Game design is an art you don’t truly appreciate nor consider until you attempt it. Ashleigh, Bec, Zoe and myself had been brainstorming ludicrous narratives at random in an attempt to create a unique game. During our conversation, the struggle of maintaining decent grades, working and sustaining some sort of social life arose – and our idea was born. We decided to build a game around the concept of balancing those three areas.
The original blueprint was named Escape the HECS Debt. It was effectively a reiteration of The Game of Life, but instead of imitating life events such as having children, purchasing insurance and building careers and salaries, our game was inspired by students at the University of Wollongong.
After a conversation with our tutor, Richard, regarding our game design, we realised our design was overly complicated for such a simple game loop. The game play did not allow for any strategic thinking or creativity from its players. Whilst sticking to the same theme of the student’s work/life balance, we’ve created a fresh format.
The aim of the game is for each player (student) to complete enough assignments to pass three subjects in order to complete the semester first. Assignments (in card form) can be collected from the deck, dealt out in the first hand, collected as compensation for tutoring and other services, or stolen from other players.
Our current blueprint is based on the structure of Monopoly Deal. The game pack comprises of a deck of cards. This deck includes a variety of assessment cards for different subjects, for example law, history and engineering (3 assessment cards for the same subject is equal to passing/completing that subject), denomination cards of relaxation (each has a short story, such as “grab a coffee before class, + 3 relaxation”) and action cards. These are varied; several wild cards, force-swap assessment cards, and payment cards demanding relaxation points from other players.
Each player (4-8) is dealt five cards, which they hold facing away from the other players. The remaining cards form a deck at the centre of the playing space.
The middle of this game consists of the players attempting to balance their relaxation and assessment cards to combat the surprises thrown at them by the action cards.
Game Loop: On a player’s turn, he or she can play one card from each category in front of them (action, relaxation and assessment). This may include:
- Placing a relaxation card in their ‘bank’
- Placing an assessment card into their ‘portfolio’
- Playing an action card against another player
NOTE: a player does not have to play all three cards each loop.
For example, player one may place a +2 relaxation card and an English assessment card in front of them during their turn. Player two can then play an action card requiring +3 relation denominations for tutoring services. Because player one has only got +2 relaxation in their bank, they must also pay player two with their English assessment.
The game concludes when one player has successfully collected three lots of three matching assessment cards and therefore completed three subjects.