3: Building From Wants

The list of wants, far from complete, but chock full of potential, gives me some direction. Two specific items on that list, are where I’m going to choose to start work, because they’re the most concrete. Wanting the players to work together, points to a cooperative game, leading likely to asymmetric player powers. Wanting the look of the game go from devastation to beauty, means that a key mechanic will change how the board looks. Each of these have their challenges.

The cooperative nature if the game, cannot really be figured out in any sort of thematic way, until I figure out how the transformation will work mechanically, so this is a necessary first step. How does the game go from the desolation of nuclear fallout, to being a livable place? What processes need to take place for such a thing to occur, and how does that translate to bits of cardbord, wood and plastic?

In the interest of starting where some action can take place, it makes sense to begin past the worst stages of radiation, to the point where multiple forms of life can exist. To know what that point is, I’ll have to do some research, both regarding the half-life of the radiation, based on what substance created it, and the what lifeforms are ones which survive and ones that begin the earliest processes of (for lack of a better term) ReGenesis. One thing I’m fairly sure of, is players will likely not be controlling human avatars.

Research will help deepen the theme, which is important, but doesn’t necessarily address what needs to happen mechanically by the players of the game, in order to complete the transformation within the game. In my mind’s eye, I see multiple changes needing to occur on each space of the play surface in order to make it habitable.

This is where theme and mechanics start to negotiate back and fourth. Mechanically, the ways to change how things look, usually involves flipping cards or tiles, covering something, partially or fully, or removing something to reveal what’s underneath. Are there other mechanics that transform the play surface of a game? Is the key mechanic for ReGenesis within those listed, or is there potential innovation waiting to bubble to the surface of my thoughts?

More questions than answers come right now. Removing the radiation could be a subtractive process, taking things off the playsurface, while rebuilding could be additive. (This seems unnecessarily component heavy) Do I want players to work towards going from one side of the board to the other? Modular change that spreads to meet and hopefully cover the board? I have an inkling of a time based spreading mechanic, that will I need to further consider.

What is your favorite transformative mechanic?

May your theme and your mechanics meld seamlessly to create a memorable player experience,


4 thoughts on “3: Building From Wants”

  1. Great article! It did take me some time to understand what it was about as it assumes previous knowledge (from an earlier post?) My suggestion would be too add a short intro to explain where this is coming from.

    Looking forward to further readings!


    1. Excellent suggestion! I was thinking of trying to build some sort of diagram at the beginning that progresses with the experiment. As we progress, it’s going to get increasingly harder to follow without having read the previous posts, unless that introduction grows.


  2. Looks interesting. Such a classic stage of game development: “This is where theme and mechanics start to negotiate back and forth”. I guess it happens all the way through but I tend to find this a bigger battle earlier on before you have really truly “found the game” and it begins to shape itself in whatever way it will.


    1. Absolutely! For me, it’s the most fun part of the design process . It’s like this odd tug of war, but everyone’s on the same side ultimately. What have you found to be the hardest theme mechanic juxtoposition in design?


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