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 🙂