Challenge: Make a game about growing things.
We have a facebook page now! So that is cool...
I narrowed the focus of this week's challenge just a wee bit. I want to make the game about growing something, not just growth in general, hence the slight narrowing. What should we grow?
My first idea was to very loosely model the growing of a plant. There is a lot of design space here, both thematically and mechanically. I know there are a lot of euro-games out there that focus on farming, but the core mechanics are usually focused on trading. I want the core mechanics to represent growing and nurturing, not trading. Trading only works when you have at least 3 people, and I really want this game to be playable by 2 people (or even alone as a kind of solitaire) so the trade route seems closed.
I want the players to make a unique plant everytime they play the game. To me this screams card game. It is just such a handy way to introduce randomness into the system. That randomness can help to drive the play in a unique way every game. Besides, I want to make a card game this week.
I want there to be a positional element to the game. Carcassonne is a great example of the kind of positional play that I want. I like the flow of a game of Carcassonne. You usually don't know who is going to win until that end unless you pay very close attention. It just gives it a more relaxed vibe with a slow ratchet.
I want what I call constructive interactivity. Constructive interactivity between players (I put something here and now you can build off of it, not I destroy something you put down) is prevalent in euro-games and I think it fits here. Low level play feels very laid back, but once you really understand the system the competition can be fierce. You realize that by putting something into the play space, you are limiting the choices that your opponents can make, even though they can build off of the descisions that you make.
I want a small amount of resource management. Growing a plant is all about balancing the resources at hand with the environmental conditions. Plants need the right amount sun light, clean water, and the proper mix of nutrients in the soil to survive. I know it isn't very realistic to have the type of plant change according to the resources available, but hey, this is a game. These are just crazy plants. I never said that they were Earth plants. Leave me alone.
I want the game to feel cooperative, even though there will be a winner. Big Bad does this. No single player can take down the Hero very easily. You have to cooperate for a while until you see your chance to win. I like this. It gives new players a chance to learn the ropes every game. It just makes things more friendly until you can see the strategy unfold, and always gives someone a chance to steal the game.
This is a pretty good base to work from. Tomorrow I plan to sketch out core mechanics and maybe even make the first prototype. Fun, fun, fun.