I think the more I learned about systems and how they can be modelled the games, the more complex they seem. I knew what systems were going into the project, but never thought through them to the level of complexity that we have throughout this project. For our game, Congrats Grad!, we started off brainstorming complex systems we were interested in, then narrowed it down to one – post-grad movement. After that, we decided on the game format (RPGs), and finally, went on to tailor the game mechanics to model the real-life post-grad headspace.
Even though the game’s basic components were modelled after moving / staying post-grad, it didn’t start off reflecting real-life. Building a proper systems game instead of just a game about the topic required more thought and deliberate design decisions. We had to decided whether or not to keep most things luck-based (we did, since life events are partly based on preparation and partly chance). We also included an end summary component for the game, having players go back and review all the scenarios and events that built up into their end game decision: moving or staying in the area after graduation. It works well with the luck-based dice rolling – players review their successes and failures, what worked and didn’t work, making their journey more like real life.
The most rewarding part of making this game was seeing player’s joy when playtesting it, after many less successful playtests where players found the game boring, or they experienced a lot of frustrating confusion. We were able to redesign the first half of the game, including more examples of scenarios and making it more structured, for players who are very new to RPGs to get a quick ‘warm up’ before delving into making scenarios on their own. I enjoyed tailoring the game for the sake of different types of players, and want to keep that in mind for any future work I do.