52: Change

52: Change

Which game of yours (published or not) changed the most from its first prototype? What changed, and why?

 

 

I’ve always wanted to do a game based on the stock market, but how do I make it different than Acquire or Stockpile? I made it into a worker placement game about selling ice to Eskimos. Then I made it an abstract card game in the vein of Parade (because Parade is fantastic) and then I added a social deduction element in the 3rd iteration, FINALLY I turned it into a trick-taking game and now a publisher has it. All in all, 4 major changes in 5 years, as mostly I was undecided and not having much fun with the other ideas until I realised I wanted to make a different trick-taking game, and it just so happened that I had an available theme!

Christopher Chung

Puffins Love Muffins! It’s still in the process of changing, but it’s undergone some serious changes, enough that it’s almost completely different than when it started. I started with different cards and then a board where you could basically vote for different things to happen or be scoring conditions, but I’ve since taken out all of that. I keep wanting to have more cooperative elements in the game, as you’re supposed to be in a puffin colony, helping each other out, but I also want the game to be simple and not too heavy, as a game called Puffins Love Muffins should probably not be my heaviest game.

Carla Kopp

I could have answered the opposite question, which game of mine didn’t change that much. But most of them changed really a lot… May be Isla Dorada, which started with a boring medieval theme, changed the most, in part with adapting to the new and better setting imagined by the publisher. I try to design games true to their setting. This doesn’t mean the theme cannot change, but it means that a change in theme can have strong feedback effects on the mechanisms.

Bruno Faidutti

When starting the design for Steam Pirates, I had the idea for a deck destruction mechanism I really liked. As the design went along this mechanism no longer made sense with the rest of the game, so I changed it into dice and (just a few) cards. I still think that the idea I had will fit in some game, but not this one.

Pini Shekhter

I was undecided and not having much fun with the other ideas until I realised I wanted to make a different trick-taking game, and it just so happened that I had an available theme! — Christopher Chung

In A Bind (now Yogi) was completely different at first.

Originally, it was a chaotic game about passing cards around, stealing cards, avoiding having too many cards, and trying to get the most points in your personal discard pile. It was an overcomplicated mess.

However, one card differed. From memory, it wrote, “Personal: stand up. If you ever sit down, give this card to another player. 10 pts.”

Ben Neumann told me that I had 2 games – one about passing cards, one about physical challenges. And suggested I make the game about physical challenges if I wanted to.

I did.

Bez Shahriari

Holding On. Definitely. I remember going through so many different versions of that game in the early days, the most out there one being a build where you and the other players had been shrunk down into a mini medical craft and you flew around the patient’s brain, repairing synapses and attempting to stop memories from fading into nothingness or getting corrupted. It was… fun enough, I guess? But sooooo far away from what the final product ended up as, which I’m much happier with.

Michael Fox

Shogunate: went from player elimination, cut-throat versus game to a clever social deduction game with no elimination. Much better feel to it, and better suited to today’s market.

Adrienne Ezell

Before There Were Stars started off as a dice matching game like Roll For It, had a middle life as an overly-complicated engine builder where your constellations gave you dice-manipulating powers, and then eventually landed on being what is primarily a storytelling game. As we playtested we realised that players were enjoying coming up with narratives for why they were building their civilisation in the way that they were, and we decided that we should focus on that interaction since it’s where people were having the most fun.

Alex Cutler

Ben Neumann told me that I had 2 games – one about passing cards, one about physical challenges. And suggested I make the game about physical challenges if I wanted to. I did.
Bez Shahriari

Almost every design will change significantly from the first prototype! Each of my published prototypes had at least 1 significant change:

Terra Prime: Demand for resources went from a Power Grid style market to specific demand tiles, and the technology upgrades went from a chart/tree to individual tiles you can get.

Eminent Domain technologies were originally in 1 big, face down deck like the planets, and Produce and Trade were separate roles with separate cards. It’s bad to “go fishing” to add cards to your deck in a deck building game, so the tech needed to be purchasable on purpose. Combining Produce and Trade onto the same card really fixed the game balance and made trading strategies work.

Crusaders originally had a drawn out end game phase, as King Philip chased down all the Templars. That simply got cut in the end.

Seth Jaffee

Gingerbread House probably changed the most, both mechanically and thematically. The first version was set in a walled city and everyone was building tiles to the same structure. There was also a kind of stock market mechanism instead of contract fulfilment. Giving each player their own board to build on was what brought new life to the design and eventually led to its completion!

Phil Walker-Harding

Coral Kingdoms was such an overwrought beast, I ended up splitting it into two full games (Robots and a brand new Coral Kingdoms), each of which were fully-functioning with barely anything added.

Peter C. Hayward

A game that I am currently pitching. It’s a social game that was originally themed as an interrogation: one player was the interrogator and the rest suspects. The original version was very simple, with the interrogator running the game. They would offer each suspect 2 action cards and the suspect would pick one. This would move some tokens around, the details don’t really matter. Once each suspect had been given 2 turns in this way the Detective would retire (ie, eliminate) one. If they got their target they won! The suspects had their own win conditions. The current version of the game features none of these original mechanics. There’s no longer a detective, and no longer a simulation of an interrogation. Over 5 years of iteration I kept finding that the central asymmetry (detective and suspects having different ability to act in the game), create a player agency asymmetry. In some versions the Detective player had a lot of power and the Suspects felt “like NPCs”, and in others that was reversed. Finding the precise balance point where everyone felt engaged and in control of their fate proved so difficult I just cut the mechanic. The game has never played better.

Jessey Wright

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