I went into this project thinking “this is going to be complicated and difficult,” which is true since systems are complicated and difficult to model! But I think I made things harder for myself by believing there had to be some crazy multilayered rules, long arcs, or perfectly crafted mechanics in order to even get a first version out.
Also as a group, we got kind of stuck starting from square one – we spent a long time brainstorming different system ideas and had a hard time settling on one. We touched on climate change, sustainable products vs fast fashion, personal finance, the stereotypical college social scene, human anatomy … the list goes on. I think we were all a little held back by the mindset that we had to make a fully functional game right away; we dismissed a lot of ideas maybe too quickly as we struggled to come up with mechanics to pair with each of these ideas.
Something that I regret is not looking to other games as examples early on in the process. I think we were trying to invent something new, which is honestly pretty frikin hard. But even once we started talking about examples we had seen in class, like Patchwork and Splendor, I realized I haven’t played enough games! I wish I knew more canonical examples of different mechanics, so I could easily bring them to mind, and mod them to fit my needs.
Finally landing on weather was an interesting choice, because it turns out weather is really complicated (lol duh cynthia)! It was challenging – but also taught me a lot about weather – to try and distill the key points into mechanics. Ultimately we simplified everything into air masses, which I think was a great move! It lends itself well to the idea of placing and moving pieces. It also taught me that a system might be complicated, but you can simplify it and still teach people a fundamental part of that system! Which is still incredibly useful!
The first version was a kind of painful mishmash made by my last two brain cells with the help of Vicky – I felt so extremely uninspired and lost, but just making something crappy yet interactive gave us such useful feedback. Then, Rachel took a spin at the next version, and did a great job of developing stronger motivation for players to create weather! A big thing I have learned is that everyone thinks differently and it’s awesome to let others build on what you have started – it usually ends up better than it was before.
Ultimately this project was challenging AF for me, but taught me some valuable things. It also makes me want to play more board games!!! I’ll have to bother my friends to play them with me. >:)