Recently – or perhaps not so recently after all – I got my hands on a book called Challenges for Game Designers. It contains (ta daaa) challenges for game designers, in that it gives you (me) a mission to create a game with certain requirements. I’ve read it through, I loved it, and now I’m starting to (slowly) do the assignments in it.

I thought I’d share my game design diary with you guys. Yes, actually I do have one. Why? Design decisions are easy to track, meaning that if I make a decision based on a specific limitation, circumstance etc, and then later change the limitations or circumstances, I’ll know where the decision that might not work out came from and the background for it. Good stuff, all around. All you aspiring designers should keep one. Not in the least to record your ideas.

This is a page from my design diary, and it’s the start of my board game Ascent. I’ll post updates as the game design process progresses.

Challenge 1: the Path

Deliverable: Prototype
In this game, explore the race to end gameplay dynamic. 2 – 4 players, progressing on a path. Make them go from point A to point B. First to point B wins.

Determine theme and a goal
Theme: Fallen angels want to be the first ones back into heaven. To get back into heaven, souls must be saved. There are a limited amount of souls available for saving. Saving souls builds the stairway (unintentional reference!) to heaven.
Identify mechanics
In order to progress, you need a soul to save. Souls are finite resources.
Locking process – without a soul, you can’t progress to the next level of hell (designed around Dante’s 9 circles of hell). However, unlocking a gate to the next level of hell unlocks the gate for all. Strategy. Meaning that even if you don’t get a soul in one area, you can still progress to the next. This puts the player with a soul at a disadvantage and hinders the “rush through the board” phenomenon.
I’m thinking a Talisman like setup. You have to build your angel, literally build it (puzzle) not to fall victim to the temptations around you. Another hold back strategy, perhaps worsening as the player plods along. Temptations by minor and major demons. What’s the trade off? Drawing cards allowing you to find souls to save. Risk.
Build virtue, faith, loyalty by saving souls. These will be important in the final step, meeting up with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. Resisting demons and temptation will help build virtue, faith and loyalty. Helping your fellow players will help build it as well, but you may end up losing the game.

Identify the conflict between players – there are a limited number of souls. There are a limited number of ways to improve virtue, faith and loyalty. Only one player at a time can access the higher circles of hell. If you want in, you must first oust the player in the circle. In “combat” you lose virtue, faith or loyalty if you lose the conflict. By helping you gain virtue, faith and loyalty. Hell is a selfish place.

The board would be circular or built from hexes. Built from play to play. Two sided to make the game board more interesting. Action cards that tell the player to flip sides?

So that’s the first iteration of Ascent.I’m guessing as the game design process progresses, there will be a lot of cuts and changes.