P3: Reflection – Ji Hong Ni

Overgrowth simulated an environmental and urban system coming together to build toward a sustainable future. In this fantasy region, the player’s goal is to build a sustainable city that bridges the world around it. Players can plant seedlings that eventually grow into trees; cut down trees for lumber to build apartments, nature corridors, utilities, and factories. Some game pieces are also 3 dimensional, adding to the sensation of touch. However, planting and building need to happen in a balance as many actions can increase CO2 which we do not want–and planting and maintaining trees prevent the rise of CO2. Along the way, there are event cards to thwart and challenge your plans before the 20 turns are up. By working with your teammates, you must express yourself in what the building plan you and your team envision having by the end. 

The game board is a hexagon made up of triangles to simulate the chemical element, carbon. We used that motif a lot throughout the design and box shape (made by the amazing Shana). Before making Overgrowth, I thought it would be pretty hard to demonstrate a whole system as they were complex, sometimes changing, and had so many moving pieces. While that sentiment faded, the feeling of confusion, transformed into curiosity and also all the occasions of the “oh, what if we do this!” moments. I learned that in order to make a systems game in a limited timeframe, we would have to as a team, narrow the scope into digestible pieces but also drive home our learning objectives–as they were also crucial to system games. I found myself at times wanting to add such fun and wild ideas (like earthquakes to disrupt the game board) but having to table it for let’s say iteration 78. 

As we take Overgrowth into P4, we want to flesh out some of the smaller kinks that appeared during our final playtest–as well as update the box design and art and potentially add player roles to spice up the gameplay even more. System games definitely take players longer to jump into as our final playtest had the playtesters using almost half of the time for rules before jumping in. Overall, I really enjoyed making this game with my awesome teammates as it challenged me to think more critically about the mechanics and dynamics Overgrowth created to make sure players learn about building a sustainable world with us.

About the author

Junior studying CS with an Art Minor :)

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