Game Design

Game Makeover: Nines – Further Exploration

Design Workbench


With the Picky Packrats game essentially design-complete, I do not intend to dedicate much more time on the Nines game framework – at least for now. However, through the design process several other alternate uses of the framework came to mind that might be explored. Some of these mechanics seemed like great ideas, but were left out of the design for various reasons: They didn’t fit the original game of Nines and its target player, they added unnecessary complexity to a game that was intended to be dirt simple, or they didn’t fit the feel or theme of the game. I describe them here with a minimal amount of detail in part for posterity, but also in case one of them insists on my attention. Game design pieces conceived in the process of one game’s design process tend to find their way into other games. In fact, I describe a different game at the end that incorporates some of these lost ideas.

Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Final Round

Design Workbench

Design Objective

A theme and a name.

As discussed in the early entries of doing these makeovers, I prefer to start a game design from a theme, but by their nature, these makeovers start with one or more mechanics. Finally, though, I am theming this game as the last improvement for this first stage of development.

Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Round 7

Design Workbench

Design Objective

In the last round, I proposed some rules changes to address a couple issues that had come up in testing that, though rare in occurrence, were frustrating problems when they did occur. In this round I will discuss how I have addressed those issues and what appear to be some final refinements. We are nearing the end of this game’s design phase and are at a level of refinement that can only progress through hundreds of playtests by dozens of people.

BoardGameHour Digest: Introduction


As mentioned previously, I try to participate in the weekly BoardGameHour discussion. Since the “hour” of choice hits at noon in my time zone, I am usually able to attend. However, my office sees a fair amount of traffic and from noon to one I am first an employee and being a human interacting with the outside world comes second, so I often miss at least part of the hour.

Update 04-30-15: I can create these digests quickly for any BoardGameHour (within a day or two), but expressed to the Minister of Board Games that I would not openly post these digests without his blessing. So I am posting the ones I have created behind a login so they can be available upon request. If you would like to have access to these, simply request a login and mention the BoardGameHour as one of your interests. I will then let the  Minister of Board Games know that you have requested access. This way, if there is an interest we will know about it. Note: You can always go to Nurph and replay the event, but I find this to be tedious. Even if you participate in an event it is hard to follow all the conversations. The beauty of the digest is that it collects all posts into their respective conversations.

Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Round 6

Design Workbench

Design Objective

Since it has been a while since I last reported on this project and the game is actively being playtested, I thought I should report on progress even though there are no major changes. I propose a few tweaks here that may cause changes to the rules and the cards, so by the next round I may post all new documents for rules and for building a deck. Historically, I have introduced new ideas in this notebook after they have been tested and changes decided. I am going to break form in this entry and suggest a couple new rules that we will be testing in the coming weeks. With many successful tests behind us, these are in the range of fine tuning. We are not experiencing any major problems with the game.

Mechanics Makeover: Dice in a Cup – Round 1b

Design Workbench

This is the second and final part describing the individual mechanics and their attributes – the modifiers. Again, there are three basic sets of mechanics; starting from the bottom up:

  1. Those that affect the die rolls. (Roll Modifiers)
  2. Those that affect the goal or victory condition. (Goal Modifiers)
  3. Those that affect the players. (Round Modifiers)

Picking up where we left off, in this round we will look at the last set. I set these apart from the other two because these only impact the die rolls in a meta sense. They don’t impact the actual rolls, but may impact the choices you make during rolling, since they impact who you are rolling against and who goes first.

Mechanics Makeover: Dice in a Cup – Round 1a

Design Workbench

Since I am starting to report this progress further into the design phase than previously, I will break up the “rounds” a little differently at first to catch up. Here’s how the first few rounds will shake out:

  1. I will catch up on the mechanics and their attributes, which I will call modifiers.
    1. Since there is a lot to report here, I’ll break this round up into two parts.
  2. I will catch up on the gamelets.
    1. Since there is a lot to report here, I’ll break this round up into three parts.
  3. I will catch up on the game created by compiling the gamelets.

Give Them the Right Tool


In a couple recent articles on the League of Game Makers Seth Jaffe has made the point that “the designer should strive to ensure that a player cannot make a choice or series of choices that will lead them to a state where they’re not really playing anymore.” I agree whole-heartedly with Seth and encourage you to read his articles (“YOU’RE PLAYING WRONG!” – GOOD PLAY EXPERIENCE AND THE DESIGNER’S RESPONSIBILITY and “HEY, LOSER!” KEEPING PLAYERS ENGAGED, EVEN WHEN THEY’RE BEHIND). I have tried to cover similar ground in my article, Eliminating Player Elimination. Just as Seth has published a follow-up article to make his point clear (there were some who misinterpreted his intent), I’ll also add a few words more from an angle closer to Seth’s perspective (though, it is from my perspective also which some have described as other-worldly).

Mechanics Makeover: Dice in a Cup – Glossary


In addition to the standard dice game terms, I have derived a few new ones for this makeover and for use in the Challenge Dice game. Not all are used right away, but this way the glossary can be referenced at any time. This may look like a lot of terminology for a simple game, but it is intended to be used intuitively. Defining terms helps that happen.


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