BCM300 – Group Prototype

In the BCM300 subject, our class was tasked with prototyping an original boardgame, prompting a series of what-if-styled ruminations towards the mechanics and stories that make up for an experience both enjoyably silly yet practically completable. Our group in question answered this with a game of competition and survival that takes advantage of analogue and text-based features to create a race of questionably ruthless endurance.

The goal of the game is to finish the board without being eliminated by the falling number of rows that follow the players. This primary stress to move is enabled by the game mechanics, centralising three cards in each player’s deck that are drawn at the start of the game and refilled on every turn. The players automatically move one space forward each turn. However, these cards allow different actions to be undertaken to the benefit of the player or to the detriment of others on their respective turns. Namely, moving players forward or backwards. This structure allows players to have a determinant role in the success or failure of themselves and others, rather than leaving to chance alone, and catalyses a competitive need to ‘not be last’ above finishing first, second or third.

Even so, the threat of the shrinking board and displacement by other players are not the only threats as a number of obstacles are placed across the board. These obstacles may stunt the players’ movements or reverse them while remaining susceptible to the falling rows. It has been proposed that these obstacles may be unknown to the player and that the only method to reveal them is to play a reveal card, or by landing on the space in question. Aesthetically, however, it has not been outlined how these unknowns will appear on the board, but may potentially take form as squares of a certain colour that are determined in effect by the drawing of an action card. In any case, the use of obstacles adds a nuance of ironic tension to the goal of moving across the board, as movement contains a threat in itself to the players.

On a more fluid aspect, my individual contribution to the game as a creative writer is concerned with creating an entertaining narrative. Considering the driving force of the game is to not be last, or to escape the board and survive in other words, there is a Monopoly-level infinity for the potential scenarios that could colour this goal. Our baseline scenario was a sinking ship, reminiscent of the Titanic, with the threat of rising water taking away rows from the board. The finish line, in this regard, became a life-saving boat off the ship just as the obstacles took form as fire, water and debris. On a text-based level, the action cards presented the most enjoyable and engaging aspect of the game as they allowed detailed stories to unfold, such as having to return to the wave-line of the board because a player had forgotten to take their child. This also prompted the idea of obstacles or action cards with moral choices and dilemmas; that the choice to not save a child and remain ahead may have consequences, such as an angered wife or a shockingly still-alive child out for vengeance. However, a review of the game mechanics would be required for this eventuality.

While not without its technical incompletions or complications that can be a head-scratcher for someone as inexperienced in analogue gaming such as myself, particularly in regards to terminology, the prototype of our game has established the groundwork for what it would like to be and understands its endgame vision of a mercilessly competitive and somewhat absurd race to self-preservation.

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