Keep It Simple, Stupid

Overthinking.  Sometimes you can overthink to the smallest details on some aspect, and miss a more simple and elegant system.

When I think of game design I love, it all comes back to the KISS principle.  The issue of the market mechanic for Graffiti Royale, the board game I’m working on with graffiti has been of concern to me.  My original idea used tokens that had a color and a number, from 1-3.  The numbers on these tokens would act as a value for various actions.  So – mitigate “damage” (more like a stealth value since it’s more about getting busted) would be one use.    Movement across regions on the cityscape board would be another.  Finally, the original vision used multiple quantities of colors so you may need 2 red and 1 blue to play a certain graffiti tile. The quantity could be used with a chip, so, you might take two value 1 red tokens or one value 2 red token for this example.  But as you use it, you lose some of its ability to help in the other uses like mitigation.

That got convoluted so I stripped it, so I removed the costs to just 1 color, you still had a choice, but it was more “color vs number” (the number would still be used for mitigation — I also decided to remove movement at this point, will add later if necessary).  Mitigation is important, because you ultimately will pay a penalty for each point of “busted” you get.

So ultimately this went from a “spend and move” to a “worker placement” game.  Simplifying the use of the number to a single use, but still having choice in use.  It reduces complexity.

But my biggest issue was one of the locations for players to place their “worker” was the paint store/market.  I kept trying to think of how to create a market mechanism that worked and created an extra tension: I don’t need a red, but it has a 3.  And that color is only a one and it costs 3, but I NEED that color.  But then I lose possibility of mitigation.  Choices like that in deducing cost.

Well I worried that was getting a bit complex, and I realized that ultimately I shouldn’t work too hard at this.  In fact, I’m thinking of going with some sort of “Ticket to Ride” card drawing mechanic.  There’s no auction/purchase mechanic involved.  Pure worker placement.  1 worker = 1 purchase.  If you wanted, you could place all 3 of your worker/artists there and get 3 color tokens, etc…

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense as a basic way to get this game rolling.  If it needs more complexity?  I can add it later.

Don’t get bogged down into too much heavy complexity.


On where I realize I should prototype small mechanics individually in a larger game design.

It’s been a while again, eh?  This is the first weekend I had where I have not had mandatory Overtime in … 9 months?  A full weekend, what to do?

A few game design ideas came into my head, one a new thing, and one just pondering about my graffiti game.

1) Movement/Programming game based around hacking.  I have a hacking game concept that I wasn’t sure how to proceed, but I think it might be interesting to have it be a path laying game, where you play hex pieces that have paths/routes between nodes.  All on a sort of original Pandemic board – that “cyber” light on black screen look.  You could have number tokens that indicate things like number of pieces to play or how many rotation steps to perform of an already existing node (in that sense I could see it be a little like “Droplitz” and old X-Box 360 game.  Anyways just thinking of that sort of mechanic.  I’m interested in the concept of programming games, but not quite sure how I want to implement one yet.

2) Graffiti game.  Mostly thinking about what I need to do with what I have, instead of fretting about getting a big board or pieces.  And this is going to seem the most obvious, but… Prototype play small subsets of the game in chunks.  Like – I have an idea for a market mechanism.  JUST DO IT.

Now that I have time to do so, I Just need to play it out, not hard at all.  I don’t need to print pieces as I’ve got the pieces already made.  I can get a basic market mechanic going and then see if it feels right, then integrate with movement/piece playing mechanics, etc…  So prototype that out tonight is my goal 🙂


Quartiles: Alterations Round 2

Previously, I mentioned changing the requirement for getting stars from “any match beyond the first” to “any match (including the first”.  To reduce the tokens in the game I thought, that would let me just allow players to use the tails side of a coin as a star, thus removing star tokens as separate tokens.

Further testing last weekend led me to think that there’s still more than needs to be done.  My current thoughts have the following changes:

  1. Each round, players receive only the number of tiles equal to that round.  So 1st round is 1 tile, 2nd round: 2 tiles, 3rd round: 3 tiles, 4th round: 4 tiles.  This reduces the total number of tiles per player by 6 (from 16 tiles in the old revision, to 10 in the new).  For 4 players that’s 24 fewer tiles being played each game.
  2. To keep with the 4 theme, instead of numbers 1-6, I’m thinking having just 1-4 + x/wild on the tiles would be better, it would reduce the number of tiles and the number of possible matches, which means cards required (and even fewer abilities).  That’s not a bad thing, especially when the current cost to print is about 50 bucks IIRC.
  3. Starting layout:  Currently I just place a single random tile in the center and players build off that.  It’s bothered me because the first player doesn’t really get the option of making a multiple edge connection.  In fact in theory only the 4th player in the 4th turn might be able to play it if others played their tiles in an “L” shape.  My one possible solution was to give the first 3 players a free star.  But I have a better idea…  A + layout.  A center tile, and then 1 tile above, 1 below, one left and one right.  This provides the 2-edges that would allow for more matches and since there’s 4 double-edges with that layout the max 4 players could in theory have a shot at making a full edge connection on their first turn.
  4. The last thing I’m pondering is giving each player a starting 1,2,3,4 token.  This can make it a bit faster to get up to speed as well and start scoring instead of waiting for so many plays to happen.

In the end I think each of those four things will have quite an impact on playtime.  I may not even need all of them.   But I’m certain I’ll use 3 and 1.  2 is most likely as it just fits the theme and will keep costs down.  4 is just a minor adjustment if I want to speed the play up a little and the others don’t fulfill it.