For project 3, our group created a system game called “Tragedy of the Commons” which focuses on resource management and decision making to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. It is a round-based game where each player has a limited amount of population and food. Each turn, a player has the option to gain more population/food or they can attempt a challenge card that requires more resources and may even require several players to collaborate on the card. Every few rounds catastrophe cards are pulled from the deck also depletes your resources. If any player ever loses their entire population then they would lose the game. If players also don’t have enough food to feed their population after each round, then they will also lose the game.
This game has a challenge type of fun since players are constantly trying to figure out what their next move is given a list of constraints and variables. In addition, the game also has a fellowship type of fun since players also have to work together to survive even though they are in competition with each other. The use of challenge cards encourages a sense of collaboration even within the competitive game which is similar to how a growing community would thrive in the real world.
Overall, I enjoyed creating these games even though we initially ran into a lot of issues. Our first iteration was a collaborative game that featured a lot of mechanics so that each player could feel like they were contributing to the overall game. We soon realized that it wasn’t fun and one player eventually became the leader and told everyone else what to do. We then shifted directions to a competitive game with simpler mechanics. While we took a lot of stuff out, our core message of resource management and decision-making was still very present. I learned that systems games didn’t have to be too complicated as long as core mechanics were solid.
When we watched others play, we realized that it was important to keep all players engaged especially since the game was elimination based and there could be multiple players sitting as spectators early on. In addition, it was difficult to balance the actual numbers of the game such as the number of each resource card or how much each catastrophe card should deduct from each player. Our own playtest only included 4 people, but when we played it in class with 6 people, the entire dynamic changed. Moving forward, it would be interesting to see if we adjust the rules based on the number of players playing. Overall, I learned a lot by first drafting a theme and letting that guide us in terms of creating solid game mechanics.