progress towards becoming Debt Free. As teams progress through the game, they receive momentum boosts at each milestone in the form of additional dice that are unlocked for free or upgraded at a cost. Special dice may also be activated at times to temporarily boost a team’s progress or hinder another team’s progress which may provide a brief advantage against any lucky rollers. The team that pays off all their debt first wins and shows everyone what it means to be true “Debt Freaks!”

"Debt Freaks!" teaches people the importance of being debt free. It provides players with a fun experience to learn how the debt payoff process works, what to expect during the debt payoff process and the most efficient ways to become debt free!

Anyone ages 7 and up can experience the excitement of becoming debt free. Do you have what it takes to become a true “Debt Freak”?

Please let me know your thoughts so far!!
Stay tuned, there is more to come soon!

-Oceans

Comments

Hmm...

I'm not really "excited" about the THEME of the game (getting out of debt). I find the subject matter "as presented" to be a bit boring (IMHO).

Maybe your game could be called: "Rockstar!"

And your goal is to become a multi-millionaire Rockstar ... and deal with the money issues in that context! In my opinion, much more "exciting". Things like signing your first "Record Deal", "First Platinum Album", "Win an MTV Video Award", etc.

Similar to what you are thinking... Just re-themed a bit. There could be ups and downs like "Recording your first Single" (Out-of-Pocket expense = puts you in the RED), Hiring a Manager (Profit sharing = reduces your take of the profits), selling your single on Amazon (Out-of-Pocket expense = puts you further in the RED...) and getting $1 Million in sales (Back in the Black!!!)

It's just more exciting... Buying a Rockstar-worthy mansion and further into the game an Exclusive Island in the Caribbean. Again with the UPS and DOWNS...

That to me sounds like "nice" fantasy and a bit of escapism. Which sets the tone for something original (IMHO).

Again don't worry if you don't like the idea. I just suggested something "lighter" which can be educational TOO... And is sort of in the realm of your original concept.

You can ignore this comment if it doesn't interest you.

Cheers!

Note: You can start off the game by being a BAND in some garage with cheap instruments and no wheels. You've got to do LOCAL gigs to buy an inexpensive van to carry your equipment... Could be the start of the whole RED vs. BLACK thing...

i have to agree the theme

i have to agree the theme doesnt sound amazingly fun (especially for the younger end of your age range) but then we have games about disease control, powering a city, building a farm etc. none of these appeal to me but pandemic, powergrid and agricola are all insanely popular.
i have always thought (for the most part) theme is secondary to the mechanics. a good game with a bad theme is still a good game. a bad game wont become good just by reskinning it.

Does it actually teach you

Does it actually teach you the importance of being debt-free, or does it just set being debt-free as the game's goal? To be educational, players would have to make decisions with trade-offs and consequences that relate to being in or out of debt.

Obviously I'd have to see the actual game to know :)

Oh, and if you're marking this age 7 and up, you need to playtest it with 7-year-olds. One of my pet peeves. This particular subject doesn't seem like something a 7-year-old would even begin to grasp. Let alone mechanics that involve trade-offs of whether or not to buy special dice, etc.

A game about what a bank IS might be age-appropriate, but I can't really see how this could be.

Ultimate Goal of the Game...

Would be to get a STAR on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame"... Once you get it, you win the game!

See??? Much more exciting than just "debt management". Plus the dollar amounts are BIGGER like "Buy a new Gold Watch" or "Buy a Lamborghini" or "Buy a Bently", "Buy a large Cabin Cruiser" (Boat)... "Buy you own custom Jet" (for touring around the World).

I'm sure you can figure out all kinds of ways a "Rockstar!" could spend all kinds of big money ... buying all kinds of expensive stuff, gifts, equipment, etc.

Just figured I'd chime in with this ... since I failed to include it previously...

questccg wrote:Would be to

questccg wrote:
Would be to get a STAR on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame"... Once you get it, you win the game!

See??? Much more exciting than just "debt management". Plus the dollar amounts are BIGGER like "Buy a new Gold Watch" or "Buy a Lamborghini" or "Buy a Bently", "Buy a large Cabin Cruiser" (Boat)... "Buy you own custom Jet" (for touring around the World).

I'm sure you can figure out all kinds of ways a "Rockstar!" could spend all kinds of big money ... buying all kinds of expensive stuff, gifts, equipment, etc.

Just figured I'd chime in with this ... since I failed to include it previously...


So... no irony at all in turning a game about paying down debt into a game about spending ridiculous amounts of money on unnecessary garbage?

:/

Not quite

Jay103 wrote:
So... no irony at all in turning a game about paying down debt into a game about spending ridiculous amounts of money on unnecessary garbage?

Not quite... Still about "Paying down debt" ... just more of it. Each step of the process, you'll have not enough money to buy the next "luxury" item that you need to acquire to "Gain Fame" and that item puts you into debt... But then you go ahead and do something "career-wise" that helps you earn money (and a wad of it) depending on what you do... Like "Release a new Single" (costs you money to produce it) and eventually sell a ton of them (to make profit and be able to partially pay off some of your debt on large "luxury" items).

You're supposed to be a "Rockstar!" ... The title and the life ... go hand in hand... Owning your own Island in the Caribbean or having a Private Jet to fly you to it... Is not "unnecessary garbage". It's all part of the "elite" lifestyle. That's the whole "fantasy" part (escapism)...

I'm not saying "stuff" is the way to go... I'm just trying to tie in the "Rockstar!" lifestyle into a tangible form. And ya ... buying an expensive diamond ring for your girl ... is definitely something she'll remember.

But if you're going to quote the whole "money doesn't buy happiness"... Tell that to hungry people at soup kitchens. (And there are exceptions too...) Money buys comfort and comfort provides for a "nicer" life. Can pay your kids College Tuition... Own a nice home, two cars... Or more as the kids grow. The world revolves around it. And I'm sure everyone would like to have a "good" life rather than a "poor" one.

But hey, some of it is pure "unnecessary garbage"...!

Note: Personally I wouldn't see the attraction of owning a Lamborghini but that's because it's not me. But some people swear that it has changed their lifestyle... Maybe if they are "socialites" and in very influential circles... It could matter. You know the whole "keeping up with the neighbors". Not that I'm into that... But some people are. And ergo the whole "escapism" of this theme.

Don't judge the theme by it's cover... "escape" a little and paint yourself to be a "Rockstar!" ... What would set you apart??? How would you "escape"?? Dare to dream a little!

Re-theme Response

questccg wrote:
I'm not really "excited" about the THEME of the game (getting out of debt). I find the subject matter "as presented" to be a bit boring (IMHO).
Maybe your game could be called: "Rockstar!"
Similar to what you are thinking... Just re-themed a bit.
It's just more exciting... Buying a Rockstar-worthy mansion and further into the game an Exclusive Island in the Caribbean. Again with the UPS and DOWNS...
That to me sounds like "nice" fantasy and a bit of escapism. Which sets the tone for something original (IMHO).
Again don't worry if you don't like the idea. I just suggested something "lighter" which can be educational TOO... And is sort of in the realm of your original concept.

@questccg Thank you for the honset advice. It does sound like a bore haha. I had many ideas for theme that would make this game way more engaging and exciting like you mentioned. I do like yours listed here and I will look into pushing my game into the next stages of thematic development soon.

Here is some background for the dry sounding theme:
I decided at first to just focus on the mechanisms and keep them thematically tied to becoming debt free until they worked well enough to bring theme into the forefront of the design process. The reason was that I was so tied up with choosing a theme direction to dive right into that I was not pouring the foundation of the mechanisms. So I began working out the mechanisms and just keeping things simple.

One of my previous posts titled, "Dice Momentum", discusses the mechanism that I was trying to grasp with the way the game works. It is something we all understand subconsciously as we progress through a game, but the feeling I was going for was much more intentional than that. My next blog post will discuss more of the direction I am heading with the design so far.

Long story short: Thank you again! I am definitely open to changing the theme and using the mechanisms in different thematic ways to bring more of an exciting experience.

wob wrote:i have to agree the

wob wrote:
i have to agree the theme doesnt sound amazingly fun (especially for the younger end of your age range) but then we have games about disease control, powering a city, building a farm etc. none of these appeal to me but pandemic, powergrid and agricola are all insanely popular.
i have always thought (for the most part) theme is secondary to the mechanics. a good game with a bad theme is still a good game. a bad game wont become good just by reskinning it.

@wob Thank you for your thoughts! I do have to make sure the experience is attractive, engaging and not just for my accountant friends hahaha.

That is my heart with this game: to make the game good and not just sounding cool with bad or lazy mechanisms. I am really open to re-theming and just making it simple to understand and fun to play. Cuz honestly, it does not even sound that cool at the moment.

Jay103 wrote:Does it actually

Jay103 wrote:
Does it actually teach you the importance of being debt-free, or does it just set being debt-free as the game's goal? To be educational, players would have to make decisions with trade-offs and consequences that relate to being in or out of debt.

Obviously I'd have to see the actual game to know :)

Oh, and if you're marking this age 7 and up, you need to playtest it with 7-year-olds. One of my pet peeves. This particular subject doesn't seem like something a 7-year-old would even begin to grasp. Let alone mechanics that involve trade-offs of whether or not to buy special dice, etc.

A game about what a bank IS might be age-appropriate, but I can't really see how this could be.

@Jay103 Thank you for the insight. I initially wanted this game to be a simple and subtle way to be able to teach people how to pay off debt so the goal in mind could be to be able to teach a group of students probably more like ages 12+ (thanks for the reality check!). I also wanted it to be fun and not so mathy or homework feeling for those that HATE math or school or anything to do with responsibility within board games. So that is where the re-theming comes in!

Thank you again for helping me realize that 7+ is way too young for the content even if I make it simple.. the concepts are just too advanced for most at that age. Now that I think about it, most kids under 12 probably would not even get the idea that debt exists unless their family is teaching them well and they understand basic financial situations. So again, probably 12+. I do not have kids so please correct me on this. Obviously, this would depend on the family anyways.

More importantly, my goal was not to make a board game for a classroom lesson though. My true aim is to make something fun to play that simulates the momentum experienced when paying off debt and the euphoria that one may experience when becoming debt free. So retheming "Debt Freaks!" in a sneaky, but exciting or interesting way would be the best way to go for sure.

questccg wrote:Jay103

questccg wrote:
Jay103 wrote:
So... no irony at all in turning a game about paying down debt into a game about spending ridiculous amounts of money on unnecessary garbage?

Not quite... Still about "Paying down debt" ... just more of it. Each step of the process, you'll have not enough money to buy the next "luxury" item that you need to acquire to "Gain Fame" and that item puts you into debt... But then you go ahead and do something "career-wise" that helps you earn money (and a wad of it) depending on what you do... Like "Release a new Single" (costs you money to produce it) and eventually sell a ton of them (to make profit and be able to partially pay off some of your debt on large "luxury" items).

You're supposed to be a "Rockstar!" ... The title and the life ... go hand in hand... Owning your own Island in the Caribbean or having a Private Jet to fly you to it... Is not "unnecessary garbage". It's all part of the "elite" lifestyle. That's the whole "fantasy" part (escapism)...

I'm not saying "stuff" is the way to go... I'm just trying to tie in the "Rockstar!" lifestyle into a tangible form. And ya ... buying an expensive diamond ring for your girl ... is definitely something she'll remember.

Thanks everyone! Your thoughts are much appreciated and your ideas are valuable to me!

In the next Blog post, I will share more about the direction I am currently heading with the design before I go and re-theme it yet. I would love to continue hearing your thoughts about this. I like the direction we are going with playing an experience instead of playing a personal budget. Good direction. Maybe what I have next will help solidify the theme.

BLOG QUESTIONS

By the way, since this is my first blog post, I want to do things right...

Do I edit the original post to correct any changed information as we go?

Do I comment and provide explanations or more information each time?

What content format do you suggest would best suit the next post just to make it more simple?

Don't worry...

Post a new blog entry... It's okay. We want to hear more. Just because we don't know in what direction you plan to go... It's interesting and hopefully more engaging.

People will "follow" the blog. Aside from those who comment, many, many just read the entries to follow along. We've got a lot of anonymous visitors that just pop-by to read what's going on.

So don't worry... Continue with a new blog entry.

Just be yourself. Continue what you started and we'll all read and comment. The goal of my "theme" post was to inject some of your own flavor. We debate and discuss stuff all the time...

So please continue ... Give us some more insight.

questccg wrote:Post a new

questccg wrote:
Post a new blog entry... It's okay. We want to hear more. Just because we don't know in what direction you plan to go... It's interesting and hopefully more engaging.

People will "follow" the blog. Aside from those who comment, many, many just read the entries to follow along. We've got a lot of anonymous visitors that just pop-by to read what's going on.

So don't worry... Continue with a new blog entry.

Just be yourself. Continue what you started and we'll all read and comment. The goal of my "theme" post was to inject some of your own flavor. We debate and discuss stuff all the time...

So please continue ... Give us some more insight.

Awesome. Thank you! I will post the next one before the weekend to provide some more in depth discussion topics. You guys already inspired some thematic elements I can add soon so I am super excited about all the possibilities, so thank you!
I so appreciate all of it!

howdy.as you retheme i would

howdy.
as you retheme i would bare in mind that money is just a way of not carrying goats. by this i mean before cash we bartered for one thing (eg. clothes) with another (eg.goats). at some point somebody realised it would be easier to carry trinkets to represent those things (or a value equivalent -ie 1 coin= 2 clothes= 0.25 goats)
there is no reason a younger child couldn't play a game about debt (presuming they can do basic maths) but you would need to retheme it away from money. maybe they are bee farmers trying to accumulate the most honey. but to get honey they must spend bees or flowers.
it still might be to complex for little kids (depending on your mechanics) and i dont know how many kids want to be bee keepers (i picked the theme at random) but the principle should hold. if a resource management game about money is to dry change the resource.

wob wrote:howdy. as you

wob wrote:
howdy.
as you retheme i would bare in mind that money is just a way of not carrying goats. by this i mean before cash we bartered for one thing (eg. clothes) with another (eg.goats). at some point somebody realised it would be easier to carry trinkets to represent those things (or a value equivalent -ie 1 coin= 2 clothes= 0.25 goats)
there is no reason a younger child couldn't play a game about debt (presuming they can do basic maths) but you would need to retheme it away from money. maybe they are bee farmers trying to accumulate the most honey. but to get honey they must spend bees or flowers.
it still might be to complex for little kids (depending on your mechanics) and i dont know how many kids want to be bee keepers (i picked the theme at random) but the principle should hold. if a resource management game about money is to dry change the resource.

Thanks wob. That helps to step back a bit to see the bigger picture. I am not re-theming right this second, BUT am looking into it to see what fits best.

Maybe TGC has some goat

Maybe TGC has some goat meeples.

I think it's an important

I think it's an important topic and definitely has the skeleton of a game.

My only suggestion would be to keep in mind the target audience (that's up to you), and focusing on making it an engaging experience for them. While I don't know if you need to completely abandon the context, I think dressing it up as an escape would make it resonate with kids and families. Especially if you are going for 7+.

For example, keep the "teachable" -- the impact of debt -- but set it in the industrial revolution, or the "wild west", or a not-so-distant future with the threat of intergalactic bounty hunters collecting their client's dues. I don't even think you need to retheme it from money (as kids definitely "get" and enjoy collecting money as a concept), but you might just need to shift the context.

Angrycyborggames wrote:I

Angrycyborggames wrote:
I think it's an important topic and definitely has the skeleton of a game.

My only suggestion would be to keep in mind the target audience (that's up to you), and focusing on making it an engaging experience for them. While I don't know if you need to completely abandon the context, I think dressing it up as an escape would make it resonate with kids and families. Especially if you are going for 7+.

For example, keep the "teachable" -- the impact of debt -- but set it in the industrial revolution, or the "wild west", or a not-so-distant future with the threat of intergalactic bounty hunters collecting their client's dues. I don't even think you need to retheme it from money (as kids definitely "get" and enjoy collecting money as a concept), but you might just need to shift the context.

I personally love the context/content and how it plays out. BUT, I am always open to reiterating things down the road. I should have my next blog post up pretty soon. I have been really slammed with working overtime recently. Last three pay periods have me between 112-120 hours every two weeks...

Thank you for your thoughts. I think the money concept will work fine, just want to make it more appealing than JUST rolling dice during a math homework session hahaha.

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