Mechanics of the Game Prototype

After establishing a thematic narrative for our card game, it is essential to structure the story using some mechanics.

Mechanics

Game mechanics provide the framework for players to interact with one another and the game itself. We are working on creating a physical prototype that we can experiment with. The importance of this step is explored in the video above:

When you can actually play your game, you’ll discover all sorts of things that you didn’t account for when you were just designing the game in your head.

When engaging with the prototype it will become more apparent where the mechanics break down or have gaps. It will allow us to engage in our own story and alter the experience if necessary.

Our Game Mechanics

  1. Turns: Each player will take their turns individually in a clockwise rotation until the game ends.
  2. Actions: During their turn, a player can play a maximum of three cards: one action card, one relaxation card and one assessment card. The story of these cards can be understood in my previous blog post.
  3. Randomisers: We have incorporated action cards which act as disruptors to the static gameplay.
  4. Scoring system: relaxation cards (which are not directly used to win the game, but definitely help to build up assessment cards and keep them safe!)

In this game, relaxation is treated as a currency; something to invest in, save, and use to protect against the ‘life’-inspired spins thrown from the action cards. The deck itself must be shuffled prior to gameplay to inspire randomness. Whilst a lot of the cards are standard and repeated throughout the game, several will challenge its mechanics. For example, wild cards for assessments, a “just say no” card, which will counteract any action card played by another player, and various cards designed to let a player steal or swap an assessment (or full collection of assessments) from others.

action2
An example of an action card which disrupts the mechanics of the rulebook

Capture mechanics are also implemented in this game through the use of assessments. The aim of the game is to collect three lots of three assessments for one subject. Although players can retrieve these cards through the deck and the first dealing, they can also steal and trade between each other according to the permissions of various action cards.

The Rule Book

We have constructed our rule book in an infographic style for simplicity:

the balancing act final.png

Target Audience

Our game is both inspired by and aimed at university students. Therefore it’ll be in our best interest to manufacture a game which is inexpensive, small and easily distributed. School students are also a potential audience for us, as they share some characteristics with the university/college demographic we’re appealing to.

Cost

Some preliminary research on printing costs suggests we could produce a game pack for less than $10, not including a potential bulk-producing discount if we were to assume economies of scale. So far we have kept costs down by using the free online design tool, Canva, to design our cards. We could add a low to moderate mark-up to generate some sort of profit whilst keeping the game low-cost to consumers.

Distribution

Online distribution is a valid option for us. Eventually it would be ideal to place the game exclusively in hobbyist game stores and university stores.

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