Archive for July, 2009

#GDCU Level 6: The Game

18 July 2009 Leave a comment

The assignment for this Thursday’s Game Design Concepts class was as follows:

Option 3 (Exploring the boundaries of games): Design a game that has intentionally incomplete rules, requiring player authorship of rules during the play of the game in order for it to be playable. Post your (incomplete) rules.

Never give a creative (such as myself) an assignment like this, or allow them to actually choose something like this, because we will find the lowest level to question the actual assignment while exploding the concept of it.

In my game, I question what the game space is (I don’t define it). I assign a goal, but do not define how to get there. What is a game, and what is a goal? Do we need always need to have a game where rules are active? Do we always need a game with a goal? What if reaching the goal is as undefined as the rules, or even the game space?

Here is my design:

Number of Players: 2-6 (or more!)


  1. All players gather in the middle


  • First player to reach 500 wins
link to post on gdcu forums
Categories: gdcu

GDCU Level 4 Game Design: Bomba Yar! Keelhaulin’ on the High Seas

11 July 2009 Leave a comment

Bomba Yar! Keelhaulin’ on the High Seas

A card game based on the Nintendo NDS Sims 2 mini-game “Keelhaulin’”

Bomba Yar! Are ye a landlubber or a lover of life on the high seas? Ye want to be a pirate ye say? Aye! Have some rum and join us in a wee game of cards. If ye win me gold, ye get to set sail with us on the morrow. If ye don’t, to the plank with ye!


[These cards can be made with 112 index cards with the card name written on them]





Old Sea Dog












Bottle of Rum*


*Cannon and Bottle of Rum cards are Bonus cards, which are described below.


2-8 scurvy-free pirates, preferably with lots of rum.


100, each with a value of 10 points. The can be poker chips, pennies, etc.


  • Draw pile
  • Discard pile
  • “Walk the plank!” pile
  • Treasure chest coin pile



The first player to reach 500 points wins.


  1. Select a dealer. The dealer shuffles and distributes 8 cards to each player. Play is clockwise starting from the player to the left of the dealer.
  2. Draw a card, either from the draw pile or the discard pile. If you find or already hold one or more Cannon and/or a Bottle of Rum cards you may play it immediately.Cannon card – place the card in the “Walk the Plank!” pile and choose a player. The chosen player loses their next turn.
    Bottle of Rum – place the card in the “Walk the Plank!” pile and draw at least 2 cards from the draw pile. You cannot have more than 10 cards in your hand. For example, if you have 9 cards, you can only draw one card.
  3. If you have 3 or 4 of the same pirate card, make them walk the plank! Place the matching cards in the Walk the Plank! pile face up. For each pirate card you have removed from the game, place one gold coin in the treasure chest coin pile.
  4. Discard. After drawing a card and playing your hand (if applicable), discard one card into the discard pile. Play continues in a clockwise motion.


Round Win

The first player to discard all of their cards in a round wins the round and takes whatever booty is in the treasure chest pile. Each coin is worth 10 points.

Game Win

The first player to win 500 points wins the game.

Changed Mechanics

Scoring System – the original game awarded points for each card that walked the plank and gave points towards the booty if any card remained in that suit as the computer removed the card from the game. As this cannot be done without the risk of someone seeing the remaining cards in the deck, this scoring mechanic was altered.

Ghosts – players were able to play ghost cards (one for each suit) if that suit had walked the plank. This feature was removed as the scoring system changed.

Number of Cards – the number of cards in the game was increased significantly to allow for an increased number of players.

Cannon – made it a direct attack feature that would remove a turn from a selected player rather than points.

Number of Players – the original game is you versus the AI. This game is between 2-8 players.

Removed Cards – removed one of the wenches to keep the deck as small as possible.

Categories: gdcu

GDCU Level 3 Game – Supply!

8 July 2009 Leave a comment

Monday saw the publication of the third lesson in the Game Design Concepts class. The homework was to design a game with the following (there were three options of difficult, I chose the hardest):


The theme must relate to World War I. The primary objective of players cannot be territorial control, or capture/destroy.


You cannot use territorial control or capture/destroy as game dynamics. That is, your game is not allowed to contain the concepts of territory or death in any form.


As above, and the players may not engage in direct conflict, only indirect.

As it turns out, I’m not at all versed in table-top wargaming except for a wee bit when my first step-father tried to get me to play him in some American Civil War games (no matter which side I chose I always lost… typical me). The good thing is is that this isn’t a territory game, but the hard part was how not to create direct conflict, especially since the required theme is World War I. After some thinking, I realized that war isn’t about acquiring bigger guns and killing people; there’s also the help aspect. I came up with the idea of providing supplies to a base, with hexagonal tiles providing both a fog of war as well as affecting the player’s movement as they make their way towards the supply base.



Number of players: 2-4

board-tokensPlayers choose one of 8 countries that they will represent:

  • Allied
    • France
    • Great Britain
    • Italy
    • Serbia
  • Central
    • Austria-Hungary
    • Germany
    • Ottoman Empire
    • Bulgaria

board-basesThe player then takes the base tile which corresponds to their selected country.

Board Layout

board-supplyThe supply base tiles are stacked and placed in the center of the playing area.


Board tiles are tiles which affect the player’s ability to move, and can affect their turn. Below are the tiles in Supply!, the number in the game, and the effect they have on the player:

tree 25 no effect
road/track 3 +2 movement
river 3 -1 turn
mortar attack 3 player returns to base or supply base, depending upon where they started
gas attack 3 -1 turn
trench 7 player’s next move is parallel to trench
enemy infantry 5 -1 turn
ally infantry 5 +1 turn

Board tiles are placed faced down and mixed, then placed on the playing area in the following configuration:


  • Yellow = player base
  • Blue = board tiles
  • Black = supply base tile stack


Players determine who goes first, with turns going clockwise.

Play begins in the player’s home base. The player selects the tile adjacent to the base and turns it over to reveal the type of board tile he landed on. Player follows the outcome as indicated by the tile type (e.g. if the player reveals a river, gas attack, or enemy infantry tile he loses his next turn; if he reveals a mortar attack tile he returns to base; if an ally infantry tile is revealed he goes again; if he reveals a road/track tile his next turn results in two moves. Trees do not effect a player). At the start of the player’s next move, he removes the tile he revealed from the board and replaces it with a randomly selected face-down pile; he returns his original tile face down to this pile.

When a player has successfully reached the supply base, he removes one supply token from the stack. He must then make his way back to his base using the movement rules outlined above.

Win State

A player wins a game when he is the first to collect four supply base tokens.

Special thanks to Kevin for discovering the mortar attack bug!
Link to forum post.
Categories: gdcu

GDCU: Sailing the Seas of Cheese

5 July 2009 Leave a comment

Chapter 2 of Challenges for Game Designers Challenge 2 is entitled “It’s Mine.” The design challenge is for acquiring territory, and is to be played by 2-4 players. The win conditions are as follows:

  • player who gets all the territory wins, or
  • player who has the most territory after x number of turns wins.

The game could be a board, card or tile-based game.

I’ve spent the afternoon playing Sid Meier’s Pirates!, so it was fairly natural that I would go nautical for this design. With apologies to Primus.

Sailing on the Seas of Cheese


  • # of islands = 1d4 + 2
  • # of moves/turn = 1d4
  • # of players = 2-4
  • 1 move = 1 ship length
  • tokens
    • ships (e.g. dimes)
    • islands (e.g. quarters)
    • main base


  • Determine the number of islands by rolling 1d4+2. Place islands in random locations, away from the base (e.g. center of playing area) around the play area
  • Place all ships at base (center of playing area). Determine play order by rolling die. Highest roll goes first.


  • Player rolls die to determine number of moves ship will move in one turn (1d4). One move = length of ship. For example, if you roll a “3,” your ship moves three ship lengths towards the island of your choice.
  • To capture an island simply land on it. If the island has never been captured before, you successfully capture the island and your ship is returned to base and can then begin the process of capturing other ships.
  • To capture an island captured by another player determine the island’s hit points by rolling 1d4+2. The result is the number of turns it will take until you successfully capture the island.
    • The owner can prevent the island from being taken over by landing on the island before the number of turns expires. Ownership of the island is retained and both ships are returned to base.

Win State

  • The game ends when all of the islands are captured by one player.

Notes and Observations

I wanted to create some sort of conflict in terms of stealing islands from other owners. I couldn’t get the mechanic down (I think this is because I feel limited being used to dealing with computer designs rather than table-top design), so any suggestions on how to improve this aspect of the game, or any aspect for that matter, is truly welcome.

Categories: Uncategorized

Upgrade Complete

4 July 2009 Leave a comment
Upgrade Complete

Upgrade Complete

I discovered the Flash game Upgrade Complete on autie pixelante’s blog. Upgrade Complete is not just your usual Space Invaders-like shoot-em up. It is, as AP says, a “parody of a design trend used to artificially extend the life of a game.” Each major component is upgradeable, as you can see in the graphic to your right. That’s a mighty ugly ship, and it’s completely customizable and upgradeable. But that’s not all! Each component of the game itself is as well. Everything from graphics to the start button can (and in some cases must) be purchased and then later upgraded for more graphic goodness. for example, if I want to actually start the game, I must purchase the loading screen and menu buttons after borrowing money from the shop. If I don’t, I can’t play the game.

What’s interesting is, at 66% of upgrades completed, I feel compelled to actually upgrade most everything, even at the expense of my ship improvements. Which, then, really is the game: upgrading the myriad components or completing all the waves successfully? How will I feel once I finish level 20 and I’m not at 100%? These are interesting design questions that make me envious of the original designer of Upgrade Complete. You bastard 😉

Categories: flash games

best (or worst) puzzle design ever

3 July 2009 Leave a comment

From FAIL Blog:

If only all our designs were this FABULOUS!

Categories: design, puzzles

GDCU Level 1

2 July 2009 Leave a comment

The first Game Design Concepts lecture was published on Monday. It’s basically an introductory lecture with some basic vocabulary so that those participating can have a level ground of discussion (game studies is still so new that there has yet to be any real formulation of keywords). After discussing what makes a game, Schreiber gave us a 15 minute design a basic game challenge. Below is what I came up with while serving on a grand jury on Tuesday. The guidelines were as follows:

Four Steps:

  • Draw a Path
  • Come up with a theme or objective.
  • Create a set of rules to let the player move from place to place.
  • Create conflict.
Race for Candy

Race for Candy


Race for Candy is a basic race-to-the-end game. It can be done on paper (w/pen) or on a sidewalk (w/chalk), requires a minimum of 2 players, and at least one two-facedcoin. Draw a straight line and divide it into as many sections as you’d like as illustrated above.


It is Halloween and you and your friend are trying to collect as much candy as possible before getting home for the night.


Players flip a two-sided coin. One side, say heads, let’s the player move one square forward, while the other, tails, wins the flipper two forward movements while forcing the other player to move backwards one. For each space you wind up in at the end of the turn you gain “one candy” (you can simply mark how many you have on a piece of paper. For example, if the players are at the starting line and the first player flips heads, she moves forward one space and gets one candy. If she were to flip tails, she would move ahead two boxes, but would only earn one candy (her opponent would move back one square but would not earn a candy).

The game ends when both players have reached the finish line. The winner has the most candies, the loser just gets to laugh at the winner when they have to go to the dentist for cavities.


I added the head = 2 steps forward, one step back mechanic because I wanted to create some sort of tension between the players. While a player would want to move forward on heads as much as possible (because they get the most candy that way), tails would have a benefit (or not, depending upon which player you are) as well.

For a basic game thought out in between testimony, it’s not too too bad =P

Categories: gdcu