Games, Design & Game Design

Feed Us! Continues

In Design Process, Game Design, Thesis Work on February 6, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I made revisions based on the first playtest, mainly altering the currency cycle, eliminating some un-necessary options and standardizing the card effects. I also decided to combine the two different kinds of card in an effort to make card drawing more elegant, but I fear that that decision is throwing off the ability for players to make strategic decisions in the mid-game.

I also put all the materials into InDesign so that players don’t have to decipher my scrawl.

Feed Us! Revision 2 materials

Feed Us! revision 2 printed materials

I playtested this revision with 3 players (the games for 2-4 at this point). It went pretty well – it dragged on for about half an hour past my target play time, for what I mainly think are structural reasons. We did have a player win, but it was party through me deciding not to keep battling for one of the Health meters, which would have drawn out her eventual victory even longer. I got some really good feedback about the pain points remaining in the system, without it all going down in flames.

On the positive side, there was some really strong synergy between the color of the various card combinations and their mechanic effects (those who were pursuing Environmental Health victories using cards like Local Gardens and Farmers Markets, those going after Economic Health using Big Box Store and Global Distribution, stuff like that). The inter-player competition element is strong, and replay value seems like it’s greater than 1-2 plays, which is good.

Next steps: do some real math concerning the currency cycle, figure out how to shorten the mid-game without making it an early-leader-wins situation, and decide on the possible addition of a random “crisis that effects everybody equally” element.

The game is in a place where I can send PDFs of the game materials to those interested; to actually play, it will involve about half an hour of printing and cutting out cards. Email me if you’d like to take a look!

More pics after the cut.

3 Player Feed Us! Setup

3 Player Feed Us! Setup

End of the 3-player playtest

End of the 3-player playtest

My Feed Us! player board

My Feed Us! player board

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  1. Hi Nathan,

    This game is very much in dialog with one of my favorite resource management board games of all time: Crusoe’s Planet by Nigel Ray (http://www.amazon.com/Crusoes-Planet-Nigel-Ray/dp/B003UFO2OC)

    There, you take on different jobs as you try to survive until you can be picked up by a passing ship in the end. What’s cool is how fortune tends to determine what resources are generated (analogous to weather, markets, etc.), which are then filtered through some kind of socio-economic system (racist warlord dictatorship, utopian plutocracy, taxation-based Third World country, whatever), and THEN the players have to determine what’s best between individual and collective interests.

    You usually learn that, in race and gender-stratified societies, everybody loses. You also learn through simple game mechanics how the Third World becomes structurally underdeveloped, why people with guns tend to speak louder, and how complicated calculating taxes even with a small number of basic resources can be.

    So if you’re adding in an environmental dimension, I think you’ve got an awesome design trajectory.

    Best,
    -Evan

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