After a lot of thinking, the theme I decided on is genre-bending, with planetary exploration + city building, and with this I knew I wanted a board-game that was akin to Settlers of Catan. I wanted to make something I would have fun playing myself, and I’ve never seen a game with that kind of theme before. I think I want the game to be tile based, each player investing resources to expand their territory, or tiles, then also investing into building on that land. I’ve had a basic idea of how I wanted the game to flow, but it’s been a matter of working out the specific mechanics to make it all work. To help me brainstorm, I’ve been playing Catan on Tabletop Simulator to help give me some ideas on how to handle resources and city building.

In Catan you get resources by having settlements along the tiles with numbers that get rolled by dice at the beginning of every turn, but I decided to go more simple and have that decided by having the resources you get solely by a dice. I also have an idea of getting additional resources given from the number of space habitats or colonies you have.

The next big thing I’ve been thinking about is how to incorporate exploration to the game. The idea I had was having explore or encounter tiles distributed across the board for players to claim, similar to the point multipliers in Scrabble, and claiming those spaces will allow a player to draw a explore or encounter card with some sort of effect on it. I imagine an effect would be something like: You discover a new kind of life form! With this superior being now invading your brain you somehow gain +3 tech. I’m still thinking about other approaches I could have that may make that theme more integral to gameplay.

3 thoughts on “Brainstorming

  1. I think this is a great start for a board game, and I think the genres you chose have a lot of potential together. I know that Settlers of Catan is more focused on city building/expansion than actual exploration, since there isn’t really any uncertainty in what tiles the board contains throughout the game. I think the idea of having exploration tiles scattered across the board is also a good thought, since it introduces some more “random” events and makes each game a little bit different. I think exploration as a genre has been more explored in video games, so maybe you could look at some of those for inspiration. I haven’t played a ton of these kinds of games, but I know Polytopia is a pretty accessible example of one such expansion/conquest game. I think there’s lots of room for mechanics to develop on both the exploration and the city building fronts, so I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

  2. Combining the ideas of Settlers of Catan and planetary exploration gives you so many areas and ideas to work with and I think its a fantastic idea. You could use the design and aesthetic of space in your game, which would make it look really cool. The idea of random events really shakes up the game and it gives you a chance to add comedy to the game, if you so choose. I’m excited to see your work.

  3. I do like the exploration concept — Lord knows that despite the fact that the “4x” genre of space games are way, way too complicated for anyone to really enjoy, a lot of people (myself included) have spent a lot of hours in front of them.
    The exploration theme is probably a little harder to manage from the table-top: Obviously, you can’t include an infinite number of worlds in a cardboard box. But linking exploration to outcomes seems promising, I think, and I like the way you’ve created a hybrid category (3 sep. categories — exploration = area control, discovery = new resources, brainslug = attribute increase/decrease — all at once! That seems like a promising way to collapse play a bit.)

    Another thing that I like here — and which strikes me as weirdly novel — is what I’ll call “the tragedy of progress” you created in your “+3 tech” example. Usually games like to present these ideas as prepackaged, ready-to-eat Ideas: “You discovered fusion! +2 tech” or “Your colonists establish a base on the moon! +1 nationalism!”

    What I (think) I hear you doing in this quick example seems — potentially — more interesting, though: Progress at a cost. Games are often hesitant to explore that issue, I think, in part because of our worship in the west of the Self; it is a little weird to imagine a game that isn’t about a Self that gets better, smarter, more capable every turn: Its always Progress, isn’t it? A game where you became more and more unhinged, less and less capable would probably lack much appeal.

    But your brainslug/tech+3 is interesting because there’s a tradeoff: Sure, the player says, I’m less human than I was, but look at my tech score! Interesting to wonder: If every perk came with a loss, what would game play be like? What if, for example, being overrun by (say) more than one kind of brain slug meant that players could no longer make decisions for themselves, but had to do whatever a random brain slug card draw said to do? Or what if being the first to meet an alien race meant that (1) you could pick one of their technologies for your own, but (2) your growth is cut in half, because your people are now fearful of what else is out there?

    Silly examples. And I’m not even sure that the boon/bane model is what you were aiming for — but I still think it is really interesting!

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