When I have a game where players need to collect a certain amount of goods to fulfill orders and score points, I used to have a problem early on with trying to figure out how much stuff and for how many point each “set” of good should be worth. A solution to this that seems to work well, at lease so far, is to set a wide range of goals in the early testing and let the early tests determine what the balancing point is.
If you have a game with three difference resources and you want players to collect them to turn them in. Start with a card that is as simple as one of each good, 1/1/1. The next three cards could be 2/1/1, 1/2/1, and 1/1/2. All of those are 4 total goods and keep going up from there with different combinations of 5 good, 6 goods and so on. Pick a set amount of time and see where players are at with the kinds of cards they have and what kinds of cards are easy or difficult to collect. None of these cards need to have any point totals either, if this is an early test. Players will have an idea of what is more and less valuable, based on the liquidity of different resources. If you have played the game for an hour, you can look at the cards that are next in the collection line and you can use this information as a top line for the amount of resources that players are able to collect in a set amount of playing time.
The flip side of this method is to try and figure out exactly how many resources players need to collect and what their value is. That can take a lot of time and the pay-off is not worth the effort to try and find the perfect goals out of the gate. I am sure there are some math methods out there that could solve this problem, but when the maths meet a table of gamers, the maths tend to go out the window…..at least in my experience.
Make it easy for yourself and make a lot of targets to shoot for, many of them will be easy and they difficult targets will present themselves. Not that you have a top and bottom range of goals, you can fine tune and play with different amounts and point values.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.