Let’s Design a Game #3 Asking Myself Questions

Before I hit the white board, I started to ask myself a bunch of questions about the Negotiation game in order to get my bearings. I wanted to have a better idea of what I wanted to accomplish. I have included the thought process I went through below. I will let you read through and I will explain each step after.

Open Contracts will move around the table in one or more “hands”. Players should start the game by offering a contract that is shuffled into the opening contract hand. Maybe there is a way to have red and green negotiation dollars or points? What are the contracts for? Could this be made into a set collection game? I think I like the idea of missions being in the middle of the table. How do I keep players “identified” in the contract hand? Maybe players are a hidden boss and the boss will draw agents, after a contract has been negotiated, players will play and agent card on a particular mission. Some players will be trying to protect the missions and others will be trying to take the missions.

Open Contracts will move around the table in one or more “hands”

I knew this from the moment the idea came to me. I wanted players to look at anonymous cards.

Players should start the game by offering a contract that is shuffled into the opening contract hand.

This is a basic first step in the game.

Maybe there is a way to have red and green negotiation dollars or points?

Thinking more about the construction of the hand, how are players going to communicate? I don’t know what the red and green were supposed to represent. Not even writing this days later, I am not sure what I was thinking. What I do know it that this was the point in time where I knew that keeping track of what was what and who was who in the negotiation hand that was moving around the table was going to be a challenge. I was looking forward at this point to going to the white board and visualize what I was going after.

What are the contracts for?

This was the first moment I thought about what people are actually offering to one another. I had no theme for the game, I only had this mechanic I wanted to play with. I guess you could say this is a mechanic first kind of game. I did not spend a lot of time thinking about this question, I just wanted to make a note and keep going.

Could this be made into a set collection game?

I always do this, can I make this game a theme-less wonder? I know games need a good theme to pitch the game to potential customers, but I had a moment where I was thinking I could make this a simple set collection game. I would not have to worry about fitting this unknown mechanic into a theme and I would have a little more freedom with the design process.

I think I like the idea of missions being in the middle of the table.

This is where the idea of moving the contracts to the middle of the table, rather than having a hand move around the table comes into play. I was thinking about the amount of time it would take to move a hand around the table….hmmm….that could take a long time. I was also thinking I could split the hand and have more than one moving around the table so everyone has something to do. I did not like the idea of players always looking at hands and not looking at the board or not interacting with each other. This made me think about my experience with Among the Stars when everyone is always staring at their hand and drafting a card, the game is over and oh hey, where did all these people come from? I did not want that experience so I though about moving the contracts to the middle of the table for everyone to be looking at.

How do I keep players “identified” in the contract hand?

Not ready to abandon the hand idea, I was thinking about how players would be identified in the hand. I had a basic idea for the contract offer-er, they would use a number ID card that would stay with the contract, but I was not sure who to keep track of the player would was making a bid for a contract.

Maybe players are a hidden boss and the boss will draw agents, after a contract has been negotiated, players will play an agent card on a particular mission.

At this point, the hand idea needed to be drawn on a white board so I started thinking about the motivation for each player. Why are people doing what they are doing. This is really the start of the building the theme process. The players offering the contracts would be a boss behind the scenes and players bidding on these contracts would have a set of agents they could use to finish these various contracts. I did not think about the agent idea after this. While it sounded interesting then, I knew I was getting into the weeds of the game and I was not ready to jump in that far. However, I had written the question down and knew I had it sitting there to be revisited when the time came.

Some players will be trying to protect the missions and others will be trying to take the missions.

Going against my own personal rules, I went a little deeper into the agent idea made a final note that players could not only add agents to the board to go after contracts, but they could also attempt to protect places on the board with their agents.

These notes were taken over a 15 min period and everything I wanted to write out, needed to be written on a white board. I had my notes ready and waiting and the next stop would really be a white board this time to help visualize what I was going after and figure out what would and would not work for this game.

Please feel free to visit the Google Doc of this project.

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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at c.renshall.tgik.games@gmail.com

If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.

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