CIM Game #2 Post Mortem — Harris Berger
For our Game #2 (Board Game), my partner and I were assigned the mechanic of Action Points. This gameplay mechanic can be loosely defined as the inclusion of points (usually earned/allotted on a turn-by-turn basis) that players will spend to perform a variety of actions in the game.
To be honest and blunt, part of my mindset going into Game #2 was simplicity. I wanted to start by coming up with a simple general concept for a board game that would involve Action Points, and then work outward from there to make the game more intricate. These feelings of striving for simplicity (at least at first) stemmed from my experience with Game #1, which was very successful, I felt, but was also pretty complicated, required heavy explanation in the rule-set, and ultimately could have been simplified further.
I started with a very simplistic, original game board. The original design is pictured below.
While our updated board design (to be pictured later) does maintain several key elements of this first design (such as the inclusion of highlighted (yellow) spaces, and clear start and end points), there were definitely many things that we changed for the better. Upon some testing of this design, we found it to have several flaws. First, it was too simplistic, and too linear. Also, in the same realm, it lacked any level of substantial player-choice, and felt too elementary when playing.
Accordingly, we modified the board to have much more open space, many non-linear pathways, and much more variety. Furthermore, we modified the rule set accordingly to provide guidelines for how players can move, how their action points can now be spent, etc. This afforded us the level of player-choice we were looking for, and varied up the gameplay nicely. Tentatively, we had updated our board to the following rough-draft design:
Given the board’s newfound openness, and the more maze-like feel now that there was a variety of different pathways, we decided to push towards a maze-like game. Accordingly, we came up with the game’s final title: Labyrinth.
I finally touched up the board even further, modified the number and location of highlighted spaces in accordance with our findings from the testing sessions, and designed our final board, pictured below:
This board fit with the aesthetic we were going for, offered varied gameplay and lots of player choice, and reduced a lot of the clutter and simplicity of our prior iterations.
Also, on a fundamental gameplay level, initially the action points were solely used to draw cards. You would use one action point per card drawn. This was the original intended use of action points.
Upon conducting many play tests, however, we found that this felt too simple, and too random, and we wanted to change that. We decided to allow action points to be used to move spaces as well, extending even further the amount of choice a player would have. This was a great change, but it necessitated the fleshing out of other surrounding elements. For example, the yellow spaces could now be, in theory, landed on twice, or just repeatedly visited over and over again. To counter this, we decided to require that yellow spaces be crossed off after one use; this added a nice element of strategy and tension to the gameplay. Below you can see a game board that has already experienced some gameplay:
Also, given that players would now be crossing off parts of the board, we stated in our design document that the game board could (theoretically, of course) be downloaded/printed whenever players so desire.
All of these changes helped turn a very simple Action Points-oriented board game to a more complex, rewarding experience. We are ultimately very happy with the changes, and the final product, and we appreciate all of the feedback we received from our professor and our peers.
Below is the video I created to show certain basic gameplay elements, familiarize the viewer with our game, and highlight the more common special events that players will encounter.