The Nine structures of game design: Game Design Class Homework

For the course I’m taking you have to build and design a commercial level hobby game. 

The instructor (Dr. Lewis Pulsipher)  doesn’t recommend starting out with a video game because it takes a while to learn how to program and it takes a lot more time than a table-top game.

I’ve had a little experience programming and building web based games. So I will build a game for tablets and personal computers. It will be turn based and feel like a table top game.

So here is a break down of my game idea considering the nine structures of game design:

1. Theme-Atmosphere/History/Story/Emotion/Image

The theme is set in the future when cats run the earth and develop laser beams that shoot out of their mouth. These cats are very good with technology too and can build towers and other military buildings.

The atmosphere is a little comical as well. It’s not a game that takes itself seriously.

2. Player Interaction Rules and Number of Players

Ideally this is a two player game. Single player would work, and multiplayer might get boring unless implemented as an online multiplayer game. The simplest and most fun for this game is a two player game.

There aren’t many two player games for tablets and sometimes when you have some downtime you just wanna grab your friend and play something other than chess on the tablet.

The players will interact by clicking or touching the screen and the characters and moving them around the map. Players can place units and towers in the game.

3. Objective/Victory Conditions

The objective of the game is to protect the shrine. If you capture the opponent’s shrine, you win!

4. Data Storage

The data storage will be in the computer. I want the user interface to be very simple. The map will also carry data, but not much.

5. Sequencing

It’s a turn based game. Player 1 makes choices, then Player 2 makes choices. And then the battle ensues. I have to be careful with this, as I don’t really want to give the first player the advantage. Lots of play testing will help me figure out how to balance the game.

6. Movement/Placement

Players can build one tower and put one unit on the map per turn. The towers and units must be placed within a range of the shrine/territory. Units and towers can not attack the first turn they are placed. However, they may defend.

Towers can not move or be sold. They can only be destroyed either by the controlling player or the opponent.

Units can move depending on what kind they are. They can move a fixed amount each turn on the map. The map will be a square grid based map to keep it simple. They can move in all directions.

7. Information Availability

Again, the information will be limited. Health bars will be on the units, and during the turns, some information on the amount of power, the cost of the unit and the hp of each unit/tower.

8. Conflict Resolution/Interaction of Game Entities

Conflicts are battles. Battles are resolved simply by power and hp. There will be very little chance in the game. This may change if I find the game to be too predictable or unbalanced.

You can build walls to gain more territory. You can only build on your own territory. The territories must connect back to the single shrine. In other words, you can’t have two separate slices of territory.

I’m going to have to test this territory thing out a lot too, as I’m sure there will be more problems and conflict working on the 2D map.

9 “Economy” and Resource Acquisition

The economy comes through the shrine. You can build clerics and towers to increase the production of energy with the shrine.

Again it’s going to be simple. You can’t steal anyone’s energy and looting energy from fallen units and towers.



One thought on “The Nine structures of game design: Game Design Class Homework

  1. 5 Since you’re creating a game on computer, why not have players both choose their moves and then execute simultaneously? That removes the problem of first-mover advantage (or disadvantage).

    2 If it is simo-move, then having several players all choosing their moves at the same time eliminates the downtime problem that you have with turn-based.

    Admittedly, simo-move will be harder to program.

    6 Squares map (which, btw, properly is a data storage item) introduces a lot of distortion in diagonal movement, hexes cause much less distortion though may be harder to program.

    7 The most important part of this item is whether the location of opposing units is known, or unknown beyond a certain range. On the tabletop the assumption is known, but with a computer you might choose differently.

    8 If there’s little chance in battles, you probably need less rather than more information available about location of enemy units/ maneuver (7#).

    9 Do you want this to become like an RTS where players build a “base”? I don’t think that’s desirable. That could happen if you let them build towers all around the shrine, there needs to be a distance requirement to avoid heavy concentration.

    I may someday add a #10, User Interface, to the list of Nine.

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