A game made individually during game design course taught by Jesse Schell @ETC, CMU. (Feb. 2017)
R O L E
Game Designer, Interaction Designer
M E T H O D S & P R A C T I C E
Brainstorming, Evaluation, Playtesting, Iteration
O V E R V I E W
This post keeps track of my whole design progress for the dice game. It is organized focusing on three parts:
1. Design Objective / Principles: It includes key design criterions I value most while brainstorming, designing and iterating.
2. Brainstorming: Ideas of how to play with the dice popped into my head.
3. Playtesting and Iteration: I took notes and analyzed both problems and good things for each playtest and did changes and improvements for each revision.
Brainstorming & Selection
Principles & Objectives to Prompt Brainstorming
Maybe I wanna a game like this
○ Game like Monopoly. Give players a map and set up punishments and rewards, letting them to choose the number of the dice they want to use.
○ Gambling Game. Guessing the points, or just making others to believe you.
○ Flipping and flicking the dice to move, which is similar to flip the eraser.
○ Comparing the points, larger one get rewards, smaller one get punishments.
○ Defending and attacking game. Assigning the points with different functions. The players can arrange the dice points and make plans to attack or defend.
○ Combine Uno cards with dice. Using functional cards.
○ Using dice to play chess or tic-tac-toe.
○ Building towers, once tower finally falls, sum results and that's your score.
○ Location based dice game. The player need to run and change positions based on the points of the dice during the game.
○ Math calculating game. Rolling numbers and calculating to achieve a goal number.
○ Playing with colors. Rolling and matching the same colors.
○ Using the dice to play Domino.
○ There are many ways to interact with dice, like flipping, sliding, spinning and etc. not only rolling.
○ Playing like the fruit or slot machine. But the player can have the chance to arrange and reroll.
○ Using a hex, because a hex have 6 direction, which can have some relation with the 6 faces of a dice.
○ Using different kind of dice, such as D20, D6, to finish different task.
○ Dice can stack together, which will create a 3D space for the game.
Reflection after the brainstorming
The Problems of the Classic Dice Game
● Get away of the higher-is-better framework.
I love randomness in the dice game, but I also want my player to have control of the game. I don't want them to win or lose just based on the simple luck. In other words, the luck just follows the higher-is-better framework. Acturally, in most classic dice based games like Monopoly, that’s exactly what can happen, and always does.
● There shouldn't be bad rolls.
The player always falls into this unfortunate and unwanted outcome simply because the dice weren’t on the wanted side. In my opinion, each roll should be respected. And the "bad" roll could also be one step in player's strategy, which means player could accumulate the chances of gaining some benefits each roll.
A dice game, for me, should have some levels of randomness but should not be taken control by chances. Meanwhile, dice should make my game more dynamic and unpredictable by give player chances. So, I want my players to have more strategic thinking over the use of the dice side, positions or other features. I will try to find a way to balance two sides and still make it fun.
Analysis & Development
Process log of getting the game concept
I started to go over the brainstorming ideas with my first set objectives. And I felt most inspired by the physical action based dice game compared to the normal heavily number focused dice game.
I really loved the game flicking erasers when I was a child. Then, I was thinking that instead of rolling the dice, how about making the players to flick or flip the dice by using a finger. The flick interaction is very normal but unique to the dice since this action is full of skills also along with randomness. The outcome is not only determined by the luck but also influenced by the skills and strategies. I was so excited with this rough idea since it might be a good and new way to play with dice.
After I got my basic idea, I just sat down and took a deep dive into the details. I kept asking myself questions step by step.
● So what will happen when the players flick the dice?
The dice will touch or collide with something, maybe other dices. Yes, I was thinking that this collider moment could be a good point to have a mechanics like: comparing the points, and larger number get a reward, and smaller number gets a punishment.
● What happens when someone gets a large or smaller number?
● Need to think about… Which dice to flick? Why? How to choose the dice?
● How to combine Randomness and Skill? Does flicking belongs to a skill?
More and more questions came out . I felt somehow I could not give a clear answer. So I found one of my classmate to help me do a quick playtest. Although I didn't have a clear rule set, but just flicking is fun. He loved the idea to flip the dice, just like a dice battle game. It was a good start for me.
● How to win the game? What is the goal to do this?
● How many dice we need? Because the dice can be intentionally and unpredictably colliding with each other, how about giving the reward as alive; the punishment as dead or out of the game?
So based on all of these possibilities, I thought I could make the goal like one player need to kick out all the other player’s dice by comparing the points numbers when they have dices touched.
Developing my concept based on playtesting
Initial Rule Set
Game materials and settings: a small empty place, six dice
Every playtest contains a change of the rule set.
So you can observe how the rules have evolved.
In this process, I did 8 iterations based on the initial rule set., wrote down 4 pages of notes. and took 37 photos, got 41 useful feedback and tons of inspirations through playtesting. Here attached is my play testing and iteration documentation.
Final Rule Set