Game Design; Month 3

Recent prototype

Today I thought I’d write a post on the progress of my game design and where the idea stemmed from. A couple of people asked about it and I’m happy to share now I’m slightly further along. I’m still a little apprehensive to say too much as the end result could be years from from now (for all I know at this stage!) But I’m thinking semi regular progress reports for those who are interested would be good!

So, I’m designing a game…
The working title is Supernatural Showdown. Not too sure about it, however that’s not the most important thing right now. This will be a card based game, possibly a two player (but subject to change!) and the core mechanics are deck building, hand management and set collection, with elements of press your luck. I’d like to make a game that’s meaty enough for gamers but that could be picked up by someone whose new to the hobby.
The outline:
Right now I can pretty much describe the skeleton of the game (I’ll save the flesh until I’m further down the line!) So what’s supernatural about Supernatural Showdown? You are a paranormal investigative team making a reality TV show. You are competing with your biggest rivals in the field for air time on a TV channel specialising in the supernatural. Your mission is to build the most credible and exciting investigations to air by creating a series of episodes. You will use the characters in your team to hire equipment, hunt for spirits and gain evidence of ‘the supernatural’. 
So why a card game?
Initially I had 3 ideas for possible mechanics to explore and themes to create. In the end I went with the two that I feel most confident in developing at the moment. I have a complete addiction to card games. I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I find it fascinating that so much story and so many possibilities can be represented in a simple deck of cards, and I love that card games can be so wildly different from each other. It’s risky because there are a lot of card games out there and in development, so will this one really peak a tabletop gamers interest? Only time will tell I suppose! 
Why design a game?
I don’t have too many ideas of grandeur here! My intention is not attempt to make loads of money or become a famous designer. It’s a lovely dream obviously, but I understand that the reality of game design is very different. I love playing tabletop games and for whatever reason I’m passionate about designing my own. I think it’s because I wanted to make something that I wish had been made, I like that I could bring an idea into a playable game that hopefully other people will also enjoy! I like the notion  that other people can in some way help shape the game further, create a world with me and I’m hoping to really communicate and share with fellow gamers. 

The first cards I designed

The first incarnation


What’s with the theme?Since I was a kid I’ve been obsessed with ‘ghosts’ and supernatural horror. Whether it was fictional, historic, television or movies. I was an ‘X-Phile’ when I was 12/13 (FYI this is what hardcore X Files super geeks refer to themselves as, not sure if they still do or if it was a 90’s thing) and I loved reading the inspiration and real life phenomena behind the episodes. I have a penchant for paranormal reality TV, no matter if you think it’s silly or fabricated, you have to admit it can be entertaining! Personally I am a firm believer in the paranormal and I’ve been on ‘ghost hunts’ myself. I’ve certainly experienced a couple of unusual things but nothing that’s convinced me it was definitely ‘the paranormal’. I really enjoyed the movie Grave Encounters (sadly the sequel sucked) about a paranormal team that fake their encounters for their show, until they get locked down in a haunted asylum with some very real and very angry spirits and have no way out. It’s a must watch, and genuinely freaked me out the first time I saw it. My favourite documentary is The Enfield Poltergeist (there has since been a mini series, and the new Conjuring sequel is loosely based on it. The first show I ever watch of the paranormal nature was ‘Ghostwatch’, a UK ‘mockumentary’ aired in the early 90’s. I pestered my parents to watch it on Halloween night, and I was too embarrassed to admit I couldn’t sleep for days after. It was way ahead of its time, this was years before found footage films like The Blair Witch Project, (whose early marketing campaign lead the audience to believe it was real found footage). It was years before the Paranormal Activity franchise, and years before the spooky reality favourite ‘Most Haunted’. Looking back of course it’s as dated as hell (although I still love it!) but at the time people actually thought it was real. The BBC had calls and everything, so you know it was serious business! I’ve added a link here, it made quite a furore in the UK at the time. Great stuff. So there began my love affair with spooky shows and things that go bump in the night! Anyway, back to the game design…

Progress so far:
I had a very early prototype printed and played in April and just from those few playtests I realised that a lot needed to be changed. So I went back to the drawing board for many weeks, scrapped those initial ideas and redesigned it. This is how I discovered rapid prototyping is the way forward. I’ve faffed a lot and wasted loads of time! Another basic prototype was made using those new ideas and although there is a lot of further development needed I still think I’m on to something. I’m quite a way off from blind play tests or any play tests that involve other gamers for that matter, but I am really looking forward to getting to that stage. I’m also excited about wrapping a story and characters around the game but that’s going to come later as soon as I’m confident the actual game is good, worth playing and it’s all worth pursuing. 

If you made it to the end of this post thank you so much for reading, and of course I’ll appreciate any thoughts, opinions and general feedback too! 

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6 thoughts on “Game Design; Month 3

  1. I love the theme of the game, it’s something that I’ve always really been interested in as well! When you get to the point of needing a set of outside eyes, ears, hands, and brains, we’d be more than happy to help if you’d like us to! I look forward to seeing the further progression! –TBM_Amber

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