Working on Overgrowth has been a thoroughly enjoyable process. It’s certainly the most complex game I’ve worked on so far! I really have to thank my fellow group mates: Shana, Kyle, and Ji Hong. Their wealth of ideas, paired with everyone’s relative strengths, made for a constantly collaborative and exciting process. Personally, I think they are a dream team 🙂
My past games have mostly been on the fun and fantastical side, so designing Overgrowth as a more serious, educational game was very new. Thank you to Shana for being so passionate about our core inspiration and encouraging us to dig into external resources to better inform our design. The final game ended up focusing on challenge and fellowship, as players worked together to strategize and build their city. We had mechanics that were interlocking in nature; basic actions such as planting and chopping trees for lumber contributed towards bigger actions (e.g. building apartments, utilities) that built towards larger goals (e.g. building a factory, paving the way towards the win condition). Those actions also had consequences that players were aware of as indicated by their total CO2 impact on the environment. Rather than having an actively changing forest (via some “forest” action, or something similar), we ended up having event cards that created scenarios similar to what would happen to a forest in real life. The scenarios could be caused by humans or from nature itself. Towards our later playtests, we wanted to strongly emphasize the cooperative nature of the game, and so we made the change to allow players to decide the order of player turns each round. In the end, it was exciting to see how players thought and strategized while playing the game. It was a long road to finding the mechanics and balance needed to create an interesting challenge for players, and it was certainly satisfying to see players play so thoughtfully!
This project was all about making significant changes, testing well, and making big pivots as a result. I’ve learned to be more confident in throwing huge ideas out there to see how they will play out. I’ve also learned a lot about gauging game balance and the different ways to adjust it. Fine tuning a systems game was much more difficult than I had expected, but I learned to enjoy the dynamic process. These are all skills that I’ll take into future games for sure! I hope others enjoy Overgrowth as much as I did making it.