During the beginning of this semester, I started playing board games with Aliah, Hayden, Nicole, and Isaac in #BCM300. We immediately formed a group and started working towards a project we would be proud of. This post will document the contributions I’ve made to this project in preparation for our group presentation in week 10. We haven’t quite settled on a name yet, but it will involve aliens.
In the early stages of our group work, I adopted an organisational role. After we decided to work together, I immediately created a Twitter group chat for us to communicate throughout the semester. I then developed a group document and file sharing system through Google Drive so we could accumulate all our project information in one place. Finally, after our initial trials with Zoom didn’t work out, I created a Discord group so we could video chat and screen-share our progress.
Conceptualisation was a process that we all contributed to equally as a group. Most of this took place during our Zoom meetings prior to Zoom failing as a communication option. During these sessions I was predominantly involved with the social deduction, storyline, and mechanical elements of the concept. For example, the idea of secretly ‘spreading’ an infection was of my origination. This mechanic draws on the social deductive elements from Love Letter and Avalon, two of the games we played in BCM 300. When we were ideating themes, I suggested multiple candidates such as a zombie apocalypse or a future-based science fiction game. It was from these ideas that we landed on the alien invasion concept.
To prepare research for this project, we first divided up games that inspired, or were comparable to our game in some way. I researched Love Letter, a card game developed by Seiji Kanai based on three principles: risk, deduction, and luck. It’s published by Z-Man Games and sells for approximately $15.00 AUD to $40.00 AUD depending on the retailer. Information like this will be used in our presentation when discussing comparable products. I’ve also used popular media, academic sources, and BCM 300 subject material in preparation for our week 10 presentation. Board Game Geek has been an invaluable popular media asset in learning about board game genres and themes, storylines, rules, game loops, and mechanics. Additionally, Luke’s blog post from Start Your Meeples has greatly assisted my understanding of board game mechanics, the topic I’ll be speaking about in the presentation. Joshua Kritz, Eduardo Mangeli, and Geraldo Xexeo’s (2017) conference paper supports this as a foundational academic resource. Lastly, I’ve used the BCM 300 week six lecture on game mechanics to link the mechanical aspects and supporting research of our game to the subject material.
Mechanics are the focus of my contributions to the group presentation. This is a fitting topic since I’ve got the most experience with games in our group. Our game is structured around combining several mechanics found within other games, with the addition of new mechanics where necessary. Most importantly, our game is a social deduction game. With the exception of the conspiracy theorist’s awareness, one player is the alien, who’s goal is to survive and infect everyone else playing. Players move around the board by dice rolling and following the squares on the board towards their next location. There’s no end-goal when moving around the board. Until all players are infected or the alien is dead, players continuously cycle through locations. Different locations have different utility due to the cards available within that area. These cards can have positive or negative effects, with the addition of rare ‘weapon cards’. I’ll expand on this and other mechanics during the presentation.
One of the tasks that’s quite unique to me in my group was devising the board game experience design. This involves the layout of the board and how players navigate it, the positioning of cards, and the board game design. After discussing with the group, we decided on structuring the design around the White House with various rooms and points of interest to interact with. This is the prototype design that I created:
- Board Game Geek 2020, Love Letter, Board Game Geek, viewed 27 April, <https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/129622/love-letter>.
- Z-Man Games 2020, Love Letter, Z-Man Games, viewed 27 April, <https://www.zmangames.com/en/games/love-letter/>.
- Luke 2018, ‘Board Game Mechanics 101: An Introduction to Core Gaming Mechanics’, Start Your Meeples, weblog post, 30 May, viewed 4 May, <https://startyourmeeples.com/2018/05/30/board-game-mechanics-101-an-introduction-to-core-gaming-mechanics/>.
- Kritz, J, Megeli, E, & Xexeo, G 2017, ‘Building an Ontology of Board Game Mechanics based on the Board Game Geek Database and the MDA Framework’, in SBC SBGames 2017 Proceedings, Curitiba, 2 – 4 November, viewed 4 May, <http://www.sbgames.org/sbgames2017/papers/ArtesDesignFull/175272.pdf>.
- Moore, C 2020, ‘Game Mechanics’, lecture, BCM 300, University of Wollongong, delivered 20 April, <https://youtu.be/bB_UAFwd4OQ>.